CBM reviews

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CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 16 Feb 2018, 21:14

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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 16 Feb 2018, 21:14

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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 17 Feb 2018, 20:19

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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 22 Feb 2018, 21:45

Coal Black Mornings by Brett Anderson - review
How Brett survived a poverty-stricken childhood to be a founding father of Britpop
Anna van Praagh
Brett Anderson didn’t want to write “the usual ‘coke and gold discs’ rock memoir”, so he set his beautifully crafted and brilliantly well-written autobiography at a time before his band, Suede, became one of the most important groups of the past 30 years. Founded in 1989, they dominated the Nineties music scene alongside Blur, Oasis and Pulp and were widely credited with launching Britpop.
Instead, “hunched over the fossils” of his past, he tells us the story of his poverty-stricken childhood in a council house in a “drab dormitory town” near Haywards Heath, when he was “a snotty, sniffy, slightly maudlin sort of boy raised on salad cream and milky tea and cheap meat” and lived a life about as far from rock stardom as it’s possible to get.
His mother was an art school-educated seamstress, who decorated their tiny house at the edge of an estate next to a dump with her exquisite watercolours of the Sussex countryside, while his father, a taxi driver, was obsessed with Franz Liszt.
In homage to another of his heroes, T E Lawrence, he acquired full Arab robes and would wear them around the house “dressed like Peter O’Toole’s double cast adrift in some bitterly ironic parallel universe”.
Anderson qualified for free school meals, the house had no central heating and food was scarce. This combination of intellect, romanticism and grinding poverty would later define Suede, as they celebrated the angst-ridden characters of an intellectual but impoverished underclass. Their music was “our ragged hymn, our howl of frustration — a poem to failure and loss and a paean to the cheapened, indifferent Britain we saw before us”.
At his “terrifying” comprehensive, Anderson became a rapacious collector of music — everything from Black Sabbath to Motörhead to Bowie. He formed a band, started experimenting with drugs, moved to Manchester, moved back again. And then, in 1987 he enrolled at the Bartlett architecture school at UCL and met a student called Justine Frischmann, with whom he fell deeply in love, and a star guitarist called Bernard Butler.
Together with bassist Mat Osman, and with Anderson as the frontman, they formed Suede and began the long, soulless journey hustling for a support slot on the early Nineties indie circuit, midway through which Frischmann lost patience and left him for Blur’s lead singer, Damon Albarn. Albarn’s name is never mentioned, amusingly, although Anderson is careful to point out that it was he who noticed the graffiti that would give Blur the title of their bestselling album, Modern Love is Rubbish.
This memoir is a thought-provoking meditation on how our childhoods form the people we become, as well as a love letter to London, as the band slog endlessly around music venues from Hackney to Camden. Anderson also uses the book to explain the beginnings of what inspired Britpop and to vent his frustration at how it became “the laddish, jingoistic and frankly patronising interpretation that would follow”.
Early on, he writes that “we stumble through life leaving an embarrassing, sticky trail”, but by ending the story before Suede even released their first single he escapes having to dish up any of the really painful stuff — his bloodthirsty rivalry with Albarn, his terrible rift with Butler and his and Frischmann’s heartbreaking descent into drug addiction. The book is perfect as it is, but there’s no question that we need a second volume.
Coal Black Mornings by Brett Anderson (Little, Brown, £16.99) buy it here.

https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/bo ... 73296.html

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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 23 Feb 2018, 21:23

Brett Anderson came from a world impossibly distant from rock star success, and in Coal Black Mornings he traces the journey that took him from a childhood as 'a snotty, sniffy, slightly maudlin sort of boy raised on Salad Cream and milky tea and cheap meat' to becoming the founder and lead singer of Suede.
Anderson grew up in Hayward's Heath on the grubby fringes of the Home Counties. As a teenager he clashed with his eccentric taxi-driving father (who would parade around their council house dressed as Lawrence of Arabia, air-conducting his favourite composers) and adored his beautiful, artistic mother.
He brilliantly evokes the '70s, the suffocating discomfort of a very English kind of poverty and the burning need for escape that it breeds. Anderson charts the shabby romance of creativity as he travelled the tube in search of inspiration, fuelled by Marmite and nicotine, and Suede's rise from rehearsals in bedrooms, squats and pubs. And he catalogues the intense relationships that make and break bands as well as the devastating loss of his mother.
Coal Black Mornings is profoundly moving, funny and intense - a book which stands alongside the most emotionally truthful of personal stories.
Listen to the end for an audiobook exclusive: Brett Anderson in conversation with Matt Thorne, author of Prince.
Hachette Audio UK
1st March 2018

https://soundcloud.com/hachetteaudiouk/ ... -this-is-a

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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 27 Feb 2018, 00:04

http://www.nme.com/news/music/suedes-br ... nn-2249162

Suede’s Brett Anderson opens up about his relationship with Elastica’s Justine Frischmann
By Andrew Trendell Feb 26, 2018 1:06 pm

"I'm still very, very fond of her"

Brett Anderson has opened up about his past relationship with Elastica‘s Justine Frischmann – crediting their split for the evolution and success of Suede.
Anderson and Frischmann were a couple in the late 80’s as they formed Suede together. She would later leave him in 1991 for Blur frontman Damon Albarn, before also parting ways with the band and forming Elastica.
Their relationship is discussed heavily in Anderson’s new memoir ‘Coal Black Mornings‘. This weekend saw the alt-rock veteran and accidental Britpop pin-up speak of his fondness for Frischmann in a new interview with The Guardian.
“One of my favourite things about Justine is the fact that she’s so interested in everyone,” said Anderson. “She’s not aloof in any way. It would be easy for her to be, given what she has and who she is. But when she’s talking to someone, she really cares about what their answer is. She’s fascinated and fascinating. I love that combination. And yes, I’m still very, very fond of her.”
Speaking of their split and Frishmann’s departure from Suede, Anderson said: “In lots of ways, it was a brilliant thing. Without it, I might be sort of working in some planning office in Darlington. But I was very happy, living with Justine. We had a fantastic time together, and young love is amazing. But it’s not conducive to creating interesting, tormented, passionate music, you know? I needed some sort of motor to get myself off my arse and have something to write about. The time between us splitting up and her leaving the band was a really odd, sticky, strange thing. Because she was asking lots of questions about the band, and there was a kind of disunity because of that.
“She wanted Suede to be a different kind of band. And as soon as she left, it suddenly just… it’s like magnets. It wasn’t the missing piece, it was the removal of the piece. Suddenly we just linked, and all four of us, it became a little bit telepathic.”
Last year saw Elastica deny reunion rumours – despite MIA asking them to reform for Meltdown Festival.
Frischmann added that she had ‘no desire to make music‘. She also made headlines last year when she revealed how ‘pressure, alcohol and youth’ led to her and Damon Albarn splitting up in the ’90s.
Frischmann and the Blur frontman were in a relationship for seven years between 1991 and 1998.
“I think it’s hard for anyone to survive tabloid attention, and we were kids,” she said. “We were just kids and we didn’t know what we were doing.
“We were were under a lot of pressure and we didn’t see a great deal of each other once everything started up. And he was drinking a lot. It was chaotic and, looking back, we just couldn’t have survived it. We weren’t mature enough.”
Last year saw Anderson release the compilation album ‘Collected Solo Work‘.

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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 03 Mar 2018, 12:32

