They’ve suffered the lows of crack addiction, lost band members and failed recording sessions. But SUEDE are back and a great rock’n’roll band once more. iii/miss: Rodger Evans
nothei' line mess is what Suede found themselyes in one year ago: producer-less. record
label—less and one member-less. Rock bottom for one of the most famous bottoms in rock.
OK maybe just behind those of .laryis and Kylie. Btit hey do you remember the first time you saw Brett wiggle—waggle his toosli on '10,; o/‘i/it' l’o/M'.’ Before 1 rear off at a tangent . . .
'l'oday otir posterioi's are comfortably located in an lidinburgh hotel. tea is being sipped and the September sun smiles through the window. A pair of brown eyes make little direct contact and the chair is drawn back from the table. hills! within range of the tape recorder. Laurel and Hardy once stayed here. Brett says. .-\nd there is a little of the spirit of Stan and ()Ilie in the double act of Stiede‘s singer and long-time friend and band-mate .\laii ()snian.
The two are funny and engaging: Matt is loqtiacious. Brett alternating between detached amusement and careful. circuitous answers. 'l‘heir collectiye mood is decidedly tip. Which giyen the upheaval of the previous year an aborted l.l’ (after work with Beck’s producer 'l‘ony' lloffer was judged a disaster). a departed band member (keyboardist \eil (‘odling quitting for health reasons). and the demise of their record company (Nude entering Voluntary liquidation) might seem odd.
‘lf you’d caught tis a year ago we wouldn‘t liay'e been quite so upbeat.‘ says Brett. ’lt was probably the lowest we'ye been . . . a whole record in the bin and everything seemed to be fucking tip. Btit you know the most interesting stories are the ones fraught with problems. It‘s what giy‘es people character.’
Matt: ‘That’s the kind of thing your parents told you when you were l3. Well I don’t want chai'actei'l'
‘l’ettilant childl' chides Brett.
l’etulant was one adiectiye missing from those .ll(’/()(/_\' .lIu/u'r heaped on the band way back in I992. l'rom nowhere. Suede were coyer stars. not only trumpeted as 'the best new band in Britain but ‘the most audacious. mysterious. sexy. absurd. peryei'se. glamorous. hilarious. honest. cocky. melodramatic. inesmerising band you‘re eyer likely to fall in loy'e with.‘
()f course. as any good publicist will tell you. you don't ptit all your hype in one basket. .'\nd Brett and gang (well Brett mostly) went on to grace l‘) niaga/ine coycrs during indie season NOB/()3. so opening the door for Oasis. l’ulp. Blur. Radiohead and a host of lesser talents who came to constitute something called Britpop. You can look it tip now. it‘s just been added to the (‘oncise Oxford Dictionary. British guitar music was again de rigueur and Suede were to thank (or not) for it.
The intercediiig ten years brought them a Mercury .\ltisic l’ri/e. number one l.l’s and top ten singles. And you might suppose the band would haye lost some of its hunger along the way. just as the appetites of .\'oel. Damon. .lary'is et al appear to haye been sated. Btit no. The gig Suede play the night of our meeting is epic and epileptic. Brett doing his best Kenneth Williams—meets-Xebedee— meets-the (ireen (loddess work out. And how good are the new songs’.’ Well the LP .-\ .\'t'ii‘ .llor/iuig is not their best. but it‘s not so far behind ('nmiiig ('p (their commercial /enith) and Dog .llun Slur (their ci‘eatiy'e peak).
So what has changed about Suede oy er a decade'.’ ‘lf you‘re asking me how he changed. l’y'e become a member of the human race.‘ says Brett after some reflection and a full—on critique of their "early. funny sttiff‘ by Matt. 'When we started we had a yery isolationist View. is and them. .'\Iltl lots of those song“ . . . ‘We are the Pigs. "l’rash’ . . . were a celebration of outsider status. And I don‘t feel we haye to keep celebrating that. I‘d like to communicate on a more tiniy‘ersal leyel now.~
Another significant change for Brett is a chemical one. He recently admitted spending an unhealthy part of the ‘)()s as a crack—taking smack addict. :\.\ guitarist Richard ()akes says in another conyersation: 'lle‘s clean now and his obsei'yations on life are \ery different. I think it giyes the band
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