Suede are back and frankly, what’s not to love about that? Floppy hair all round? Tick! Singing songs about chasing cuddly dragons? Tick! With songs that all still sound aces and knock most of today’s fluff into a rather cocked hat? Tick, tickety tick! So in the spirit of being jolly excited about the reunion, we sprinted over to a fancy hotel in West London to have a coffee with the band last week and chat about what’s it like being back together again. Was it hugs all round or had they all forgotten the chords to Animal Nitrate? Drummer Simon Gilbert and keys man Neil Codling answered our questions…
Hello Simon and Neil. So, Suede. Are you all getting on being in the same room again?
Neil: “We are! It was like getting back onto a conveyor belt. As soon as we started to play together, it was like all the time in between had just vanished.”
Simon: “It was like we’d just had a month off after a tour. Everything just fitted into place which is quite bizarre. Film Star was the first track we played and it sounded great, so then we were like ‘OK, let’s try Beautiful Ones’. So we did and that sounded great too. It was a weird but perfect moment.”
Neil: “All the time we were rehearsing I couldn’t wait to wake up, go to work and play these songs. The excitement was back and we had this great prize at the end of it of playing at the Royal Albert Hall. But ultimately, we’ve all come back to our music feeling excited and refreshed, which is what seven years away does for you.”
What had you all been doing in the intervening years?
Simon: “Different things. I moved to Bangkok 7 years ago – the week after we split up in 2003. I’ve been in a band called Goo.”
Neil: “I’ve been doing umpteen things. I’m with Penguin Cafe and I’ve also just been out being a keyboard player for hire. We’ve all stayed in music – Richard’s got a band together, Brett’s been doing his solo stuff.”
And you’ve all kept in touch?
Neil: “Absolutely – apart from Simon who moved abroad we all still live around West London so we bump into each other in the supermarket…”
The reviews for the Teenage Cancer Trust gig were amazing – did you read them?
Simon: “Of course! But as soon as we came off stage we knew that it was one of the best gigs we’d ever played. The NME gave us an amazing review which was very flattering.”
Blur got together last year and there was a bit of feuding back in the day between you guys – have they given you any advice on the whole reunion experience?
Simon: “Nah – that was all made up!”
Neil: “The only time we ever came in contact with rival bands was when we were on Top Of The Pops or something. We were always in the studio or on tour. That’s really dull isn’t it? We never threw TVs out of windows either.”
For me, the first album Suede reminds me of being at university – what does it remind you of?
Neil: “I was still three years off joining the band so it reminds me of college too. I was a huge fan and knew Simon’s cousin so I’d always be pestering him to get me 12-inches and signed singles.”
Simon: “Just pure excitement really and the thrill of finally doing what you’d always wanted to.”
Are you still in touch with Bernard Butler?
Neil: “Brett and Bernard did the stuff with The Tears so they’re still in touch, and they’ve been remastering the early Suede stuff for the new album The Best Of.”
Simon: “He was only in the band for a couple of years before he left so he’s not really part of Suede anymore. If he came back it would be a nostalgia trip and we’re not doing it for nostalgia – we’re doing it to make music together.”
Neil: “He’d also have a ton of songs to learn…”
What were the reasons you stopped being Suede in 2003?
Simon: “It was because it became mundane, samey, boring – same tours every year and we all needed a break after 14 years. It had become like a job. But now we’re back together the energy is amazing.”
Is there any new material in the offing?
Simon: “Nothing concrete yet – if the songs are there then yes, but if we’re just doing it for the sake of it then we wouldn’t, there’d be no point.”
And can we expect orchestral add-ons from you Neil seeing as that’s your day job these days?
Neil: “We thought about it but really, what works best for us is the five of us on-stage doing our thing and you should live and die by that – no bells and whistles, just us.”
Suede’s The Best Of Suede is out on November 1st and they’ll be touring Europe in November/December.