3 Mar 2018
Brett Anderson: In with the out crowd
Teddy Jamieson
What you need to know is that everything you already know will happen later. The Best New Band in Britain claim, the NME front covers, the meeting with Bowie, the top 10 hits, the (chemically assisted) highs and lows, the success and excess and then the fall-outs and break-ups.
This story happens before all of that.
These days Brett Anderson splits his time between London and Somerset. The former is where he works, the latter is where he lives with his wife, son and stepson. Work mostly takes the form of being the suave older front man of revived Britpop pioneers Suede. But the reason we are speaking today is a new venture. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce Brett Anderson, author.
Coal Black Mornings is Anderson’s autumnal memoir of the springtime of his life; a vision of childhood and his teenage years and the thankless early days of Suede, “a kind of pre-history,” he writes in the introduction. “The very last thing I wanted to write was the usual ‘coke and gold discs’ memoir …”
Instead, he’s written about family and poverty and, ultimately, about the way pop music can offer a map of another path through this world. And he does it very well.
The question is why, of course. Or why now?
Because of fatherhood, Anderson says. Coal Black Morning started as a document for his children. “When you have kids, it makes you think a lot about your own childhood. That was the entry point and I kind of carried on writing.
“The one thing I really didn’t want to do is write the conventional biography. I was determined to stop at the point where we got signed. That’s quite a symbolic moment in a band’s career. It’s the start of success. Whether they go on to achieve success beyond that is another matter.
“I didn’t want to go over the same ground that people have gone over many times before.”
Because up until that point it’s still your story, not ours, perhaps, I suggest to him. “Very much so.”
Now in his 50th year, Anderson has weathered well. On stage he can still whip the microphone lead, though he does tend to forego using the mic to spank his arse these days.
It is now 25 years since Suede announced themselves to the world. The band’s eponymous debut album, a swirling, dark, druggy, carnal beast fuelled by Bernard Butler’s singing, snarling guitar lines and Anderson’s falsetto yowl was a clarion call for British guitar bands in the face of the grunge invasion. They were never a band likely to inspire football singalongs though. Like Pulp, their version of Britpop (not a term Anderson ever wanted to be linked with) was a statement of tawdry glamour and working-class artiness (yes, that used to be a thing).
But Suede didn’t arrive fully formed. That’s what Anderson explores in Coal Black Mornings. It’s both a form of time travel and an archaeological dig into his own youth in all its awkwardness and otherness.
“I came from a working-class background, but it wasn’t the conventional mining community or a high-rise Hackney council block,” Anderson says. “It was a different kind of working class. Just as underprivileged and just as fraught, but a strange in-between sort of background that meant that I suppose that I never really fitted in.
“I never had a tribe. Because even on the council estate that I was brought up on we were seen as outsiders. We were never really seen as part of the community because my dad was quite eccentric, and my mum was quite eccentric in her own way as well.”
Anderson grew up with his sister in Haywards Heath, on the grimy fringe of the Home Counties. His mum was a wannabe painter, his dad Peter, who came from a military family, was a taxi driver and, by Anderson’s account, a difficult man.
Peter Anderson loved Liszt, Churchill and Nelson. He wanted to call his son Horatio but his mother won out and named him after the actor Jeremy Brett. He was a capricious man, too, Anderson suggests, vacillating between charming eccentricity and brooding bullying. “His was a generation that simply wasn’t given the tools to control and address its inner ghosts,” Anderson writes.
And yet, from another angle, there’s a desperate heroism to Peter. His own father, Anderson’s grandfather, was a member of the Royal Scots Fusiliers’ marching band. He was also an alcoholic and, before he disappeared, a violent man. His son swore he would not carry on that cycle of abuse. And to his credit he didn’t.
“That’s the most heroic thing about him,” Anderson agrees. “I have a lot of respect for my dad. In lots of ways we were incredibly close, and I miss him terribly.
“As I get older all the things about him that used to annoy me I just think are amazing now. He was a taxi-driving Liszt obsessive who used to walk around in three-piece suits in the seventies when everyone was dressed in Status Quo T-shirts. At the time his quirks used to irritate me, but he was amazingly brave in lots of way.
“He wasn’t educated, and it just led to frustration in his life. What he managed to eke out of that despite the battle was incredible.
“And there is a sort of quiet dignity to so many people’s ordinary lives. My father was never famous, but he lived his life with a sort of … I dunno … a certain sense of style and individuality that I do hugely respect still.”
None of which made his father easy to live with, of course, Anderson admits. By comparison, his mother Sandra was the family anchor. “She didn’t have this strange charged brittle ego that my dad had. She was more stable. She was the creative hub of our family.
“If I have any strand of creativity it’s thanks to her really. She used to make and paint.”
The teenage Anderson was, the adult version admits in the pages of Coal Black Morning, callow, weak, cloying, even clingy. An outsider looking for a tribe to belong to.
For a while education was one possible escape. “I didn’t want to go to university in London originally. I wanted to go to university in Manchester. I had this romanticised vision of Manchester. I even applied to Dundee. I wanted to get as far away from my background as I possibly could geographically as well as in every way.”
In a parallel universe, Brett … “I could have been a town and county planner living in Dundee.”
Instead, he went to London, met Justine Frischmann who became his girlfriend and a member of his band. The band were called Suede. His friend Mat Osman was also a member and eventually Bernard Butler would come aboard.
“I suppose I was trying to do create my own little nation, this army of misfits,” he says now. “I was very into having a tribal following and I suppose, looking at it in finer detail, the kind of band that we became – where lots of people really didn’t like us and lots of people really loved us; the so-called Marmite band, you know – that was born from that need to inspire those polarities.”
Listening back to Suede’s eponymous album what strikes you now is the fierce confidence of it. But it took them a long time to get to that point. And it took the departure of Frischmann (from the band and from Anderson’s life; she would go on to be Damon Albarn’s partner and form her own band Elastica) to spark and fire Suede into life.
Her departure followed soon after the death of Anderson’s mother, a low point in his life. At the time, he writes in the book, he was “an emotionally frail person.” I wonder what gave him the strength to carry on?
“People just carry on, don’t they? Those wounds are awful and life-changing, but eventually they heal.”
In the book Anderson argues that it was in trying to fill this sudden female absence in his life that he stumbled upon the sense of androgyny that would do so much to mark Suede apart when they roared into the public consciousness.
“That’s the only justification I can give really. I was a strange young man,” he says when I bring it up.
To a degree, too, he suggests, it was accidental. “When Suede first started getting popular there were a couple of times when people ripped my shirt off onstage. It became a bit of a ritual where the fans would rip my clothes off and in order to replace the shirt I’d go out to a junk shop after a soundcheck and just buy a crappy old thing that was only supposed to last the first few songs. And then I ended up buying blouses.
“I don’t think I was consciously thinking: ‘Oh, I want to look androgynous.’ They were just thin and disposable and cheap and that almost became a style in itself.”
He pauses, then circles back around. “I’m being disingenuous saying I wasn’t aware of there being an androgyny there. But sometimes it’s parts of lots of different elements. There was definitely this thing of replacing femininity in my life because it wasn’t there. It had gone.”
What is also true is that back then he was still a young man with the inevitable mixture of swagger and naivety. On the band’s first single The Drowners Anderson sang: “We kissed in his room to a popular tune …” And he famously told the music press that he was a bisexual man “who’s never had a homosexual experience” to inevitable abuse and ridicule.
And yet Suede’s original impact owed much to the libidinal charge that was there in the songs. Whatever else they were, Suede’s songs were not neutered.
“I think that was an incredibly important thing,” he agrees. “There seems to be two versions of sex in pop music. Either no sex – anodyne pleasantries about nothingness – or cartoon sex; Love in an Elevator sort of thing.
“And there didn’t seem to be much description of sex as failure, hesitation, confusion. Those were the kinds of things I wanted to mine.
“And importantly not just sex as in references to sex, but there being something in the music that felt troubling and kind of carnal as well. All of a sudden, you dig into yourself and there’s something primal in there that you suddenly access.”
That was the key. All those years of seeing success as a support slot to Clare Grogan were suddenly in the past. Suede were suddenly the next big things.
The band’s swaggering pomp didn’t last long as Butler walked out in the middle of the making of their follow-up album Dog Man Star. That said, the band continued into the new century still channelling all the love and poison that fascinated Anderson, and then disappearing for more than a decade before returning with a new album, Bloodsports, in 2013 and Night Thoughts in 2016, albums that reinvigorated the Suede model for middle age.
The callow man Anderson was is now an adult. “I said to a friend earlier: ‘Yeah, me and my ego parted company the day I had children,’” he tells me. “When you realise that you’re not the most important person in the world your ego suddenly fades into the ether, doesn’t it?”
Still, he has enjoyed writing the book, he says. Maybe he’ll write something else at some point in the future. In the meantime, the 21st-century version of Suede has found a new life.
And in the end, this is the real story of Suede; in the long run it’s not a story of youth or sex or drugs (though they’re all part of it), it’s about friendship.
“It’s a funny thing being in a band. You spend so much downtime with them it’s like some sort of really dreary, drudgy marriage; a marriage that is just spent washing up or something. You sit in an airport with the same people and after a while I can see why people end up having separate dressing rooms.”
But that is not Suede’s story, he says. “I’m lucky enough to get on very well with the members of the band and we are lucky to feel very excited about what we’re doing artistically as well. You’ve got to be united. A band is a little gang.”
Brett Anderson says that even now he still feels like an outsider. But he’s not alone any more. He has found his tribe.
Coal Black Mornings by Brett Anderson is published by Little, Brown, priced £16.99. He is appearing at the Aye Write Book Festival in Glasgow on March 21.
http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts_ents ... out_crowd/

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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 03 Mar 2018, 20:23

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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 05 Mar 2018, 06:06

