The Wedding Present Interview: “I didn’t want to make ‘just another album'”

the wedding present

New album Going, Going… is out now in the UK via Scopitones and the US via Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records.

After thirty years in the game David Gedge, the man behind British indie legends The Wedding Present, doesn’t really have anything left to prove. Lauded by John Peel, featured on NME’s famous C86 compilation, and continuing chart success means that one could forgive Gedge for taking it easy. He, however, is completely unwilling to rest on his laurels. The Wedding Present’s latest opus is a twenty track double album with each track accompanied by a music video. There’s instrumentals, love songs, and bangers aplenty, proving that, if anything, The Wedding Present are only improving with age.

David Gedge took some time recently to discuss the album with us, the influence of having an ever changing line up, and the upcoming 30th anniversary of The Wedding Present’s debut album, George Best.

Overlown: Your new album Going, Going… is a double album consisting of twenty songs, each of which has an accompanying short film. It is perhaps your most ambitious work to date. What inspired you to take on such a large project?

David Gedge: The main answer to that is that I felt like I didn’t want to make ‘just another album’. Not that there’s anything wrong with making a ‘normal’ album but, from time to time, I just quite like the idea of shooting off at a tangent and doing something different. It’s not the first time we’ve done this, obviously… I remember the Ukrainian folk music phase and the twelve singles we did for The Hit Parade… even my Cinerama project… they all presented the same type of challenge and appeal for me.

O: Were there other double albums that you looked to as touchstones for this record? What aspects of those records influenced ‘Going, Going…’?

DG: To be honest, I had no idea it was going to be a double album when we started work on it! It’s kind of evolved and expanded over the years. Ultimately, it’s a concept album but I’m not sure it’s particularly influenced by other concept albums because that tends to conjure up the idea of 1970s progressive rock groups singing about medieval knights!

O: Some people have suggested that the album title is an indication that it is the band’s swansong. Can you shed any light on that?

DG: I actually borrowed the title from a Philip Larkin poem that I like.. although that poem’s about the ‘end’ of stuff, too! But there’s a dual meaning to ‘going’… it also suggests a journey, of course.

O: How does your approach to writing music differ between The Wedding Present and your other project Cinerama?

DG: They’ve kind of melded together nowadays but the original idea for Cinerama was that it would be me writing completely by myself for a change. So, in Cinerama… especially the early stuff… I wrote the entire thing on my own using a computer whereas The Wedding Present is more collaborative in that during the arrangement phase all the band members usually chip in with ideas.

O: Next year marks the 30th anniversary of your debut album George Best. How do you feel about that album and time period when you look back on it now?

DG: If I’m honest, George Best is my least favourite Wedding Present album. I think, after that LP we became considerably better at writing and arranging songs and more adept at recording. So that first album was something of a learning experience. I think it’s a flawed record but I know people actually like it because of the naivety. The songs are certainly exciting to play live, though. We’re doing a limited number of concerts next year where we’re playing it in its entirety to mark the anniversary and I’m really looking forward to that.

O: You’ve lived in a number of different places: Manchester, Leeds, Seattle, Brighton. Do these different places affect the music you write? If so, how so?

DG: The music is largely influenced by whoever’s in the band at the time and we’ve had band members from the USA, Canada, Finland and Switzerland as well as all over Great Britain. The lyrics tend to be little stories written in a personal, conversational, style… and I’ve often hinted at the location where they were written… but they tend to be about the ‘big’ subjects, which affect everyone… wherever they happen to be!

O: The line-up of the band changes rather frequently. Does this help to keep things fresh live?

DG: It really does. It’s always a bit sad when someone leaves because, obviously, you tend to build close relationships within the band… but, if I’m brutally honest, each new person brings with them a new set of ideas, influences and inspirations that often push the band into a different place. It almost feels like I’ve been in about five different bands in the last thirty or so years!

O: You’re on tour as we speak and play quite a mixed set that consists of songs from across your 30-year career. Some bands retire older songs as they get sick of performing them. Are there any songs that your tire of playing? Or would like to dust off and play again?

DG: There so many that we’ll often put a song into semi-retirement but, by the time we’re considering playing it again it, it might not have been played for quite a few years and maybe the line-up will have changed… so it’ll sound fresh again!

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