Q&A: Suede Dudes' Bryan Adams on Their Namesake & Being A Fanboy
New Times: We'll get more in-depth as we go, but I must ask, where does the name Suede Dudes come from? The word "suede" makes me think of the material, which is fuzzy but not particularly soft...At the risk of being corny, that's kind of like your music!
Bryan Adams: Haha, I wish we would have gone even that in depth with our name. To be completely honest the story of how we got our name is probably the least exciting. My grandpa, while overseas during World War II, met a beautiful Swedish woman named Alma. She was very into high fashion, working almost exclusively with leather.
After he was discharged he came back to the States with her, where they bought a farm. He primarily raised lamb for their skin (lamb skin is usually used to make suede). He and Alma made mainly gloves, but also made other articles of clothing such as slippers and wallets. His products were picked up by other farmers and ranchers, which back then were referred to as "Dudes." After learning this information when I was a child I swore to myself that I'd name one of my bands that.
Now what really happened was that it was an off-the-cuff name that Bobby [Nolan] spewed out one day as a joke. I thought to myself, "Hmm, that actually sounds kinda cool," and we went with it... We say random shit sometimes.
Wow. I believed everything till the end. You recently posted on your Facebook about a string of bad luck...a blown amp, etc. Those stories are true, right?
Haha! I'm sure you did. Unfortunately, the equipment malfunction stories are all true. Since Suede Dudes has been around I have blown three bass amps. I either don't know what the hell I'm doing or I just like to play too loud! Will actually snapped a kick drum beater once. He likes to hit the drums like they're his archenemy.
A look at your Bandcamp led me to believe you released a full-length in May, a short EP a month later and now a new single. Can you tell me about the timeline of these releases? Aside from your new single, was everything conceived as a whole, or do you have a really fast turnover?
I started writing the first full-length by myself earlier this year, maybe somewhere around February. At the time I was really just writing songs. I wasn't thinking about how it could be a CD, or even playing these songs with other people. I had a Bandcamp, and as I wrote the songs I put them up. There were certain weeks where I was in my practice space (or what we like to call "the shed") four to five days in a row, just writing song after song. It was only after I started showing the tracks to my friends that the idea of making the songs a collection/forming a band was entertained. So I put out the first ten songs I wrote as a full-length, and then just continued writing.
The first ten songs were motivation for me to write the next EP. There are actually two extra cover tracks that we include on the CDs we sell at shows. However, if you visit our tumblr page you'll probably be able to find them posted on there somewhere. I kinda caved because I was proud of how the covers came out and I wanted more people to hear them. "Honey," which is our last single we put out, is finally Suede Dudes as a whole, writing songs together. That song, along with like six or seven more songs, are getting put out on a split cassette with our friends in Bonnet People. Radio-Active Records is putting it out!
I went and listened to the covers you did and I love them, especially the Kinks cover. To the average listener, The Kinks and The Ramones wouldn't be the first bands to come to mind when trying to determine your influences, but when you think about it, it does make sense -- pared-down and really punk stuff. What other musicians do you admire?
Thank you! I try to keep an open mind while writing songs. Sometimes it's nice to look up to your idols and be like "WWJD" (What Would Joey [Ramone] Do). I do that a lot with the people I look up to; look to them every once in a while for a little inspiration. Brian Wilson and Bob Dylan are by far my biggest heroes of all time. Their music still gives me tingles no matter how many times I've heard it. Not only that, but just their lives were and are so inspiring. Besides the top tier though, J. Robbins, Sonic Youth, and Nirvana always keep my blood flowing.
And, let me get this straight -- I'm listening to just you when I play the first album and EP on your Bandcamp, and "Honey" is all of you together? I definitely see Suede Dudes as a collective thing, but now I understand that a lot of the material was your own solo work. Do you prefer playing and collaborating with a group, or do you ever miss being in the shed by yourself, cranking out song after song on your own terms?
Yes that's right! The writing and instrumentation on the first S/T record and the Greatest Hits EP were all done by me. On this new split we're putting out I actually barely sing. I think there's only one song on the track list with my vocals as leads. I love writing with the other guys just because they come to practice with awesome songs to work on, and it makes me a fan of my own band. It's true that you are your own worst critic, so when my band is making music that I didn't even write/sing on/etc., I switch roles from band member to fan boy. It makes for a really positive and motivating environment. I still go to the shed by myself on occasion to write, so technically I get my fill of both to an extent. If I had to choose one though, I would pick collaborating with a group over being by myself any day. Lots of my friends are musicians, and being able to see how each one of them influences my own songwriting is a beautiful and exciting thing.
I like the idea of you being a fanboy of your own band. Since you were the "original," do you ever act as a [very enthusiastic] coach for the band, directing the direction you want the song to take overall? I guess I'm asking if it's still primarily your vision, or if you've become open to not only their ideas for songs, but their ideas for the overall sound and feel of Suede Dudes. Does that make sense?
I think at first I definitely felt coachy, not really though, hah. It's more like my baby. I can watch it grow up; I may not be able to control everything it does, but I'm still proud of it! Ya know? The songwriting now is mostly a group vision. We all have similar tastes in music anyway, so it works out. I always love everything Bobby, Will [Alvarez] or Raph [Alvarez] bring to the table. I would never want to pin Suede Dudes down to any kind of particular sound. As much as I love the fuzz pedal, I don't wanna be known as the band who uses fuzz all the time, haha. I look to Suede Dudes to be my vice for every kind of band I've ever wanted to be in. We're a group of guys that write music; there are no boundaries other than that. Whatever comes out comes out, whether it "Sounds like Suede Dudes" or not.
When you go to the shed to write, is it all for Suede Dudes, or do you still do some solo work?
I actually have a lot going on at the shed at all times! Since Will, Raph, and I are also in Harvey and the Buckets. Harvey does all their songwriting/recording/rehearsing there as well (we are actually in the middle of finishing up a new EP ;) ). Other than that, I have a couple random projects that I've been putting together in the little time that I have between Harvey and the Dudes. My friend Eric and I started writing these very long psychedelic epics that are around seven to eight minutes long each. They are still very much in the works. Then my other friend Lauren, who has a great voice, and I began writing songs together because we both had a strong mutual love for The Beach Boys. I'm really excited to put more time into both. If you check Suede Dudes' tumblr you can find two tracks that Lauren and I did. Or better yet, here's the link. Hopefully if you check back in a couple months there will be more songs on it.
Harvey and the Buckets are so different from Suede Dudes! Is this a fun way to indulge your love of two very different styles?
I guess you could say that. Lately I feel like both bands are almost merging into one! Between Harvey, Suede Dudes, Bonnet People, and a few other bands, we have almost like a community of songwriters who all inspire each other to explore and experiment with different kinds of music. And it's all very positive.
What's next for you guys?
Well, like I mentioned earlier, Radio-Active Records is going to be putting out a limited edition split cassette of us and Bonnet People. We had a listening party recently where all the members of Suede Dudes and Bonnet People listened to the cassette from the top of side A to the end of Side B. It sounds great! We also have a couple shows coming up: October 8th at Poor House and November 10th at Green Room. Thanks for the interview!
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