18:41 Friday 02 November 2012

Too old for hellraising - I never did any anyway...

Written byTIM FLETCHER

THE Wedding Present were one of the stalwarts of the British indie music scene of the 1980s and 90s.

Wedding Present
Wedding Present

Led by David Gedge, the Leeds band’s rough round the edges garage rockinfluenced sound earned them the approval of legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, who regularly played their records.

After his film soundtrack-influenced side project Cinerama veered inexorably back towards his original band’s guitar-based roots, Gedge told Mail reporter TIM FLETCHER resurrecting the Wedding Present name was the obvious answer.

MIDWAY through their European tour, The Wedding Present have crisscrossed the continent and are currently pursuing a similar course through the medium-sized venues of the UK.

But while it may appear a dream job, many bands complain that they spend most of their days in the back of their tour bus as the sights and sounds of the outside world flash by.

“There is an element of that — you see a lot of hotels, venues and airports — but I think there’s enough time if you make the effort,” says frontman David Gedge, a seasoned veteran of this kind of caper having first got the band together back in 1985.

“A lot of musicians are their own worst enemies because they stay out drinking all night, roll out of bed the following lunchtime and are off to the next gig.”

So having passed his 50th year, are the Yorkshireman’s rock ‘n’ roll hellraising days behind him.

“I don’t think I ever did that because I’m not a big fan of socialising in loud bars,” he tells the Mail.

“It sounds great when someone says ‘we’re going to this bar and the drinks are on us’ but then you toddle off to this really loud room and you think ‘I’ve got an eight-hour drive tomorrow, I might just go to bed.”

The tour has highlighted the band’s varied audience demographic, with British crowds largely comprised of seasoned fans (some of whom bring their own children), while younger fans prevail elsewhere.

“The most extreme example was when we played in Turkey a few years ago,” says Gedge. “It was the first time we’d been there and we thought we might never go back so we played a more hit-friendly set.

“We would play our best-known songs like Brassneck (off the 1987 album George Best) and My Favourite Dress (off 1989 follow-up Bizarro) and they’d be like ‘Hmm, yeah, I don’t know that one’ but then we’d play an obscure Cinerama Bside and they loved it.

“In Turkey they didn’t really have access to western music until the late 90s so all that stuff from the 80s and early 90s had passed them by.”

To recap, Cinerama was the side project Gedge created in 1997 to exploit his love of film soundtrack artists such as John Barry and Ennio Morricone, but as his original band’s indie roots began to show, in 2004 the last Cinerama line-up was rebranded as the Wedding Present.

“The first Cinerama LP was me on my own in a studio with session musicians but then we became a band and as the band started to help write songs and we played live, we became more and more like the Wedding Present,” he says.

“We were doing a John Peel session at Maida Vale and even the engineers were saying: ‘This is the Wedding Present — why are you calling it Cinerama?’

“There were no strings or flutes and we were just back to being a guitar band, so the penny dropped and at that point the two things just merged.” Gedge is the only founding member of a band whose former members even he has lost count of, so why such a high turnover?

“People say I am quite dictatorial but band members have their own influences and inspirations so I take advantage of it because I want the band to move on and have different sounds,” he says.

“I think the main reason people leave is because they start off thinking ‘Oh great, I’ll write songs, make records, tour the world and meet girls — it will be great fun’.

“Then they realise it is quite hard work and can be stressful and difficult because you’re away from home a lot. The first time you go to America it’s brilliant, then the fourth time it’s like ‘Oh, we’re off to America’. You can see the enthusiasm waning over the years.”

So after 27 years, does Gedge find his own enthusiasm for life in the band waning? “I’m totally not jaded,”

he counters. “I think I’m possibly a bit obsessive and very driven to do it. I sometimes find it quite stressful but then when you walk out on that stage the adrenalin kicks in.

“It’s something that I crave and when a tour finishes and I get home I’m dying to get out there and get back on a stage.”

The Wedding Present tour sees the band playing their 1991 album Seamonsters in its entirety along with tracks from new album Valentina.

The tour calls at Nottingham Rescue Rooms on Wednesday, November 14, and Birmingham O2 Academy on the following night.

Tickets for Nottingham are available at www.rescuerooms.com and Birmingham at www.o2academybirmingham.co.uk

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