AfterDog Man Star, and some lineup changes, you redefined the Suede template withComing Up. Was there pressure to do that again withHead Music, or was the weight of the band just too much by the late '90s to continue on that track? Yeah, I think with Head Music we were too self conscious about reinventing ourselves and finding a new sound, and I don't think it was successful because there was too much of an emphasis on the theoretical side of it, and that's why I called it Head Music. It was almost like theory music for us, it didn't come completely naturally. There were moments that just flowed, things like "Indian Strings," and stuff like that, but the sense of it was we were theorizing a bit, and that's where it went wrong.
Looking back on it, I kind of wish someone in our circles, one of our advisors or whatever, would have said, "Look it's okay to sound like yourself, there's nothing wrong with that." Lots of great bands make records that sound just like themselves and I think the media was pressurizing everyone to kind of reinvent themselves in the '90s. That's a very '90s thing. Of course you've got to push yourself, push your own envelope, evolve, but there's a difference between evolving and reinventing, and I think there are very few bands that can successfully reinvent. You can probably count them on the fingers of one hand. There's nothing wrong with making great records and feeling like they are you. And that's what I really wanted with Bloodsports, I wanted it to feel like a great Suede record.
And it does. I made a comment over the weekend that ifComing Up came out in 1996, this almost feels like what you wanted, as a fan, in 1998, '99. Exactly, yeah. That was the idea, that we were trying to re-write history [laughs] and this could be the fourth album. A sliding door situation, kind of like, take a slightly different turn back in 1997.
But what's also interesting, too, is that it has been 11 years since A New Morning, it's 2013, and while Suede's music has always been very seductive and sleek, and passionate, there's now a sophistication toBloodsports that's overwhelming, there's a maturity there. With songs like "Sometimes I Feel I'll Float Away," there's an evolution that's there that feels right . . . in the moment. I almost like to think the two people fighting on theBloodsports album cover is really that couple from theStay Together EP 20 years later. Haha, right.
Is a lot of this coming from where you are, at age 45, settled down, and having seen life over the past 20 years — in terms of the maturity of this record? Maturity is a tricky thing to talk about, isn't it, because right away, it sounds comfortable. The idea of maturity in music just sends shivers down my spine. To want to sound mature is a kind of death in itself, isn't it?
And I think you want to mature naturally through experience, and experience is a truly valuable thing. We were experienced in making this record to give it this sort of, in production terms, just to make it sound fresh and exciting, didn't want to make a studio album. I wanted it to have a live energy, to capture that feel. So that kind of experience, when I look at previous work, even in the debut album, which was born out of playing live, it didn't ever capture that raw aggression. Things like that.