January 2018
Brett Anderson
On Coal Black Mornings & The 25th Anniversary of Suede
Interview & Photography: Steve Bateman
"This is a memoir which is so very good we would have wanted to publish it, whoever the author. The fact that it is by the founder of an internationally successful band of course adds to the attraction. But fundamentally it is a classic memoir, which can stand alongside books like This Boy’s Life and Alan Johnson’s memoirs, as well as music books such as those by Mark Oliver Everett and Tracey Thorn." - Richard Beswick, Little Brown Publishing Director
"A remarkable feat, utterly true. This decade's Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius." - Douglas Coupland, Author of Generation X
"Coal Black Mornings is a triumph... a bracingly honest work raised way above the celeb book fray by Anderson's obvious talent for writing... revelatory and delivered with writerly panache." - John Harris, MOJO
"Fascinating... gorgeously written. On more than one occasion it made we well up... most certainly not just for the fan club." - The Guardian
"This memoir is a thought-provoking meditation on how our childhoods form the people we become, as well as a love letter to London, as the band slog endlessly around music venues from Hackney to Camden." - London Evening Standard
"A brilliant, beautifully written memoir from Suede founder and lead singer Brett Anderson, who came from a world impossibly distant from rock star success, and in Coal Black Mornings he traces the journey that took him from a childhood as 'a snotty, sniffy, slightly maudlin sort of boy raised on Salad Cream and milky tea and cheap meat' to becoming founder and lead singer of Suede. Anderson grew up in Hayward's Heath on the grubby fringes of the Home Counties. As a teenager he clashed with his eccentric taxi-driving father (who would parade around their council house dressed as Lawrence of Arabia, air-conducting his favourite composers) and adored his beautiful, artistic mother. He brilliantly evokes the seventies, the suffocating discomfort of a very English kind of poverty and the burning need for escape that it breeds. Anderson charts the shabby romance of creativity as he travelled the tube in search of inspiration, fuelled by Marmite and nicotine, and Suede's rise from rehearsals in bedrooms, squats and pubs. And he catalogues the intense relationships that make and break bands as well as the devastating loss of his mother. Coal Black Mornings is profoundly moving, funny and intense - a book which stands alongside the most emotionally truthful of personal stories." - MEMOIR SYNOPSIS
Acquired by the book publishing house, Little Brown, following a 10-way auction, Brett Anderson's literate, reflective, heartfelt and inspirational memoir, is set to be published in hardback on March 1, 2018, supported by an 'In Conversation UK Book Tour'. And, not only does this come hot on the heels of last year's comprehensive and lavish, Collected Solo Work 5CD+DVD package and 4LP Vinyl Box Set. But this year, Coal Black Mornings will also excitingly coincide with the 25th Anniversary of Suede's critically-praised eponymous debut long player. Which was the fastest-selling debut record in British history for almost a Decade, entering at the very top of the UK Albums Chart (after shifting a behemoth 100,000 copies during its first week on sale, thus being instantly certified Gold by the BPI). And, flush with success, even later winning the illustrious 1993 Mercury Music Prize. With its reputation-establishing, powerful and timeless songs (including the beloved singles, The Drowners, Metal Mickey, Animal Nitrate and So Young, which roared out of the radio), continuing to resonate to this day. And validating how - through the pursuit of musical excellence and dedication to their craft with artistic integrity - the suave and elegant group's long game vision, for both their oeuvre and Suede's lasting legacy in the lineage of great British music, was set in stone from the very beginning. They were not going to be a flash in the pan!
Ahead of the LP's original release on March 29, 1993, which with an electrifying freshness, awoke something in listeners - provoking an ecstatic response in both infatuated fans and fixated critics alike! In the same breath, upending The Music Industry and encountering an inescapable tidal wave of media ballyhoo, headlines and hysteria. With the unprecedented significance of these extraordinary synchronised and epoch-making events, impossible to overstate, and which would ultimately give birth to Britpop - arguably the zenith of Indie music's popularity. And in today's current climate, a cultural / musical movement that would be unrepeatable for aspiring guitar-based alternative acts. In a glowing Suede album review for Q Magazine, after carefully examining his subject; the flash boys' strong aesthetic, sonic toolbox and distinctive amalgamation of antecedent musical styles. Stuart Maconie - renowned as a trusted journalist and a keen-eared enthusiast, with a whip-smart mind - made this diagnosis about the 'saviours' who single-handedly resuscitated the then moribund British music scene, and in the process, kick-started a brand new zeitgeist: "Bowie and The Smiths are obvious points of reference. From each, Suede have taken an alien sexual charisma, a peculiarly claustrophobic Englishness and brazenly good tunes. Moreover, rarely has a record from the Indie sector come with such a burning sense of its own significance." With Brett commenting in Coal Black Mornings, that Suede's music was "our ragged hymn, our howl of frustration - a poem to failure and loss and a paean to the cheapened, indifferent Britain we saw before us."
Now hailed as "one of the best debuts of all-time," and by the same token, rightly recognised as indispensable and exceedingly influential. Suede is comprised of thrilling, expressive and euphonious vocals (velvety, aggressive, fragile), wrought with theatrical affectations and an impressive octave range. Astounding, inventive and virtuoso guitar playing, that overspills with detonating riffs and exquisite caressing chords. The thrumming rhythms of bass and drums. Luxuriant accomplished compositions. Textured and nuanced musical backdrops (sonorous, ultraviolent, melancholic). Shifting dynamics. Elevating key changes, crescendos and apexes, which enkindle stimulating sensations. And finally, to wrap up this monumental list, Brett's perceptive, personal, empathetic, ambiguous, abstract and poetic lyrics - featuring an eye for detail and storytelling, self-analysis, clever turns of phrase and efficacious wordplay. All sung with imaginative phrasing, while rotating through a rich tapestry of emotional landscapes; the human condition, kaleidoscopic moods and quintessential Suede tropes. From dislocation, to sadness, to loneliness, to unease, to depression, to desperation, to upheaval, to loss, to yearning, to fading romance, to twisted sexuality, to narcotic psychosis, to urban / suburban suffocation, to seedy city sleaze, to street life, to the impoverished underclass, to the drama of the everyday, to finding beauty in the mundane and glamour in the gutter. The latter, with a hint of the famous Oscar Wilde stargazing quote: "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
With Brett justifiably unencumbered and self-assured, that the game-changing, devotion inspiring and opposition obliterating "Suede probably has more cultural resonance than any other of their albums, as a pre-cursor to Britpop and a supplanter of Grunge." Further expanding upon this notion with invigorated gusto: "The album is charged with a naïvety, but it manages to have a feel which I still love; it rages and it screams, it yelps and it whispers and captures some truth of who we were at that moment in our lives: youthful, impertinent, ambitious and flawed. I only have sunny memories of those days. It was a wonderful time for us when we were all still young men; wild-eyed and passionate and heedless, when we were still united and mutually purposeful and when it felt like the world could be ours." With The Guardian recently ruminating on how - in a different class and far removed / divorced from the mutated mid-nineties beery fraternity / jingoistic cartoon side of Britpop - these outsiders (with razor sharp cheekbones and wit) had an edge, creating outlier songs for other outcasts: "Suede’s music, like that of Pulp, would later reflect this merging of grot and glamour, of shabbiness and sensuality. Its swaggering, self-consciously arty intensity was especially seductive to a generation of misfits and dreamers turned off by lager and laddism." And in Coal Black Mornings, Brett even goes as far as to meditate on the otherworldliness that music can conjure: "Why shouldn’t something as transforming and life-affirming and celestial as music have a heft and a gravity that transcends the trivial and the everyday?"
It was therefore a dream come true, not only to have the good fortune of speaking to an iconic singer, songwriter, musician and now a gifted author too - who was articulate, intelligent, sincere, humble, amusing and gracious throughout the entire duration of our interview (which was conducted on January 17, 2018). But also, to the figurehead of a very important, one in a million, top-tier classic band - and 'NME Godlike Genius Award' + 'Q Icon Award' recipients no less! Who continue to stay relevant and inspiring and who have so much depth, with a tribe of adoring / faithful devotees who 'get' Suede, love them with all of their hearts and understandably obsess over the group's exceptional music! About Brett's forthcoming memoir, the emotional, evocative and enthralling, Coal Black Mornings (with Brett encouragingly admitting to Uncut: "One thing I've learnt is that I can write about whatever I want to write about, and that was very freeing.") As well as other titbits, after delving into how - on somewhat of a creative hot streak - he penned songs that would go onto form the basis of Suede's spearheading and music scene dominating, seminal first LP...
1. To begin with, many congratulations on Coal Black Mornings. I was lucky enough to be sent a proof copy, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading and finished in 1 day over Christmas - I think it's a fantastic book (with wide appeal potential), beautifully written and a real page-turner! When did the initial idea of writing a memoir come to you, and how long was this process from start to finish?
"I wrote something ages ago, but I can't even remember what it was for - it was like a mini-essay and it was kind of about my childhood and growing up. I sent it to my Manager and he sort of planted the seed I suppose, because he said: "Have you thought about taking this further and writing a book?" And I was like: "Oh, no - it's not my sort of thing." Because I've always had this thing in myself, that I didn't want to be a literary sort of writer. But, the older I get, the more important books become to me - it's a strange thing. I've always loved books, but nowadays, I'm obsessed with them! I devour them and I always need to have a good book. If I don't have a good book, I feel like I'm not quite complete. So, I'm reading all the time and I just thought that I would give it a go and a lot of the motivation, like I've said in the foreword of the book, was leaving a sort of document for my boy (Lucian). I kind of had a strange, scruffy little childhood and I didn't just want that to disappear, I suppose. I wanted it to be there for him to read about, because his childhood is very different from mine you know? He's living in a different part of the country or whatever. So, I wanted to leave this for him - that was definitely the initial motivation, leaving this document for my kid. I actually wrote the book quite quickly, it was over a few months - I couldn't stop writing it! The first version was about half the length, it was about 22,000 words and I wrote that quite quickly, probably in about 6-weeks or something like that. But, I literally couldn't stop writing, it was like an urgent need to impart and it was stopping me from sleeping! I just sort of had to get it out, it was one of those sort of things. I probably wasn't a very good husband for a while (laughing) and not very good company either (laughing again)! But sometimes, you've just got to do these things. Then I sent it to the publisher and they said: "This is great, but it's too short." So, I went back and sort of filled it in and made it longer for them. All in all, it probably took me about a year to write, dotting the i's and crossing the t's, stuff like that. But, it's not a very long book, it's about 43,000 words, so it isn't hugely long. But what I didn't want to do, was go beyond the time where it ends chronologically. It was really important to me to stop when Suede get signed (by Nude Records in February 1992). That was a very important thing for me! Like I say in the foreword, I wanted it to be a book about failure and not the normal career arc of a band, which is so predictable you know? They struggle, then there's success, continued success, excess (laughing) and then the spilt and rebirth, or whatever it is. I didn't want it to be that, I wanted it to have a different kind of narrative."
2. Did you approach writing your book like your songs, i.e. do you have a favourite place where you write / contemplate, or perhaps a routine?
"I write in my 'Writing Room' at home, which is also where I write my songs - it's a big blue room overlooking the garden, which is quite nice. I'm standing in it now as I'm speaking to you over the telephone. It's kind of quite old-fashioned, there are old window shutters and there are instruments and bits of furniture, stuff like that. So, it's a very creative space for me and I've written lots of stuff here now. We only moved into the house recently, but I've written an album and a book here, so it's been pretty good. Funnily enough, I wrote my memoir as e-mails actually, because I didn't have Word for my computer (laughing)! Do you know the Notes thing on the Mac? I wrote it on Notes and when I finished what I thought was a chapter, I just sent it off to my Manager. So, I basically wrote it with e-mail!"
3. I read that the title, Coal Black Mornings, "refers not only to the death of Anderson's mother, and the loss of his lover, but also to the 'choked Britain' of the early 1990s." Did you immediately think of using this?
"Yeah, and what I do is, I have notebooks which have little phrases in them, which I kind of steal. I'll be reading a newspaper and I'll say: "Oh, that's a good phrase, I'll have that!" Just jot it in there you know? Loads of my songs have got these little funny things that I've just picked-up on, and then I've forgotten what the provenance is you know? But one day, I looked at one of my notebooks and saw Coal Black Mornings, and it seemed to evoke something of my childhood. I don't know why. As you probably recognised in the book, it's a phrase that I use repeatedly, but deliberately so - it's almost like a literary device, repeating the same phrase every now and then. It can be applied to different things, but there's just something about it, that evokes something for me about those early years of my life. Especially growing up in the house that I lived in, where there was no central heating and kind of struggling through the winter and sitting by the open fire. Those kind of hardships and privations. I also thought, that there was something quite romantic about it, the beauty of the bleakness of it."
4. In your foreword, you openly admit that at one point, you had "no book deal and no real knowledge whether anyone would be particularly interested in publishing this as it was." You also state - as previously mentioned - that you didn't want your memoir to be a clichéd 'coke and gold discs' rock autobiography and have "limited it strictly to the early years, before anyone really knew or really cared." However, you also touch upon how "there was a natural fear of exposing yourself so nakedly," although effectively, how through songwriting "you've been doing that for years" anyway. Is this thought process, what made you push ahead?
"No, I think that was the one thing that made me consider not doing it. That kind of exhibitionism (pausing), in fact, with the early version that I wrote of the book, I sat on it for a while. I thought: "Do you know what, I don't want to do this... (assertively) I'm not going to do this!" I wrote it and read it and I thought, it gives too much away of my life - strangely enough, says the man promoting his memoir (laughing)! But I'm actually quite a private person, so I was quite uncomfortable with it and I changed it quite a lot and made myself comfortable with it, before I kind of showed it to anyone, really. But there was a version of it that was (pausing), not more revealing, but just giving different things away that I didn't feel comfortable with giving away. I manicured it over a period of 6-months to a year, to a point where I felt as though it had the right balance of being revealing - because it has to be, because it's a memoir. Although there's a thin line that you're balancing on as a memoir writer, I think. There's lots of my life that isn't anyone else's business except mine and the people that I've lived it with, kind of thing. But of course, when you're writing a thing like this, it needs to speak and it needs to breath with life you know? So, there are things that you've got to disclose."
5. As this book is principally a timestamp, do you think that you will ever pen a follow-up volume, focusing on everything that has happened in your life since February 1992?
"Well, the bloody-mindedness person in me says no (laughing)! I quite like the idea of leaving it there, it kind of appeals to me, because it's at exactly the point where people want to know about what happened. But, I'm not going to tell them (laughing)! I find that quite satisfying, but in reality, who knows. I really enjoyed writing the book and I've found that it's really helped me personally, in understanding who I am, to a certain extent - if that doesn't sound a bit like psychiatrist-speak. But, it really has! If you visit a psychoanalyst, basically what they do, is sit there and kind of reflect your own thoughts back at you, as a sounding board almost, and that's exactly what this book did. I thought things and I wrote them down, and when I read them back, I thought: "Oh, my God, that's why I do this or that's where that bit of my personality comes from." Things that you know, but you have to sort of remind yourself of almost. I find it very useful in those terms and it's clearly a self-help tool (laughing). So, I might do another one, but who knows."
*Just out of curiosity, I ask Brett - although knowing his estimation of this genre - if there are perhaps any music books, autobiographies or biographies that he has enjoyed reading*
"Yeah, I really enjoyed the first John Lydon book, Rotten: No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs. That was really great and obviously I'm a huge fan of the Sex Pistols and PiL, so that was amazing, I loved that! But it's more just because he's amazing - I'm not talking about it as a piece of literature - I'm talking about the story of his life and what he's achieved. But as I touched upon earlier, I find the rock biography a very underwhelming genre, to be honest. It's very formulaic and it doesn't really ever manage to stray from cliché, I don't think. So, I find the genre slightly dull and I don't sit and read tell-all rock biographies, really. Occasionally, when I'm on tour, there's resonances that I quite enjoy - you're sort of sitting there on a plane reading about bands sitting on planes (laughing), it's quite funny! But hopefully, Coal Black Mornings is not a rock biography, I didn't really want to do that and that's the whole point of the book, it was supposed to sit slightly outside that genre. In fact, if there's any real influence on the book, it would be Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee. That's kind of what I wanted to do, I wanted to write a suburban Cider With Rosie and that's why there's so much stuff about my childhood, because that's kind of how the book started off. I just basically wanted to write about my childhood and then it kind of merged into me being a young man, and then that merged into me starting a band. But, I was determined that it wasn't just going to be a straight rock biography."
6. In Coal Black Mornings, you recount growing up, family, friends, home life, education, employment, wanting to escape, recreational pursuits, living on the dole, flatsharing etc. But do mention however, that after checking your childhood diaries, there wasn't a lot of interesting information which could be used. So did you find that once you had started writing - "hunched over the fossils" of your past - memories and specific details gradually started to come back to you?
"Yeah, I did. It was strange, because when I told people that I was writing a book, I had a few of them say: "God, I couldn't remember anything about my childhood." But, it's remarkable when you actually sit down and try to remember it, how much of it does come flooding back. Memories sort of link onto other memories and you think: "Oh yeah, then I did that." You remember these tiny little details. So, with the process, I didn't rely on anything else except my memory, really. My sister helped out a bit with a few of the facts, because some of the stuff about our early childhood, I needed to ask her exactly what happened there or what did we do, and she kind of reminded me, just jogged my memory. But again, she said that she didn't want to plant memories in my head that weren't there, like: "I don't want to create manufactured memories for you, you have to remember them yourself." So the book is very much a product of my own memory. But like I said in the foreword, there's a famous Nietzschean quote about how 'There's no such thing as truth, it's just perspective', and that was a really fascinating maxim that I pondered over a lot. That whole question of what truth is, when you're writing something like this. You know, how there's no such thing as absolute truth, because it's just a version of one's own perspective. It can be applied in a broader sense to history as well, and it makes you think about what actually happened in history. It's a fascinating idea."
7. Along with many very interesting personal accounts / character building tales, something that is extremely heart-warming about your insightful, descriptive and revelatory book, is the genuine love and affection with which you write about your family, and just how important your Mum, Dad and sister were to you in your young life. Be it your mother's love of literature bleeding through to you in due course, your father's quirks, or how through their necessitated 'home-made' attitude towards living, your parents showed you that creativity was accessible and actively encouraged you to pursue your aspirations of having a career in music. But, it's fair to say - although there's an honest emotional balance between moving and funny moments - that writing your memoir, was "a wrenching experience"?
"Yes, it was just very, very emotional, especially writing about things like the death of my Mum. When you're writing something like this, it's almost like going back in time and it was incredible how emotionally engaged I felt with it. It felt like being back there in 1989 - it was unbelievable and I didn't feel any distance from it at all. So hopefully, that comes across in the writing, because it was a very, very emotional thing for me to do - to face things."
8. You also speak very fondly of how your sister's influence on you was huge, from turning you onto music that would shape you, to inspiring you to want to be educated?
