Codling has been quoted as saying that the process of writing ‘Head Music’ was vastly different from anything Suede had attempted before.
He said: “We tried to reconstruct things, to be open to things, throw suggestions in P have a song finished and completely throw it up in the air and it’ll come down in a different shape, like an errant jigsaw puzzle.”
NME asked Anderson if he considered ‘Head Music’ to be Suede‘s most experimental album so far.
“I think so, yeah. The last three albums have been pretty much four people playing the same sort of thing, and we just wanted to do it in a different way this time. Songs came about through drum machines, stuff like that. We were just exploring other instruments really. It wasn’t like a conscious plan for it to be an experimental record, it was more something in ourselves and the music just followed.”
What part did Steve Osborne play in that?
“Steve was responsible for a hell of a lot of this album’s sound. We chose him first of all because he did this fucking brilliant job on ‘Savoir Faire’, which we did as a tryout around about May last year in Mayfair Studios. It just sounded really exciting and unusual. It was the stuff he’d done with Happy Mondays that we liked best, stuff like ‘Pills ‘N’ Thrills…’
“We’ve been listening to a lot of dance music. I suddenly realised that there was a whole other world of musical dynamics out there. I guess the closest I’d been to it before was listening to stuff like Prince.
“From Prince, I just started listening to all those modern dance-rap bands. Things like ‘Black Steel’, that Tricky track, I really love that. People had played it to me before and I hadn’t really got it, but suddenly it just clicked. It was just one of those things.”
The album sounds quite funky.
“Yeah, it was definitely supposed to have more of a groove to it. The last thing we wanted to do was some obvious attempt to make a dance album, because it would have sounded like shit. We just wanted to be honest about it. ‘Savoir Faire’‘s a perfect example, because Steve just put all these loops on it, and it made sense, it really fitted the song and gave it a groove without taking away its darkness. There’s a lot more tracks that are rhythm-based, because they’ve been worked on from the bottom up this time.”
What are the general themes of the album?
“I don’t think you can pigeonhole this album as easily as you maybe could the last one. I wouldn’t say there was any particular theme, it’s just about the people who are part of my life. I wanted the lyrics to be less emotional in a way. I think I’ve been guilty in the past of writing songs that have been over-dramatic. That was good for the first couple of albums, but I wanted the lyrics to get a little bit colder this time around.
“It sounds like a contradiction, but even though they’re less emotional, they’re more honest in a way, because they’re just looking at the truth a little bit closer without any emotions getting in the way. Lots of the songs are quite negative, but I think you can express negativity without it being a down thing.
“‘Dog Man Star’ might have been a natural flow from the first album, but ‘Coming Up’ was partly influenced by the fact that we’d made such a dark album and we wanted to make a lighter one. I just didn’t want this pendulum swinging between two extremes. It’s a pretty dishonest way of doing things, because you’re not getting to the core of what it’s about. It’s like dying your hair blond because it’s black, you’re in this kind of binary mode. I wanted something in between.”
As well as fielding such questions on the web as what is the band’s current relationship with Bernard Butler (“None at all. Our lawyers aren’t even talking to his lawyers”), whether Suede are about to make a film (Codling: “I don’t think any of us can act. I suppose we could make a short pornographic film. But it’d have to be short”), whether there are any solo projects planned (“No solo projects!”), and whether they would like to win a Brit Award (Codling: “Not really… I don’t think that would go with anyone’s wallpaper”), Codling was asked what impact the band wish for ‘Head Music’ to have on the music industry.
He replied: “None on the music industry. We want people to love it, though we have no interest in having an effect on the music industry. We want it to affect the MOTOR industry.”
NME finally asked Anderson, who had entered the webchat earlier last week with the words, “Does anyone have a nail file?”, what Suede fans can expect from ‘Head Music’.