Michael Took

15:16 1st September 2008

As a musician, if you were told you had no record deal, no publisher and a fairly dormant fan base, there’s every chance you’d be pretty miserable. On the contrary, Brett Anderson has never been happier in all his life. Relaxing at his London home, Anderson cuts a horizontal figure over the phone. Solo album number two, 'Wilderness', is in the can and ready to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Anderson couldn’t be more pleased with the results - “It’s a pretty big departure for me without it being an acapella. It’s easily the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done”.

Recorded and mixed in the space of seven days, Wilderness is full of simplistic touches working with a simple template of piano, strings and voice. Although Anderson was a master at narrating the British vernacular experience through a hedonistic cocktail of sex and drugs, his lyrical content these days concerns itself with more personal issues - “There’s no running theme through this record but it’s fair to say I’ve really laid myself bare. It takes in a lot influences that include friends, places and relationships”.

Despite working against a minimal time scale, Anderson knew he was treading new musical ground when producing Wilderness - “I’ve had to work myself harder on this record; I wrote all the songs with just two co-writes, played all the instruments and arranged the melodies. I’m still learning about song writing and the different processes involved. I’ve been writing songs for 20 years and I don’t think you ever come to a point where you’re truly content.”

Anderson’s musically sedate reincarnation is a polar-opposite to his former self -a reluctant flag-bearer of Britpop with indie-rock stalwarts Suede. Although Anderson is keen to concentrate on the here and now, a brief glance at former glories reveal a few highlights - “Of all the records we [Suede] made, I’m incredibly proud of Dog Man Star - it’s probably the best thing we produced and at the time we felt untouchable. I had a fantastic time making the record and it still stands up well, it’s just full of great songs. Coming Up was an interesting time for us too. Making that record was like coming back with a new sound, like making our first all over again.”

Once pushed, Anderson discusses his erstwhile day job with a healthy amount of animation, “I think I was carefully trying to construct an image for the band, but like anything it had served its time. Every band gets trapped within an image or placed within certain categories - that undoubtedly happened to us. Fans invest in the brand and when that changes people lose interest - it’s just the nature of the music industry.”

As for the latest batch of Britpop pretenders, Anderson isn’t particularly impressed - “It just doesn’t sit very well with me. I get sent a lot of new music in the post but I find a most of it really depressing and flimsy. It does well if it makes it to my CD player. Aside from all the faceless shit, I did enjoy the last Bat For Lashes and Midlake albums.”

Back to the solo venture, Anderson is keen to make the live experience of Wilderness an intimate affair, “The live shows will be very minimalist with just a myself and a cello player on stage. After the UK tour, I’m hoping to play some shows in Europe around October and November. I might play in Asia early next
year too.”

With former band mate Bernard Butler taking the public kudos by giving a musical hand to Duffy, Black Kids and a whole host of other indie upstarts, Anderson is just happy to take a back seat and see how Wilderness unfolds, “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll just get back in the studio and make another record - it’s what I’m programmed to do. I’m just glad I don’t have to spend eighteen months on a tour bus any more and buy into all that industry bullshit - meeting famous people, selling loads of records - it just doesn’t matter. For me it’s all about personal progress.” Anderson allows himself a satisfying laugh, “Trust me, I have no plans for world domination.”