Interview from Spin Online
Suede presents America with a new record, an enhanced CD, and a new permanent line-up. Lorraine Lelis caught up with bassist Mat Osman in between a bunch of scattered tours and power naps to hear about his fascination with toilets--which, as it were, never got in the way of Suede's truest love: makin' music.
SPINonline: I love the album; it's really good. Are you pleased with how it came out?
Mat Osman: Yeah, I'm quite happy.
SPINonline: How much input did you give?
Mat Osman: The whole band was pretty involved in this one. The last album, Dog Man Star, was written in a kind of really old-fashioned songwriterly way. The song being written and then the band playing and filling it up. But most of Coming Up was written in the rehearsal room just with the whole band playing, and we just kind of built it up like that.
SPINonline: And is the songwriting process any different now that you have a keyboardist?
Mat Osman: It makes things a lot easier because before when one of us had to play keyboards. We all used to play keyboards (on recordings). I'm quite pleased. Neil's one of those people who can play anything; he plays piano really well.
SPINonline: Whose idea was it to do the CD-Extra?
Mat Osman: I think it came about because someone is
always filming videos of us. We've got about 900 hours of boring footage of us sitting
around airports. We wanted to do something with it. We were in this weird situation with
the album coming out in Britain months ago and we always said to people "don't buy
the import- only buy one copy," but people end up buying both, and it's a
bit of a shame. So we just wanted to put something on it. We didn't have any more extra tracks so that's what we came up with. It's quite a good thing.
SPINonline: Did you see it? Did you like it?
Mat Osman: Yeah. It's great how you can even click to see Brett just talking.
SPINonline: Oh My God! It must be great. I've seen most of it, but I must admit when it says "click here to see Brett talking,"...I mean I spend all day seeing Brett talks!!!
SPINonline: Was it a tedious album to record?
Mat Osman: No, not at all. I absolutely love being in the studio. It took two blocks of two months--which is quite a long time. It was Richard and Neil's first time in the recording studio. So it's a debut record for them. You actually need a bit of time to come to grips with everything.
SPINonline: And how do you like touring?
Mat Osman: I love playing live; but I don't particularly like touring, because it's so uncreative. If you're in a band, you want to spend as much of your time making new stuff. You just can't do that on the bus.
SPINonline: You and Brett started the band when you were young, right?
Mat Osman: Yeah, we were 16 when we started playing together. I didn't have any other interests. I couldn't see any point in being in a band unless it was a great band, and a big band.
SPINonline: If you hadn't done it, what do you think you'd be doing?
Mat Osman: No idea, absolutely no idea. I used to clean toilets.
SPINonline: So you'd be a janitor?
Mat Osman: I probably would, yeah. Brett would too. In fact, everyone in the band was cleaning toilets at some point. Honestly, that's totally true! We only found this out recently. We were just talking about trades that we've done, and we'd all cleaned toilets. So there'd be this internationally elegant toilet-cleaner, strutting around different parts of England. We could start a company. That's what I'll be doing. You could still do that on the side. Great! Now when people say "Do you have any other interests?" I could say "Yeah, I'm fascinated by toilets."
SPINonline: What is your basic day?
Mat Osman: Basic day is normally wake up somewhere, not know where you are. Look at a little piece of paper that I wrote down by my bed that says "You are Mat Osman today. You are in Stockholm." And take it from there.
SPINonline: So what do you do in your spare time?
Mat Osman: Sleep. That's about it, really. If we
have spare time, we will sleep for four days straight. And then we're back on the
road. I don't sleep much [on tour]. If I'm driving and we stop at a red light, I normally get about 40 winks in then. It all adds up at the end of the day. You get a good 3 or 4 hours just in the pauses in other people's conversations.
SPINonline: What makes you happiest about Suede?
Mat Osman: The songs I guess. My favorite moment is
always when you're recording a track, and it comes together for the first time, when for
the first time the five of you sit down and listen, and it's just almost complete. That's
the greatest feeling I know.
There's nothing else I'd rather do. I don't think any of the other arts are as good. Pop music is incredibly underrated. I think people give it a hard time. I can't remember the last time I saw anyone crying at a sculpture, or jumping around with joy at a poem. Pop music does all those things the other art forms are supposed to but just don't do anymore.
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