Summer Sonic 2011: Suede interview

‘We’re not just going to stick out a bag of shit to justify more touring’

Summer Sonic 2011: Suede interview

Photo by Paul Khera

Music fans are a funny old bunch: back when Suede decided to call it quits in 2003, most people apparently couldn't give a monkey's; when they decided to reform last year, it was like a gift from on high. Helmed by the louche, sexually ambiguous Brett Anderson (sample quote: 'I'm a bisexual man who's never had a homosexual experience'), the band had ruffled all kinds of feathers when they unleashed their trashy, glammed-up debut album in 1993. Suede took just two days to go gold, and would pave the way for Britpop – a movement whose key players, notably Blur and Oasis, came to eclipse the band that started it all.

Following Suede's dissolution, Anderson patched things up with estranged guitarist Bernard Butler and formed a short-lived new band together, The Tears. He's also released a trio of solo albums, though the less said about those the better. Butler joined him to help remaster the tracks that appeared on last year's The Best of Suede compilation, though he isn't participating in the current tour, which has taken the group through dates in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and China on their way to this weekend's Summer Sonic.

What’s it like going back to old Suede tracks?
It’s quite refreshing, in a primal way. One thing I definitely didn’t want to do with my solo music was to do any Suede-style music in any way. So, to come back to the Suede canon after seven years is really refreshing. 

When did you decide to reform for a tour? Who suggested it first?
We had the opportunity to play a show for the Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall. The band discussed it and we felt that the time might be right to at least try and see if we could go back to Suede. And it was. 

Were you dissatisfied with the way Suede ended?
Looking back we made some wrong decisions with [final album] A New Morning. We should have had six months off but we didn’t…

Suede and The Auteurs were responsible for the beginnings of Britpop, but Blur and Oasis often got the credit. Did that annoy you?
We helped pioneer something bold that expressed where we were from and our aspirations. Most of those other bands turned it into a beery cartoon that we wanted nothing to do with. It doesn’t annoy me any more but it did at the time.

Was [1999 album] Head Music a mistake?
Head Music wasn’t a mistake. There were a couple of tracks in it that maybe shouldn’t have been, to make it a great album rather than a good one. We were trying to push ourselves and do something new: explore new areas and forms of music. You have to do that – to challenge yourself – and I think it was largely successful. 

Did you ask Bernard Butler to come on tour?
Bernard is more than happy doing what he does now. The last thing he wants to do is go on tour.

Will you be making another original Suede album?
We’ve started writing but it won’t see the light of day unless it’s absolutely brilliant. We’re not just going to stick out a bag of shit to justify more touring.

What do you think the legacy of Suede is and will be?
The Suede legacy is in ruder health than it has been since [1996's] Coming Up, if not better. 

Suede, The Velvet Underground and Nylon – all band names inspired by materials. Who’s the best?
The Velvet Underground obviously. But I’m disappointed you didn’t mention Felt or Denim or the [London] nightclub Fabric.

August 14, Sonic Stage, 8.05pm

By Gareth Clark
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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