THE WEDDING PRESENT Playing their (George) Best album in full

Legendary British post punk/indie band The Wedding Present return to Australia on the back of their ninth studio album Going, Going… this weekend. CHRIS HAVERCROFT spoke to David Gedge, the driving force behind the band since day one. To commemorate the record’s 30th anniversary The Wedding Present will perform their classic 1987 debut album George Best in full at Mojo’s Bar on Sunday, July 16.

The band formed in Leeds in 1985 and soon became one of the favourite bands of radio royalty John Peel. The songs centred around David Gedge eating his heart on his sleeve during songs of heartache immersed in whirlwind guitars, played at impossibly breakneck speeds. This template is still evident today although the band have come a long way since their debut.

“I love playing it actually,” offers Gedge of the George Best album, that will be played for the last time in its entirety in Australia at the Mojo’s show. “Weirdly it is one of my least favourite albums, because it sounds a bit dated to me actually. As a live set though, it is really good to play as it is quite frantic and at 100 miles per hour the whole way through. It is a bit of a workout. I think the band play it really well. People are saying that with this line up of The Wedding Present, it is the best they have ever heard it. It is definitely exciting to play.”

Playing the album in full after being a touring musician for over three decades is a surreal feeling on occasions. Gedge agrees that it can be a strange feeling to be singing songs of his heartbreak from over 30 years ago.

“It is a very personal record,” he says. “When I sing the lyrics of those songs it is like me reading my diary. It is very personal, but at the same time it is so long ago now that it feels like a different person. It is almost like it is someone that I have left behind in a way. One of the reasons that we have decided that we are not going to play it in full after this year is that more and more I am feeling like I am separate from those lyrics and it is probably a good time to draw the line when a man in his fifties is singing about teenage angst.”

David Gedge is the only original member of The Wedding Present remaining with a spate of over 20 musicians having made their way through the band over three decades. Gedge feels that this keeps the band fresh to new ideas and offers a chance for the band to rejuvenate and refresh themselves along the way. The movement of members is not at Gedge’s demand as a hard taskmaster.

“I think when people join a band like us, they think ‘great, i’m going to write songs and make music for a living and travel the world’,” he says. “It all sounds very exciting and glamorous, and what you want to do when you start being a musician, but it can be very tiring and hard work as well. You are away from home and your girlfriend and your social network at home suffers because of it and after a few years people get a bit sick of it really. The third American tour doesn’t appear as exciting as when you were going for the first time.

“We have always been one of those band who feel like they need to try something different with each record. I hear things and think that I’d like to try that. Having different line-ups over the years has helped that to be honest as you have people coming into the group with new influences and new ideas and that takes you off into a different zone. I like the challenge.”

The most recent challenge was in the form of the bands ninth album Going, Going… that ended up being 20 songs long and had a video to accompany each tune. It is also the first time that Gedge has included a number of instrumental tracks.

Going, Going … is writing within the kind of parameters that I had set myself really. I like to try different things. I wanted to make a step forward, but I also wanted to reference parts of the last 30 years. There is a cinematic sound at times over the years so I really wanted to explore that. I felt that by adding some instrumentals, that we could take that to another level really.”

“I decided early on that it was to have 20 tracks, and that gave me more space in terms of how to present the start of the record and the instrumentals helped with that. It is nice sometimes to be freed from the constraint of having to find a lyric and a vocal melody, and just being able to concentrate on the music.”

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