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INTERVIEW: The Wedding Present
Lee Morgan , August 2nd, 2013 05:21

We talk to frontman David Gedge at the band's recent seaside tour stop-off at Southend

The Wedding Present were one of the UK's biggest indie bands of the late eighties and nineties. Originally hailing from Leeds, they flirted around the singles and albums charts until 1992, when they suddenly became household names after releasing a different 7" single every month for an entire year, and after several line-up changes, they're still going strong today. However, one thing has remained constant: frontman David Gedge. Singer, songwriter, guitarist, DJ, festival curator and comic book character, he took time out to have a chat with me in my hometown of Southend-on-Sea, where the band were performing their debut album George Best on their mini tour of British seaside towns.

Tell me about this tour of seaside towns.

David Gedge: I had this idea of doing a little summer tour in Britain in small to medium size venues, so I asked my agent to book us some places for a week in July. Luckily there were venues available, Southend being one of them, and they were all in seaside towns. We had just returned from doing a festival in Tenerife so it all fitted together nicely as a mini seaside tour. I've played here maybe two or three times before, so it's a venue I know and it always seems to have a good atmosphere.

You're playing the George Best album on this tour - what are the reasons behind that?

DG: We played George Best on a big European tour in 2007 for its 20th anniversary, but we didn't go to North America or Australia, and we got loads of complaints! The Americans asked why we didn't play it, and I always thought it was because they wouldn't know it that well. Obviously being the debut album, it's well known in Britain but in America it filtered through much later; I think a lot of Americans think Bizarro or Seamonsters is the first album, so we purposely didn't play it over there. So because of that we decided this year to do a world tour and play it in places like America, Australia and Japan, and that went really well, so we thought we'd just carry on playing it.

How has it been playing the debut album after all these years - any forgotten words or wrong chords?

DG: I've played it live so many times now I hardly need to rehearse it. It's so ingrained in me... although famous last words, I'll probably mess it up tonight!

You've said that it's your least favourite Wedding Present album.

DG: Yeah, that's true. It's my least favourite album but actually it's one of my favourites to play live. It's quite frenetic, pacy and full-on, but that's why I don't like the record, it's a bit one dimensional and samey. After George Best, we thought about things a bit more and added more things like texture, light and shade, fast bits, slow bits, loud bits, quiet bits, all the stuff that makes a record varied. George Best has none of that - it's just straight forward 'kerrang'!

Bands seem to be touring a specific album these days, like you did with Seamonsters, and now George Best - what's the decision behind that? Is it the band wanting to play it or fans demanding to hear it?

DG: Funny you should say that. Back in 2007 I was totally against the idea - it was the record label who suggested it to tie in with a 20th anniversary re-release of the record. As an artist I thought you should always be looking forward to the new songs and the next album instead of harking back to the old stuff....

...but the fans want to hear the old stuff.

DG: Fans and friends and even the band themselves! They were up for it and so I reluctantly said "okay, let's do it". Then once we started rehearsing and arranging it I found it really interesting going back and revisiting it.

Do you think the line-up changes breathe a new lease of life in to the songs? You're maybe a bit jaded with them, but to the band they're still fresh and new.

DG: Probably yeah. It's a better band with better equipment than it was back then, and I think it's more powerful and intense than it was back then really. I think I finally came to a philosophical conclusion that looking back is as valid as looking forward.

Let's talk about 1992, the breakthrough year: international recognition, top 40 singles, Top Of The Pops - what are your memories of that time?

DG: Definitely one of the most hectic years we had! I think it was September or October 1991 that we had the idea of, instead of making an album next year, we would release a single every month. I'm a big fan of singles, so was all for it. Normally as a band you write a bunch of songs, then go in to the studio to record the album, but this time it would be getting towards the end of the month and we'd be like "aaaargh"! Obviously we did an original on the A-side, a cover version on the B-side, a video for each one, even a T-shirt for each one, so it was pretty full on. There seemed to be a lot of media interest as well because nobody had ever done it before. Record labels such as Rough Trade had a single of the month club, but no band had ever done it before. It really took on a life of its own, suddenly we were equalling Elvis (for most singles in a year) and being regulars on Top Of The Pops. I think towards the end though it started to become bigger than the songs and detrimental to the music because of all the hype around it. I do regret some of the choices of cover versions, though, because I think they were uninspired.

How so?

DG: We chose covers that we thought we could bring something different to and put our own stamp on, but on some we didn't do that. 'Cattle And Cane' [originally by The Go-Betweens] comes to mind - it's a great song but it was a fairly straight run-through and we didn't add anything to it, so looking back, some choices seem a bit... pointless.

What do you listen to these days?

DG: To be honest I'm just a big fan of radio, so my taste is shaped by whatever I hear on 6 Music or on some American stations I listen to. I think a lot of new bands remind me of old bands, I don't know if it's my age or if music has run its course and there's no more innovation, but they seem to be wearing their influences very much on their sleeves. I just find it hard to hear any originality. I'm a massive fan of the Pixies and for me they were totally original, but now everyone seems to sound like them!

What have you got planned for the rest of the year?

DG: I'm doing a bit of DJing, then in August we've got my mini festival (At The Edge Of The Sea) in Brighton, then September and October we're playing the Hit Parade songs in Europe and the UK.

Finally, as you're in Southend today, have you been for a walk on the world's longest pier yet?

DG: Not yet, but I'm very tempted...

Had an ice cream or fish and chips?

DG: No, but then again, the fish and chips won't be as good as the ones in Yorkshire!

And with that slur on the good chippies of Southend on Sea (it should be noted that Mr. Gedge did eventually succumb to a portion) our interview came to an end. The Weddoes played a storming set, rattling through George Best like their life depended on it, and finished off with a rousing version of 'Dalliance'.

For full details on the band's upcoming tours, head to their website