"Like I say, we were a slightly strange family. My Mum and Dad (Sandra and Peter) were very cultured and very artistic, Mum had been to Art College, but neither of them knew anything about modern education, it was almost something that happened to children from privileged families, which we certainly weren't. It wasn't that they didn't care about education, they didn't really know how to sort of advise me about it. My sister (Blandine) is 4 or 5-years older than me and having been through that process, she was the one that made me realise, that unless you become educated, then you could end up working in a furniture shop or something. So, she was the one that made me realise that. I thought: "Ah, ok, this is kind of actually quite important." I've always enjoyed learning and I loved school in lots of ways, I loved learning about things and I wasn't one of these kids who would bunk-off, or who was cynical about school, I found it really fascinating learning about stuff. Education seemed important to me and it's not a particularly cool of fashionable thing to say probably, for a man in a band (laughing). But increasingly as I get older and with my own kids, when I look at their lives and try to advise them, I say: "Look, God, you don't realise how important this is - it's so important and it might sound boring, but unless you do this, you're going to regret it." Another interesting parallel in the memoir, is how for me, one of the themes of the book is my relationship with my son and therefore the mirror relationship with my Dad. It's almost on a line between generations you know and how my relationship with him, mirrors the relationship with my boy. So, that's a really important thing!"
9. The primal rage of Punk was vital to you, and injected with a proclivity, the very first LP that you ever bought was Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols, heralding a lifelong affair with alternative music. But, I found it fascinating, how the non-cosmetic distorted sound of a cheap turntable and its lack of clarity and precision, potentially informed the way you began to listen to music?
(laughs heartily) "Yeah, it was a crappy old Boots Audio turntable, that was handed down to me - it was probably new in about 1972 or something. It didn't sound very good at all and because it was so thin-sounding, I learned not to listen to the bottom end in music and I sieved out bits that didn't seem important - it was all about the top-line and the song. But the music that I was listening to, that was the point of it, it wasn't supposed to sound sophisticated. I was listening to the Sex Pistols and lots of Pop and stuff, and I think sometimes musicians (pausing), I've always been the sort of musician who's at the end of the spectrum where virtually the only important thing, is the song, and the energy of the band playing it kind of thing. I think when people get caught up in the microscopic technicalities of music, it's just kind of missing the point, really. You're missing the vitality of it and the purpose of music. But obviously, with some types of music, that's really important. Like with Classical music or whatever, those subtleties are really important. But for the kind of music that I make, it's just about the energy, it's about the words, it's about the melody, it's about the meaning - it's a very, very simple thing. That kind of bled through to me from my love of Punk music, where 'capturing' that energy was sort of the most important thing!"
10. Due in part to poverty, you discuss how your working class family were outsiders, which is something that has perpetually stayed with you. Along with the fact that you've "always loved art and artists that find a place and have the discipline to stay in it... never seeing repetition of themes as being a weakness, merely as essential in establishing identity." Do you feel that these are the key reasons why Suede embraced 'outsiderdom', you had a target audience in mind and you also "wanted the band to inhabit its own universe - a 'Suede World'"?
"Yeah, absolutely (without any hesitation), they're completely linked! My background was a very strange one, I was brought up in a cheap council house, but it was kind of connected to this nice little village. So we didn't live in a tower block in Dalston and we didn't live in a Yorkshire mining village, or something like that - it wasn't that kind of working class. But at the same time, it was very, very poor and very, very working class. However, there were middle class values at home, like my father was a Classical Music obsessive and Mum was an artist, so there was this sort of weird mixture of things that meant I didn't fit into any group, and I never have! You know, I've never been able to be the beer drinking, flag-waving Socialist and I've never been able to be Oscar Wilde, sitting there with his book of poems. My group, is my specific life. There's probably others like me, and some of them are probably Suede Fans, but that's the kind of thing that you do when you're in a band - you almost create your own tribe. That's what I was doing with Suede, I was creating a nation of disparate people. But yes, very much so - I was very much influenced by the fact that I never felt that I fitted in anywhere as a child, and therefore, I never felt much kinship with other bands when I was in Suede, really (laughing). Not as an aloof thing, but that's just the way it's been you know? So with our fanbase, it's sort of a tribe of people who don't quite fit in anywhere else (laughing). We're the only club who will have them (laughs heartily)!"
11. Throughout your memoir, you talk in-depth about learning to play guitar, developing your own style, turning personal events and the truth into songs, plus honing your lyrics / songcraft, melody, choruses and hooks etc. As well as how you improved as a vocalist / the importance of singing with your own accent, and even shed light on your earliest bands. But something that struck me, was where you noted: "During the mid-eighties, songs about weakness and failure and the drudgery of real life began to resonate powerfully with me." Could you elaborate on this indoctrination?
"Yeah, it was a really interesting time I think, the mid-eighties. In music history, I'm not sure it's ever really given the kudos that it really deserves - there's obviously bands like The Smiths, who are hugely respected and probably more so now, than they ever were at the time. But it wasn't just them, there were a whole load of bands, people like The Housemartins and all of these kind of lesser bands, Lloyd Cole (pausing), there's a definite sense that all of the posturing from The '70s, was becoming tired. People wanted to write about a much more kitchen-sink reality, almost like a John Osborne play or something, that kind of thing. So songs about "the drudgery of real life" I think is the phrase that I used, just became really, really important to me and really spoke to me. Yeah!"
12. In terms of your relationship with London (which could almost be thought of as a central character itself in Coal Black Mornings), you declare: "I've always been inspired by the arse-end of the city and tried to look for stories and vignettes in the bustle and majesty of the everyday." Can you tell us about your notebooks and using unsanitised language, by scribbling down phrases that you overheard on the Underground. As well as how you also copied graffitied scrawlings which you came across in the toilet cubicles, along with chronicling 'nowhere places' and the hinterlands etc? All of which, not only paint pictures in listeners minds, but once slowly pieced together from your outings, catalogued your love of words and became "a kind of Impressionist collage from the flotsam and debris that littered the streets of the capital; a lexicon torn from the dirty pulse of the city" as you wonderfully put it.
(laughing) "Thank You! Well, it's just what I do - especially when I was a young man - I used to sit on The Tube and scribble into my notebooks and overhear things people said. For example, with something like Animal Nitrate, I was stood at the back of a gig and I couldn't really hear what the people next to me were saying, because the band were playing, but I thought they said the words animal nitrate. They were probably saying amyl nitrate (a 'club drug' also known as 'poppers' in slang), but I thought: "That sounds great!" So I went to the loo and just wrote it down, then the next day, I kind of had an idea for the song. It's just these things that you hear or see, and without my notebooks, I don't think I would be able to write anything. I quite like the thing that happens with notebooks as well, where random ideas kind of become connected to each other. So, I might have the phrase Animal Nitrate and underneath it, I might have a different phrase. Sometimes, when writing becomes too linear, it becomes boring. It's quite nice to slip-off tangentially and I've always liked the slightly random element, of having lots of phrases on the same page, that can kind of suggest a different sort of story. So, I use that quite a lot. I guess it's like the William Burroughs 'Cut-up technique', that famous thing that Bowie went onto do quite a bit, where he would randomly cut-up a load of phrases and words, then throw them on a table to see how they scanned. The human mind then makes a narrative out of that, so I suppose it's a way of doing that."
13. On a similar note, you refer to how you began "to eschew the cliché about writing about universal experiences, convinced that the most powerful resonance was achieved through focusing on the microscopic rather than the macroscopic." Explaining that the way in which you write, "is in many ways very instinctive and occasionally almost subconscious... it's often only years later that I can pin any meaning onto it," and that for you personally, "the vast majority, if not all, art is in some way about love." However, you do go onto share that you appreciate and understand, "how the lifeblood of a song is about subject interpretation"?
"Yeah, but in terms of "the lifeblood of a song being about subject interpretation," I'll actually kind of slightly contradict myself with this whole question (laughing). Because on one hand, I'll say (angrily): "I find it annoying when people kind of assume that all of my songs are about this or that." But then later on (laughing), I'll say (cheerily): "Oh, I really like it when people have their own interpretations and stuff." So, I'm aware that those are contradictory statements, but for me, it's that sort of thing of (wearily): "What is a song about?" It always reminds me of a butterfly that has been killed and put in a glass box, and labelled with a Latin name. There's something dead about just saying (authoritatively): "This is what a song is about, and it's absolute and you're not allowed to contradict it!" Songs have as many meanings as there are people listening to them. You know, it's not wrong for someone to say that this song is about me and my girlfriend, when the writer doesn't even know them from Adam sort of thing. In a way, it is about them and their girlfriend. It's fascinating and I'm not absolutist about songs, and I'm aware as a writer - even with my own songs - that I sometimes don't know what their about and I really like that as well. I talk about The Next Life in the book, as being a song that I wrote not really knowing that it was about my mother, and it wasn't until years later, that it dawned on me that of course it was! You know, these things kind of reveal themselves, even to the writer."
14. Penning tracks such as The Drowners, He's Dead, Moving, Pantomime Horse and To The Birds, were real turning points for you as a songwriter, unlocking something deep within. But, prior to recording any demos and the 'Anderson & Butler Songbook' scaling even greater lyrical and musical heights, with the heart of Suede hung on your songwriting partnership. Can you recall, how after initially presenting these songs to the whole group during rehearsals and hearing them play along for the very first time, this made you feel inside? As evidently, the 'Words & Music of Suede' indubitably have a magical symbiotic relationship.
"Well, The Drowners was a really key song and it's strange that it actually became the first single, it's kind of quite appropriate. I do remember that feeling where that was 'the moment'. We'd written a couple of things before it, that kind of ended up making the album, things like Animal Lover and one of the b-sides, Painted People, stuff like that. But The Drowners was the first real moment, where I felt as though we were through the looking glass, do you know what I mean? Like: "Ah, I've got it, ok, this is it! This is what we're doing - we've got the balance between melody and drama and edge, and all of these things." The lyrics are oblique, but they still scan and all of these elements came together. So yeah, I definitely remember that being a huge, huge thing and I think when me and Bernard wrote it (in 1991), we looked at each other and we thought: "Yes, this is it - we're on the way now!" But annoyingly, it took a while - I remember playing it to 4 people at a gig in ULU (University of London Union). We were supporting (pausing), well, not even supporting, we were playing on one of the tiny stages next to the main stage, where Teenage Fanclub were playing, and as I said, we were playing The Drowners to 4 people. It was like (frustrated): "Why don't you get this (laughing)?" It was that kind of feeling: "How can you not hear this (laughing again)?!?!?" We played many frustrating gigs, as I say in the book - countless shows - and we were playing The Drowners, To The Birds, Moving, Pantomime Horse, all of these great songs that ended up on the first album. One time, there was 1 person in the audience! So, there was regularly more people onstage than in the audience (laughing), when we were playing these songs. But it always felt like: "How are you not hearing this?" And this is why it's interesting in Suede, with our genesis or our growth or whatever, that lots of people saw us as suddenly being this overnight sensation. Because we'd been ignored for such a long time, that we grew on our own and just carried on writing. But suddenly, as soon as anybody noticed that we were actually quite good, we'd already sort of become quite fully-formed. Lots of bands I think, have 1 or 2 good songs or whatever, but we basically had an album's worth of material by the time we'd first been written about kind of thing. And because of that, I think people assumed that we were just overnight sensations, but actually, we were one of the longest overnight sensations ever! We were playing toilets for like 3-and-a-half-years (laughing), but it was quite good for us. These trials, they're onerous and they're difficult, and they're hard and they're challenging, but that's what made us the band we were, being ignored. You know, you can't just have it all straight away - that's the point! You've got to learn to do it and you've got to fight for it."
15. Forming in 1989, you cover the different line-ups / incarnations of Suede and your romantic relationship with Justine Frischmann. The group's rudimentary musical phases and early gigs, right through to your evolving sartorial looks (later including a touching theory about the reasons behind your overt femininity), to how you eventually picked the band's name. You also disclose how you came to meet Bernard, Mat and Simon, your chemistry / camaraderie and considerable admiration for them as musicians, plus how taking time to find your sound and fine-tuning this was a real learning curve. After Justine left, could you tell us more about how, crucially, this boon resulted in the reorientation of Suede with a new-found common purpose and becoming much more focused as a fledgling unit, which in turn, then led to your self-belief skyrocketing?
"Yeah, I think it was a real pivotal moment and I don't really mean that disrespectfully to Justine at all, but it kind of was. Somehow, her leaving the band, kind of realigned us and made the chemistry work. Whereas previously, her presence was confusing. That's not to belittle her influence on the band in anyway, because I think without her, it would have been completely different and without her in my life, I would have been a completely different person. But the fact that we had split-up at that point and she was still in the band, it was just this confusing mishmash of wrongness that didn't quite work. Then she left and suddenly, we were 4 guys, very united and somehow, it gave us that sort of impetus. We became a little gang (pausing), you know, I say this in the book, she was developing a slightly querulous voice and questioning what we were doing, blah blah blah. When she wasn't there, suddenly, we became much more single-minded and clearer about the path ahead. It was one of those things that had to happen and I don't think Justine had many qualms about leaving. She didn't really want to be in the band anymore, it wasn't working and we weren't really going anywhere. But she went onto achieve something remarkable in her own way (fronting Elastica), and I've got so much respect for her as an artist for doing that."
16. Describing yourself at your core as "a co-dependent person; a romantic who seeks completion through others and through fantasy, strangely never quite whole just as myself. It's possible that this flaw in me, this imbalance, is the motor which generally drives my need to constantly write songs; fulfilling the old cliché about seeking to create perfection in art when it doesn't exist in life." It's worth noting, that you believe some of your greatest work, has come from the times you've spent as a 'tortured artist'?
"I mean that in a broad sense. That was leading on from me talking about Justine leaving and the fact that lots of those early songs, were about the torment of us splitting-up, and without that, I would have possibly just carried on writing underwhelming material. Sometimes, you need that huge shift in your life, that huge thing to fight against and to document, to write anything with any meaning. You have to dig down deep and sing about your fears and pain and all those things. Nobody wants to listen to someone singing nice songs about nice things, and I suddenly realised that. I hate to say: (enunciating) "Tortured artist," because it sounds like I'm a sort of idiot pretending to be Lord Byron or something like that. So, I don't think of myself like that, but I do think - I don't mean for every single artist, because I couldn't speak for them - but for me personally, there needs to be an edge to what I'm doing. I can't describe harmony well, I have to describe discord, and that's important for me as an artist."
17. One of life's most important lessons, is how circumstances can change for the better, and in your memoir, you acknowledge all of the people who helped / championed Suede along the way, securing your Manager, Charlie Charlton, and inking your record deal with Saul Galpern for Nude Records. As this coincided with the growth of the group as a mind-blowing ferocious live entity, gaining new fans and being featured much more prominently in the music press, as you "stabbed and kicked against the dreary mediocrity of the time with a style, a spirit and a force that ended up breaking down doors and laying the foundations for the music that defined a Decade." Would you agree, that prior to the now-famous Melody Maker front cover from April 1992, and Suede becoming the most talked-about 'Best New Band In Britain' / finding yourselves in the big time. That after all of the hard work, sacrifices and impediments, signing to Nude as a breaking band - from a business / commercial standpoint - was one of the most important decisions that you've ever had to make during your career?
"Um (thinking)... No (laughing), not really, but who knows. It's part of the story, definitely, and I can't sort of say that it's not important (as a symbolic moment), although I'm unsure if the story would have been radically different, if we'd signed to a different record company, to be brutally frank. If we'd have signed to East West or Island, who were both snapping around our heels at the time, I can't say that it would be radically, radically different. Having said that, Saul ended up being very influential with us and the fact that it was a small record company, kind of worked with the ethos of the band, really. I think if we'd been on some huge major label, it would've been different. But, it's difficult to answer."
18. Have you been pleased with the feedback that you've received for Coal Black Mornings so far, and are you looking forward to your 'In Conversation UK Book Tour'?
"Yeah! I mean, it's all new to me and so I'm not jaded about it yet. Ask me again in 6-months time and I'll go (witheringly): "Oh, for fuck's sake (laughing)!" I just don't know what to expect really, it's kind of odd, but it's a novelty for me - I'm kind of all wide-eyed about it, like some little puppy that's crossing a motorway: "Ooh, that looks nice over there! Watch out for the lorries (laughing)!" So, who knows. It's new, so it's fun and it's bound to be at the moment - I'm just dipping my toe in, but I don't know what I'm doing really (laughs heartily)."
19. Are you allowed to reveal any information about the new Suede record, and also (on behalf of collectors and completists everywhere, who have snapped up all previous meticulously curated, vault-raiding Suede reissues in your discography), are you planning anything special for the 25th Anniversary of Suede's chart-topping debut long player?
"The new Suede record is recorded, me and Neil are currently doing post-production and we're doing a string session in February, then we're mixing it in March. We've worked with a new producer this time around, but as I don't want to turn this into a news story, the only other thing that I can tell you, is that there will be a new Suede album out within the next year. So, it's very, very exciting! I'm just so excited about making new Suede albums (enthusiastically), it's got to that stage where I feel that I've got the energy back that I had in The '90s, which I certainly didn't have in the previous Decade. The last Suede album (Night Thoughts) was really good I thought, and it just makes us want to carry on making new music. It feels like there's a great creative energy in the band at the moment! As for the 25th Anniversary of Suede's debut record, there's a Deluxe 4CD+DVD Silver Edition planned and this book has coincided with the Anniversary, which is why they're releasing it in March. I guess it's relevant, because a lot of the songs that I talk about, ended up on that album. We're not gigging or anything, but it will be a thing you know?"
20. Lastly, having published a couple of editions of your own lyrics book, The Words of Brett Anderson, and gone on record as saying that you consider The Wild Ones to be Suede's finest hour. Just for fun (and because the front cover of your memoir utilises your handwriting, also mirroring some of your hand-written titles on Suede's sleeve artwork), if you could have the lyrics to one of your most cherished tracks written out by the songwriter, personally dedicated to you and signed, what would you choose?
"I'd choose Greensleeves by Henry VIII, I think. Do you think you can arrange that for me?"
*I joke that this may prove to be rather difficult*
(laughs heartily) "The story behind Greensleeves is really interesting actually, because it was Medieval and if you described a woman as Lady Greensleeves, it meant that she was a lady of easy virtue - because she had grass stains on her dress you see, from frolicking around in the undergrowth. So even though Greensleeves comes across as a very romantic and beautiful thing, that's the true meaning behind it. So, there you go (laughing)!"
*At the conclusion of our interview, I thank Brett for his time and wish him Good Luck with the publication of his memoir, the 25th Anniversary of Suede's debut LP and putting the finishing touches to what will be Suede's 8th studio album. "Thank You, and I'd like to see this interview once it's online. I think the magazine that you contribute to is really cool and I read the 2010 interview that you did with Ed Buller [look here]; I just thought it was really well done and it was very interesting for me to read, because obviously, when you're working with someone, we don't sort of sit there for hours and talk about what we thought of our pasts, do you know what I mean? So, lots of the things in there - I wouldn't say I didn't know - but it's nice to hear him saying them. I thought it was great, well done!"*
A very special thanks to Brett, to Zoe @ Little Brown, to Didz @ Quietus Management and to George @ MCPR, for all of their time and help.
http://www.repeatfanzine.co.uk/intervie ... 202018.htm

