"They Trampled All Over The Corpse of Morrissey..."
26 June 1993
Submitted by: Inge Klinkers
Americans - they don't know 'Fanny Adams', they don't! And the arrival of SUEDE on their shores has thrown them into a supreme spin - gawping at Brett, a "porcelain doll version of Wynona Ryder", starting up fanzines, dissing these Limey upstarts and, amusingly, spectacularly losing the plot. NME tails Sweat, er, Suede through this mad adventure and records the coast-to-coast thrills; the brickbats in Boston, the laurels in Los Angeles, the guns, the Odor-Eaters, the stage disasters and a nation that's being urged to try it our way. STEVE SUTHERLAND watches the Brettish invasion. KEVIN CUMMINS states the face...
TUESDAY JUNE 1
MAT CAN'T believe his eyes. Suede are halfway through "Metal Mickey' and he glances across the stage to see Bernard playing guitar ON HIS KNEES!
"Jesus," thinks Mat, "our first American gig and already we're acting like rock gods!"
The song wails to a close and Bernard struggles sheepishly to his feet. His belt has broken and he's had to slip to his knees to avoid an Angus Young impersonation in his boxer shorts. Oh well, Stairway denied...
Suede's first American gig is at the 9.30 Club. It's tiny, only holds 350 people, but that's OK because this is a profile tour, a teaser to whet the appetite for a proper American tour after Suede visit Japan in September.
Nearly all the shows between now and when the band return to headline the NME stage at Glastonbury could have been sold out three times over. These dates are just a barometer of popularity, a first taste for the people who will have to work with them at Sony, those made curious by the British press plaudits which have been voraciously picked up and picked over by the American papers, and the already committed, of whom there are many, already screaming and mouthing along to all the words.
Mat's enjoying a drink after the show and he enquires of someone whether he is able, as a visitor to purchase a firearm. He means it hypothetically, but the very next night on the radio he hears Chris Isaak say, "I hear from someone in Washington that the bassist from Suede was looking to buy himself a gun." The others think it's hilarious but Mat vows to choose his words more carefully in future.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 2
WHEN BRETT wakes in his hotel, he discovers that Newsday is calling Suede, "The biggest buzz to come out of Britain since The Stone Roses" and The Daily News is saying, "Suede's arrival on these shores comes loaded with more press than any British band since the now-forgotten Manchester exports of the late '80s like Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets." What gives him the most pleasure, though, is the
description of him as "A porcelain doll version of Wynona Ryder" and the critique of Mat which reads, "Osman's clothing (is) ugly, unbuttoned wide-lapel shirts that went out of fashion with punk."
Brett takes it easy while the others do the tourist thing. Bernard does the Empire State Building and says he toyed with the idea of doing the open-top bus tour but got scared someone might see him. Simon falls asleep in Central Park and wakes glowing pink, sunburnt and sore. And Mat says that what sums up New York best for him is a story he heard about some high-rises that were built dead opposite one another so you could see right into the other's windows. A bunch of voyeurs immediately moved into one building and a bunch of exhibitionists moved into the other.
The gig is at the 900-capacity Irving Plaza and, unbeknownsts to Mat, some
photographer has spread a T-shirt over a hole at the side of the stage. Mat uncannily avoids it throughout the whole set until a few bars from the end of the last song. "To The Birds'. Then he stomps on the shirt and his leg disappears up to the knee. Brett is barely able to apply the song's final flourish for laughing.
Afterwards Mat admits that it was his second most embarrassing moment on stage, ever. The most embarrassing was in Helsinki when Brett inadvertently wrapped the mic lead around Mat's ankles and, despite the bassist's frantic efforts to communicate the fact, Brett yanked the lead and brought him crashing to his knees. "He was like a knobbled giraffe," laughs Brett.
Meanwhile, Simon is in a conflab with the fans. One wants to know what the phrase "Sweet FA means in 'Sleeping Pills'. Simon tells her it means Sweet Fanny Adams and she says, "Who's Fanny Adams?" Another wants to know why they got rid of Mike Joyce. Simon has to think about this one. "Uh. because otherwise I wouldn't be in the band?!"
THURSDAY JUNE 3
THE BOSTON Paradise gig is a drag. The Boston Globe newspaper has built them up as the "Hip. retro... no grunge music alternative" and the audience are an unresponsive, prove-it-to-us student crowd. Brett can't get off and when some wag shouts, "We want the real T. Rex" during 'Sleeping Pills Bernard gets pissed off and feels like quitting.
