INTERVIEW: THE WEDDING PRESENT | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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David Gedge has had a busy career in music, and that’s something that shines through in even the briefest of conversations with him. For thirty years, he has been the frontman of The Wedding Present, an innovative and notoriously shape-shifting indie rock outfit well known for frequently changing their sound and their line-ups. Gedge has hardly came up for air since the band self-released their debut album George Best in 1987, a frenetically charged and exceptional assault of distorted, jangle rock and witty wordplay. Since then, the band has been through many changes, constantly evolving and relentlessly touring. With their show at Newcastle’s Riverside just on the horizon, I sat down with David to discuss his illustrious career in music, and gain a little insight into what lies ahead for the band too.

So, this year sees the thirtieth anniversary of The Wedding Present, does it ever get bewildering when you realise just how far things have come?

Yeah, it does actually. I didn’t really expect it to last thirty years, it’s just what I wanted to do…at the time I thought if we even managed five years it’d be cool. It’s hard to actually reconcile it with time, because quite a lot of bands don’t exist beyond that at all. It’s always been what I’ve wanted to do and I’ve never thought of doing anything else.

Looking ahead, can you give some insight into whether you’re working towards a follow-up to Valentina [the band’s previous album, released in 2012]?

Absolutely! I write all the time, so there’s been a pool of new songs that have come along since the release of Valentina. We’ve already debuted some of them in gigs this year. I can’t say much yet but I promise it won’t be a straightforward album. We’ve had a history of doing stuff that’s different, with stuff like the Hit Parade, but I think this one is not going to be a normal album by any stretch of the imagination…it’s going to have a certain theme to it, shall I say.

You’ve always stayed prolific even outside of The Wedding Present, even creating an autobiography in comic book form?

Well, I’ve never been content with being one of those people who’s just in a band. I need something more than just writing songs, making albums and going on tour and so on and so forth. I’ve always done stuff that’s a bit off-tangent, the biggest example being Cinerama, which is almost completely different to what I do in The Wedding Present. A lot of these things don’t come from a lot of planning. The comic book came about because a former bass player was planning to write my biography. She interviewed my parents and all that kind of stuff, but nothing came of it all. So it became the comic in a way, because she’d done all this work and I knew a comic book artist, so we’ve been sending him a lot of the stories from that and he turned them into the comic. I’ve always loved them so it’s quite amazing to have my own one. People always ask me if I’m going to do a biography and I always feel like it’d be pompous for me to assume that anybody would be interested in what I have to say. This is a nice way around it, it hasn’t got the gravitas that a biography would have, it’s just stories of what’s happened in the history of the band, I’m a lot more comfortable with that.

The Wedding Present have recorded with some fantastic and innovative producers over the years, such as Steve Albini, how fascinating an experience did working with him prove to be?

I was drawn to work with Albini because of [the Pixies’ 1988 debut] Surfer Rosa. I heard that record and there was something else about it, it’s very three-dimensional. He works well with us because he likes to record albums live, and we’re not the kind of band who wants to spend a long time deliberating over a snare drum sound, we like to replicate our live sound, so we work well with his ethos. We don’t use the same producer every time, because we like to have new things brought to the table so that each record has its own personality. George Best and Bizarro have a kind-of similar jangly sound, but Seamonsters is something darker, whilst Watusi is more of a light pop record. We’ve always had a history of going in different directions, we don’t want to be one of those bands who stick with one sound. It’s not the most commercial way, and we have alienated fans over the years. For instance, a lot of people hated the album I brought out with Cinerama this year because it’s not just loud, jangly guitars, it sounds more like easy listening, but I’m not going to say there was a mistake in doing that because i’m proud of it, and it’s something I’ve felt has added to my repertoire as a musician and a writer, so if people aren’t going to like it, there’ll be another record next year that they might, so I keep an open mind with it.

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Is that what’s made The Wedding Present so enduring? Because every time you approach a new album you move away from a past concept and start afresh?

I think it’s partly because of that, and partly because of the fact we’ve had so many different line-ups. It sometimes feels like I’ve been in about five different bands because new people have brought with them new sounds, ideas and arrangements. It’s hard for people to pinpoint what our exact sound is because there’s about four or five different ones we’ve had throughout our existence. Another reason is because I’m so obsessed with it, I’m driven to work hard at it, and if I don’t do it for a while I tend to miss it.

So, what music’s been grabbing your attention the most at the moment?

Ahh, my favourite band of the moment is Haiku Salut. They’re three girls from Derbyshire, somebody recommended them to me because I put on a festival in Brighton every year [the At the Edge of The Sea Festival, which began in 2009], and I’m always interested in putting on bands I found intriguing, and their music is very cinematic and bizarre, and they’ve very quickly become one of my favourite bands of all time, you can’t pin their sound down, which is fantastic!

Finally, do you have any advice for any new bands from all the wisdom you’ve gained in your career?

Yeah, I get asked that question quite a lot to be honest! And the answer I always give is that, when you’re starting out you’ve always got to be quite extreme. Our first single wasn’t the best song that we had, but it was quite an extreme record, and we wanted it to leap out of the radio and grab people’s attention. It can be in your music, in your image, in your lyrics, in your videos, basically in any aspect at all. Save the good song for your third single once you’ve got some interest from people. The first step is to attract attention by doing something that’s a little shocking, that makes people think “oh! What’s that?” and then hook them in with great songs and great lyrics and great records.

The Wedding Present play Riverside on Saturday 7th November.

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