I will probably say this again and again but when I refurbished our website, I was decided to make it different from a regular band website. I wanted to make it more like a blog so that I can write about some other stuff. (And on our Japanese website I’m writing many things quite more often…)
One of the things I always wanted to write about is my favorite music. My favorite bands that influenced our music, or not necessarily influenced our music.
Some of them are famous major bands, some of them are obscure indie bands. Basically I just want to acknowledge their work and say thanks to what their music has done to my life.
We are a Christian heavy metal band that plays old school style metal. But probably the bands/artists I will talk about, they are not necessarily metal bands.
And, I will say this again and again, sorry if my English is not correct because I’m a Japanese.
Today I want to write about a band called SUEDE, from UK, from 1990’s.
For some legal reasons they are called “London Suede” in USA.
I think they fall into “Glam Rock” and “Britpop” category.
I’m a 90’s kid.
I spent my teenage days in 1990’s.
I fell in love with heavy metal music but they were already like “older brothers’ music”.
Spending 1990’s as a heavy metal fan, basically it “sucked”. Because in 1990’s heavy metal music was totally out of fashion. We had some good, but basically everything went wrong for heavy metal in 1990’s.
However, naturally, there were some bands from 1990’s that I liked. It was very natural for our generation.
Such as, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth and Soundgarden.
Or maybe hiphop artists such as Arrested Development.
And this “Britpop” thing was very popular in Japan, too.
I listened to bands such as Blur, Oasis and Pulp.
If you ask me about 1990’s Japanese music, that is totally different story and I will save it for another opportunity.
But if you ask me what is my MOST FAVORITE band from 1990’s, my answer probably will be Suede.
Because they were very… different.
Their debut was very scandalous.
Their debut album was all about Sex. Unusual sex. Forbidden sex.
Homosexual, incest, rape, I don’t know but you name it.
I think it was a part of their commercial strategy to sing about those scandalous things but they were actually very…beautiful.
They were all very sad music and sad songs.
But at the same time I could feel some “compassion”. (Here I’m hoping my English is correct.)
Compassion for the weak. Compassion for the victim. Compassion for the minority. Compassion for the forgotten. If you know what I mean.
Because more or less, it was the reality for our generation.
They were a big “hype” when they topped the charts with their debut album. But when they released their 2nd album it was different. By then Blur and Oasis had become the biggest bands and nobody cared about Suede any more. Everyone said, all the music magazines said their 2nd album was a big failure. That was when I realized for the first time you should not believe the hype. And you should not believe music journalism.
To me, however, that was when I really fell in love with Suede. When I listened to their 2nd album “Dog Man Star”, that was when I really understood their music and fell in love with them.
“Dog Man Star” is a masterpiece.
It is not a happy music. It is not a friendly music. But it has a strong message.
I surely admit this “Dog Man Star” is one of the albums that influenced me as a teenager. Also I will admit this album is one of the most important albums in my life. Is it funny a heavy metal musician saying this? But it’s true. This is one of the albums that ACTUALLY changed my life.
You know what? After 10 or 15 years later, people started to call this “Dog Man Star” a masterpiece. Many music magazines listed this album in their “Best Albums from 90’s” and things like that. Hey, you people called this album a big failure, didn’t you? Again I learned that you can’t believe music journalism.
I think this is a good article…
Probably their commercial peak was their 3rd album “Coming Up” (1996).
It was a light flavored pop album in their own style.
This song called “Trash”, that sounds totally 90’s, when we heard it, me and my wife, back then we were still teenagers, wow because it was totally singing about us. Teenage lovers, in a local town in Japan, just like litter on the street, struggling and trying to find our way.
Suede released 2 more beautiful albums respectively in 1999 and 2002 and they were the soundtrack of our life (to me and my wife).
But commercially they had not been able to regain their popularity and they eventually disbanded in 2003.
We, me and my wife, did some little personal ritual, crossing the bridge on the park where we dated back in our high school days, listening to the song “When The Rain Falls”.
And we said “Okay, this is our time to graduate from Suede”.
Because, Suede, their music was sad music and it was all about facing the sadness. Now we became stronger and we should be happy. It was our time to say goodbye to this sweet music that had always been with us, a very special band.
(and we started our own band… )
One funny happy personal moment I still remember was in 2009 when we visited New York City for the first time. It was also our first visit to USA as a touring band.
