SELECT, November 1997 Interview


Marriage? Mortages? Kids? Hardly. In Suedeworld, the rumours – Justine, Bernard, nine-year-olds-run freely and the drugs are scattered on the carpet. As Brett happily agrees, it’s been a long, strange trip…

Reading Festival, 1997. The beautiful ones raise their arms from the crash barriers to the sound desk, from the pizza bus to the beer tent. The Men In Black-Suede-cause their audience to do nothing other than scream. The lyrics to ‘Animal Nitrate’ – “Over 21, wu-hu;hun” – are bellowed with such ferocity that the good folk of Reading town must have had tangled, bad dreams involving losing hands of whist. Boys hoist girls onto their shoulders and, this being a Suede-night, girls lift skinny-whippet boys onto their shoulders. Everywhere is boiling spilling worship.

Afterwards, on the flattened midnight grass, the ground looks like a debutantes’ ball has been shattered by an atomic blast. Boa-feathers litter the ground in purple, black and white-the goth tricolour. There are tattered silk flowers doused in cider and four smashed tiaras. Suede premiere two new songs. Neil Codling smokes six fags and smiles wryly. There’s a close-up of it on the video screens and everything. But none of that matters a pig f–k. Not when the backstage enclosure is going into over-drive on rumours like this…

Tine spirit: Ms Frischmann joins the Suede set at Reading 1997 Industry type: “You must have heard the story (sniff). Damon and Justine are on the rocks at the moment. Justine’s been seeing Brett all through her relationship with Damon. There’s proof on this as long as your arm. They’ve been seen going into that cafe, Tom’s, in Westbourne Grove, loads. Eating squid-ink pasta. You know she’s here today? Justine. Her and Brett have been sitting around together all day. Every time a photographer tries to take a picture, Justine wanders over and has a word: ‘Damon would get annoyed,’ apparently. Then, you know, she gets onstage with Suede. On-f–king-stage! What’s that all about? I mean, there’s rumours, then there’s rumours, and there’s getting onstage and playing one of your old songs together, hugging! Hugging and cheek-kissing looks pretty conclusive to me. And you know what they did at the Ramada Hotel later on? Got in a lift together – on their own! What? I don’t care if you’re just a cab-driver! You must know who Brett and Justine are! Can I have a receipt? ”

Then, of course, there are long term rumours. Rumours that must have been doing its rounds for years. The best one is that Damon’s courting of Justine over-lapped with her relationship with Brett, inspiring Brett to write ‘Animal Lover’. According to Rumour Monthly, Damon would leave a love-bite on the right-side of Justine’s anantomy one night, and Brett would do something similar on the left side; just to prove they were both still seeing her. Brett, is this true?

“Gnnnf!” Brett’s eyes grow wide. His face becomes a little pinker. His hand flies to his mouth before he composes himself. “Well, I… let’s leave it a rumour, eh?” he says in the voice of a politician parrying harsh statistical evidence. “These things are always more amusing if you leave them as a rumour. I hadn’t heard that one before. Hmmmm.”

We mention Justine because it’s red-hot gossip. Erm, no. No, actually mention Justine because it brings the Suede story full circle. Suede are releasing their B-sides album this month – “Sci-Fi Lullabies”. It is their dark side, their secret history. From those first apocalyptic explosions, penned in grotty flats in the aftermath of Justine leaving and Bernard joining; through the opiated grandeur of the “Dog Man Star” years; and onto Suede’s rebirth with The Oakes and The Codling, and a year navigating the Top Ten. And then Justine rejoining them onstage again to play… an old Anderson/Frischmann song. All circular, you see? ‘Sci-Fi Lullabies’ has its own narrative rhythm. It is The Suede Story-The Director’s Cut.

Suede, after all this time, are still the only band in Britain – save the Manics – who are a cause, an entire belief system, rather than a ‘tight little combo’ who release some records every 18 months or so which people, you know, like. Suede, and Suede-people, are a self-contained, self-supporting system – walking the asphalt world, celebrating trash, making the grim glamorous. It’s worth noting that the word ‘glamorous’ comes from 15th century glamors-bizarre tokens such as a piece of knotted leather, or a bunch of feathers bound with silk, which witches would leave in a victim’s hut to weave magick while the witch was away. In the techno 20th century, glamors could very easily be CDs and 12-inch records. Or posters with Neil Codling’s face on them.

