As they roar back with one of their best al­bums yet, Brit­pop icons Suede re­flect on the de­struc­tive de­bauch­ery of their glory years, why they’re glad to have gone from wild ones to mild ones, and their mem­o­ries of their leg­endary US tour with Dolores O’Ri

Hot Press - - Suede - In­ter­view Ed Power

It’s 9am on a Fri­day morn­ing and Suede are talk­ing to Hot Press. This isn’t quite how it was back in the day, when Brit­pop’s provo­ca­teurs-in-chief ex­isted on the front­lines of art­ful bac­cha­na­lia. In their he­do­nis­tic prime, morn­ings were the blurred, cig­a­rette-burn af­ter­math of the night be­fore. “The in­ter­views have snuck up ear­lier and ear­lier as we’ve gone on,” laughs Mat Osman, who founded Suede with his school pal Brett An­der­son (and fu­ture Elas­tica leader Jus­tine Frischmann) in 1989. “There’s some­thing glo­ri­ous about those early days. You have to be a dif­fer­ent band when you’re dif­fer­ent peo­ple. If you weren’t dif­fer­ent peo­ple at 50… that would be tragic.” Suede were never quite the preen­ing party an­i­mals as por­trayed in the ’90s mu­sic press. And they’ve be­come even less so in mid­dle age q as cœnfirmed by their astœnish­ing neÜ al­bÕm] The Blue Hour.

It’s the third the group have re­leased since re­form­ing in 2010 and is al­ready be­ing her­alded by many as their finest since Dog Man Star q their £™™{ hœÜl œv artvÕl angÕish that cœnfirmed the group as more than pre­ten­tious pre­tenders.

“This al­bum is ba­si­cally ev­ery­thing we’ve tried to do since we came bacŽ q am«li­fied and in­ten­si­fied as var as Üe can gœ° t½s sup­posed to be a big, im­mer­sive pas­sion­ate af­fair – an al­bum as op­posed to a col­lec­tion of tracks.”

One of the in­spi­ra­tions is An­der­son’s move to a house in Som­er­set with his fam­ily (he still keeps a crash-pad in Lon­don for band busi­ness). He and Osman grew up in a small town bor­dered by the coun­try­side and share an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the wild and dark un­der­belly of the stereo­typ­i­cal ru­ral idyll.

“It’s im­por­tant that we’re not still singing about Lon­don nightlife and squalid af­fairs and stuff like that,” says Osman. “The rea­son those songs res­onated is be­cause they were truth­ful about a cer­tain kind of life and a cer­tain kind of per­son. I’m proud of the way Brett has man­aged to sing about things that are nor­mally quite dull in rock mu­sic: ru­ral life and fam­i­lies, hav­ing chil­dren – to find the «aranœia and the glœry in them°»

He’s touch­ing on one of most heart­en­ing as­pects of the Suede reunion. They aren’t re­motely in­ter­ested in be­ing the band they were 20 years ago. “I see so many of our con­tem­po­raries try­ing to re­cap­ture some­thing,” says Osman. “And you can’t.”

As this is the Men­tal Health is­sue of Hot Press it feels ger­mane to in­quire of Suede whether the ups-and-downs of life in a suc­cess­ful group take a toll.

“It can be in­cred­i­bly iso­lat­ing,” says Osman. “That is one of the things I dis­cov­ered – es­pe­cially when the band split up. You sÕd­denly re­alise yœÕ½Ûe s«ent yœÕr en­tire live Üith Õst vœÕr œr fiÛe peo­ple. You are in­cred­i­bly cut off – not just from real life, but from how peo­ple re­spond to you.

“One of the great­est things about the band split­ting up was that I sud­denly found out who mat­tered. It’s in­cred­i­ble – there were peo­ple who I had spent ev­ery day with for 15 years and they dis­ap­peared into the mist the day we split up.

“And there were peo­ple I re­alised were good friends, who were sud­denly there for me. It taught me to have a life and have re­la­tion­ships that are sep­a­rate from the world of mu­sic. It’s in­cred­i­bly shal­low, es­pe­cially when you’re in a band on the rise.”

Suede’s early years in­cluded a leg­endary tour of the United States along with The Cran­ber­ries. The trek was mythol­o­gised in real time ow­ing to the fact that the Lim­er­ick group started out open­ing for Suede but were soon grab­bing the head­lines.

But while mu­si­cians from Lon­don and Lim­er­ick might seem to have come from en­tirely dif­fer­ent worlds – in 1993 es­pe­cially – Osman’s mem­o­ries of the gigs and of the late Dolores

O’Rior­dan are noth­ing but pos­i­tive.

