Indie favourites The Wedding Present return to Lancashire next week. MALCOLM WYATT discussed the band’s enduring appeal with lead singer David Gedge
I should apologise in advance that this feature might not be considered objective enough in places. But what’s not to love about The Wedding Present?
I’m not alone in that thinking, and there will be plenty on the same wavelength when ‘The Boy Gedge’ (© John Peel) visits Blackburn on Wednesday, November 12.
David is not only the inspiration behind the Weddoes, but side-project Cinerama too, and proved truly approachable when we met at Hebden Bridge’s Trades Club.
It’s been 30 years since they became recording artists, cult indie success becoming much more with the success of debut LP George Best (1987), follow-up Bizarro (1989) and the innovative Steve Albini-produced Seamonsters (1991).
And – following earlier chart success with Kennedy, Brassneck and Corduroy and Dalliance, came 12 top-30 hits in 1992 via an inspired one-single-a-month campaign.
But a large chunk of their growing fan-base proved not quite ready for their next offering in 1994.
Watusi saw producer Steve Fisk, a prime mover in Seattle’s avant-garde scene, take the band into new territory – lo-fi pop, three-part a capella harmonies and Waikiki-like surf strains.
I loved the result, but there’s talk of it being the band’s ‘Marmite’ album.
“It did seem to alienate a lot of people.
“It’s one of my favourite albums, but we left Island pretty soon after, so they didn’t bother re-pressing it.
“Certain types of fan expected high-velocity loud guitar, jangly, Steve Albini distortion.
“It’s a long way from that. They didn’t understand why there’s piano and acoustic guitar on it.”
Is it just that you like Marmite, perhaps?
David laughs. “Yeah, I love Marmite!”
West Yorkshire-born, Greater Manchester-raised David’s an adopted Southerner now, having lived away the last decade, most recently in Brighton. Does he miss the North?
“I do. It’s a beautiful part of the world and it’s nice to be in a place where people talk like me!
“There’s a cultural thing too – it feels like you’ve come home to an extent.”
David was fresh from an American tour and mixing tracks in Spain for a Cinerama album set for a Spring release when we met.
Since then he’s been busy with a TWP reissue project, Edsel Records’ mighty three-disc deluxe editions of the first eight albums. And he’s no good at delegation.
“It’s the definitive product, everything you can get your hands on – albums, extra tracks, John Peel and other radio sessions, videos, live tracks, loads of sleeve notes.
“We first had a meeting about this over a year ago. But while the label were all raving, I was just thinking, ‘this is so much work!’
“Everyone chips in and helps but sometimes I have to step in.
“I’m very meticulous. It’s been quite stressful, but it’s going to be great!”
One of those reissues is Watusi, the subject of this 20th anniversary tour, and further proof of the irony in their past ‘all the songs sound the same’ t-shirt campaign.
“Possibly we’d have become more commercially successful had we established a certain formula like Oasis or REM.
“You knew what you were getting with them.
“But we always deliberately set out to change what we did. Once you’ve done an album one way, my feeling is ‘what else can we do?’ rather than ‘let’s do that again!’
“You play the game a little more, that might lead to more commercial success, or just be a bit more immune to all that.
“I’m quite happy with the success I’ve had, given that I know I’ve not been forced into doing anything, not ruled by business people asking me to change this and that.”
Is there a danger of the Weddoes being known as a reissue band now though?
“Yeah. If we do Watusi this year, then we’ll do Saturnalia next, but I’m not really sure if I want to go on to that at this point.
“We don’t want to be known as this band that plays their old albums all the time.
“I like the concept but the other half of me wants to get away from all that.”
You’ll be pleased to know there is new material in the offing, although Dave added: “It’s just finding the time. This was supposed to be a quiet year!”
And all this from a band who on 1989’s Bizarro tour did a ‘Status Quo – 25 years in the business’ homage during one song.
“It was never a criticism though, more a celebration, albeit a jokey one.
“But now we’re in exactly the same position, the joke’s on me!”
The Wedding Present play Blackburn King George’s Hall on November 12, supported by Flowers (doors 7pm, tickets £14 advance, £16 on the night)
For more about the Edsel Records deluxe version repackage project and the latest band news, visit www.scopitones.co.uk/