Afternoons with the Blinds Darn – Brett Anderson review by Erin Harrison

Written by: Erin Harrison

“I love the power of words” – Brett Anderson of Suede Talks Literature, His New
Memoir and The Human Psyche for Off The Shelf Festival.

As a part of the Off The Shelf Festival, the city of Sheffield was graced with a book talk with Brett
Anderson, frontman of iconic English rock band, Suede; he discussed his new memoir Afternoons
with the Blinds Drawn, which was released this year, as well as the ever evolving state of the press,
pop culture and the artfulness of literature.

Anderson’s suave nature and incredible way of discussing topics deeper than oneself had the entire
audience encapsulated as he commented on the human form and how “all a persona is, is a magnified
version of oneself”. Talking to those there to listen to him he casually talks of human existence and
our constant seek for validation and how he, as an artist, is too on that same strive as he claims to
produce any kind of art and to share it is to seek that very validation, whether the creator thinks it or
not. However, he too commented that validation no longer solely comes from the press; the internet is
now in abundance of musical commentators, professional or not. Anderson also talked of the modern
decline of the music magazine giant NME’s relevance as well as his general cynicism towards pop
culture’s bubble of pro establishment, anti emotionally honest music, from Suede’s prime in the 90s to
the most current of filtered musical sources.

As well as commenting on the human psyche, Anderson talked fondly of his love for literature and
being a man of words and music. “I love the power of words and what they can do,'' he claimed,
talking of his annual re-read of Orwell’s infamous novel 1984 in correlation with the literature he
finds himself reading for pleasure and how he takes that into his own writing. When in talks of his
songwriting, he says “I like challenging my audience… it's a compliment”; claiming that to read
works that aren’t enticing, encouraging of learning or expand ones outlook is not of interest to him
and so he takes that with him into his own style. However, after being told by an audience member
that they read his lyrical works as though they were poems and thereafter being asked if he would
ever consider writing his own anthology he simply and humorously replied, “a book of poetry? No.”
He suggested it would be redundant for himself as an artist to spread himself so thinly yet he so
unceremoniously claims that “with [his] last dying breath [he’ll] make sure Suede carry on making
great music.” With this, he commented on how technology is yet to ever truly change the way he
makes and writes his music as “the discipline of writing a good song is the same regardless [of
technology].”

But, in true Englishman style, he still managed to crack a joke or two, saying that, after being asked
by a fan in the audience what football team he supports, if you were to imagine a venn diagram, one

circle is Suede and the other is football, that the cross section would never exist. He too laughed about
how, despite writing of the inspiration he found from The Smiths that he’d never in fact read
Morrissey’s autobiography, but instead it was one of his many “books to be read… eventually.”

In all, his articulate speech, effortless manner and ability to capture an audience, whether he’s
performing or not, truly is a spectacle for anyone, whether you’re interested in Suede, British rock
scene of the 1990s or seeking an oddly enlightening view on human existence and identity.

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