Oh yes, It was all slapping arses round here when I was a lad

But magic doesn’t happen spontaneously – spells don’t accidentally combust. When Suede appeared on their first magazine cover in 1992 – three weeks before their first debut single came out – precipitating a tsunami of excitement unknown since Johnny Marr left the Smiths to get fat and wear tracksuits. It was a situation that Brett had prepared for. Years of brooding in Coucil House Land had made young Anderson hungry for anything that wasn’t Bon Jovi on Top Of The Pops, desultory beatings in bus-stops, and dough-faced youth with wet-look perms and runty eyes.

Let us forget that before Suede there was a void: sub-literate years bookended by the dislocated, bug-eyed trance-dance of Madchester and the mimsy, wispy lispings of The Shoegazer’s Ball. In the violent corridor-towns and stagnant suburbs, ambition was no larger than running away to Manchester to hang out with on of the Adventure Babies’ roadies. Manchester! Dressing up for the night meant choosing from one of six hooded tops and deciding whether to lace your trainers up right to the top or leave them undone for neck-breaking thrills.

Anderson saw all that was around him and was disgusted. Suede was formed – no hipped young-men in second-hand glory. The first to wear nylon blouses, the first to wear corduroy semi-flares. And stop sniggering at the back there – influencing style is one of the primary jobs of pop-stars, and we’re all wearing Suede-clothes now. Suede were the first to put their souls and demons and ambition and beauty on vinyl in ten long years. The first to discuss what it was to be British and alienated and hungry for more:raised on white bread and Kwik-save beans; living for Friday and Saturday, dying on Sunday; ghost-faced and acid-stomached in the dole office on Monday morning. But never settling for this mean portion. Always grasping and wild and fishing for something stellar. Always eager to find “constellations in the mould in the coffee cup”, certain that “the high life within you,” as bassist Mat Osman observed in an early interview.

And so Suede Nation was born.

It was, and is, the New Goth-acolytes instantly recognisable, for they are The Disposessed. The people who, if they’s been in the same year at school as Oasis, would have been beaten up by them every day for reading fooking books. They were The Screaming Teenies, the Glitter Queenies, the Glam Boys and the Grrr, Tiger! Girls. Suede Nation.

“Hmmm, Suede Nation. I like that. It’s better than Suedettes, isn’t it?” Brett Anderson muses, then sniffs. We are sitting in a silent, white, empty house. Brett is in the last day of packing and moving from one flat to another, and the front room-white walls grubby white carpts with pristine outlines where sofas and tables once stood-echoes and booms. Brett strids around, occasionally swooping on something on the floor. “Blimey!” he exclaims at one point, picking up a purple capsule between the thumb and the forefinger. “A Rohypnol!” “I’ll have that tonight”. “Rohypnol, you may remember is the drug Kurt Cobain almost fatally overdosed on in Rome in 1994. (He died anyway. )” “I should get some sniffer dogs in here before I move-then I wouldn’t have to score for a month.”

Brett looks almost violently fit. His eyes-always hawky and moody-browed in some photos-are laser-like, but warm, like lasers are. He stops looking for ‘free’ drugs and sits on an old suitacase: “The handle won’t go up my arse,” he says, perching gingerly. “I’ve got a very flexible arse. I can arrange myself around handles.”

“You can see the story of Suede through the B-sides, can’t you?” he continues, flexing his arse a little more accurately. He picks up the tracklisting of ‘Sci-Fi Lullabies’ and looks at it through narrowed eyes. “This is going to be like Mastermind, isn’t it? ‘Where were you on the night of 25 April, 1992?’ ‘On the cover of a magazine for the first time, Magnus.’ I hope I got the questions right,” he twinkles raffishly then gives a big sniff.

So why chose now to release a B-sides album, Brett-monster?

“Well, there’s a lot of fans who’ve only got into Suede for ‘Coming Up’, and who have no idea about all these other songs, “he says, lighting a ciggie.” I actually think ‘Sci-Fi Lullabies’is a better way of getting into our history than buying ‘Suede’ or ‘Dog Man Star’. There’s more breadth to it, more highs and lows. The principal drive behind the B-sides album though, is that we never wanted to put out any shoddy material, and we never did. Everything had to be brilliant, and it was. Morrissey came down to the Camden Palace gig, scribbled down all the lyrics for ‘Insatiable One’ in a little notebook and covered it at his next gig. People thought we were insane to chuck it away on the B-side! Sniff!”

