Suede have performed their new single ‘She Still Leads Me On’ live for the first time, as well as sharing insight on their their ninth album ‘Autofiction’. See footage below, along with our interview with frontman Brett Anderson.
After announcing their new album and sharing the single yesterday (Monday May 23), the NME Awards’ Godlike Genius alumni then debuted the song live a show in Brussels last night that was also live-streamed online.
In contrast to Suede’s recent trilogy of ambitious and expansive albums – 2013’s ‘Bloodsports‘, 2016’s ‘Night Thoughts‘ and 2018’s ‘The Blue Hour‘ – ‘Autofiction’ saw the band consciously seeking a stripped down sound, as Anderson explained.
“Every record is a reaction to the last record to some extent. You don’t want to just keep going in the same direction,” Anderson told NME shortly before the band went onstage in Brussels. “I wanted to come back and make something that felt a little bit more raw, a little bit more angry, a little bit more nasty. ‘Autofiction’ is our punk record, and we’re fucking proud of it.”
He continued: “As a band evolves, you’re looking for new ways to keep yourself excited. Audiences aren’t stupid, they can see through stuff. As soon as you get bored of what you’re doing, the audience get bored. You’ve got to find different definitions of what makes your band your band without self parody or drifting into pastiche. It’s a tricky balancing act.”
Tonally, Anderson said that ‘She Still Leads Me On’ represents a centre ground when it comes to the rest of the album’s emotional range. “If you’ve got a dial from mellow to angry, it’s somewhere in the middle,” he said. “Sometimes you write a song and it just seems to sum the whole record up. It just sounded really good! It was a very primal thing, and this is quite a primal record.”
The single is about Anderson’s mother, whose death in 1989 when Anderson was in his early 20s, devastated him to the point he could not attend her funeral. “Lots of the record is about my disorders, my hangups, my faults,” he said. “A lot of it is dredging up the past, and talking about my mother in one of the songs was me delving into those thoughts.
“The album is me trying to talk quite honestly about myself as a 50-something man. I’m not trying to pretend I’m in my 20s any more, I’m trying to think about the reality of the shit that you have to deal with in your head.”
Anderson added: “‘Autofiction’ means half memoir and half fiction, almost like stylised memoir. It occurred to me that every song I’ve ever written has been autofiction, that every piece of art is autofiction, partly the artists’ experiences and partly the artists’ manipulation of the experiences.”
The band decided to debut the track live as they round off a tour celebrating 25 years of their 1996 album ‘Coming Up’. “It’s been a great tour, but it’s the end of a chapter. It felt symbolic to play the new song on the last date,” Anderson said.
“To be honest, we’ve been desperate to play new stuff for years now. ‘Coming Up’ has been fun, but there’s only so much you can look back. You need to always look forward as well. That’s always been the heartbeat of Suede: writing new material and making new records. That’s the reason I get up in the morning, that’s my obsession, that’s what makes my heart beat faster.”
The album was recorded in Konk Studios, North London with Ed Buller. Fittingly, Buller also recorded Suede’s debut single ‘The Drowners’, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this month. “‘Autofiction’ is our most raw record for 30 years, so it’s interesting that it chimes with the anniversary of ‘The Drowners’,” said Anderson. “There’s a nice circularity about that that feels comfortable, and in lots of ways it’s got a similar kind of energy.
“Obviously what you lose in the fiery arrogance of youth, you make up for in experience, and 30 years of playing live teaches you quite a lot, but there’s a strange naïveté you can still go back to after 30 ears of doing something like this. It’s like how some painters like Picasso became more sophisticated but also more primitive as they got older. Sometimes looking for something primitive in what you do can be quite a long journey.”
Although it displays a more immediate sound, ‘Autofiction’ took a considerable amount of time to complete. It was started shortly after ‘The Blue Hour’ in 2018 and only completed in February this year. This was partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, Anderson said, “but this isn’t a record about that”.
“In a way it was quite good because we had to go away and write some more and keep chipping away,” he said. “And we love writing, it’s kind of what I do now. I’m obsessed with it. I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing until the day I die. It’s part of me, writing songs, it gets harder and harder as you get older but it’s more satisfying when you hit the right note.”
‘Autofiction’ will be released on September 16. Check out the full tracklist below.
1. She Still Leads Me On
2. Personality Disorder
3. 15 Again
4. The Only Way I Can Love You
5. That Boy On The Stage
6. Drive Myself Home
7. Black Ice
8. Shadow Self
9. It’s Always The Quiet Ones
10. What Am I Without You?
11. Turn Off Your Brain And Yell
Suede have also announced two special intimate shows at London’s Electric Ballroom on October 5 and 6. Tickets are on sale from May 27 here at with a fan pre-sale beginning May 26. More dates are expected to be announced soon.