Hassy and Jake (our then bassist and drummer) were doing shopping somewhere but me and my wife went to this Japanese ramen restaurant in Lower East Side. All of a sudden “Trash” and whole “Coming Up” album was playing there. It was a surprise and amazing funny thing all years later we hear this music again, in a Japanese restaurant in New York City.
We didn’t expect to hear this kind of Britpop in USA but their music is/was apparently more accepted in LGBTQ community. Is that why it was playing in that town maybe?
This, however, was not the end of the story.
Surprisingly, the best part of the story starts from here.
Suede released their “reunion album” titled “Bloodsports” in 2013.
I was very surprised.
In the past, Suede’s music was all about facing the sadness.
But now they are facing it with JOY, GRACE and they sound so much GRATEFUL.
What!? What has happened!?
Probably many fans around the world, or casual listeners would say “This sounds like same old Suede”, “It’s the same” or something like that, but I felt something had changed significantly.
In the past, their music was beautiful but they never sounded positive.
But now their music is nothing but POSITIVE.
My English vocabulary is not good enough but in Japanese I can say “爽やか” and “清々しい”. Like, they broke all the chains.
They came back with HOPE.
To me, Reunion Suede is the band that faces the sadness and still plays the music of hope.
Maybe they “grew up” as human being?
You know, now we are a Christian band and playing Christian music ourselves but (after reunion) current Suede songs bring as much joy as any Christian band’s music does.
It may sound funny but do some of those songs sound like Christian songs?
Their 2016 album “Night Thoughts” was another great album, a concept album (more or less) about life.
Earlier this year (2018) they have released an album called “The Blue Hour”. It is another ambitious album, beautiful music full of consolation and compassion.
To say something that sounds like a review, they worked with Alan Moulder (famous producer for Shoegazer and Alternative) and it features a lot of strings parts (played by City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra).
It sound more dynamic (less compressed) than many other modern albums out there. Really melancholic and it’s really “Suede”. Sometimes predictable but still it stings and hurts. If you listen to the whole album, most likely it will make you cry.
These songs make me cry…
I can’t say how much these music mean to me.
To me Suede is one of the “regular” bands (or secular, as Christian people say) that sound more Christian than ordinary Christian bands.
They are singing about sin. They play sinful music.
But there is compassion in their music. Compassion for the weak. Compassion for the sinner. And forgiveness for people’s sin.
Now they sing more about hope and are singing for minority and now they are encouraging the depressed.
I have many favorite bands and artists in my life.
But when I notice, Suede is now the longest running, constantly delivering, never disappointing, one of the most precious bands that has been always together in my life. (Hoping my English makes sense.)
I didn’t expect that. I didn’t expect them to come this far. Because they were a band that played sad music with no hope.
But maybe I already knew they were one of the greatest bands in Rockn’Roll, when I listened to “Dog Man Star” for the first time.
Still it’s a happy surprise that my favorite band from teenage days still making great music that sounds totally new and up to date.
Suede is not a band for everyone.
Suede is a music for minority, outsiders, the lonely, the excluded.
They are more of a “cult band” (obscure but great) by now and they are not Oasis or Radiohead. (Even though they once were bigger than Oasis and Radiohead.)
But if you ever have had a… tough life or have been there in a lonely place… there is a chance their music will touch you.
and I can’t say how much influence “Dog Man Star” had on me as a musician.
Not necessarily in a musical way but how to live, how to fight the world as a musician. I’m talking about the determination.
One more thing about Suede.
About the lead singer Brett Anderson.
He is my star.
He was my teenage idol.
Maybe my Guitar Hero has been and will always be Eddie Van Halen.
But as a singer my biggest and the only star is Brett Anderson.
Now I’m a guitar player and a singer in my own band.
But close friends of mine probably have heard me saying I never wanted to be a singer.
I’m a guitar player and didn’t want to sing. I just could not find a right singer for my music.
I’m a heavy metal guitarist and I know I can’t be a pop guitarist or a jazz guitarist.
But I never consider myself as a heavy metal singer.
Because my biggest influence as a singer is Brett Anderson.
I never wanted to sound like a masculine heavy metal singer.
I’m a pop singer, or maybe a glam singer who ended up in a heavy metal band.
That’s one of the reasons we sound “different”.
Also, that explains my funny haircut. (Even though I know I will never look like him…)