The next day's Boston Herald declares "Suede's hype, music full of holes," describes the band as "four pale, thin young lads with bad hair and bad attitudes," and calls the gig. "a washout. A cold, emotionless sham.
Anderson, already a legend in his own mind, desperately wants to be adored (but his) one-dimensional, love-me-or-piss-off personality (is) anything but charming.
A bloke comes up to Mat in a bar after the gig and says. "Hey, you in Suede?"
Mat says he is.
The guy smiles. "You guys really suck."
SATURDAY JUNE 5
THERE'S ONE particular girl waiting for Suede when they arrive at their hotel. She has a sign which reads, LOVE YOU SUEDE and she carries it with her, following them around all day. The minute the band take to the stage of the Opera House, she faints. Mat finds her afterwards, in a corridor, crying. She's missed the whole show. Mat says he's sorry and she faints again.
Brett reckons the Opera House show is pretty much Suede's best gig ever. He's given up smoking and reckons he's singing better now, not so much in fear of straining his voice and having to cancel shows. The crowd are so into it that one fan reaches up and pulls an Odor Eater out through the hole in the side of Mat's dilapidated desert boot as a souvenir, Weird, The band go out to celebrate and
someone breaks into the coach and steals Bernard's guitar, Simon's snare drum and Mat's bass - the only one he's ever owned.
SUNDAY JUNE 6
SUEDE HATE Detroit. They have to play the 1000-capacity St Andrew's Hall with new, unfamiliar instruments and they can't wait to get the gig over with and get out
Mat has a dream that night. Well, more of a nightmare really. He dreams he sees his bass and someone is playing Cure basslines on it. He wakes in a cold sweat.
A few days later, the band are told that their album sales have doubled in Detroit since the gig. They are now Number 137 in the charts!
MONDAY, JUNE 7
THE METRO Club in Chicago is right next door to a club called The Manhole. Mat considers this suspicious, especially when he sees a lot of bald, moustachioed men wandering in and out walking chihuahuas, The gig is heaving the biggest crowd yet on this tour - 1100. There are six burly security guards positioned across the front of the stage and the crowd behaves as if it's come to see Fugazi or Rolins. There's a whirling knot of moshing and fighting down the front and when Bernard tells them to stop, they leer at him. So Suede play it punk rock and come off sweating and happy.
This guy comes up to Mat afterwards and says, "Did you guys write a song about drowning?"
Mat replies. "Uh, yeah, kind of...
The guy smiles. "DEEP! I've met bands who are cool and bands who are deep but you guys are cool AND deep!"
Mat takes this as a compliment.
TUESDAY, JUNE 8
SUEDE ARE filming a spot for the Tonight Show which, before Johnny Carson retired, was America's premier TV chat programme, Millions of Americans still tune in and it's networked coast to coast. In the local LA paper, it just says 'Special Guests: Suede'. There's no mention of the other guests, including ex-President Bush's campaign manager.
Suede hang around all day, waiting to film. KROQ, the vibey, Anglophile LA radio station, has held a competition for tickets to the show and about 100 Suede fans are hanging out. One of them gives Mat a copy of Our Insatiable Ones, surely Suede's first American fanzine. Comprising of 24 Xeroxed pages, it features extracts of poetry by ee cummings, William Wordsworth and WB Yeats, an analysis of the lyric to 'Big Time', some 'artists' impressions of the group, a history of the band that
conjectures Haywards Heath must have been a bit like the Bronx - "a terrifying place to grow up," because "you either fit in with the macho bullies, or you did not fit at all and a Suede Quiz. Mat gets seven out of 10. He doesn't know how old Brett's dad is, can't remember how many weeks it was before the release of 'The Drowners that Suede were called 'The Best New Band In Britain and erroneously answers that Brett Anderson's favourite Bowie album is "All of them!" Suede are getting pretty good at TV.
They did well on Later where fellow guest and early Brett influence Bryan Ferry let drop his cool and grooved along in the background. They're even better on the Tonight show. They wear black, play "Metal Mickey and America wigs out. Bernard does this great Ron-Mael-from-Sparks cute psycho stare into the camera just before his solo and the kids scream when Brett bends over and slaps his arse.
"I've taken to wearing suits because I was fed up with looking like an old piece of string, Brett says later. "I was fed up with looking at our photos and thinking, "I look like a bit of burnt cork. I bought this black one in a second hand shop in Kilburn but now I'm getting some made specially.
