Suggs from Madness is your cool dad. He loves Corbyn. He has a giggle that rolls out of his body like marbles let loose from a velvet bag. He pronounces my Sotho southern African name right, on the first try, which is basically unheard of in England, regardless of anyone's age. And it only takes about a minute of us chatting for him to label himself as "an old man." For those keeping track, he's 56.
"Y'alright?" he says with a smile you can hear in his voice, calling me from a restaurant where he's sipping a glass of wine and doing a bit of press. Like Idris Elba, Will Young, Alaska Thunderfuck and Gene Simmons before him, Suggs is on the line with the express purpose of sharing his thoughts on some of the best new music to come out over the last few weeks. What does Suggs from Madness think of Chance the Rapper and Young Thug's recent Soundcloud collab? What does he make of Dave's love letter to Spanish women and tequila, I hear you ask? Well, I'll let him tell you.
MOUNT KIMBIE – "BLUE TRAIN LINES" FEAT. KING KRULE
Noisey: Hi Suggs, what did you make of this one, then? You've listened to everything I sent you, right?
Suggs: I sure have! I'm a big respecter of music, I wouldn't do anything but. First thing was, is King Krule doing the chatting on the track?
Yup, that's him all the way through.
Cause I was listening to the whole thing waiting for King Krule to drop in, and I thought 'this is the same voice all the way through' [laughs] unless one guy's doing an impression of the other guy. Anyway, my first impression was that he reminded me a bit of Joe Strummer from The Clash, going back some time. He had a lovely sort of raspiness to his voice.
And the track itself? What did you make of that?
I mean, fuck me, it's dark. It's really fucking dark. The junkie's eyes popping and drowning his girlfriend and all that. The other thing that struck me was it sounded a little bit like Dusky—I don't know if you've ever heard them—because of the way the beginning of the track was building up. I liked that, and thought the lyrics were great. I also liked how the kind of drum and bass thing kicked in and I realized it was a real drum kit. That's a nice touch.
Yeah, this Mount Kimbie album is sounding like their most "organic" yet.
That was a nice thing because for me it's unusual to hear these days on a dance track. At first you're thinking, 'is that a sample on a loop or what?' and then the drummer really starts to spread out. And I realized he was just playing along, and it was a nice feel—almost jazzy at the end. [takes a deep breath after a pause] Anyway I liked it, yeah yeah yeah.
Have you listened to King Krule before?
He might have himself a new fan.
Absolutely yeah, I liked that a lot.
CHANCE THE RAPPER AND YOUNG THUG – "BIG B'S"
So let's move things halfway across the world now.
I liked this a lot, too. I'm talking about me, so this reference is a bit "old" but it gave me a bit of Flavor Flav from Public Enemy: cheeky, not aggressive, but just playful. Something about the tone of Chance's voice just reminded me of that Flavor Flav thing. THEN I got a bit of James Brown, and THEN I liked that little bit of singing when it went a bit reggae and it was almost a bit Bob Marley there. I mean, that's too just many big names to drop in one song, but that's what I felt a little bit. And you can only relate to the things that you like yourself. And I like all of those three elements. I like the attack of it, the real energy.
Would you consider yourself a rap fan??
I'm 56-years-old. I don't think it's very edifying to have your nose in every corner of modern popular culture, but I've got nephews and daughters playing me things and I just dig music. If I like it, I like it. I've got right into grime, just by chance. I was flicking through the channels and landed on Channel AKA, on this documentary—really early on—about a club in the East End where Wiley, Tinie Tempah, and all them started out. I'm not saying it reminds me of when I first started but that sense of humor mixed with reality, that's the sort of thing we were trying to do, and the Specials too. Talking about everyday life.
LIAM GALLAGHER – "CHINATOWN"
Here's someone who wasn't born in the 80s or 90s, to switch things up.
My nephew, Jerome—get that name down—works at Warners and played a sneak preview of this to me before it came out, when we were having a barbecue in the garden. I thought, 'fucking hell, that sounds great, man.' I mean, you've got to love Liam Gallagher, whatever way you look at it, but talk about being back on form. Obviously the Beady Eye thing didn't work out exactly as he'd wished and all that, but when I saw all my nephew's contemporaries around the speakers, going, "that is sick," the song stuck in my head. I'm glad they're releasing this, because I loved it straight away. People were saying his voice has gone a bit off or whatever, but it's still so potent.
You met Liam, back in the day, right?
Course I have. Round Camden Town, when he was mucking around. He and Blur were doing the Britpop wars and all that. They were all in Camden when I lived there, and I was like, 'would you just get out my fuckin' area? The lot of you [laughs]. This is Madness town. What are you doing 'ere? Haha.
So you'd see each other out and about?
In the pubs, yeah. There was a great scene—obviously, so tragic because of Amy Winehouse and the Libertines later—around Camden Town which blew the lid off the whole Britpop thing. And I just happened to be living there, and thought, 'would you al just fuck off, you fucking kids?' Haha! Staying up all night. It was an amazing time. And Liam was just a force of nature.
TORRES – "THREE FUTURES"
You're liking all of these so far. Torres is American, a bit moodier. Wait no, let me stop. What do you think.
Well, I know exactly what you think and I'm going to just reiterate it. There's this Chelsea footballer, who has the most bizarre face that someone one described as a young boy wearing a witch's mask. And this is how I imagine this Torres: a young boy in a witch's mask, singing about his parents. I think his parents should have grounded him and taken his computer away, before he recorded this particular track. What do you think?
I get the impression you think Torres is a bit naive. I'm not actually sure how old she is…
Oh, she's a she. I take that back, then. It's young girl in a wizard's mask. You know, as soon as people start talking about their parents, I get the willies. Your parents are your parents man, they can't help that. Anyway I had great hopes for this track, starting with that trippy slowed-down guitar thing and then… I just didn't dig it. I'm really sorry, I don't like to put anyone down. But I drifted off halfway through.
You know what you like, fair play.
I'm gonna get her parents round my house now aren't I? Oh no. You should never be disparaging. Anyway.
DAVE – "TEQUILA"
What did you think?
Dave, yeah? Loved that. What's his name—Top Gear, used to be on Dave? Jeremy Clarkson, he's great on this one. For once in his life he's been nice about foreign people. He's normally very racist that Jeremy Clarkson, but on this track I thought he was really good.
Quite the extended dad joke, Suggs.
Nah nah, in all seriousness. OK: weed and sex, I can dig that, I understand where you're coming from. Spanish girl, yeah why not. Sheerbot had a hit with "Galway Girl". Michael Jackson had "Liberian Girl", I'm after an Alaskan girl myself, give us a shout if you see one. They've got a lovely voice but they're normally a bit husky.
Ahaha, but seriously, it was nice with the Spanish vibe in the guitar and all that. I liked it. A nice summer tune. There you go, you're trying to write a hit, something for the summer. Nice.
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Madness play the House of Commons festival on Monday, August 28, their only London date this summer.