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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 10 Mar 2018, 19:30

10 March 2018
Books: Brett Anderson's Coal Black Mornings is a sad and honest tale
Brett Anderson revisits the painful formative years before Suede
By Olivia Cole
Twenty-five years after their first album, Suede's frontman, Brett Anderson, delivers his memoir, Coal Black Mornings (Little Brown, £17) - a confessional close-up on his childhood in arty poverty in Haywards Heath followed by messy years living in freezing, flea-ridden rented flats in Finsbury Park and pre-gentrification Notting Hill, "before anyone knew or really cared". And what a rich, sad and honest tale it tells.
There is of course the famous love affair with the public schoolgirl muse Justine Frischmann of Elastica, who Anderson met while he was studying town planning at University College London. She was an architecture student and very removed from his life experience up to that point. He notes that as well as her beauty she possessed "what I thought at first was a speech impediment".
Besides dishing on Britpop's most famous love triangle (Frischmann left Anderson for Blur's Damon Albarn), Coal Black Mornings is less a portrait of the hell-raiser as a young man than a book about his family. There's his difficult relationship with his father, "a collection of fascinating people" whose foibles included acquiring full Arabic robes in homage to TE Lawrence and parading "around his council house dressed like Peter O'Toole's double cast adrift in some bitterly ironic parallel universe". The formative event in Anderson's early life was the sudden death of his mother when he was still a teenager and he pays a moving tribute to the unusual education and influence she provided. "As almost everything at home was homemade, the idea of making one's own songs didn't really seem like a stretch." Coal Black Mornings wisely stops at the point where Suede got their big break, but Anderson doesn't hold back in his reflections on what became the Britpop moment, railing against the way his songwriting was dismissed as "social tourism".
"Given the levels of real, cynical, social tourism during that decade, when groups of patronising middle-class boys were making money by aping accents and culture of the working classes, the irony would be exquisite." Safe to say none of that crowd will have a memoir to write like his.
This month's other must-read memoir, The Line Becomes A River (Bodley Head, £15), is by third-generation Mexican-American Francisco Cantú. While New Journalism taught writers to immerse themselves in their subject matter, Cantu's background makes most of its proponents look dilettantish. In his early twenties, he'd had no plans to become a writer and thought his future lay in law or international relations - subjects he wanted to understand from the inside. So, between 2008 and 2012, he worked as a border patrol agent in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, hands-on in the messy day-to-day repatriation of migrants trying to cross the border illegally.
There's enough workaday detail on the cartels, "coyotes" (people traffickers) and ritual violence to make Breaking Bad seem lighthearted, but Cantú's skill as a writer proves an equal match for his material. A digestible account of US and Mexico relations, a nuanced portrait of Mexican cultural blessings and ills, The Line Becomes A River is a page-turning personal story that holds until the final page and wrenches long after.
http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/br ... ook-review

