Music monthly The Fly recently caught up with Brett for an interview, below is that interview in full!
#30 Brett Anderson
By The Fly 23 Oct 2013
Brett Anderson’s a pretty busy bloke these days. His band Suede are back in full swing, having this year released ‘Bloodsports’, their first album since 2002. This week they head out on tour to promote their latest single, ‘For The Strangers’, and a limited edition boxset of all their albums on 12-inch, ‘The Vinyl Collection’. Naturally, we decided to ask Brett a couple of questions tenuously linked these excellent new items, before finally getting down to the really important stuff: the Morrissey autobiography, his old physics teacher and nutty 19th century German philosophers.
Do you ever get nervous around strangers?
If there’s lots of them, no, but if there’s one or two of them, yeah [laughs]. I’m better at dealing with big crowds of people. I’m not so good with meeting people that I don’t know. I’m a dysfunctional man. I’m not one of these people that’s super friendly to people that I don’t know yet. Because of that, people get the wrong impression.
Do you think vinyl is the best way to listen to music?
Erm… Not necessarily, but I do enjoy listening to vinyl. There’s something special about it. There’s something I can’t really put my finger on. I don’t know why, it just sort of feels different. Putting a record on has a different kind of quality to putting a CD on. There’s some really soft about vinyl — that’s the only word I can really use to describe it.
You can’t listen to vinyl on the bus though.
No you can’t, because the needle would jump quite a lot.
Someone tweeted from your show the other day and said how impressed they were when you took your shirt off by the lack of man-boobs for a man in his forties. What’s your top tip for a healthy frame?
[Laughs] Don’t eat meat I suppose. I don’t eat red meat. I cycle a lot around town and try not to eat crap.
Will you be reading the Morrissey autobiography?
I can’t say I’m not interested. I’ll probably dip into it, yeah. I actually read a review of it this morning which was one of the worst reviews I’ve ever read of anything ever. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I suppose I think it’ll be an interesting read. He is an artist and he has done some amazing work over the years and you’ve got to take that into account. There was a point, 1983, 1984, where The Smiths were the best band in the world and he was the most vital artist on the planet.
Have you seen the cover of the book though?
It’s being issued as a Penguin Classic.
Oh yeah, I heard about that. Reactivating old things, old labels that he’s fond of, it’s all that kind of cheeky, British retro stuff.
Do you think the Brett Anderson autobiography should be issued as a Penguin Classic?
No — I intend to write an autobiography but it can stop the day that Suede started. It’s going to be about my childhood. I’m not interested in writing a book about [adopts spoiled brat voice] “what happened to me in the nineties”. Some of these people that trot that stuff out — and I’m not talking about Morrissey — I’m amazed that they’ve got anything to write about.
Surely you must have a few stories you’d want to share from the nineties? Set the record straight on a few things?
Oh, of course I do, but I can’t be bothered to drag it all up. I’d rather look forward to the next record I’m going to make rather than worry about what happened in the nineties.
What’s the public’s most common misconception of Brett Anderson?
What’s the public’s most common misconception? Hang on a sec. [Moves away from phone] Thanks very much. Yeah, sure. Thank you very much. Cheers. [Returns to phone] Sorry, had to go and get the post. Popular misconception? No, I think everyone’s pretty much got me exactly right [laughs]. Everything, literally everything. People don’t actually know the person, they know the persona. The persona, Brett Anderson, and the reality of who I am are completely different things.One of the funniest things is my Twitter impersonator, I’m not sure If you’re aware of him? He calls himself @reallybanderson. It’s actually very, very witty — much wittier than I am. He’s adopted the persona and you should check it out, it’s very funny. It made me think a lot about the difference between the reality and the persona. Maybe that’s the book I’ll write — it’ll be more interesting than me in the nineties.
How often do you get recognised in the street?
You know, every now and then I suppose. It’s actually quite nice now. In the nineties at the height of [my] fame there were a lot of people that recognise you that don’t like you, which is a real headfuck. But now people who recognise me for what I do, and come up and say “Hi, we like what you do,” which is always really nice. What I find really degrading to everyone involved is when people come up to you and go, “Are you famous? Do I know you?” Well, obviously not. I always say, “No, you must have me mistaken.”
But you don’t get people coming up to you now saying, “Suede are shit”?
Not as much as I should do, really.
What was your favourite subject at school?
I just really like physics. It was really well taught. I had this great teacher who was called Mr Bamford. After I left he went on to become a priest. He was a really interesting man. He really inspired me and I love physics; Newtonian mechanics and things like that I find fascinating — how the universe works.
Were you not inspired by Mr Bamford to follow him into the clergy?
Well, I think that would require some sort of belief in God, wouldn’t it? Maybe not… I think I would have looked quite good in the robes.
There are a lot of parallels between rock music and religion, isn’t there? Particularly in the live setting. Perhaps you could be a sort of “indie priest”.
Well, exactly. I think in a sense I did follow him into that. It’s the need to believe in something that’s bigger than yourself. That’s why people believe in religion, that’s why people follow football teams and that’s why people follow pop musicians. It’s Nietzsche’s term — “The will to power”.
He was a bit sexist though.
[Laughs] Was he? How was he sexist?
There’s definitely some passages in ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ about how weak women are and all that kind of thing.
Really? I haven’t read ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’. Maybe I should do.
Let’s make a deal — we’ll look up that Twitter feed, and you read ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’.
Okay, could be interesting. I’m not going to stand here and try and defend Nietzsche and his sexism. It might have been excusable in 1850s Germany [Nietzsche was six years old in 1850] or whatever. Who knows? He was a very, very clever man, regardless of whatever.
What are you doing at the weekend?
Err… Hanging out with the family. It’s my wife’s birthday actually, so hanging out with the family.
You were a little slow to remember that it was your wife’s birthday there.
Oh no, I certainly hadn’t forgotten, I can tell you that.
By Robert Cooke