Suede are set for their highest-charting album in almost 20 years with The Blue Hour, which is heading for a Top 5 finish. It’s the third LP since their reunion and has received strong reviews for its orchestral arrangements and ambitious concept.
It follows the No.6 peak for 2016 album Night Thoughts, which has sales to date of 29,117, according to the Official Charts Company. Here, Ian Grenfell and Didz Hammond of Quietus Management take Music Week inside the Suede campaign including a major new documentary...
Suede are set for their highest-charting album for almost 20 years - how did you achieve that?
The band made an incredible though challenging album that asks a lot of the audience. Because of that we started the roll-out early to give people time to get to grips with the project.
You utilised D2C for the release - who did you work with and how did it go for this record?
As a management company, we are very comfortable with D2C. We’ve directly billed almost £3 million across the roster over the last 36 months in the artists own online stores. We worked with Warners Artist Services on The Blue Hour, which has been extremely effective so far. There have been several D2C offerings on Suede since 2010. The DVD/film of the Royal Albert Hall comeback gig would not have been possible without D2C
The Blue Hour is a hugely ambitious record - are the band hitting a new creative peak?
The band are on spectacular creative form and don’t really ever allow themselves to switch off from the process. They have a good idea of what they want to achieve with the next album before they have reached the mastering stage of the one in hand. Historically, they have sought to flesh out a lot of those ideas as they record. Unusually for suede, this time they had the songs and arrangements almost exactly as they wanted them before they went anywhere the studio – writing, demoing, re-writing, re-demoing extensively at Neil [Codling]’s home studio. By the time they got to Assault & Battery, they didn’t need to be there for very long. Alan Moulder’s job was clear: make those tracks sound incredible, a job he happens to be very good at.
People aren’t just listening to the singles and the earlier tracks; they are staying the course and enjoying the work as a whole
Was it deliberately composed as an album rather than with an eye on streaming and playlists?
For the past two Suede albums, we have worked on the understanding that if an album is clearly messaged as being one continuous piece, your audience may well take that on board - particularly a Suede audience who recognise them as a band that make longer form statements. It’s encouraging to see later album tracks such as Flytipping and All The Wild Places perform strongly on streaming services. People aren’t just listening to the singles and the earlier tracks on the album; they are staying the course and enjoying the work as a whole.
What are their international markets like for this record?
Scandinavia , Spain and South America and China have started very strongly.
Brett Anderson’s memoir Coal Black Mornings was also very well received - how did that help set up this record?
It put Brett in sections of the media that might possibly have been off limits otherwise. We were very mindful, however, not to pick our own pockets and use up opportunities around the book that would forfeit opportunities for the album. We were very selective in that regard and worked very closely with Murray Chalmers [PR], Kevin McCabe [Promotions] and Zoe Hood at Little Brown.
What plans do the band have to continue driving this campaign in terms of singles and live?
The band embark on a short sold-out European tour pretty much as soon as the charts are announced, and when they return we go straight into the next single. Then we have the release of the definitive documentary on the band directed by Mike Christie. That airs on November 24 on Sky Arts as part of a Suede night that will also include their 2010 comeback performance at the Royal Albert Hall, amongst other things.