You’ve heard their songs on the radio. You’ve seen their videos on the television. You fell madly in love with this cool band. But you know nothing about the band…. Don’t worry, here’s where you will be able to read about the band’s history!
It was all started when Brett Anderson and Mat Osman made a band called Geoff in 1981. Not really the start of Suede, actually, but they were heading to it.
The beginning of Suede history was really in 1988 when Brett decided to move to London. He asked Mat to make a band with him and Mat agreed. They searched for the third member by putting on an advertisement in Melody Maker, looking for a guitarist. Interested for the vacant spot was a very talented young guitarist Bernard Butler. The trio played around clubs in London but they didn’t get good responses from their audience.
Later on, Brett’s girlfriend then, Justine Frischmann joined in as the second guitarist. At the time the band’s name was Suave and Elegant. Later they got a contract for 2 singles which in the end left unreleased. Justine hadn’t done much for Suede when she decided to leave the band in 1991 in order to get her degree. However, according to Mat, things got better after they kicked her out. And indeed they did.
While Justine was in the band, they changed their name to Suede. In June 1991, Simon Gilbert joined in as Suede’s drummer after being found selling tickets in London ULU. This quartet was then known as the early formation of Suede.
In April 1992, Suede was on the cover of Melody Maker, proclaimed as the best new band in Britain. Can you imagine how incredible it was? They hadn’t released any singles yet at that moment. They had signed a contract with the newly formed Nude Records for 7 singles, and they released the first single The Drowners in May 1992.
Suede became very popular. The Drowners hit number 49 position in the British chart. People were talking about Suede as they were the only molecule of oxygen available in 1992. A fantastic single with supporting features that came very close to outshining the main attraction; a controversial statement “I’m a bisexual who never had a homosexual experience”; exciting stage acts. Followed by the singles Metal Mickey and Animal Nitrate which were as successful as The Drowners, it’s no wonder that their debut album was a big blast. This self-titled album was proclaimed as the most-waited debut album since Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bollocks. The album hit number 1 in the UK and won the Mercury Prize for The Best British Album. Another controversy occured when a chart show banned the album upon the cover art that showed 2 women kissing.
In the middle of the recording process of their second album Dog Man Star, Bernard walked out of the band. He fought with the other Suede members; got married without inviting any of them in late May 1994; then he went back to the studio to pack up his guitars and things, and he left without saying a single word. The last gig he played for Suede took place in Queens Hall, Edinburgh.
Many critics said the moment was the end of Suede. Well, it was more like the dawning of a new era for them. They put an advertisement for a new guitarist which brought several hundred candidates in the audition. Bernard’s place was then filled by 17-year-old Richard Oakes who officially joined Suede in September 17, 1994. On his early days with Suede, he toured around playing covers of Bernard’s songs until he was forced to write a song by the other 3 members. They locked him up in a bedroom while they went out for a drink and Richard ended up with the song Together.
Unfortunately Dog Man Star, released on October 10, 1994, was not as successful as their debut album. It was the rise of Blur and Oasis with a strong rivalry that was becoming headlines in many media. A rivalry between Suede and Blur was started in a festival where Blur were performing drunk while Suede played brilliantly. The battle got worse when Blur’s Damon Albarn began to date Justine. He hates the fact that Justine was once in Suede and dated Brett…he even wrote the song Charmless Man just for Brett!
Suede gave themselves a break to reinforce new power. That’s when their newest member walked in…Neil Codling, Simon’s cousin. Neil plays keyboard, writes songs and does backing vocals for Suede. About Neil’s entrance, many cynical stupid people would say that it was a very good move for Suede’s career to draft a totty at that moment. Neil’s actually a very intense musician who just happens to scrub up well. And so the new Suede was formed. Their third album Coming Up was released in September 2, 1996 and was a brilliant comeback of Suede. It had 5 magnificent hit singles. They were back on the top of the British music scene.
One of their greatest effort was the release of Sci-Fi Lullabies, a double-CD containing 27 of their b-side songs on October 6, 1997. The album is nothing but a compelling evidence that Suede’s the only band to make magnificent b-sides for their singles. Suede’s the only band who could get away playing b-sides and nothing else on a fanclub gig. As critics happily agree, they have changed the meaning of the term b-side. Buy a Suede single, and you will find songs in it; no craps, no covers, no shoddy remixes. The album Sci-Fi Lullabies is agreed to be as good as other artists’ greatest hits album. In Select magazine’s survey recently, Sci-Fi Lullabies got the most votes from it’s readers. Sci-Fi Lullabies topped the second position by 3:1.
The next album, Head Music, brings us to the next chapter of Suede history. They play with electronic sounds, more hi-tech from what they’ve done before and completely different compared to, say, their debut album. This shows how ‘Suede music’ vary in so many creative ways, and how they can do anything with their songs and still sound great. This is, of course, totally an achievement only gained by special musicians. And they are special people indeed.
On March 23rd, 2001, Neil made a shocking announcement to leave the band due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome he’s been suffering from. The disease also caused his absence from several Head Music gigs in 1999. Not only this would delay the work on Suede’s next album, but it’s also a significant change in the history of Suede. Could this mean a new era for Suede? Stepping in as his replacement is Alex Lee, who replaced him on those 1999 gigs he couldn’t attend. Alex has worked with the band all through their new album’s demo recording sessions. He even contributed some song ideas for the band. It couldn’t have been anybody else. Welcome Alex; give your best for Suede. And good luck to Neil whatever you do.