“But we wanted to be huge-and I studied for it. When The Smiths put out a single, all thier B-sides would be amazing, a world you could live in for months. I always thought that was a brilliant idea, something that Suede should do. I had so many ideas of how the perfect band should be,” he says, tamping the ciggy out.” I had time on my hands, so I’d study journalists’ form before they came to interview us. So I knew what wavelength they were on, and I could get on it too. It seemed too important to leave to chance.”

What other Machiavellian plans did you bring to Suede, then?

“Oh, there was a definite songwriting blue-print,” Brett says, sniffing once more. From now on, unless specifically mentioned otherwise, presume that Brett is having a good old sniff every 35 seconds or so.” I wanted songs to biuld and rise and have unusual codas. I wanted songs to have a trajectory – a sense of journey and movement, build and release. Which was also, very handily, good for theatrical gig moments.

Rapier-like, the Brett brain picks out an illustrative example. “‘To The Birds’ saw one of the funniest moments of Suede history – we were playing it in New York, and there’s that big dramatic break before all that lalalalalalas. Well, Mat jumped up into the air for a bit of dynamics, and crashed right through the stage. He just disappeared. It’s just as well it was the last song that night or else I’d spent the whole gig pissing myself.” Brett chuckles evilly for a few minutes, before composing himself. “Suede gigs felt like an imminent explosion in those days – like something was about to happen, every second.

Indeed they did – Brett would get through three or four shirts a night, having each one torn from his back and shredded within seconds by screaming, rag-desiring fans. At the time, Brett’s stage-presence was parodied everywhere, from Spitting Image to Baddiel and Newman’s Wembley gig – Baddiel mincing around in a wig, slapping his arse, flapping his hand and re-writing the lyrics to ‘The Drowners’: ‘Hello sailor/Who’s a naughty boy then?’, and postulating that som popstars ‘tried too hard’.

Suede’s stage-act has changed now – all the old exuberence of yore has been boiled down to Brett’s committed, demon-driven clapping; one to the left, two to the right, as if he’s trying to recapture a swarm of recalcitrant bees between his palms. But in The Old Days, it was microphone arse-lashing at ten paces. “Unusual use of the microphone stand there,” the Top Of The Pops presenter bleated, after their first, “Where were you when you saw them?” appearance.

“Songs like ‘He’s Dead’ demanded that kind of performance, “Brett explains.” I always envisioned that as an Indian funeral lament – with me as the bride being led to the funeral pyre. Suede songs aren’t the kind of thing you can perform standing around apologetically. ”

By the time of ‘High Rising’ -fearfully elegiac ‘So Young’ B-side; Brett sounds like he’s being swallowed by a cold, dead star – Suede were Very Famous. Seven front covers, a controversial, teeth-bared Brits appearance, the “I’m a bisexual man who’s never had a homosexual experience” quote, and the overuse of the words “fey”, “fop” and “glam” – it was as if Suede were the only molecule of oxygen available in 1992. “The Big Time”, one of the B-sides to their fourth-single, ‘So Young’, was their first song to acknowledge the irrevocable changes fame ushers into your life.

“It’s a sad song, a goodbye song, to friends I was leaving behind,” Brett sighs. “Even at that point I was being swept into the celebrity enclosure.” he pauses to scan the track listing and yelps with mild embarassment. “You can see our history so clearly on this album! It’s almost a month-by-month account.”

The notoroious cig: Anderson, secure in the knowledge that Suede B-sides are no fag-end phenomenon. Painfully so. ‘Sci-Fi Lullabies’ also minutely details Suede’s Mournful Months; Dreadful Years; Dark Ages. By the time of ‘My Dark Star’, Bernard Butler, never the most serene of people, was starting to become fractious and unhappy. Frequently lauded as the Greatest Guitarist of His Generation – the delicate, collapsing arpeggios on ‘Pigs Don’t Fly’; greasily sexual vertigo of ‘Insatiable One’; and ‘To The Birds’, where Butler seemingly recreates the entire orchestration from The Beatles’ “Day In The Life” with a single guitar, should persuade any new-comers – he ws becoming unhappy with Suede’s image.

“I’d be mouthing off about… all the things I did mouth about,” Brett recalls ruefully, and he wanted to tap everyone on the shoulder and say, “Actually, we’re a fucking great band. There is substance.” But that often got forgotten in the first year, with all the excitement.”

On tour in America with The Cranberries, Suede split into two camps. Much like REM, with their ‘Milk and Cookies’ and ‘Wine, Women and Song’ separate tour vans, so Suede split into Those Who Wanted to Party Like It Was 1999 (Brett, Simon, Mat) and Those Who Wanted to Sit In Their Hotel Rooms All Night Playing Guitar (Bernard).

