Neil Codling is easing into his role as the new kid in town for The London Suede.
In fact, he quite enjoys the perks that go along with being the rock quintet’s new keyboardist, backup vocalist and teen idol.
“The fans write quite a lot to me, and I got a bit more Christmas presents than anyone else in the band last year,” Codling said recently. “The fans still don’t know what to think of me. They think I’m aloof. They don’t think I’m approachable, so they keep me at sort of arm’s length.”
His band mates sure don’t. Codling is the cousin of drummer Simon Gilbert. He lived not far from where the band regularly rehearses in north London and sat in on a few sessions. Before he knew it, he became one of the gang.
“It started off as me coming down and helping out and playing along on a few things,” Codling said, “and then over the course of a few months, I became a full-fledged member.
“When they asked me to join, it didn’t even hit me. It wasn’t a big shock. There was no handshake or ‘welcome to the band.’ It sounds strange to hear it that way, but that’s the way it happened. By then, I could do the chord changes in my sleep.”
Codling quickly made his mark on The London Suede’s third Nude/Columbia album, “Coming Up,” released stateside on April 8. He co-wrote the tracks “Starcrazy” and “The Chemistry Between Us” with flamboyant lead singer Brett Anderson.
“Coming Up,” which debuted at No. 1 on Britain’s pop albums chart last year, is a jolt of supercharged, if recycled, Brit-rock riffs and barbed hooks. Though the sound and feel borrows heavily from T. Rex, it remains distinctly modern.
“T. Rex albums have been an inspiration,” Codling said, “but the main reverbation between that kind of music and Suede stuff is the simplicity of the songs. It’s got a lot more spirit. There are a lot of bands at the moment in England that lift old riffs, but if you can take the spirit of the music rather than the actual chords and riffs or melodies, then you’re on to a much better thing.
“It’s not a deliberate sitting out and trying to write like T. Rex or remake something from ’73 or ’74. This is just the way the band is, the way we sound.”
BWF (before we forget): Check out The London Suede on the Web @ www.thelondonsuede.com.