Brett Anderson, head of Suede: ‘Writing about my parents and my mother’s death sparked some of the emotions that went into this album’

Brett Anderson is buzzing. On the night before we spoke, he played a spirited gig in Manchester with his bandmates Suede, but under the direction of a nomad, the Crushed Kid. It’s unlikely that anyone who went to the tiny venue, the Institute for the Deaf, imagined that they would see a rising band. It was one of those ‘secret’ gigs where everyone knew the identities of the performers.

the previous evening, the Crushed Kid had provided an equally tumultuous scene in the intimate Moth Club in east London – a show that Guardians described in a nod to the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, as “extremely loud and extremely intimate”.

Witnessing the whites’ eyes took Anderson back to Suede’s early days three decades ago, when Britain’s most heavily advertised band was about to be fired into the stratosphere.

“It was loud,” he said, laughing. He was speaking from his Manchester hotel room about 12 hours after leaving the stage. “My ears are still ringing. I like it. We know what it’s like because we’ve done gigs like this before – in 1991. Places that smell like stale beer and screens don’t work and it’s all a bit silly – up, but that’s the point of it, and you have to get over it and not be too precious about it. “

A short, powerful set of photos that focus entirely on Suede’s powerful live new album, Auto fictitious. “I thought long and hard about whether we should play the ciphers and come up with Animal nitrates. The room would explode if we did, and maybe that’s what people want and we should give them that, but I feel like the concept of it is a new band and we play songs. new and we wanted to keep it that way,” he said.

When Anderson and the rest of the Suede members decided to take a whole new direction after their elegant, tasteful 2018 album, Blue hourand recorded a recording of the basics, the plan was to write songs and play them in small venues before recording them. Covid soon knocked that idea down.

“We already have pre-booked performances [under another name] and we won’t announce it in advance or disclose it,” he said. “And the plan was to play songs for a man and his dog. We thought it would teach us how to play songs because you play in the practice room very differently than when you play with people. “

The pandemic meant that the album was recorded first, but Anderson always stuck to the idea of ​​playing songs in the most elegant style possible.

Auto fictitious, as the title suggests, is arguably his most personal album to date. The songs were written shortly after he completed a pair of memoirs – both of which have been praised for their apparent honesty – and Anderson says the process of writing the autobiography influenced his composition. older brother.

“I don’t write memoirs because I think it will directly inform the writing, but these things happen because it evokes a lot of emotions in me and those emotions show up in other media. together.”

There is a pair of songs on the new album that are informed by his close relationship with his late mother, with the opening She still leads me especially moving.

Memoir, Black mornings (recording his childhood and life up to the founding of Suede) and Afternoon with curtains drawn (an account of the band’s sublime fortunes), are essential readings for any Suede fan, but they’re powerful enough to sustain the interest of even those barely familiar with music.

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“I find writing memoirs a wonderful thing for me personally. I highly recommend it,” says Anderson. “And I know that sounds a little strange because not everyone has an audience, but it’s a great way to get to know yourself a little better. I have no basis to say how I know myself better, but I just feel as if I am more familiar with myself. That may sound like a strange thing, but sometimes you go through life and don’t really know who you are. All these things are in your head, but it’s not until you have to structure them and organize them [that true self-knowledge emerges].

“Writing about my parents and my mother’s death certainly evoked some of the thoughts and feelings that went into this album.”

Although many of the songs are autobiographical, he says he was free. “Auto fiction is a genre that is part memoir, part fiction,” he said. “To some extent, you are manipulating the truth. No art is 100pc true. Even a memoir, in which a writer thinks he is only bringing the bad and important things into his life, is still making decisions about what they leave and what they decide to do. put into. At the other end of the spectrum, Lord of the Rings is the ultimate fantasy book, with witches and goblins, but it still contains human truths.”

When recording the album, Suede again turned to producer Ed Buller, who was on top when they made their first pair of albums. Suede and Dog Man Star. “He really was like our dad,” Anderson said with a chuckle. “He is a lovely bastard. We spend a lot of time arguing and sulking with him.

“The way it works is we write for a while and then a few months later he shows up and we give him the songs. He’ll sit there and he’ll say, ‘No, that’s trash. That’s trash. So great. That’s trash. Good.’ It’s the kind of brutal process when he’s fooling your emotional outbursts, but the beauty of that is when he says something good, you can really trust him. “

Buller was there in 1992 when they were working on their era-defining debut album. For those of us who fell in love with Suede at the time, it was sobering to recognize that debut single. Drowning person was released 30 years ago.


Suede in their early days in the 90s

Anderson is a 54-year-old man who looks very young and looks good enough to wear the tights of the early 1990s, but he grimaces, benevolent, when I point out that 30 years ago 1992 was 1962 and The Beatles came out with their first album.

“It was crazy – 1962 was like prehistoric times,” he said. “The world is only black and white. Time is a strange thing, isn’t it? As you get older, it seems to get a lot faster. Ten years passed like this [clicks fingers]. We’ve been reformed for 12 years and now we’ve been together longer than the first time.

“Now is a very different time. In the ’90s, things were a lot more stressful for us because we were under media scrutiny and a lot of things would happen in a year in those days.”

Suede, when it was released in 1993, was the fastest-selling British debut album in a decade. Anderson was introduced as the voice of a new generation. How does he keep his feet on the ground? He paused, lost in thought. “I think we really wanted it,” he said at last. “In those days, if you got these huge rewards, you understood there was a price to pay for them.

“The press back then was vicious and almost like this gladiator competition. You have been thrown into the arena with an af**king sword and a shield and you have to fight to the death. And the one who came out was holding the other’s head. You have scars from that and you accept that. And I still accept that. I don’t think anyone can get through life unscathed.”

‘Auto Fiction’ is out now Brett Anderson, head of Suede: ‘Writing about my parents and my mother’s death sparked some of the emotions that went into this album’

Fry Electronics Team

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