Right now he's worried about San Francisco. There's a meet-and-greet planned, a soirée arranged before the show for Suede to press the flesh with important people from the record company, radio and press Trouble is, Brett couldn't be bothered to do some of the phone interviews that preceded this tour so Mat impersonated him and now Brett is reaping the rewards. There has already been an incident in
Canada. Mat had been bored being Brett on the phone and, when an interviewer had asked him about Canadian bands, Mat, said he didn't know many but those that he'd heard, like Bare Naked Ladies, sounded pretty crap to him.
The first Brett knew about what he was supposed to have said was when the manager of Bare Naked Ladies had harangued him after the gig in Toronto, so now he's getting freaked at the prospect of Frisco, especially as Mat has told him that one interviewer had asked if it was true that he'd said he was a bisexual who hadn't had a homosexual experience. Mat had answered for Brett in the affirmative.
The interviewer had then asked if he had had that homosexual experience yet. Mat as Brett said no. The interviewer had then sighed audibly over the phone and said, "Well, d'you want one?"
"What am I supposed to have said?" Brett is asking.
"Uh, can't remember," says Mat." I mean, it's not easy being you. The other day someone asked me about your sister and I nearly said, 'I dunno. I've only met her twice'!"
THURSDAY JUNE 10
THIS MORNING, Suede find out they have sold 60,000 albums in America, 45,000 in Japan and that they're at numbers 14 and 30 in the charts in Iceland and Greece respectively. Brett is discussing how great the Verve album is and what the band should do at the Red Hot AIDS benefit Suede are playing at Clapham Grand on July 18. He's thrilled that Derek Jarman films will be shown, disappointed that dancer Michael Clark can't make it and perplexed as to how to make the evening extra special.
Someone suggests they ask Mark E Smith to do something, but Brett prefers the idea of asking Bjork to do some numbers with the band. Mat, meanwhile, is perusing the classifieds on the back page of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, His favourites are the ones offering a totally nude housecleaning service, the club that offers half price drinks to anyone who will handcuff themselves to the bar and the one that reads: "MAKE ME SUPER RICH. All Ugly People. Send Me Anything Of Value. Deeds To Real Estate. Gold Mines, Silver Mines, Oil Wells, Diamond Mines & Money.
"Isn't that brilliant?" He laughs." I almost feel like sending him some money, just for the cheek of it. It's so San Francisco. I tried to give some money to a couple of tramps today but they were too busy meditating'.
Brett and Mat have an interview to do for KITS radio, kind of the Frisco equivalent of KROQ. Mat doesn't want to go because he's been sitting out in the sun too long and his nose and chest have burned.
"You're orange!" laughs Brett. "You look like Rodney Trotter in that episode of Only Fools And Horses where he falls asleep under the sunlamp and Del Boy turns it up!"
Mat is bribed to attend the radio station interview by the promise that they can keep the courtesy car for the rest of the day to take them shopping.
The DJ asks Brett about meeting Bowie for the NME and then announces that tonight's gig at Slim's, a club partly owned by MOR white blues exponent Boz Scaggs, is sold out. Brett encourages anyone without a ticket to come to the stage door and exhorts them to "bring your Stanley Knives". Mat adds that anyone who turns up with a battering ram will get in and the DJ freaks.
"Don't tell them that. They will!"
Mat laughs. "OK, you'll only get in if you bring a smail, pocket-sized battering ram!"
Before they leave, Brett and Mat have their photo taken with the radio personnel, receive a couple of KITS T-shirts and are asked to do a swift ID for the station. Brett politely declines so Mat does one. He says. "Hello, this is Mat from Suede. If it's new and it doesn't suck it's on KITS."
Downstairs in the lobby, Steve has been waiting patiently. Under his arm he has a huge scrapbook filled with just about every bit of press Suede have ever done. Steve is from Fremont, California and as Brett and Mat sign autographs, he explains that he got into Suede when he heard that Morrissey had been playing this song called 'My Insatiable One' live. He dutifully sought out the Suede singles on import and fell in love.
"I have four of these on Morrissey. he says, pointing to his scrapbook. "And another on River Phoenix."
"Really? You should get out more," laughs Brett.
"I also have these posters signed by you guys from a record store. The first one says, 'Love Mat the second says.
"Mat stinks, love Brett' and the third one says, 'No I don't love Mat'."
"Oh," says Brett somewhat sheepishly. "We were pretty bored that day."
