David Gedge has an easygoing, interesting, and very engaging manner about him--he's someone who you can hang out and really have a long chat with (hard to find these days). Not only is he the main remaining member of the original UK group, Wedding Present, but he is the group's spokesperson and the remaining guide who has carried the band to the sound that they create today. A lovely bloke, as they say. For this tour, the band has been playing songs from The Wedding Present's second album, "Bizarro", and besides having the fans chime in about what the group has meant to them over the years--we decided that it was high time to let David have his own say, as well.
Girl About Town: How do you feel about the U.K. loonies following you around on tour?
David Gedge: Hah! It's nice actually, because they did it last tour as well, but they did the West Coast; and now it's the East Coast as well this time. Obviously it's nice to see British people/fans because we have so much in common. It's difficult sometimes though because they're down in front talking to me, and I don't want to exclude the rest of the audience and I'm not sure how they feel about that...I think they're on holiday as well, so I want them to have a good time too...
Is it a 'closer' feeling for you to do shows on your own home turf?
No, not really...places like, let's see: Japan is especially weird.
Silly question: does your band get chased while you are there on tour?
Not so much, but they do get a little....kind of, overexcited. I think I meant that the whole culture's different. Because, you know, we play New York and North America, and you know...it's different...but it's not that different. It's kind of the same as playing Britain really, and it's not that far away. With Japan, it's like; a different world.
Do you feel a bit 'lost in translation'?
Yeah, you do feel a bit cut-off.
How many times have you played Japan?
Well, this May will be our third time. I've been on holiday there as well, so....
Has any fan-item ever struck you as odd while out on tour?
There's loads, you know. I've signed a lot of things, but recently there was this girl in Los Angeles and she had said, 'can you sign my hip?', and so she pulled her trousers down and I signed her hip. She came back again, and it was tattooed...
That's what the fans do on the Morrissey tours. He has kind of a childish scrawl...(ha ha).
Oh yeah? I've never seen that before. Yeah, I've seen his signature--it is kind of like a five-year old or something like that, isn't it...ha ha...
You were quoted at one point as saying that the album "Bizarro" should have been your "George Best", do you still feel like this?
No. Actually, I don't. I've changed my mind. Well, because in my mind...because obviously I don't play my old music. Really, for fun or anything... I hadn't heard George Best and Bizarro... for years--until we did the 'George Best' tour and then this tour. And in my mind I always thought; they were kind of similar, but that Bizarro was better and so that it's the same kind of music. And then we did the George Best tour, and that was fine, and then we came to do Bizarro and I thought, 'actually, this is quite different.' Because, I think George Best is kind of these....short, kind of pop/punk-y, jangle-y songs and that Bizarro is actually more a wall of sound, you know--quite hypnotic with kind of layers, and just guitars for ages. And it's just completely different, you know I don't even know why I thought that it was the same. It's weird how my memories play tricks on me from twenty years or something. So, now I feel like it was probably appropriate that George Best was the first album, which kind of belongs to that....and then we got into the process of making interesting recordings, you know, and could progress from...just, like, a bunch of songs that we did. So, yeah, it's changed.
Do you feel as though you follow a formula now from album to album?
No, not at all. Actually just the opposite. What we try and do...it's kind of been what we do over the years: if we make a certain type of record, we always try to get away from that formula. Like, certain bands....I suppose I could always use R.E.M. as an example. Every track I hear from them, seems to be the same. And I always think, you know, they've made the same album over and over again. Which is fine! If their fans like that, then alright, but: it's not for me, really. I always think, I've got to move on, and try something different. Like somebody will come up with this weird idea, and maybe it's not necessarily The Wedding Present and I'll be like let's just try it, and let's just see what happens and it might end up that The Wedding Preset sounds 'like' that and really, hopefully; that's the way we've always done it over the years. I think that every album has had it's own kind of, personality to it.
With the changing of band members over the years, your ideas must form and change also: how has this been for the most recent formation of the band; is this the most creative that you've been?
Well, it kind of goes in little bursts to be honest. Because obviously, we've had quite few line-up changes over the years, and when ever someone new comes in there's this period where they've got loads of new ideas. It's like a little 're-birth'. Yeah, you know. And it's different than El Rey which is good (because of what I said before). I think in retrospect, I didn't realize at the time that El Rey was quite a 'poppy' record I think and it's quite....hard but still pop songs, and the new songs that we've been working on sound less poppy somewhat--they sound a bit more...harder or something.
Well, I think fans know instinctively why they love your band: and that with the music you make that it is going to be melodic and it is also going to be pop. But, it's definitely good to keep people on their 'toes' so-to-speak!
I think there are people who do appreciate that, but then there's another section who don't want that. You know, they kind of want...well, first we did Bizarro, and then we did Seamonsters. And I think some people were like 'aha, I don't like this because it's sort of different'. I've said this before, but if you go and like, buy a box of Corn Flakes, and you go back and buy a second box of Corn Flakes and you want them to be Corn Flakes and not something like, 'Oh no, this is Wheatabix', or some other weird cereal. I think it just put some people off. You know, even when we did Cinerama we lost some....or the Ukranian stuff.... Through the years, we've had some weird little ideas and projects. And, people don't like it, people get quite angry with you. You know? It's like, 'Wait, why aren't you doing the same stuff that you were doing on Bizarro?'.
They want you to keep pressing on with the same formula.
