www.tourdates.co.uk Has a new interview up with Brett about his set next week at the Jack Daniels Birthday bash in London.
Brett Anderson – Accidental Hero
To a generation of young nineties hipsters, Brett Anderson virtually invented the elegantly wasted indie fop. Having “accidentally kick started” Britpop, his band Suede went on to produce one of the great albums of the last 30 years in their 1993 self-titled debut. And guess what… It had men kissing on the front cover too. Ooooh! Ten years later Suede broke up and 2009 sees Anderson – via a brief reformation with old partner, Bernard Butler in the shape of The Tears (who were also great BTW) – on his third solo album Slow Attack. We caught up with him ahead of the Jack Daniel’s Birthday Set At The Village Underground
How’s it going? Looking forward to the JD Set?
Yeah, it should be fun. All the musicians that I’m gonna be playing with are really cool musicians. I’m really looking forward to playing with these American legend guys. It sounds cool. I’m interested to hear how they interpret my songs, so it’ll be great. I’m really looking forward to it.
The new album’s out in October. How does it sound?
It’s quite strange in places. I made it with a guy called Leo Abrahams who has worked a lot on soundtracks. I deliberately chose him because of that and a lot of it is quite cinematic and filmic. He’s quite an interesting musician because he took the music to some very strange place. It is not a completely song-based record; there are lots of instrumental passages and things like that. I think it’s a very beautiful record.
The last record was quite minimal. How you gone all ‘epic’ on this one?
Not really, no. It’s not conventionally epic. There are big moments in it though. We used a lot of woodwind on this record, which was interesting for me because I’d never really used woodwind before. That was the main palette of sound, so there’s lots of bassoon, clarinet, oboe, flute and that sort of thing on it. It was a conscious decision to use those instruments rather than strings. We were listening to Talk Talk and a lot of things like that and a lot of cinema music, which tends to use woodwind a lot more. I think strings have become a bit of a cliché and you can almost become deaf to them in the end, so we didn’t want to use them to create the large sounds. It is bigger than the last record though. That was deliberately very dark and minimal and this is more open.
Is it liberating being a solo artist?
Yeah, it is. I genuinely really enjoy it, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. I don’t particularly want to be in bands any more. I was in a band for a long time and being on your own is very different. It’s funny being in a band because you have your very specific role and you kind of don’t go any further than that. With these solo records I’ve learnt a lot more about myself as a musician than I did for the previous 14 years of my career with other bands. I very much enjoy it but it is a challenge, you know. I sell a lot less records than I did before but I find it a lot more satisfying in a very different way.
What are the lyrical themes on the record?
I’ve tried to use words differently on this record, almost as more of an abstract thing. Less vigorous; a less amount of words. I’ve used them as hints and I’ve tried to almost like create impressionist sketches rather than just saying, you know “here’s the whole picture”. There are images that I’ve used but I wouldn’t say there’s lyrical concerns.
Any plans to re-visit The Tears?
I don’t know. Who knows? I don’t really know what’s round the corner to be honest but I haven’t really got any plans to do any more of that stuff. We made a record that we liked then we moved on and did our things. It was never really supposed to be a long-term band project.
Still see Bernard?
Yeah, sometimes. I bump into him occasionally and we have a chat.
How do you look back on the Britpop era now?
It’s difficult to look back on things like that without kind of seeing it how the media sees it, but my own personal point of view is that I wasn’t even really aware there even anything called ‘Bitpop’ at the time. I don’t really know how I see it. I’m not sure what I think about it all really. I don’t really have an opinion about it. Suede was very much separate from that. I think maybe accidentally we kick started it but it was never really our desire to be part of the scene. I think any interesting or good band doesn’t want to be part of a scene. It’s too limiting.
What’s wrong with being labelled Britpop?
I don’t like to be pigeonholed at all. I’ve always sort of reacted against that. People start saying you’re part of this scene or that scene. I’ve always found that slightly insulting. We were a band, we did what we did and people got excited about it. I was singing about my life and the life I saw around me as a kind of poor, white, working class teenager. I just documented that and I happened to be living in England so I just talked about the kind of architecture of life that I saw around me. You know, that got turned into a kind of beery cartoon and got labelled Britpop.
For what it’s worth, Suede were bloody amazing…
That’s nice to know, thanks. I think we did make some really good records, yeah. I think lots of the hits that we wrote actually weren’t our best songs and our best songs were some of the album tracks. Stuff from Dog Man Star like ‘Still Life’, but we wrote pop records as well. I guess the band had quite a lot of breadth in terms of what we could do. I’m really proud of our back catalogue.
Was it a different band after Bernard left?
Of course, yeah. It changed massively. It was a completely different band; it just happened to be called Suede. It was totally different.
Brett Anderson plays The Village Underground on 8 October 2009 as part of the Jack Daniel’s JD Set.
Overall a pretty bog standard interview by them. Some interesting points made by Brett but the usual rubbish questions asking about The Tears, Bernard etc came up.
Anyway, least it’s something new to read.