Here’s another rumour, Brett.

“Gawd, Suede must have more rumours per square inch than any other band in the world,” he sighs. “Go on.”

Apparently, right, there was an evening of particular debauchery in New York where you had driven straight from the gig to relieve a young nubile from the distressing burden of virginity. On returning to your hotel at 4am, you ecountered the rest of your band imbibing fine brandies and smoking cigars, and recounted your evening’s exploits, finishing the story by standing on a table and shouting, “Now bring me a nine-year-old!!” This is, according to myth, the night Bernard decided to leave the band.

“Hargh hargh hargh! Awahahaha!” Brett laughs for a whole minute. “That one’s gone through Chinese Whispers,” he gasps.

So you actually wanted a ten-year-old?

“Yeah, probably. There was a lot of insanity going on at the time. The rest of the band were enjoying their position at the time, having a good laugh. We thought we deserved to enjoy ourselves in quite an extreme way, and let off a bit of steam. And Bernard didn’t want to be part of that.”

So the story is true?

Brett shrugs. “We were having a good time.”

“I’ll do an Oasis, shall I?” muses Simon Gilbert, flicking V-signs out of the window. Tonight is the night of the Mercury Music Prize, and here we are in Suede’s suite at the Grosvernor Hotel, Park Lane – not round at Neil Codling’s house, snorting cocaine from Mat Osman’s bass and listening to Painted People. Hot damn.

The adorable Simon is sitting in the window seat, looking down at the paparazzi below. Alas, the days of brandy, cigars and virgins is long gone – when asked what Suede do on days off together, Simon confesses that they, “Just go round to each other’s houses and have drug parties.”

And what music do they listen to?

“Our own. It’s quite sad isn’t it? But we listen to ourselves almost exclusively.”

Brett sweeps in and peruses the drinks trolley.

“I’d like some fags,” he announces, pouring himself a mineral water. “Oh, biscuits!”

He joins the rest of Suede in the bedroom an, 30 seconds later, the reassuring chimes of the Eastenders theme issues from within. That’ll be Brett brushing up on his Cockernee then.

Thirty-five thrilling minutes later, still reeling from Phil Mitchell admitting he was a dirty shagger and Caff donning a dressing gown of mourning that still seems to be clinging to her a month later, Suede are onstage, gracefully wiliting through ‘By The Sea’. The intro, which those who were at reading may recall lasting upwards of five days, has been trimmed to a neater 15 seconds. During the numerous soundchecks earlier on, Brett had omitted singing the highest notes, to save his voice. Now, with the stage lashed mournfully blue and green, and each note high and piercing, Suede have at least one of their audience in tears. As he stalks back to the Suede table, buffeted by applause, it’s sickeningly evident that Brett hasn’t even broken into a sweat.

“You can train yourself not to,” he grins, pouring a glass of wine. Tickets for the Mercury cost E350 each, for which wine and food comes free, and any enjoyment is down to the individual to create. But with free food and booze, how difficult can this be? As the ‘Warm oriental chicken salad’ comes and goes, untouched by the Suede continent (Brett: “Most of us are veggie, which means when you’re abroad you just point at the thing with cheese and hope” and the ‘Braised monkfish loin with spaghetti of carrots, mouli and courgette’ is used as a creamy ashtray, it becomes apparent that Suede are not foodies. “We are boozies!” Simon confirms, gesturing to the champagne bottle at his side. “Do you want some gossip, right?” he continues. “I’m fucking brilliant on a jet-ski! And once, when I was little, I sleep-walked over to my train set and pissed on it!”

More gossip, Simon! You’re great!

“Brett used to have a really horrible red kagoul and he used to wear with Crass armbands! This was in 1989 though. Mat burps a lot, he takes pride in burping deeply and loudly. Neil used to have a flourescent suit (how the hell did he get it?). And Richard sleeps a lot. Hey, what’s this?”

A Collins Guide to Symptoms and Illnesses has found its way onto the Suede table.

“Christ, we had one of these in the tour bus,” the Codling grins. He flicks through. “Ballooning penis? There’s surely no such thing!” he reads on, fascinated. Brett takes the key to the suite from the table, and disappears.

In the North London district of Highgate sits the brooding gothic edifice that was home to Brett Anderson while he wrote his parts for Suede’s “Dog Man Star” album. The rooms above him served as meeting point for a group of Mennonites, members of a Protestant sect who advocate the rejection of public office. Maybe Bernard Butler had such a retreat in mind when he made a secret and sudden decision to leave the very public world of Suede in May 1994.

