Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 39
Thurs, Feb 28, 2013

“Film Star”


“♫ What
to believe
in its
to say?

Anderson saw two words repeatedly flash up on the bottom of the screen: “Coming Up”. It was perfect: sex, drugs and “fuck you, we’re back!” According to The Quietus, it was fitting that Brett Anderson came up with the album title; like Dog Man Star, perfectly titled— Coming Up reflected the flashing, catchy and immediate craving of the nineties Brit Pop generation.

When asked by Beat Magazine if the need to be beautiful influenced the flashy style of Coming Up, Brett replied, “I know what you mean, beauty for its own sake maybe isn’t very deep. All I know is that a lot of music is about instinct and less about theory. The dominant force for me was always, ‘is this a great song, does this move me emotionally?’ Rather than ‘does this move me mentally?’ It’s like when you look at art you know, when you look at paintings, like the impressionists people like Gauguin and Manet, people like that, great artists. I’m very conscious that I’m just looking at a pretty picture, but it doesn’t mean I’m any less emotionally engaged with it.”

Trying to move away from former guitarist Bernard Butler somber, bombastic epic glam canvases, the more flamboyant incarnation of Suede came through on such killer riffed hits like “Filmstar.” New guitarist Richard Oaks discussed the band’s new dynamic sound when he said, “It’s a nice one but every time I write a solo, I immediately think I could make it better. It’s like a kind of grey area. I’m much more into riffs and things. Like Filmstar. I love playing Filmstar live, ‘cos it’s just such a great grind. I probably will do more solos though. It’s just that the spirit of Coming Up wasn’t a old guitar album at all. It was never meant to be. It’s a nice contrast with the last Suede record, Dog Man Star, which was very much a solo record; a solo vocal record, a solo guitar record. Coming Up is more of a band record.”

Before I made it out to the West Coast, when I was a naïve twenty-something living in Texas, Filmstar always reminded me of my idea of Hollywood. It was definitely in the R.E.M. Monster form of song commentary on how the 90’s birthed the age of idiot stardom. Reality shows started in the nineties. News became more about entertainment than about the facts. And the music was more electronically influenced. Anderson reminisced on the glory days of Brit Pop when he said, “Every band of the nineties has to accept that dance music was the defining genre of the nineties. Even though, to be honest, most people with taste look back at guitar music as being defining, guitar music in the nineties wasn’t a new form of music and I think you have to accept that. It was the last defining music of any decade. Suede weren’t part of that definitely not, because we were a guitar band, it wasn’t so much about being retro, just about being honest to the music we played.

“Filmstar” came to life at Dave Stewart’s recording studio The Church in Crouch head London as documented in David Barnett’s authorized biography Suede: Love & Poison when he wrote, “Inspired by actors like Alan Bates and Terrance Stamp, Brett was enjoying the new freedom in working method that Bernard’s departure presented. “Some of the sings that I wrote with Richard on Coming Up, which are “Filmstar” and “She” specifically, were literally me going around to his place and singing the words and tapping my knees and him working out chords to it.”

“Filmstar” wasn’t just one of the highlights of 1997’s Coming Up, during the rehearsals for the new album as Simon Gilbert explained, “It didn’t feel like it had been seven years since we’d last played together. The first song we played in the rehearsal room was ‘Filmstar’ and it was like ‘wow’. What’s the next one going to be? It was so natural.” The Guardian UK take on the first rehearsal session was poignant when they wrote, “They played Filmstar first, and it sounded amazing, he says.”We also noticed a purity in those songs, because we’d had distance from them,” adds Codling. “It also helped everyone remember,” adds Anderson, “why they were written in the first place.”

In the end “Filmstar” and the rest of Coming Up was Brett Anderson brash ode to his idea of London as he once said, “Suede was very much my paean to the London that I had felt excluded from when I was younger. I used to go to Hayward’s Heath railway station and look up the railway tracks to London and dream. I think there’s a sense in suburbia and outside London that you fail if you stay in these places. There’s a sense of achievement just being here and living here [in London]. It’s the only place where I sense life means something.”

And that’s what I love about Suede. They maybe flashy, flamboyant and occasionally pen sympathetic sensitive anthems but Suede was the soundtrack to outcasts everywhere. Brett gave a voice to the exiled, the recluse, the strange and the unwanted. No matter if you were “So Young” “The Wild Ones” or a “Filmstar,” Brett Anderson always sang for us. And the world he created was dark, flashy and always memorable. Brit Pop and Anderson ideal of the glory lives on, come and join the decadence rising. Suede will make you a believer once again.