... On January 26, 1996, the faithful who turned up to suede's gig at the Hanover Grand had a couple of treats in store. Forst, hey heard an entire set of non-Buter tracks. Second, the band had grown a fifth member. At the front of the cramped stage, an impossible skinny creature of indeterminate gender was playing keyboards, shaking tambourines and singin flasetto backing vocals. " Who the hell's that?" the audience asked as one, " and is it a boy or a firl?" Brett made a formal introduction. "You may not know this bloke. He's called Neil."
The Cogling, Simon Gilbert's cousins, lived across Stratford in the more affluent village of Tilling. Neil Codling, th younger brpther of Paul (simon's fellow victim in that queerbashing incident), was born in 1973, the son of a retired citil engineer. After an "uneventful childhood", he took music aged 14, initially playing the bass in a Fall-influenced band called Strangelove (not that Strangelove) and quickly became a versatile musician.
Like Simon Gilbert, he felt suffocated by Stratford's smalltown mentality. "These things emerge during the night, these nocturnal energies - spraying cats and setting fire to them. You can see them boiling under the surface."
Codling left the King Edward V school in 1992 to study English and Drama (what else?) at Hull University, where he joined a number of semi-serious bands, and, like the other members ofSuede, had his fair share of miserable employment.
in 1995, he graduated and moved to London to sign on, ith the vague intention of finding acting work. Codling was, if not a fan, then a Suede admirer, having seen them just twice: first at Birmingham Civic Hall in 1992, then at Phoenix' 95. Suddenly, by osmosis and stealth, he found himself recruited as Suede's keyboardist. "He literally hung round till he was in the photos!" laughs Mat Osman. "The phrace sounds rubbish, but he was a Suede person."
* * *
... As the tour resumed in January, `1997, Brett became incresingly aware of a sudden preponderance of "`12-year-old girls who only know the singles from the current allbum". this could be explained in tewo words: Neil Codling.
Cod-mania quickly swept the Suede fanbase, before spilling over into teen magazines, becoming the Thinking Girl's big of Trouser. "He's like our fashion member!" Brett told me at the time. "all those teeny magazines like Just Seventeen and Smash Hits love him."
"I don't have a problem with being objectified," Codling says now, "if it's not at the expense of other things... I took it with a pinch of salt, and i did play up to it a bit. But it's no a preening, posing thing."