Brett Anderson: soundtrack of my life

Suede's singer reflects on his father's love of Rachmaninoff, the energy of the Sex Pistols and the intensity of the Horrors

Brett Anderson was born in 1967, and brought up with his sister Blandine on a West Sussex council estate. Aged 22, he formed Suede. At the 1993 Brit awards, they famously played Animal Nitrate, a song referencing drugs and the age of homosexual consent; that year, their first album won the Mercury prize. Splitting in 2003 after five albums and two changes of personnel, they reformed for a rapturously received charity gig in 2010. Their sixth album, Bloodsports, is released next month.


Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninoff (1934)

Most of my waking hours as a child were filled with my father playing all these old geezers – Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Berlioz, Mahler. It was a constant dribble in the background. Sometimes, he'd bring me into the front room, sit me down and say: "Listen, son, this is absolute genius!" And I'd be [whinily]: "I don't like it, Dad." He was obsessive, to put it mildly. When Liszt's birthday came around, he'd drive to Hungary in his beaten-up Morris Traveller, take a piece of soil and wear it round his neck in a phial for the rest of the year.

This Rachmaninoff piece has stayed with me, though. It's romantic and sweeping and there's definitely a similar feel to some of our records. Now I think my dad's obsession was quite beautiful, really. A taxi driver living in a tiny council house with such a huge love of music – he definitely fed mine.


Bodies by the Sex Pistols (1977)

Dad obviously hated every bit of punk. I heard this late, having been nine at the Sex Pistols' height – I hadn't exactly been pogoing down at the 100 Club. But musical scenes seeped very slowly through the country before the internet and it took years for punk to get to Haywards Heath properly.

Bodies is a proper rabble-rouser. It gets your blood up and we still play it before shows. The Sex Pistols were a huge influence on Suede too, which people don't always get. Playing Animal Nitrate at the Brits was completely inspired by them, a real two-fingers-up-to-the-industry, glam-terrorism thing. The Brits? I haven't been since, although we've had nominations. Going to sit on some table with a load of stuffed shirts talking about downloads… I can't think of anything worse.


Cemetry Gates by the Smiths (1986)

The Sex Pistols' songs were about real life, not Jim Morrison rock cliches. The Smiths also showed that pop songs could be about things other than boy meets girl. There's such a wonderful discussion about death and mortality and history on Cemetry Gates. As a teenager, I found it amazing that someone could write a song so confidently about such a potentially boring subject matter and that drove me on.


Hounds of Love by Kate Bush (1985)

I love how this album leads you along, like you're this willing victim, one of the rats following the Pied Piper. [Suede's second album] Dog Man Star wouldn't have been the same album without Hounds of Love – it was totally inspired by it. Records that show that you can take a listener on a journey, create a real sense of space and a sound that is completely their own: those are the ones people love.


The Trials of Van Occupanther by Midlake (2006)

This coming out coincided with a special time for me personally, when I first met my wife. It's so easy to get jaded about music when you've been making it for a long time, when you get sent lots of stuff… and then one record comes along that makes you feel 14 again. I remember lying on my bed, drowning in the beauty of this. I love the way you don't know quite what's going on in the lyrics, so you follow little clues at your peril and make up your own stories. It reminded me how great oblique imagery is and how rejuvenating music can be.


I Can't Control Myself by the Horrors (2009)

I'm like a magpie these days, spending lots of time listening to anything people are talking about. I love Foals, Bat for Lashes, These New Puritans, but the Horrors are fantastic. They're developing in a really interesting way, always coming back with something new. And this track sounds fantastic live, heavy, bright and intense. Between 1991 and 1996, I didn't listen to any music other than ours, but now I think it's important in the process of creating. It's like breathing. I'm glad I shut myself off before, though, because it's important to go through phases. After all, I never wanted to be the same person for the rest of my life.


Jude Rogers

The GuardianTramp

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