The Suede frontman on fatherhood, his new memoir, and being part of ‘the longest overnight sensation ever’
• Read an extract from Brett Anderson’s Coal Black Mornings
• Listen to Brett Anderson reading an extract from the audiobook of Coal Black Mornings
Brett Anderson, 50, is the lead singer of Suede. He formed the band with Mat Osman and Justine Frischmann in 1989, and they were joined soon after by guitarist Bernard Butler. They had their first hit in 1993 with Animal Nitrate. The band’s sound – sleazy, sweeping, darkly romantic – was immensely influential, along with Anderson’s outsider lyrics, and was credited with starting Britpop, though Anderson always distanced himself from it. The band went on to make five albums, three of them reaching No 1, before splitting in 2003. Anderson continued to write and perform, sometimes with others (Butler, Stina Nordenstam), sometimes solo. Suede reformed in 2010 and have since made two successful albums. He is married with a son and stepson.
A rich evocation of the singer’s youth, parents and life in a council house
Brett Anderson, lead singer of Suede, has been thinking about his band’s backstory for a long time. In 1994, less than a year after their self-titled LP had become the UK’s fastest-selling debut since Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Welcome to the Pleasuredome, he told a journalist from New Musical Express: “The history of this fucking band is ridiculous. It’s like Machiavelli rewriting Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It involves a cast of thousands. It’s always been fiery and tempestuous and really on the edge and it never stops. I don’t think it ever will. It would make a fucking good book.”
Coal Black Mornings is not that book. That’s to say it’s not, in his phrase, “the usual ‘coke and gold discs’ memoir”. Rather it’s a pre-history, a ruminative and often gorgeously written meditation on his early life: before Suede released their first single; before, without having released a note of music, they appeared on the cover of Melody Maker hailed as “The Best New Band in Britain”; before they were yoked into a still violently argued debate about national identity and guitar music. Anderson, who describes himself as “hunched over the fossils of my past”, claims early on that he’s writing “a book about failure”.