Shopping in the second hand stores along Haight Street, the old hippy capital of the world, Brett buys two pairs of trousers and tries on a hat which he rejects. He says he's after a kind of bullfighter look but Mat bursts his bubble by telling him that Marc Almond's already done that so Brett buys a skin-tight chamois leather shirt instead.
So cool," says Mat, after Brett's bought it. "And so practical. Looks great and, hey, you can wash the car with it too!"
A couple of girls in the boutiques recognise the band and shout after them, and this kid stops them on the street and says, "Hey, are you guys in Sweat?"
That's not the worst we've had. says Brett, philosophically. The other day someone accused us of being in Swede!
There's a fair crowd hanging out round the back of Slim's when the band turn up to soundcheck. One guy wearing socks and open-toe sandals hands Bernard a Morrissey fanzine - a Morrizine - and asks him to sign his Morrissey T-shirt Bernard coldly declines and signs his jeans, "I am not Morrissey, love Bernard."
The guy says he'd heard from someone that the band were flying in from Phoenix and he'd been on the phone all day trying to ascertain their time of arrival so that he could organise a welcoming party. He asks if he can hang around on the steps listening to the soundcheck and when the band run through Animal Nitrate, he freaks right there in the alley, in broad daylight.
Another very pale, very skinny kid of about 14 has travelled from Las Vegas especially for the show. He says his mum brought him and that she's waiting in the car. Sure enough, every 10 minutes or so she pops her head around the corner to make sure he's OK. The kid, who religiously buys NME and appears to study every word, wants to know three things, What's Gavin Martin's problem
giving Suede an iffy review at Brixton? What's Carry On - "Is it a TV show or something?" And what's Boxing Day? Weird.
The kid's so pale he's almost translucent and the NME wants to know how come, if he lives in Vegas which is smack bang in the middle of the desert, he hasn't
got a healthy tan? The kid replies that he doesn't much like the outdoors.
Backstage in the dressing room, there is a bowl of gladioli. Brett declines to pose for the NME with a couple sticking out of his back pocket but he entertains us with acoustic renditions of Bowie's 'Bewley Brothers' and the obscure Morrissey/Vini Reilly collaboration 'I Know Very Well How I Got My Name'.
The show is brilliant, despite the fact that the band learn Neil Young is playing a secret warm-up gig with Booker T And The MG's across town and they all want to go, and that Bernard has such sunburnt ankles that he can't do his glitter stomp.
They play the same set they did at Brixton and they're tight and arrogant and punky. Brett tells the screaming crowd that they're almost as beautiful as their city and then does an exaggeratedly camp Geisha Girl = dance during 'She's Not Dead' which has Bernard in stitches.
"Who taught you to dance?" hollers some wag in the crowd when the song's over.
"Some old man from the hills of Afghanistan," replies Brett "And he was blind!
After the gig, Steve - the fan from the radio station - is exuberant, even though his mum's $500 camera was trampled on and smashed when it squeezed out of his pocket in the crush down the front "She can always get another camera but there will never be another night like this."
Brett is outside trying to make it to a Glam Slam celebration party at the DNA Club next door. He is surrounded by kids hustling for autographs and a jive-talking black bum sees his opportunity and starts hitting on the crowd for dimes. "If you like us." shouts Brett over the screaming, "give him money!"
Inside the club, the DJ's playing Gary Glitter and Alice Cooper and The Sweet In Suede's honour. They're cringing in the corner when the guy in open-toe sandals and the Morrissey T-shirt comes rushing over.
"THEY WERE UNF-INGBELIEVABLE! DID
YOU HEAR ME? AFTER THE FIRST SONG, I SCREAMED BRETT WILL YOU MARRY ME?' I'M SORRY BUT I DID!"
He's hysterical. "THEY TRAMPLED ALL OVER THE CORPSE OF MORRISSEY PUT THAT IN THE NME!"
FRIDAY JUNE 11
BERNARD WAKES up to fans roaming the hotel corridor knocking on his door and the best review of his life. There, on the front page of the San Francisco Examiner, just above stories about another miracle AIDS cure, a lesbian fighting discharge from the Navy and an investigation into ships carrying Chinese illegal immigrants, is the headline, "Suede at Slim's: drama, charisma, guitar power" The review inside, headlined "Suede's awesome debut" describes Suede as "clearly the most important rock band to come along in over a decade", Bernard is complimented for having, "slashed and slashed and slashed at his instrument as if there were three guitarists on the stage," and Brett is eulogised as having, "sex demon anxiety at its finest. The crowd reacted as if they'd never seen anything like it. You could feel your lungs
sucked empty. All you could do was gasp...