Exactly. I did a show once in the mid-90s in England, and this bloke came up to me and I said, 'So did you enjoy the concert?' and he said, 'Actually, no I didn't. Because the only album that I've got is Bizarro, and you only played like three songs off that.' And I said, 'Well, it came out over ten years ago. And we've got a new record and we've made some albums since, and eh, we're probably never going to play it', and, ironically, we're playing it NOW...! (laughter) He was quite aggressive, though, saying 'I came here for Bizarro songs though, and you didn't even play any Bizarro songs,' and I said, 'Well, here's your money back, then...' and I probably obliged him not to come again! (more laughing) So I REALLY hope that he comes on one of these dates because then he's finally got his dream, then...!
This brings me to my next question.... Since you've released two live albums, your first 'Live 1987' and your most recent release 'Live 1988'... What is your own personal standpoint on nostalgia versus importance as far as releases like these are concerned?
If you'd have asked me a few years ago, I would have said that I'm not really a nostalgic person and I'm alway s more interested in moving on and that I don't care about stuff really, but, over the last few years I've kind of come around to it more. And I think that the George Best tour started it. Against my better instincts, I quite enjoyed that. It was interesting to go back and look at stuff that we did twenty years ago. It's sort of like, rereading old diaries or looking at old photographs...'Oh, look, did I really do that? Oh,' and that kind of thing...
Do you get that look on your face, like, 'Oh God, did I really write that...?'?
Exactly! Exactly like that, yeh. I think it's nice to embrace something like that I suppose. You know, I'm getting older, and it seems part of the process to think that the past is something...that it's a part of you. Exactly. I'm kind of no longer ignoring it. 'Cause, you know--we were legendary, and we used to play higher up on the festival bills and we would play all new songs and people just seemed to you know, they would hate it! They would be like, 'We want all the hits,' you know? And we were like, 'Well, no, we're looking forward, so...' And now, I think I'm more open minded about it really.
What is the perfect last song to play at the end of a set for The Wedding Present?
Again, we're kind of not really traditional in that respect. We do tend to end with odd stuff really. I mean, on this one, that's "Be Honest", which is an odd track really...because you do "Take Me!" and it's high and loud, and then you do "Be Honest" which is a bit flat, really--sort of an acoustic song. Again, we've had a history with that really, we'd be ending with "Don't Touch That Dial" before it was released because we just loved it, but people would say, 'Why are you ending with that? It's a miserable, slow song...' It seems to be done that way on the album because, like on El Rey, oh what's the ending on that one--oh, "Boo Boo" which is the obvious finish, and then you've got "Swingers" on there--which, again is a bit of a weird one. I dunno, I quite like it, really, I quite like doing that.
Tell us about the Edge of the Sea Festival.
We were in a cafe in England--a place called the Little Chef, a little diner, on tour. And we were talking about festivals and I said, 'I'd love to do a festival...'. And then everyone was, 'Yeah, yeah! Let's do one!'. Everybody in the band, and the sound engineer, and that were like 'Oh yeah, you should do this, and you should do this...'. And in the space of about fifteen minutes, yeah; I was doin' it! And we had this song already called, "At the Edge of the Sea" that was an obvious title for it and then... So, that was the easy part! I was supposed to be co-promoting it with the official promoter, so. Because it was bands that we personally knew or who were friends of ours, we had to be really involved in all of it: who's going to play, what are getting paid, when they're gonna go on, and so it actually got like, I probably did more work for it than I did for an entire tour! It was a bit more work than I thought, but I absolutely loved it on the day! I don't know if you've ever been to Brighton, but it's a really nice little town on the south coast, the weather was gray, and the venue's right on the beach... It was a really nice atmosphere, and people came to see all the bands and come out and at the end of the day it was like a Wedding Present concert, but people came to see everybody, so it was a nice time!
What is the date for the Edge of the Sea Festival this year?
It's just one date, on July 28th, 2010. We did think of doing two dates, with The Wedding Present on one night and Cinerama the next night, but it's just a lot of work really...ha ha! So far we have this one band called Sharks, but no one has really confirmed yet! You should come over for it in the summer it's a really fun time...
A question closer to your heart: If you could have a conversation with Mark E. Smith about his discography, or ask him any kind of question that's been unanswered for you over the years--what would it be?
Oh! Yeah, I'm a massive The Fall fan. Well, I've already had loads of conversations with Mark simply because our paths have crossed... The main thing that surprised me in talking to him, though, is that he's actually a really nice bloke especially if you can get him in a one-on-one conversation or get him to talk over a drink--he's quite relaxed and all that. And in running into him from time to time I was firing loads and loads of questions at him! And, I think he was actually getting a bit annoyed...like, 'what is this some kind of a fucking interview or something?' ha ha
Yeah, it's like the fan of a fan, of a fan--love it, very funny...!
Yeah, I grew up listening to The Fall, so...
Okay, something fun: Cathy Gale, Emma Peel, or Tara King?
Wellllll, I'll have to go with Emma Peel. Everyone does though. And, I think that this, I don't know if I'm being influenced by her.
Diana Rigg: was that your favorite era?
Well, no, I watched it all, really. Although I kind of lost interest after she went...I just wasn't that into it after that. It just kind of peaked at that point....
And on that note...we'll end the interview. Talking to David Gedge was as interesting as it was fun. Catch Wedding Present on tour now to see them perform songs from their 1989 album "Bizarro". Thanks to Dave, the rest of the band, The Barmy Army, and especially Jessica, for making Wedding Present Weekend so memorable and a part of our hearts! We hope to see you all very soon. Stay tuned for further features as they come in...
David Gedge and your very own Girl About Town...