A funny thing happened on the way to The (iarage. So Bernard Butler used it in his act. Yes. that’s Bernard Butler. l‘ormer mercurial guitarist with the nation’s linest. Suede; and no. this seemingly earnest young tnan hadn't decided to conlbttnd expectations by opting for a career as a stand-up comic.

‘I want to confound people a bit.‘ he says. 'but in a warm. welcoming way.‘

Anyway. there he was on his way to his own gig at The (iarage. Ilighbury. London. not liar from his own abode. lie was doing a mini— residency of acoustic shows. his lirst solo gigs. No one really knew what to expect from the skinny lad who had del'lected some attention from Brett Anderson in Suede‘s salad days. (‘ould he cut it as a l’rontman'.’ 'l‘he tout outside. once he realised the bloke he‘d been hassling to buy a ludicrously—overpriced ticket was actttally the artist on his way to his own gig. decided he was just ‘that l‘aggot l‘rom Suede‘.

‘lle came alter the and chinned me!’ says Butler. ‘Which was really horrible but comical too. because live minutes later I was in front ol‘ the microphone looking at all these people who didn‘t know what had just occurred. so it was like a story to tell. It became like that every week.‘

So it catne to pass that Bernard Butler learned the art ol‘ inter-song banter. Over the past year he has had many new experiences (not least fatherhood) but he maintains it‘s all happened very naturally. l'rom linding his singing voice. writing lyrics. being a l'rontman. recruiting and leading his own hand to scoring a hit with his debut solo album People Move ()H.

‘I don’t really know how this has happened to me or how I‘ve got to where I am] he ponders. ‘ll‘ things are going badly you have to analyse them and look for solutions. You get very depressed and locus on your depression. bttt when things are going right for me I generally sit back and don’t want to think about why it‘s working and enjoy it for the moment. 'l'hat‘s what [album track] “You Just Know" is about.‘

Butler considers this to he one of his best lyrics so far.

‘I was terrified of sitting down and having to write poetry or having to come across as well read or intellectual.’ he says. ‘I wanted the words to he very conversational. and they are most of them are conversations I've had with people or words I use in everyday lil‘e anyway.~

With everything hanging together artistically and commercially in such an effortless way. does he l’eel he could actually have gone solo years ago'.’

‘No. I couldn‘t have.‘ he says emphatically. ‘I needed to he in Suede for a start. It made me forthright abottt my principles. When I left the hand. that was when I couldn't use those principles any further. when I couldn‘t go where I wanted in an idealistic way. liver since then I‘ve been lighting to get it right rather than turn out some second-rate record just to get back on the road again or be in a rock ’n‘ roll hand. I want to do something imaginative.‘

l’or a man who cites his ‘lust for writing songs‘ as his tnain creative driving force. that shouldn’t be a probletn. (Fiona Shepherd)

NME Stage, Sunday 12 July.


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