Bernard reads it out to Brett: "Anderson moves about as if he had spent his whole life on stage. He shakes his hips so smoothly and holds his head so proudly that you can't help but think of the early days of other classic pop performers - Elvis, Jagger. Bowie, Jackson, Morrissey..."
Bernard raises an eyebrow. "That's the first time you've been compared to Michael Jackson."
"Nah!" laughs Brett. "He means Jermaine!"
Bernard continues to read: "In the wake of band after band with black holes for frontmen, Anderson provides exactly what rock has been missing for the last few years - an absolute, undeniable star.
The gig is the Hollywood Colonnade, a barely converted Masonic temple pretty much directly opposite Grauman's Chinese Theatre where the stars of yesteryear left their imprints in the cement. Brett places his hands inside Marilyn Monroe's and he's thrilled because they fit exactly.
Although the hotel is only a block from the gig. Brett needs picking up by car because there's a queue of fans outside, sweltering in the sun from lunchtime onwards, and his feet are killing him. "They ve got nodules all over them, like a
fungus or rash or something. They're all scabby. I'm turning into a dinosaur. The show is a letdown after San Francisco. The band are sluggish and the crowd, all bar the screamers down the front, are too cool to get into it. A woman called Liz from LWT is filming the show for a documentary on Suede to be shown in the Autumn on Channel 4 and Bernard desperately tries to get things going grabbing a flower that's been thrown on the stage and playing 'Sleeping Pills' with it clamped in his teeth. Afterwards, the band drift off, a bit disappointed. Brett and Mat wind up in a bar where they meet a man who takes them back to his place to show them his six new kittens. Very rock'n'roll.
SATURDAY JUNE 12
SUEDE ARE due to play a 20- minute slot at KROQ's Weenie Roast at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre on a bill with Terence Trent D'Arby. The The, Lemonheads, Bettie Serveert, X and The Stone Temple Pilots. As NME drives to the band's hotel to pick up Brett and Simon for a final photo session in The Hollywood Cemetery where Rudolph Valentino and Jayne Mansfield are laid to rest, there is a discussion on KROQ about Suede's lyrics. What the DJs want to know is how come Suede all claim to be vegetarians yet they sing about some girl selling meat and are prepared to play the weenie roast. A weenie, incidentally, is a hotdog. They haul in The Posies to make some smart remarks about Suede killing off grunge ha ha ha and then play 'Metal Mickey.'
Brett and Simon are assuming soulful shapes at the foot of Douglas Fairbanks' tomb, Brett is in his socks - his feet are still scabby - and he laughs at the suggestion that, in a few years time, people might read some symbolism into his shoelessness the way they once did when the rumour spread that Paul McCartney was dead after he was photographed crossing the zebra on Abbey Road barefoot.
On the radio on the way back to the hotel there are The Eagles "Hotel California', Zep's 'Stairway' and Guns N' Roses Sweet Child O' Mine' - classics all. The NME wants to know if Brett reckons Suede are capable of such glories. He laughs, "I think we've written better songs than those already!"
At 6.30, slotted between Lemonheads and Terence Trent D'Arby, Suede play to their first big American audience at the KROQ Weenie Roast. It's their greatest challenge so far, their first opportunity to reach beyond the sussed Anglophile
Indiekids and touch the great American masses.
They belt out "Moving', 'Animal Nitrate', The Drowners', 'Pantomime Horse',
"So Young' and 'Metal Mickey' to 15,000 assorted sunkissed students, beachpunks and stoners, many of whom have only heard the odd Suede track on KROQ.
By the end there are moshers tearing the shirts from each other's backs, grungers playing air guitar and teenyboppers in bikinis screaming for more. Rodney Bingenheimer, one of KROQ's prime movers and the man renowned for introducing LA to David Bowie, is ecstatic.
He tells Saul Galpin, founder and head of Nude, that Suede are the best band he's seen in years.
Backstage, Evan Dando gets busy, buddying up with Brett. They pose together for the.photographer from Rolling Stone then party on into the night.
Tomorrow Suede will relax on Santa Monica Beach before resuming their tour in San Diego. They then play Phoenix, Dallas and a record company conference in Boca Rotan before returning home for Glastonbury.
Their debut American single will be 'Animal Nitrate. It is dispatched to radio in two weeks.
Brett's excited about it. "I know we're doing well now," he laughs. “But when we come back in September, that's when the work really starts."