London Suede Take A (Permanent?) Break
English rockers Suede (known in the U.S. as the London Suede) have announced that the group is taking an open-ended hiatus beginning next year; in fact, this may mark the end of Suede. However, before the split they'll play shows during the months of November and December in Spain, Norway, Ireland, Scotland and England.
In a statement posted on their official Web site, the group said that the members "will be working on their own individual projects. There will not be a new studio album until the band feel that the moment is artistically right to make one. ... Suede would like to thank the fans for their wonderful support over the years. See you in the next life."
Suede recently released their Singles compilation, bringing the band's total album count to seven, including five studio albums and a double B-sides compilation. To commemorate the release of Singles earlier this year, the band played a series of five intimate shows, each dedicated to one of its studio albums; a number of songs were performed live for the first time ever. Band members also worked very closely over the past year with writer David Barnett on Suede: Love & Poison: The Authorised Biography (Andre Deutsch), which was recently published in England.
Suede formed in 1989 and briefly included former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce and future Elastica frontwoman Justine Frischmann. In 1992 the group, consisting of Anderson, guitarist Bernard Butler, bassist Mat Osman and drummer Simon Gilbert, had signed to Nude Records; the Melody Maker famously declared them "The Best New Band in Britain" in a cover story before they'd released a single record. For a time they nearly lived up to the hype with such singles as "The Drowners" and "Metal Mickey."
Their first two albums, 1993's Suede and 1994's Dog Man Star, showcased a band that was spooky and sensual at the same time, balancing goth and glam sensibilities. Guitarist Bernard Butler left the band while they were recording the second album, leaving singer Brett Anderson to finish it up and to bask alone in the critical accolades that greeted it. Commercially, however, the album was a flop compared to the debut, which had set a record as the fastest-selling first album in UK history.
Anderson, Osman and Gilbert recruited the teenaged Richard Oakes to tour behind Dog Man Star, and soon after added keyboardist Neil Codling, as much for his looks and attitude as his musical ability or, as Osman put it, because Codling was "a Suede person." The reborn, newly optimistic Suede emerged in 1996 with the Technicolor pop of Coming Up, which spawned five singles that featured a whopping 17 original B-sides. Long known for the shockingly high quality of its flipsides, the band released the double-disc Sci-Fi Lullabies collection in 1997.
In closing out the 20th Century, Suede took on a futuristic edge for 1999's Steve Osbourne-produced Head Music, regarded by many as the band's weakest effort. Codling left the band shortly thereafter due to chronic fatigue syndrome; his replacement was Alex Lee, formerly of Blue Aeroplanes, the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy, and Strangelove.
Suede had a tough go in making last year's A New Morning, eventually ditching producer Tony Hoffer and retreating to the relative safety of über-producer Stephen Street. The album was a somewhat rootsy affair, with quiet, contemplative pieces alternating with rockers. Anderson appeared high on life again after kicking a longtime heroin habit, which, he told The Independent's Nick Duerden, had made him "a very strange human being indeed."
That same article concluded with the singer stating "I'm very proud of my achievements in life. I was born into a sad commuter town in the middle of nowhere, and I didn't want to live my life out like some little grey man. I wanted to experience something that my relations and the kids I went to school with never would. I've done just that and I'm glad for it. I've lived a very fulfilling, interesting and fascinating life. If I died tomorrow, I'd die happy." Steve Gozdecki [Friday, November 7, 2003]