Having been obsessed with British music since my youth, bands like Adam Ant, Def Leppard, and Bowie were artists that kept my eyes glued to magazines like Cream, Melody Maker, and NME. In late '87, I really dove into the world of The Smiths and thus began a new obsession, one that had me spending every spare cent on magazines and import records. Tower and Off the Record were my sacred temples that allowed me access to bands that had odd names like Ride, The Sisters of Mercy, Stone Roses, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and The Charlatans UK; and labels like 4AD, Mute, Beggars Banquet, and Rough Trade ruled my world.
Fast forward to 1992 and the collecting of information and music did not slow down, and if anything it only grew exponentially with now having money and a car. I travelled back and forth from San Diego to LA seeing bands, and in 1992 Morrissey was about to tour the States again, and in one of the magazines he had mentioned an up-and-coming artist called Suede that he was really into. Like most things back then, it was so hard to buy singles by simply walking into a shop, as imports would most times arrive weeks/months after a single was released. You couldn't download or YouTube what they sounded like, so all I had to go by was this androgynous photo of Suede vocalist Brett Anderson that was placed in the Morrissey interview.
They had no albums out and it wouldn't be until sometime in 1993 that, while watching 120 Minutes, I saw a video for "The Drowners" and was in love with the sound, the image, the lyrics. I waited what seemed like forever to know what they sounded like, and I was hooked. Suede came to the States and both times I was on tour with Unbroken and missed the shows. In the van, sometimes Steve, Todd, and I would talk about how much we loved the band and the lyrics, and wondered how Brett was able to sing the way he did and how bummed we were to miss their shows. Even Morrissey covered a B-side of Suede's on his '92 tour, and it further validated how important this band was to us. In 1995, Suede played LA and it was sold out, so I stood outside in the alley to listen. It felt horrible to be so close and yet at a distance, as it were. Another time, in 2011, my current band, Narrows, was playing London and a mere 10-minute cab ride away, Suede was playing. I could not believe my luck in having missed them again. It was as if we were not meant to be. It wasn't until a few months later, after almost 20 years of being a fan, that I was finally able to see them in a less than ideal circumstance... Coachella. However, they did not disappoint, and aside from seeing Negative Approach at an Eagles Club in Pomona, CA in 2009, it was the best show I had ever seen. With every song, snapshots of tour, shows, disappointments, love, and death would flash before me. It was one of those rare shows that just takes you to another place of long-ago memories you thought were locked away.
Back to the records... Suede albums and singles were purchased over the years, and Suede's second album, Dog Man Star, had my favorite song, "Heroine," on it. I wondered how they would ever follow-up on that masterpiece with guitarist Bernard Butler leaving the band. They were able to not only top Dog Man Star, but with Coming Up they created the perfect album in every way. The art, lyrics, and track listing were all impeccable. Buller's production was loud and had a stomping glam rock feel to it. The songs "Saturday Night," "Lazy," and "By the Sea," in particular, were the standouts for me. Coming Up really encompassed what Suede was: more than a band, but a movement that was exposing the love and grit of relationships in London, a life I would only ever know through their music. I love almost everything they have ever done, but this album will always be special for me.