“That tour gets re­ported quite weirdly be­cause they blew up while we were there,” he says. “The Cran­ber­ries were so much

fun. We were much less worldly than we prob­a­bly made out. They were cer­tainly not very worldly. It was kind of an ad­ven­ture. We spent a lot of the time just drink­ing af­ter the shows.

“Dolores had such a lust for life and for meet­ing new peo­ple. She was never “starry” – if peo­ple came up to her and said they liked the show, she’d sit down and gab away for hours, which I re­ally liked.

“They were just break­ing big and that’s usu­ally the mo­ment ev­ery­one gets a lit­tle bit, ‘Don’t talk to me.’ She’d be sit­ting with a beer chat­ting to ev­ery­one.”

Be­ing anointed Brit­pop ban­ner-wa­vers wasn’t some­thing that par­tic­u­larly pleased Suede. They were too so­phis­ti­cated to wrap them­selves in the Union Jack – though that’s more or less that hap­pened when the nowde­funct Se­lect mag­a­zine splashed Brett An­der­son on the cover of the no­to­ri­ous 1993 is­sue with the head­line, ‘Yanks Go Home’.

“I never felt part of the whole Brit­pop thing,” An­der­son told me once. “As soon as I was aware of what I was be­com­ing I tried to dis­tance my­self from it… Se­lect didn’t come to me and say, we want to do a pho­to­graph of you in front of a Union Jack. If they had have done, I’d have told them to fuck off prob­a­bly. I had no de­sire to be­come a na­tion­al­ist pin-up.

“You could do a lot with pho­to­shop, even in 1993. His­tor­i­cally you can Ãee t…e firÃt -uede abu“ aà aÃo t…e firÃt rit«o« abu“° 7e ini­ti­ated it° And I was kind of of­fered this thing – ‘Do you want to wave a Union Jack and pre­tend to be this bor­ing Carry On fig­ure, go­ing on about cor­duroy trouÃerà and fiÅ and c…i«Ã and Ãtuvv iŽe t…at¶½ /…at neÛer a««eaed to “e°

“A lot of Brit­pop bands had this stupid in­verted snob­bery, this nos­tal­gic idea about a world that ex­isted in the ’70s and wasn’t rel­e­vant any more. My take was very con­tem­po­rary. I was writ­ing about the ’90s – not about

Carry On fi“à or “odà or anyt…ing iŽe t…at° º

The Blue Hour kicks off an in­ter­est­ing sev­eral months for Suede. In Oc­to­ber Sky Arts will screen Suede: The In­sa­tiable Ones, a doc­u­men­tary about their rise and, amid ri­otous drug use, and even­tual de­cline (they broke up in 2003 af­ter a pulse-free farewell record, A New Morn­ing).

“It has been very odd,” says Osman of look­ing back over old footage, “uc… ov it fi“ed by dru““er -i“on ibert° º/…ere Üere …ourà and …ourà of back­stage stuff that Si­mon took – most of which is just hi­lar­i­ous. You’ve fiÛe young “en ܅o½Ûe neÛer been anyt…ing or …ad any “oney, and t…e whole world is open­ing up to them – it’s very in­ter­est­ing and quite funny in places.”

Yet there was a darker side too. “The thing is, be­ing English, we never talked about any of the things that led to us split­ting up. I’ve been watch­ing back and I found out things I had no idea about in the other four's lives. It was more emo­tional than I ex­pected.”

An­der­son pub­lished a mem­oir ear­lier this year, track­ing his life from child­hood in the small provin­cial town of Hay­wards Heath to the brink of Suede’s break­through.

“The strangest thing was read­ing about his fam­ily,” says Osman, who is the older brother of TV pre­sen­ter Richard Osman. “Brett and I were friends – I knew his fam­ily but I didn’t think of them as strange. I just thought of them as your friend’s fam­ily. It was only when I read the book that I thought, yeah… they were pretty odd ac­tu­ally.

“It was quite a brave book to write – if he’d writ­ten the story of the ’93’96 Suede, it would have been in­cred­i­bly sala­cious. And it would have sold a tonne of copies, but it would have been quite bor­ing. The trou­ble is that the story of most rock bands un­for­tu­nately is ex­actly the same. I al­ways thought Suede’s story was re­ally in­ter­est­ing. Then I look at it – it’s ex­actly the same as ev­ery­one else’s. Band gets big, band takes drugs, band loses inspiration and splits up… It’s like a Greek myth or some­thing.”

The Blue Hour is out now. Suede play the BGE The­atre, Dublin on Oc­to­ber 14.


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