STRICTLY SPEAKING, Suede were a supercool guitar band of the 80s, having come together in 1989, though admittedly their hits followed in the 90s. Having reformed last year, alas without guitarist Bernard Butler, they released The Best Of Suede in November and tonight they play Suede’s music in sequence at the first of three gigs at London’s O2 Academy in Brixton May 19–21, plus Dublin’s Olympia Theatre, May 24–26. An interview with the current issue of BEAT magazine has singer Brett Anderson (“the lost boy of Britpop”) reflecting on the climate in which the band formed…
“As a teenager in the early 80s it was an incredibly tribal time, everyone at school was either a mod or a punk or a skinhead or a headbanger. Which gang you belonged to said who you were as a person. This was when I was thirteen or fourteen, when I first started buying records and I suppose that influenced the sort of band I wanted Suede to be, I wanted them to be the sort of band people would get tattooed. I wasn’t particularly interested in Suede just being liked; I was only really interested in Suede being loved.
“Suede was about the intense passion of being loved as a band and constructing a universe for people to dive into and that was all part of the iconography of the sleeves and the worlds I sang about and possibly the over-use of lots of the imagery was all part of it. Maybe it was all part of my need to belong somewhere. We established a Suede landscape, and I always loved those bands that did that. Maybe it’s a very much over-used reference point but I did grow up loving The Smiths records and loving what they did and the kind of tribalism they created.
“I never wanted to be The Smiths, emulating people shouldn’t be about wanting to sound like them. I was talking to Jamie from Klaxons and he said he was a huge Suede fan when he was growing up and that Suede were the reason he wanted to be in a band. You listen to Klaxons, and they don’t sound anything like Suede and that’s the biggest compliment. That they took something of the spirit of Suede, they didn’t rip off the cord sequences, they didn’t rip off the words and they didn’t dress like Suede.
“They just took something of the spirit and sense of aiming to achieve something that was meant to be a little bit unachievable. And they created this incredible very original band. I’m really proud of that sort of influence. It’s the same with Bloc Party. There’s all these bands, that have told me that Suede have been incredibly influential, but they don’t sound like Suede, that’s almost like a double compliment for me.”
❏ Brett also deals with drugs, androgyny, Justine and Bernard — “I actually put an advert in the NME, that’s how I met Bernard. It read, ‘Must like Pet Shop Boys, The Smiths, David Bowie and Lloyd Cole and The Commotions. No musos, no beginners, some things are more important than ability’.”