“That was a really awful time, because everyone was convinced we were completely finished.”

Ah yes, sorry about that. Brett pauses for a second and then aims a punch of ferocious intensity at Select’s head. It stops one inch short of the nose it was intended for.

“Haha! I’m not bitter,” he shrugs, transforming the fist back to a cigarette-holding device. “It’s fucking music-industry machine, isn’t it? It’s making history instantly. And because, around that time, there wasn’t anyone else around like us, people had the burden of all their hopes on us.”

“I’d always known Bernard was going to leave,” he sighs. “Totally known it. It was a matter of when. There was asense of self-destruction, of tight-rope walking with Suede when Bernard was with us. And that was very exciting of course. All these songs were written with this looming cloud over us, which is why there’s such an air of tension on them-like the first Sex Pistols’ album.”

Apparently, at the audition from which you recruited Beranrd, just him and a man with no hands turned up. If you could go back now, would you enrol the man with no hands?

“Nah, no chance. My only regret is that we didn’t take it further – he left the band when there was a hell of a lot more in us. We were untouchable, heading for the fucking moon. There were more creative juices to flow.”

You’ll not be doing guest vocals on his forthcoming album?

“He’s done it all on his own, hasn’t he?” Brett says, raising an eyebrow a tiny fraction, as if to say, “Hmm, recording without anyone else. Can’t possibly think why.”

And so Suede auditioned again, and Richard Oakes, the boy-hero with the mind of a 42-year-old and the face of a raffish accountant, became a new leader of Suede Nation.

“And the first thing we wrote together was ‘Together’,” Brett grins. “We were touring ‘Dog Man Star’ and locked him in a bedroom and forced him to write while we went out for a drink. I knew he had to write something soon or he’d start getting all nervous and thinking about it too much. When we returned, drunk at two in the morning, he’d written ‘Together’. So it was a good night all round.”

On this self-same tour, however, the Suede Rumour Mill was doing overtime and taking on extra staff. Brett seemed twitchy in interviews, photos revealed a puffy, blank-eyed lead singer, and everyone said “BLIMEY! HEROIN!”

“I was very unhappy,” Brett reveals, perhaps not entirely exclusively. “I’d lost an integral part of the band (Bernard); and I knew I had two years of touring and recording before I could prove that we weren’t all over. It was one of those crappy phases of life where you want to crawl into bed for six months, but I was happened to be in the middle of a tour.”

Drugs, Brett?

“I’ve tried everything,” he states flatly.

Have you ever been dependent on anything?

“Yes I think so.”

Was it cocaine?

“I wouldn’t really want to say.”

Gilbert and gorgeous: Simon chaperones, glamorous Neil ‘The Power’ was originally chalked in as a further single from ‘Dog Man Star’, but Suede had no enthusiasm for more promotion of a Bernard-flecked album. New Boy (Part Two) had entered the scene:all stand for the dramatic entrance of THE CODLING!

“Old Molly Codling,” Brett chuckles affectionately. “Well, this was when things started to get better. His entrance was very filmic-it was like the Doors movie. We heard beautiful music trickling from a far room…” Brett air-Hammonds the opening bars to ‘Light My Fire’. “‘Who is this? He must join our band. He came in to borrow a suit from Simon [his cousin, lest you’d forgotten] and just sort of… stayed.”

There are those who would be cynical and say that drafting in some totty at that point in Suede’s career was a very good move.

[Steely glare] “I suppose there are, aren’t there? If Neil’s a nice bit of totty,” Brett chews the words, wetting them with the saliva of disdain, “then fair enough. It’s weird with all this pin-up stuff, because he’s one of the most intense musicians I’ve ever worked with. It’s just that he happens to scrub up well.”

That intensity doesn’t really come across onstage. He looks like a man thinking about what he wants for his tea.

“His role onstage is different, but in the studio he runs around like a mad insect (lizard?). Where are we up to now in the track-listing history?”

Oh, ‘Sadie’ or something.

“Ah, Sadie’s one of my imaginary characters. I love ‘S’ words – sexual, she, sure, savage.

Another one of your imaginary characters is Terry, is he not?

“Oh Gawd! Terry’s from the very early Suede years. I don’t think he ever made it onto vinyl.” Brett seems well amused at the re-emergence of Terry from the mists of time. “No, actually, the only way he made his way onto vinyl was on that Elastica single, ‘See That Animal’. The lyrics to that were from an early Suede song called ‘Going Blonde’. Justine nicked all the good lyrics and used them. The chorus had Terry in it.” Brett sounds a little sad.