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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 10 Mar 2018, 19:31

09 Mar 2018
Coal Black Mornings by Brett Anderson — uncool Britannia
The Suede singer eschews the ‘coke and gold discs’ approach of most pop memoirists
Suzi Feay

Suede were once described by the music press as “the most humourless band since Joy Division”, an accolade that lead singer and lyricist Brett Anderson typically saw as a “massive compliment”. In contrast to the rowdyism and bravura of Britpop, Anderson and his fellow band members stuck out as glamorous misfits. They were hollow-eyed and sharp-cheekboned, unfashionably serious and poetic, with songs that described brief moments of chemical or emotional transcendence amid the mundanity of urban life. So it’s a surprise to see just how funny this brief, poignant memoir actually is.
Rather than delivering what he calls “the usual coke and gold discs” story, Anderson wanted instead to focus on his unusual childhood and the false starts and embarrassing dead ends of his early musical career. “This is a book about failure,” he states uncompromisingly, but it’s also about a dogged artistic apprenticeship. He grew up on a grim-sounding estate in Haywards Heath, in London’s commuter belt, where the Andersons were seen as strange and aloof — “that lot with the piano in their kitchen”. His elder sister was named Blandine after the daughter of Franz Liszt, his father’s idol. How different pop history might be had he been christened Horatio after another idol; but mother got her way and he was named after the actor Jeremy Brett, or alternatively the dapper Brett Sinclair character from The Persuaders!, another fan of tightly fitting pastel shirts.
Like models claiming they were ugly in childhood, the very cool often like to emphasise that they were once quite the opposite, but Anderson’s depiction of his unhip former self rings true. There’s no fetishisation of poverty either; life with no central heating, no washing machine and homemade clothes is described in simple, unemotive terms. “As almost everything at home was homemade, the idea of making one’s own songs didn’t really seem like a stretch.”
While it’s nothing as formal as a guiding principle, the text also functions as a primer to the back catalogue. Anderson regularly breaks off from the narrative to explain the roots of various songs, whether it’s “Breakdown”, about a friend who committed suicide, “The Drowners”, about a witchy Canadian girlfriend, or, most movingly, “The Next Life”, inspired by his mother’s death though it took him years to spot the link. It would make useful reading for fledgling songwriters, or any sort of writer for that matter.
The writing shows a keen ear for rhythms, lilt and swing of prose. He describes how his father would stand in his dressing gown “conducting” to Wagner, “lost in a delicious solipsism while his old Phillips reel-to-reel spooled on and on and the rest of us sat cowed and mute in the kitchen”. Anderson considers that his own musical education “must have been formed in this turbulent crucible, forged by the Ring Cycle and Hungarian Rhapsody, hammered into shape like Brünnhilde’s breastplate by dark brooding musical landscapes and towering epic melodies.” The experience of listening to his obsessed father “made me highly opinionated about music and probably prepared me wonderfully for a lifetime of over-explaining my own”.
As the memoir takes us up to the point at which Suede signed a record deal, there’s plenty of detail about the band’s halting formative years. (Of the early demos he says: “It sounds like music made by virgins.”) It was a penurious, punitive time. His childhood blighted by cheap cuts of meat, he makes hardly any reference to eating, apart from insubstantial-sounding salad kebabs, and a vegetarian breakfast. The phrase “Coal Black Mornings” obviously has some intense and mysterious meaning for Anderson as he uses it at least five times, most notably when characterising his relationship with Justine Frischmann, later of the band Elastica.
Anderson invariably writes with a generous spirit about those who have crossed his path, and he was deeply smitten with Frischmann (“one of the two great loves of my life”), despite describing her oddly on first meeting as having unwashed hair and brown teeth. She was, nonetheless, “extremely beautiful”, “fascinated and fascinating”. Similarly he has nothing but praise for genius guitarist Bernard Butler, a similarly tangled relationship that ended in Butler’s departure from the band.
Anderson’s witty, self-deprecating tone is balanced by justifiably proud assessments of the band’s real achievements, just coming into focus at the end of the book. Time will show whether he has the appetite, or nerve, to continue the story through the “coke and gold discs” years; I for one would love a sequel.
Coal Black Mornings, by Brett Anderson, Little, Brown, RRP£16.99, 224 pages
https://www.ft.com/content/b7d944a4-220 ... 9c3d7ab0a7

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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 11 Mar 2018, 21:22

