V99 OFFICIAL PROGRAMME 1999 - HM Tour Programme
Submitted by: Amanda Blazier
MAT OSMAN SUEDE
How important are festivals to you as a band?
Much more so than they ever were. I never used to like them, really. When we started off, we were always into that intense club gig where everyone has come to see you and it's a bit more personal.
Then, what happens after a while is, you just have enough songs. We've got to the point now where we've done four albums, and you can have 80,000 people who know 20 of your songs and you just lighten up a bit. When we started, the idea of being a party band, playing 20 songs to a bunch of pissed-up people didn't really appeal - and now it does! (Laughs)
What do you think makes a good festival band?
An element of size about the songs, I suppose. That kind of widescreen thing. We did a whole load of festivals with Reef last year and they were just always great - their songs moved and had a bit of weight to them. Also, it's the back catalogue. Y'know, when you go and see R.E.M., it's ridiculous - they play 20 songs in a rowand you know them all. You just can't help yourself - you hear the start of Losing My Religion and it's like a shot of adrenaline.
So do you consider yourselves a good festival band?
Yeah, we're getting there. Especially playing in Europe over the last couple of years - we're probably bigger In Europe than we are in England now - I think we've finally got the idea of it. Beforehand, we always tried to squeeze the festival to fit what we wanted to do.
Y'know, we've done a festival and played seven new songs and stuff, which was good for us - we have a laugh -- but it's probably not much good if you're in the audience. Over the last couple of years, we've finally got the hang of how to project ourselves and know what kind of set to play.
What have been your best festival experiences as a band?
We just did three nights at Roskilde in Denmark and it was blinding - one of my favourite set of gigs we've ever done. We've headlined there a couple of times and we just wanted to do something a bit different this time. So we headlined all three stages - the little one, the huge one and the in-between one -- and just mixed the sets up. Roskilde is like all the British festivals, but everyone just goes from healthy to comatose, without the horrible stage in between. The big thing at the Scandinavian festivals is homemade booze that they carry around in Castrol cans. I've been at Finnish festivals where they've had to clear the campsite with water cannons, just to get people up. That's a different world. You don't want to go on after midnight because no one's standing.
Any big presentation plans for the show?
Not particularly, no. We've got a huge light show that we're bringing in, just because V99 is bigger than anything we've played all year. But we tend to concentrate more on the sounds and on the set. It's easy enough to get caught up in gimmicks and stuff, but y'know, all my favourite memories of seeing a band live have been when they've played well and the crowd was really good. It's kind of 50 times more important.
What's likely to be in your set?
A lot of Head Music, a lot of Coming Up and a few things from before probably. Because we did these three nights at Roskilde, we had to play, like, 20 old songs 'cause we were changing the set every night. It was quite interesting because we played some stuff that we haven't played for five or six years like My Insatiable One. There were a few things that worked and a few things that didn't - like Killing of A Flashboy. We did Bodies by the Sex Pistols and I thought it was going to go down an absolute storm. But then there must've been a hundred people who came up to us afterwards, saying, "What the hell was that?" Then you suddenly realise that you're talking about a record released before most of the audience were born. So that was a bit of an eye-opener.
Did you avoid playing the old Bernard Butler-period stuff for a while?
Yes and no. We stopped playing them, but it wasn't a big ideological decision.
We always just try to play the stuff that excites us and the songs that we were enjoying playing were off the new albums. But one of the nice things when we toured with R.E.M. this year was we played The Wild Ones, which we hadn't done for three years, and it was nice having left it off the set for a bit. It had got to the point where we'd played it every week for three or four years, so it was nice to come back to it a bit fresh. I'm sure there will be earlier stuff in the set. But, for us, it's just about not having to do Animal Nitrate every night.
Tips for surviving V99 as an audience member?
I've heard that you don't need any tips because it's incredibly safe and the toilets are nice. It difficult for me because the thing I always do to survive a festival is come home straight after we've played! I'm not a festival person in the slightest, to be honest. I spent my entire childhood camping and one of my major goals in life was never to have to camp again.
My tip for surviving it? Wooh - wear a hat. Make sure you don't get sunstroke. And don't touch the brown acid.
Anyone you're keen on seeing?
Everyone. I think it's a really good bill. I'm disappointed that Supergrass are on the other day 'cause I love them. They're one of those bands that, every time I've seen them, they've got better. I really want to see Massive Attack 'cause I've never seen them and that would be exciting. I'm looking forward to all of it. We're actually going to get down there early for once.
Do you ever look out at the sheer size of a festival crowd and quietly freak out?
For about the first 15 seconds, yeah. Until you start playing, there is that irrational fear. And then as soon as it all starts up, it feels like the greatest thing on earth. One of the nicest things about playing a festival is that there's very rarely anyone there who wants it to be bad - and that's not true of a normal gig. Quite often when we play, there are people who just want to see what all the fuss is about, or they've come along with their mates or whatever. But by the time it gets to eleven o'clock at a festival and everyone's had a few drinks, all the audience wants is for you to be really good. People genuinely want to have a good time and it takes a hundred per cent of the pressure off. It means that all you have to be is good and that's something that I known we can do.
What about the rumours concerning the state of Suede? The reports of Neil Codling and Richard Oakes having a fight in Paris?
It's a very strange rumour because Neil didn't come to Paris - he was ill. So it ended up with someone who wasn't in the country fighting with someone who was and - according to the story - Brett [Anderson]'s bodyguard. Brett's never had a bodyguard in his life! It'snone of the sad things about the Internet - rumours that would've been crushed in ten seconds normally just get reported as something that's really happened. Certainly I've never seen two people less likely to have a fight. I think they were both quite chuffed by it, though. When we heard about it, they were both walking around with their chests puffed out. So no, it's absolute bollocks.
Highlights of the year so far?
I liked the Roskilde festival a lot. That was really exciting. The third gig we did there, we had a big wheel onstage with the names of 20 songs that we hadn't played for ages, and we just got the fans up to spin the wheel. It was slightly terrifying as well. Touring with R.E.M. was great. Then just some of the fan club stuff I really, really enjoyed. We played this gig in Oslo in a tiny little club and that was really exciting 'cause they weren't as cool as people can be at these things. A lot of the time when we do the fan club gigs in Britain, people tend to just sit and listen. It's a really strange thing to be in front of a thousand of your keenest fans and it's the quietest gig of the year. Hopefully, V99 will be the loudest gig of the year!