So Justine knows Terry too?

“You sound like you’re talking to a mad person!” Brett hoots. “‘Does Terry know Sadie? Does he take sugar?’ Justine’s very good friends with Terry yeah. We sit around having big tea parties together – me, Justine and Terry. But it was very cyclical, having Justine up on stage at Reading. We played ‘Implement Yeah!’, this Fall piss-take we used to do. The lyrics are all about Mark E Smith-‘That boy Smith’s got lard for a tongue/He looks like a gun or a bun or a bung/He’s a basket-case/He’s a siren fodder/His face is odd and his voice is odder.‘ It’s just a laugh. We re-recorded it recently – it was going to be a B-side to ‘Filmstar'”.

Which was the last Suede single, and therefore neatly brings us to the end of ‘Suede-The B-Sides Story’. So-let’s dig for gossip.

Was Justine’s appearance at Reading purely a spontaneous thing?

“Sort of. I knew she was going anyway and I rang her up before and said, ‘Come and do it with us, Jus,’ and in the end she did.”

You’re keeping her from recording that long-awaited second Elastica album!

“She’s working pretty hard on it. It’s 90% written – I’ve heard some of it and it’s excellent. They just work really, really slowly.”

You don’t say.

“They re-record loads. With ‘Connection’, they re-recorded eight times. She listens to music in a realy analytical way, she actually listens to every note and sound. I listen to music in a romantic’s point of view, whereas Justine listens to it like a technician. Actually, Justine’s obsessed with hi-hat sounds.”

This wasn’t the kind of gossip we wanted. Another tack is in order. Brett, a lot of people presumed you and Justine had fallen out-you used to go out, you break up, she goes out with someone who repeatedly slags you off…

“Nah! “Brett shakes his head.” We’re really good friends. She just came round on day and we started hanging out. I don’t have any problems with… [There’s a huge, Damon’s-name shaped hole here] she has different sides to her lifes. I hate the thought of investing all this time in someone and they just disappear, and all that time slips down the drain. They remain in your memory. If you go out with someone ‘forever’, then you should stay friends with them because there’s obviously a bond there.”

I suppose it depends how you break up. Was it civilised with you two?

“Um, no. I can’t go into that really. And that’s the end of that one.”

Back at the Mercury Music Awards, in a gathering haze of drunkeness, we’re meeting some of the extended Suede family. Tania, their make-up artist of their choice; Simon’s boyfriend, the charmingly shy ‘Viscount de Montford’ (not his real name in any sense, but then he’s very shy) and Brett’s girlfriend, Sam, who is immortalised on – you guessed it – the B-side ‘Sam’.

With huge brown eyes and an almost cartoonish pretty face, Sam rocks. Sam, we find out later, is soon to be further immortalised as an extra in a forthcoming Spice Girls deodorant advert. “But they’ll probably cut me out,” she says, pouring another glass of wine and wincing as the paparazzi crowd around Brett. ‘Whenever they take pictures of the two of us together,” she says, gesturing to the photographers, and then to Brett, “they always cut me out of the picture. Thank God! Too embarassing.”

Richard Oakes punches the air victoriously when Roni Size wins the Award for, even though Suede have ‘lost’, Richard has won a $35 sweepstake. He is not, we can reveal after extensive probing, going to spend it on sweets. The conversation turns, as it does, to underarm hair.

“I could never shave it!” Sam beams. “It’s so disgusting if you do. Look at her over there,” she gestures to a shaven ‘lovely’. “All scabby and dry and crackling deodorant skin. Bleurgh. You can do lovely things with your underarm hair. Justin was going to shave a logo or some letters into hers, but there isn’t enough room, really.”

You’re friends with Justine?

“Yeah. She’s brilliant. Cool. Ace.” Sam beams, before tottering along back to the Suede suite with Brett in tow.

So the HOT JUSTINE GOSSIP dies, as all hot gossip does. Whoever heard of a girlfriend who thought a supposed ‘love rival’ was cool, brilliant and ace? It’s a sad day for tittle-tattle merchants the world over.

The only hot gossip that remains now-and it’s not by any means a measly nugget of mystery-is how, in releasing a double LP of B-sides, Suede have still undoubtedly managed to put out one of the Albums Of The Year?

Typed in by Lizardry from Neil Mania