March 10, 2018
Book review: Brett Anderson's memoir deserves a place alongside the very best modern music biographies
The memoir traces the Suede frontman's childhood to near superstardom
James Kidd
Coal Black Mornings
Brett Anderson
Little Brown Book Group
Coal Black Mornings is the first book by Brett Anderson, singer and main songwriter in English indie rock darlings Suede. I saw them twice in concerts that book-ended the starburst of their fame. The first was as unknowns in 1991 at the height of grunge. Suede by contrast seemed dangerous, decadent, effeminate and, so it seemed, out of step with the times: instead of the regulation flannel shirt, Anderson sported a diaphanous lacey top.
They were stars, though; the world just needed to catch up, which it did do in 1992. A series of brilliant singles heralded their eponymous debut album, which won the prestigious Mercury Prize and ushered in a brief period of Suede-mania. The unmistakable English accents of their sound is frequently credited with, or possibly blamed for, the subsequent Britpop phenomenon.
When I saw Suede again in 1996, they were defiant underdogs once more. Anderson had missed the Britpop feeding frenzy, so media headlines insisted, through drug use and two ruinous break-ups. The soap opera split was with Justine Frischmann, Suede co-founder and Anderson’s girlfriend, who left him very publicly for Blur’s Damon Albarn. The second, more damaging divorce was with Bernard Butler, Suede’s guitar prodigy and early musical inspiration. Anderson had learnt to thrive on adversity. The 1996 concert in London, supporting their glorious third album Coming Up, was defiant, celebratory and one of the best gigs I have seen.
You can’t help but read Coal Black Mornings with these ups and downs in mind. Perhaps this is why Anderson is so keen to undermine a classic “coke and gold discs” narrative. Granted, he dutifully recalls formative influences, how Suede formed and progressed towards the songs like The Drowners and She’s Not Dead that defined that seminal debut album. But these feel like sub-plots: “I really can’t be bothered to get the order of events right here,” he writes of an early leap forward with weary impatience, “because that isn’t the point of this book.”
This raises an obvious question: what exactly is the point of this book? It might be easier to begin with what it isn’t. Gossip-mongers desperately seeking snapshots of indie rock’s most famous and, so rumour has it, fraught ménage a trois will be disappointed. Anderson remains stubbornly tight-lipped about his post-break-up relationship with Frischmann and refuses so much as to utter Albarn’s name:
“At some point during early 1991… Justine had met someone else,” he writes dismissively. Instead of spewing bile, Anderson turns unflinchingly on his own shortcomings and their family likeness: “Possibly, like my father before me, I had drifted into comfortable indolence; my ridiculous idealisation of the romance of idling and my rejection of ambition must have made life with me become slightly dull.”
In this, Coal Black Mornings reads like an act of confession: “I now feel an urgent need to impart,” he notes. And the most urgent subject of all is family, the one that raises you and the one you choose later in life. The first Andersons were “dirt poor”, artistically inclined and outsiders in conservative Haywood’s Heath. Brett’s mother loved to paint, and often listened to music while she did.
His father was a classical music fanatic whose love of Franz Liszt borders on obsessive. The story of paternal love either withheld or distorted reminded me regularly of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections: indeed, a passage in which Anderson was forced to sit at the dinner table until he finished his meal has an almost exact parallel in Franzen’s novel.
Anderson is hard on his “twitchy, anxious” younger self, reprimanding him for being “a snotty, sniffy, slightly maudlin sort of boy raised on Salad Cream and milky tea and cheap meat”. It seems the older Anderson can be pretty sniffy too, after an Alan Bennett fashion. Yet here in embryo is the duality – the seedy romanticism – that Suede would evoke so vividly. A lyric like “We can be together in the nuclear sky/And we will dance in the poison rain” (Stay Together) comes into focus during Anderson’s account of being broke, young and restless in late 1980’s London: “Everything was broken and grimy and second-hand, but magical and charming, and slowly this fascinating duality of faded elegance and harsh, stark poverty began to seep into what I was writing about.”
For the teenage Anderson, music provided shelter before it offered escape. Enter his second family: the friends, allies, lovers and bandmates who initiated a very different second act. Anderson slowly learnt to turn misery to his advantage. His break-up with Frischmann sounds agonising, but one wonders whether he would have discovered the determination to be a star without it.
The louche, gender defying nature of the band’s formative performances owed much to an even more profound calamity: the death of his mother. Anderson’s response was to explore his own feminine nature: “Looking back I’m convinced I was trying to replace the feminine absence in my life with an ersatz one of my own making.” Anderson is again tough on himself in retrospect, calling his behaviour “bizarre and deluded… gaudy and more than faintly ridiculous”, not to mention his favourite pejorative: mawkish. But such brisk self-criticism, offered with the benefit of age and hindsight, only makes the youthful experiments with identity seem more heroic: a portrait of a sensitive young man trying to find his way in a cruel, unforgiving world. It could almost be a Suede song.
Such unsentimental humility embodies the book’s overriding aesthetic: that failure and striving are more interesting and more universal than triumph for most of us, not just Brett Anderson. It is that striving that lends Coal Black Mornings genuine depths of feeling.
Like Suede, Anderson’s prose might be low on humour, but the compensation is a faded kind of glamour, an emotional candour and an intense yearning that shuttles between despair and hope. Coal Black Mornings deserves its place alongside the very best modern music memoirs by Patti Smith, Kim Gordon, Bob Dylan and Mark E Smith.
I hope there is more to come.
https://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture ... s-1.711785

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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 11 Mar 2018, 21:25

Coal Black Mornings
by Brett Anderson
So young and so gone
Suede always thrived in the murky hinterlands between grimy experience and the longings for something more glamorous, more transformative. It was ever thus for suburban pop romantics, of course, but this memoir from Suede’s lead yelper unveils the backstory of a great British guitar-pop dreamer with an impassioned pungency that brings their work to life anew.
Fans might baulk at Brett Anderson’s decision to end the book as Suede take off, but his reasoning that the world doesn’t need another drug memoir seems fair. Instead, inspired by his own parenthood, he vividly evokes a dirt-poor Haywards Heath upbringing, where his mum battled to make ends meet and his Lizst-loving dad brooded. Anderson seemed to subsist on crisps and Marmite, the charity shop chic of later years necessitated here by penury.
Though Anderson isn’t immune to melodramatic over-reaching (his rabbit, we learn, became a “looming presence” in his life), his tight, toned self-portrait mostly leaves one-time hero Morrissey’s flabbier prose standing. A “three-bar-fire” childhood world pops off the page with the fervid panache of Suede’s earliest hits, which Anderson illuminates fascinatingly as he reaches London.
After initial songwriting fumbles, the pieces of Suede slip into place with pulse-pounding momentum after the losses of his mother (to cancer) and lover Justine Frischmann (to Damon Albarn), in whose absences Anderson intriguingly roots his androgynous persona. A flinty, competitive side also emerges; Albarn goes here unnamed.
As Suede’s “belligerent edge” sharpens, Anderson delivers a thrillingly energetic, bracingly entertaining snapshot of a writer hitting his first full flush, leaving you wishing two things. One: that you’d formed a band. Two: that he changes his mind about documenting the coke-blurred mornings to come.
4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars
Little, Brown | 9781408710500, 224 pages
Reviewed by Kevin Harley
http://recordcollectormag.com/reviews/c ... k-mornings

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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 11 Mar 2018, 21:39

BRETT ANDERSON – A LITERARY CONVERSATION.
With the release of the Suede frontman’s highly lauded memoir ‘Coal Black Mornings’ published by Little Brown, he converses with Mark Fernyhough on writing, the esoteric and what comes next for his band…
Portraits taken in London by Heike Schneider-Matzigkeit
Interview & final three images by Mark Fernyhough

