Record Overplayed
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Suede interview | Newcastle Uni | November 2002

Suede in Fashion?

Suede interview by Drew

Back in 1992, Suede were unleashed onto a UK music scene saturated with tedious pop drivel. Along with the Stone Roses, Suede are said to have paved the way for the resurrection of British guitar music in the early 90s. Now, over three years since 1999s Head Music album, the band are promoting their current offering, A New Morning. After a reported £1million, two producers, the loss of a keyboardist and an entire album’s worth of discarded material, fans had waited eagerly for its release. However, despite this loyal fan-base the album limped into the charts at 17, and disappeared completely within a matter of weeks.

“The chart position was a bit disappointing,” says Mat Osman, bass player with the band, “although it’s doing really well in Europe.”

Is Britain turning off to that kind of music?

“Well, you get blamed for the record you made last time. A lot of people bought Head Music and didn’t enjoy it. Obviously I’d like everything we do to go straight to number one and stay there forever. But at the same time I wouldn’t have changed a note of what we did on that album. We knew it wasn’t flashy and we knew it wasn’t particularly immediate. I feel pretty aware of the fact that if we’d just wanted to sell a lot of records we’d have had to do something pretty different.”

Work on the album started with producer Tony Hoffer. The band were attracted to his production style on Beck’s Midnight Vultures album, and felt that his skills would compliment their ideas. Eventually, the material recorded with Hoffer was scrapped, with production duties eventually entrusted to long-time Blur producer Stephen Street. What went wrong the first time around?

“We’d virtually finished the album, and we listened back and it just wasn’t doing us any justice. It was very electronically based with lots of obscure sounds. It’s weird because people were saying ‘It’s got Tony Hoffer on it, it’ll be fine’. Then they heard it, and they were glad we didn’t release it after all. We recorded the second version by going into the studio and actually playing the songs, almost live. I think it really reflects how the band is at the moment.”

You’ve been pretty much ignored by daytime radio, and you’ve not made it onto many playlists. Is contemporary radio more interested in the Pop Idol one-hit wonders?

“To be honest I don’t listen to Radio One, or any British radio. Yeah, it’s a pain. The stuff they play isn’t my favourite kind of music, but Radio One is really committed to playing the music of the time, and that’s fine. We’d sound very uncomfortable being played between Will Young and Ashanti anyway.”

Since 1992, Suede had been signed to independent label Nude Records. Nude recently went into liquidation, and the band was consequently signed to Epic. Has moving to a major altered your stance as a priority band?

“Probably. I imagine it always does when a band moves to a major. It’s a funny situation, cause the records are distributed by Epic, but everything else is done by us, or people we’ve worked with for a long time. We don’t use Epic’s production people, we don’t use their video people, and we don’t use their sleeve artwork people, so nothing has changed much. If something goes horribly wrong, it’s usually our fault.”

There’s been talk of a Greatest Hits package. Is that something you’re looking to release in the near future?

“Yeah, that’s going to happen some time this year. We are going to choose what to include, but I think the tracks will be obvious.”

Will it include Stay Together? (1994 single – released just before original guitarist Bernard Butler left Suede. The band hate it)

“No. We actually have that written into our contract. We’re only doing it out of spite, cause the fans love it.”

Do you think there’s life after a Greatest Hits album?

“I would hope so. We want to release it now to get it out of the way. It’s been looming over us for a while, and Epic have always wanted a greatest hits thing. I want to get on with making another album, and rather than letting it hold us up we thought the neatest way of doing it is to release it now.”

Thanks to Suede and to Pip Williams.

 

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