Suede - Brett Anderson on “The Blue Hour”

First, Second, and Third Time's a Charm

Sep 21, 2018 Photography by Dean Chalkley Issue #64 -  Kamasi Washington
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Brett Anderson has a piercing gaze that is very disarming, even if the Suede frontman doesn't intentionally mean it to be, or maybe he does. It has been a quarter century since Anderson's delicate features and unforgettable music made their indelible mark on the public's consciousness. This afternoon Anderson has been taking in the rare sunshine in the garden of his country home in the Somerset region of England, reading a book. Now in his lounge, donned in a customary button-down shirt, Anderson has a few     character-filled folds on his face, which add even more to his already imposing presence.

"We were never going to be to be anyone's fifth favorite band, were we?" Anderson asks rhetorically, acknowledging the spiritual commitment Suede fans willingly make in their allegiance to the group. "We were going to be some people's favorite band, many people's least favorite band, and many, many people have never heard of us. It's about creating extreme feelings. I've always loved that tribal feel music can instill in people. I never wanted to make anodyne pop music. I've always seen being in a band as a membership of a club, for which sometimes you have to suffer."

After disbanding Suede with a whimper in 2003, the group returned to touring in 2010 and really came back with a roar with 2013's comeback album Bloodsports, their first album in 11 years. That well-received album was followed in 2016 by its second part, Night Thoughts, and this year The Blue Hour closes the trilogy. Anderson sees each album as a step further leftfield on a spectrum. Additionally, he was writing his memoir, the critically acclaimed Coal Black Mornings, at the same time as writing The Blue Hour, making the two inextricably linked. These reflections on his past, seeing himself as a child and a father at the same time, started at the time of Night Thoughts, and are further realized on The Blue Hour.

"It's impossible to get it right," Anderson says of raising his sons, a six-year-old biological one and a 14-year-old one by marriage, whose spirited voices can be heard in the next room. "I try to look at the good traits of my parents. My dad, for example, was a very complex, quite unconventional person with lots of amazing things that I try and identify and incorporate into the way I parent, like his thirst for knowledge."

Whether this is mirroring Anderson's experiences growing up or not, The Blue Hour shows a darker, more gothic side to Suede than ever before. Even the first album trailer released looks and sound like a scene from 1970s creepy classic The Omen. Anderson's delivery is the smoothest yet and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra's inclusion on so much of the album goes a long way in boosting the dramatics. The theatrical nature of The Blue Hour is set from the start with the horror film score of "As One" through to the storytelling heartbreak of "The Invisibles."

The Blue Hour is produced by Alan Moulder, which for Suede, who have been linked with Ed Buller from the start, is a big change. Says Anderson, "It's a really strange thing making a comeback record after many, many years away. Reforming the band was a huge challenge. It's got to sound fresh but at the same time it's got to sound familiar. There are so many mental games you've got to play. It's very far away from that period in your career where you're just writing and it's instinctively coming out of you. You're second guessing the response.

"When we were writing Bloodsports and Night Thoughts, we didn't know what we were doing. We got Ed involved quite early, writing huge volumes of songs and waiting for his response. There was a lot of collateral damage. It veered into a slightly unhealthy state where we felt too dependent on him and needed to break away."

With Buller moving to Los Angeles towards the end of Night Thoughts, post-production of the album was left to keyboardist Neil Codling, who ably handled the job. This gave the rest of the groupguitarist Richard Oakes, bassist Mat Osman, and drummer Simon Gilbert, as well as Andersonthe confidence to become more self-reliant, which they brought to The Blue Hour.

"It took us a while to gain that confidence," Anderson admits. "This time around we're much clearer about whether our writing was any good and about the kind of record we wanted to make. But, I don't want to get too complacent. There's always room to fuck it up, isn't there?"

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar's Issue 64 (August/September/October 2018), which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.suede.co.uk

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Israel National Trail
September 22nd 2018
2:32am

Thanks, cool music
שביל ישראל