Suede's new album "Night Thoughts" is out Friday
The band will play the album in full and screen the accompanying film at their Oslo gig, We spoke to Brett Anderson and Mat Osman about the concept behind it all.
The previous evening had seen an exclusive screening of the new Night Thoughts film, followed by a Q&A with the boys. The film is Sargent's own interpretation of the music on the album, and has not at all been controlled by the band. Mat says they saw some clips of the film along the way, but that they didn't interfere with the result at all, since it was meant to be an interpretation by someone not involved in the actual recording process.
The result has become a beautiful, epic and slightly dark interpretation of the album Night Thoughts, and is a piece of art that carries the weight of the dramatic music very well. The film will be screened during the band's gigs, including the Sentrum Scene gig on February 2nd.
People who won't have the opportunity to see any of the gigs will, according to Mat, still get the chance to see the film. The album will be released in two versions, and one of them will include a bonus DVD of the film. Still, he adds, the album won't need the film to work, it's meant as a companion piece - a different way of experiencing the album: «90% will never see any of the film, but it still made more sense to us to have this - a piece of art - rather than having three middling videos that you can switch off after three minutes. And at the same time, it fits the concept of having an album you can listen to in one go, from start to finish.»
See a clip from the film here, the interview continues below the video:
The album format is a concept Suede have focused on a lot during their work on this record. They have intentionally made an album that works as a unity, rather than creating singles and strong stand-alone songs. Brett says the reason behind this is simply that they love the album format and being able to engage a listener for 45 minutes. He was obsessed with albums as a kid, and the idea of listening to a vinyl, and to turn the record after page 1 to listen to page 2, is something that still fascinates him: «Writing lots of songs and then juggling them to find out how they fit together to make the unity you want; to choose the opening song on page 2 to present that, even if that only applies to those listening to vinyls; which track ends the album... All classical albums I've loved have given the impression that the artist truly cared about those details and was aware of how the album would be listened to. And this is what we wanted to achieve with Night Thoughts.» Mat nods: «This is indeed something you've been pretty obsessed with.»
The album is quite seamless and gapless with songs intertwining into each other, and Brett explains that when they wrote it, initially they had a lot of half-songs that worked sort of like bridges pieces, like Pale Snow or Learning To Be: «It was kind of like: "Pale Snow is in the same key as I Don't Know How To Reach You, so it can be a prelude to that song..." A lot of the sound design and how the album is threaded together, that was all arranged afterwards. Parts of the album was attempted recorded as one piece in a studio in Belgium, but that idea got a bit diluted when we realised where we were headed with the album.»
He adds that it's not exactly a revolutionary concept - even though it might feel that way in our day and age. That, in itself, he says, is something he loves: Being different. To not just be a slave to fashion or do what everyone else does. He's convinced that there's still an "army" of people who are fans of the concept of albums.
The title "Night Thoughts" is about the fear you feel in the middle of the night when you can't sleep because you feel like your world is caving in around you, when thoughts become too big and you feel too small. The record is about family relations and the confusing ambiguity within those relations - something which is very apparent in the accompanying film. Brett, who does most of the lyrics, has based it all on his own experiences of family, but does not feel like it's uncomfortable or scary to share these things with the world. Talking about it face to face on the other hand, THAT he feels can sometimes get uncomfortable and awkward, much better to write about it in a song and defuse it that way.
In addition to that, he feels like the songs are just as ambiguous as life and relationships are, and will ultimately mean different things to different people. I Don't Know How To Reach You, is initialy about Bretts relationship with his dad, but could easily have been a break-up song about lost love; the same feeling, only in a different context. He adds that he feels it was a very interesting way to look at relationships, since rock songs normally are about romantic relationships, not family relations.
See a clip from the film here, the interview continues below the video:
The band's upcoming concerts, including the Sentrum Scene-gig in Oslo, will be two-part gigs. The first half will be Night Thought played in full, whereas the second half will be hits and fan favourites. To add to this, the band will be performing the album from behind a curtain where the film will be shown. Brett is very excited at the prospect of performing without actually being seen, and feels it necessary for the format to work. If the screen had been behind them, they would have had to confront the audience in a traditional way, and it would have been way too ordinary. The fact that they're separated from the crowd, allows him to be a singer rather than a performer.
Mat explains that they spent a long time figuring out how to make the album work live, even before they'd come up with the idea of the film, because it's so slow and thoughtful. The fact that it's performed from behind a screen forces the audience to listen to the music rather than being occupied watching the guys onstage. The first gigs they performed the album live, it was very interesting seeing the crowd's reaction: «When it all started people rushed to the front, and then the film started and they realised that upfront really wasn't the place to be, so they all wandered back», he laughs.
The feedback the bands has received after the gig also suggests that the audience experienced the music in a completely different way than they normally would. Brett nods and adds that the fact that they've put the film in the forefront at the gigs, seems to simultaneously have perversely put the music in the forefront: «It seems to work. Surprisingly.»
Night Thoughts comes out on the January 22nd, Suede plays Sentrum Scene on February 2nd.
(photo & interview: Alyssa Nilsen)
Read the interview in Norwegian here!
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