MF: So far, how is the book world comparing to the world of music?
BA: The book world is much more polite. I quite like going to visit my publishers as they are all very sweet and nicely educated. It’s all very pleasant. You know, there’s a lot of inverted snobbery in the music world and everyone pretends to be really working class and talks like this – *faux working class voice* ‘alright, yeah, cheers!’
MF: You are actually working class, that’s the difference isn’t it?
BA: Well, exactly. In the book industry people are perfectly happy to admit that they were brought up in Oxfordshire and had nice parents, and it’s lovely. I’m quite enjoying the whole experience actually. Who knows maybe that’s just one of those things that happens at the start of these campaigns when it’s all still good fun – as soon as I start getting bad reviews and the book starts selling terribly I’m sure it will all come crashing around my ears.
MF: Did writing Coal Black Mornings feel like a form of time travel?
BA: Yes, very much so. Absolutely. When I was writing about my mum dying, I hadn’t really felt those feelings in that same way since it actually happened. So it really did genuinely feel like going back in time and reliving those moments. Those early days at university with Justine and all these pivotal moments in my life – I definitely felt that I was back there. It was an amazing feeling actually.
MF: It’s a shame people like Prince or David Bowie didn’t pen memoirs. Their inner story is lost to the world really….
BA: Who knows what their books would have been like, but more than anything, it’s a loss for them. Writing a memoir answers questions that you’ve always had hidden inside. There’s lots of things that I learnt from writing this book, it unlocked lots of answers about my relationship with my dad and stuff like that.
MF: Whilst writing this book, did you feel the need to don another hat metaphorically or physically, to make a distinction between your songwriting self and your author self? A Roald Dahl cardigan or Ted Hughes fishing rod, perhaps?
BA: I didn’t really feel the need to try and ‘become the writer’. I was quite conscious that the book felt like me. It was an interesting process having it edited by the publishers. They basically go through it and send you back their version of your book. It’s improved grammatically and stuff like that, but I actually went back and made them change it back again. I said ‘this isn’t me anymore’. They were great and totally understood. I was very keen for it to have my voice.
MF: Authenticity…
BA: Well, lots of autobiographies are ghostwritten. I feel it’s a bit of a shame to be honest, I definitely wanted to write my own. Whenever I say I’ve written a memoir people ask ‘did you write it yourself?’
MF: Yeah a lot of people just dictate them, don’t they?
BA: Yes, exactly. It’s basically an interview that’s transcribed, I really didn’t want to do that.
MF: Despite some very powerful moments, the book is shot through with understated humour. Was it important to you that the book wasn’t too kitchen sink and bleak?
BA: Actually yes, it’s interesting you should pick up on that – the first version I wrote was too kitchen sink and bleak. I think it’s got to entertain. It’s like with music – there’s an element that’s got to entertain as well as challenge – it’s finding that sweet spot between the two. So I did bring in more humour. I think it’s important ‘cos it gives the book a kind of nice soft scruffiness in a way. If it was too bleak it would just be a sort of misery memoir. In any life there are moments of darkness, there are moments of funniness and there are moments of sadness. I wanted it to reflect all of the sides of life.
MF: How did writing the book connect to writing Night Thoughts which shares some similar ground in terms of dealing with childhood and family?
BA: Yeah, that’s interesting. I wrote it after Night Thoughts but these things are all kind of connected. The last couple of years I’ve been slightly obsessed with parenthood as a theme. As a personal theme and as an artistic theme. Night Thoughts is very much about life and birth and death. I think it definitely led on to wanting to write a memoir I suppose. Having a child yourself immediately stimulates thoughts about your own childhood. There will be more of an influence on the next Suede album really.
MF: Compared to many in your line of work you’re quite a private sort of person who outside performing doesn’t exactly court the spotlight. Meanwhile writing about your childhood is almost the most personal type of autobiography you could write…
BA: When I wrote the first version of the book a while ago, I read it back and thought ‘I don’t want to do this. I’m not ready for this information to be public’. I’ve definitely painted a stylised picture of my life, but you do that by what you decide to leave out.
MF: As you discuss in Coal Black Mornings you are unapologetically in-touch with your feminine side. Do you think the world would be a better place if classic macho qualities slowly became extinct, or do you think there’s value to them too?
BA: There’s nothing wrong with masculinity and there’s nothing wrong with femininity, they’re different sides of the same coin. I just happen not to be Henry Rollins. That’s not me. I think if there’s any kind of femininity in Suede it’s because I wanted to express myself truthfully. I didn’t want to be hiding behind this mask of fake masculinity.
MF: Who would you rather be friends with – someone who cares about their hair too much? Or someone who cares about their hair too little?
BA: (laughter) I don’t think you can care about your hair too much Mark. People mistake vanity for insecurity. Often when I’m looking in the mirror people assume I’m thinking – ‘Wow I look amazing!’. In reality I’m often thinking ‘God, my hair looks shit today’.
MF: Writers from Yeats to Burroughs had a great interest in the occult. Do you think there can be an esoteric otherworldly element to the act of writing?
BA: Yes, I do. I think even when you write songs you are channeling primal subconscious thoughts, which are definitely esoteric. I’ve always been interested in artists like William Blake and Aleister Crowley. I love the idea of an artist switching off his consciousness and letting his subconscious take over. I’m not personally a huge fan of stream of consciousness literature. I find it a bit boring. I enjoy a strong narrative. But I completely respect all of those more experimental writers.
MF: Speaking of which, what method did you employ to get your passages down? Typewriter? Quill? Dictaphone? Old lady secretary transcribing it in the corner?
BA: A quill? (laughs) I’m just sort of imaging myself with one….
MF: It’s not hard to imagine really..
BA: (laughter) No actually, I didn’t have ‘Word’, the computer program, so I wrote it as emails.
MF: Wow (laughter). Brilliant.
BA: I wrote it as very, very long emails.
MF: Were there any other titles which you held up as the gold standard of what you were trying to achieve with Coal Black Mornings?
BA: Yes, I was very much inspired by Laurie Lee’s ‘Cider With Rosie’ actually. I read it when I was a kid and the language is just so extraordinarily beautiful. Breathtaking in lots of ways. But beautiful without being self conscious.
MF: Do you think writing the book will inform the way you approach your future lyrics?
BA: Yeah I’ve been wondering about that. It’s a tricky one – when you are writing words for songs it’s very different. What I like about writing prose is the freedom. You can literally do anything because you’re not constrained by the laws of music. On the new album there’s a spoken word piece. That’s the first time that I’ve done anything like that and that was definitely inspired by writing prose.
MF: When writing, did you always hear your own internal voice being translated onto the page, or were you ever like, ‘Oh gosh, I sound like an 18th century servant girl – I had better retire my typewriter for today’?
BA: (laughter) ‘I sound like an 18th century scullery maid!’ I was quite conscious of not coming across as too verbose. It’s about getting the balance right. I wanted the book to not be just another trudge through the life of a bloke in a band. I wanted it to have value beyond that. But at the same time I was very conscious that there’s people who will automatically accuse me of being pretentious like they have my whole career. I suppose I was kind of wary of that as well.
MF: Would you consider delving into the realm of fiction writing in the future?
BA: I don’t know Mark, it’s a good question. I had an idea for a story that I started to develop. I’d have to do it very, very carefully. I wouldn’t want to assume that because I can string a few sentences together and talk about my life that I can automatically become a fiction writer. When you are writing your memoir you don’t have to create characters, you just follow the thread like Theseus following Ariadne’s cord. It’s very different from constructing a fictional world. But maybe I’d like to try it, yeah.
MF: What’s next for Suede?
BA: We’ve got a new album coming out. We’ve recorded it, we’ve recorded the strings and we’re going to mix it over the Easter holidays. So it should be out towards the end of the year. I’m very excited. I feel as though there’s been a real trajectory that we’ve been on through the last three albums – from Bloodsports to Night Thoughts to this album. There’s a creative path we’re treading and this is the next level up I think.
MF: You were previously talking about Suede recording a 20 minute song, what was the outcome of that?
BA: Yeah… I don’t think that’s going to happen now. Whenever we start a record we have a manifesto and I remember with this one that was one of the elements. I think we tried a 20 minute song and it sounded boring, so we gave up. It’s important to subvert your own manifesto sometimes. But one of the things on the manifesto was a spoken word piece and that’s definitely on there.
MF: Do you feel more complete having finished Coal Black Mornings or less complete?
BA: It’s expressed a lot of things I wanted to express and I’m feeling in quite a good place with it. But it’s early days and in a couple of weeks time I might feel as though I’ve cheapened my life by writing a memoir. Who knows?
MF: Do you feel the world will be closer to knowing the real Brett Anderson once the book has been communally devoured?
BA: That’s a very, very good question and difficult to answer. A lot of people think I’m quite humourless and might assume I’m from some middle class background. I think the book will correct those assumptions. Like you said before, there’s humour. People see Suede as quite serious, but as people we’re not especially humourless. So yes, I think it will challenge some assumptions but as to whether people will get to know the real me, I don’t really know what the real me is.
http://www.splendidberlin.com/brett-and ... versation/

sunshine
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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 01 Apr 2018, 05:50

Originally published in Fantastic Man No 27
for Spring & Summer 2018
Brett Anderson is kindly pitching his book.
As told to ELIOT HAWORTH
“As I see it, the classic ‘bloke-in-a-band’ biography format is as follows: band forms after love affair with music, band becomes successful, band becomes jaded, band spirals into addiction and arguments, and band splits up – and then there’s the closing chapter on how they reform and everyone gets their life back together. That’s just a string of clichés and I wasn’t interested in regurgitating a string of clichés in my book. So instead, ‘Coal Black Mornings’ is about my UNUSUAL childhood growing up in a tiny, single-storey council house in Haywards Heath with my artist mother and classical-music-obsessed father. It’s about failure and struggle and the chain of emotional inheritance from father to son. It’s also about the moment I first meet the other members of SUEDE and when we first start struggling and failing as a new band, spending three years doing gigs in London, playing for two people in a pub, that kind of thing. Then we get SIGNED. Then it stops! It was so important to stop the book at the point when we got signed. That’s a very symbolic moment for me. It’s a very symbolic thing for all musicians. They’re always striving to get signed. So that was the moment I wanted to stop. From then on you become SUCCESSFUL, to lesser or greater degrees, and for me there’s nothing interesting about success. It’s like that thing in drama and in film: the most interesting parts are where it’s still unresolved and you don’t quite know what’s happening. I wanted that to be reflected in the voice of the book. Rather than saying, ‘This is me and aren’t I brilliant?’, I wanted a sense of it still finding its way in the world, for it to feel a bit unsure of itself.
Are there any music biographies that I like? I think the PATTI SMITH book ‘Just Kids’ was really nice because she didn’t give her readership what they wanted. I’m a huge fan of hers and I wanted to read about her album ‘Horses’, but she only mentions it very fleetingly in the book. Instead, it’s very much about her life with...what’s his name? MAPPLETHORPE. I thought that was lovely. Other than that, I like reading literature where nothing really happens. I don’t read blockbusters. I read books about families that sort of just sit around. Writers like Tessa Hadley. Have you read ‘London and the South East’ by David Szalay? Now that’s a book about failure! If you want to read a book that’s utterly, utterly engaging but isn’t really about anything other than a bloke’s dull life, then that’s the book to read.
I genuinely LOVED writing, I couldn’t stop writing. I’m like that with music too: I just have to get it all out of my system. I must have been quite unpleasant to live with for a while, probably not a great husband, but it’s the only way I can do it. I didn’t anticipate how much it would be like stepping into a time machine. That threw me. I was completely transported, emotionally, back to these moments, feeling things I hadn’t felt for 25 years. Some were really painful and I was crying the whole time I wrote them, and others were lovely. I loved reliving the early days of SUEDE. You know, as you move into adulthood, it’s so easy to lose sight of the person you used to be. That person was quite a special little person. Like everyone in their adolescence. I’m not saying I was a particularly special adolescent, but it’s nice to remember that shy, diffident person that’s hiding in there somewhere. Because that person is responsible for everything you are, in a FUNNY sort of way.
I’d like to do another book, I suppose. I don’t know exactly what it would be about. A follow-up on the ‘fame years’ might be too predictable. I had always suspected that if anyone wanted a book from BRETT ANDERSON it would be a book about my singing ‘Animal Nitrate’ at the Brit Awards or something like that, which I wasn’t prepared to do. So when I went to certain publishers and they said, ‘Well, this is great, but where’s the second half?’ I told them outright I wasn’t writing it.
What’s it like writing a book, compared to writing music? With music and writing songs it’s always veiled, to a certain extent, and you’re making the music with other people. Whereas this book is just me and it feels a bit like I’m being judged on my life. So if anyone decides to slag it off, which I have to be prepared for, I guess it’s going to be harsher. From my experience releasing records, there’s always this AMAZING period just before the record comes out where you’re living in a total fantasy bubble and you think it’s going to be THE record that’s going to go to number one in America. And then you’re always confronted with reality. So I don’t really know what to think about it yet. I mean, I’m very proud of the book. But my opinion is meaningless really. Right now, this is the first interview I’ve given for it and reviews haven’t come in yet. People have read it and have said kind things but there’s a huge difference between a few friends and colleagues being kind compared to when it’s ushered out into the harsh playground of public criticism. Let’s see how it comes back after its first day of school! Poor little thing, I already feel slightly protective of it.”
‘Coal Black Mornings’ is the debut memoir by BRETT ANDERSON, the lead singer and a founding member of Suede. It was published by Little, Brown in March. Brett spoke to ELIOT HAWORTH just before the above portrait was taken by BRUNO STAUB. BRETT opted to wear his own shirt, which was duly styled by MAX CLARK.
http://www.fantasticman.com/men/brett-anderson

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