Interview The Wedding Present: ‘A Lot Of Artists Spend Too Long In The Studio’

DIY catches up with David Gedge to discuss ‘Seamonsters’, ‘Valentina’ and the band’s future.

David Gedge has kept The Wedding Present striving forward since their formation way back when in the 1980s. The 80s just so happen to be back in fashion in a big way and so, might I add, are The Wedding Present. With their forthcoming record coming out on 19th March, Mr.Gedge answered our burning questions about ‘Valentina’ and his plans for the band this time around.

What are the themes surrounding this record?
As usual, it’s just me exploring what people say to each other, how they say it, why they say it… set against a backdrop of guitar carnage…

When did you start writing the album?
The album was written throughout 2009, 2010 and 2011. It took longer than usual because I think the band members [quite admirably] wanted to make sure that we had enough high quality material. It’s kind-of a new line-up and I think they were worried about being compared to previous line-ups.

How does the writing process work with the band? Has it changed at all over the years to accommodate new members?
It’s pretty much the same as it’s always been… me and/or one of the other band members will usually come up with a musical idea, and I tend to go away and write a song based on that motif. Then the band assembles in a rehearsal room and we argue about it for a couple of weeks! That being said I think our guitarist Graeme Ramsay was more influential this time than some of my previous co-writers have been. He had some particularly strong ideas…

How did you find the recording process this time around? How did it differ from that of previous albums?
It was pretty straightforward, really. A lot of what we do is in the arrangement rehearsals, so when it comes to recording, the procedure is fairly simple. The main difference for this album is that we’ve worked with some new people. It’s always good to try different studios and different engineers… and this time we recorded the band in Black Box Studios in France [with, Grammy Award-winning producer David Odlum] but then mixed it in Los Angeles with the [ahem, Grammy Award-winning producer] Andrew Scheps.

Do you have any special requirements whilst working in the studio?
Just a couple of super-models lounging round the pool, really. I think I’ve learnt a lot through working with Steve Albini over the years… in fact, he recommended the studio in France to us. It all sounds pretty obvious, but our requirements are actually pretty humble; good sounding equipment, good sounding rooms, and, of course, someone there who knows how to choose and place microphones and record the band in a way that captures the vitality and exhilaration in the sound. I think a lot of artists spend too long in the studio and end up with something which doesn’t sound as good as the live performance.

How was working with Andrew Scheps? What did he bring to the table?
Andrew is exceptionally talented at doing things in the studio of which I know very little. I’m talking about equalisation, compression, reverb and lots of things of which I have no technical knowledge! The recordings we made in France were already sounding good, but I think Andrew sprinkled a little bit of magic dust over them. He looks like Gandalf from The Lord Of The Rings, so that’s probably where I’m getting the magic dust metaphor from…

You recorded in both France and California, how did the set ups there differ and do you think that the locations influenced the output at all?
It was a totally different set up because we recorded the music in France and the vocals in California. So we chose studios that were particularly suited to both of those purposes. But no, the locations don’t really make any difference to be honest. It’s more about who’s in the band and who’s recording us.

Did you ever doubt that you would make it to your eighth album as a band?
Well, when The Wedding Present started, I never really thought about it in terms of doing more than one album… so you’d think I’d say yes, the fact that we’re at number eight comes as something of a surprise. But then I wouldn’t say that because I’m actually very driven and kind of obsessed with doing this. So I’m not really surprised at all! I’m just a walking contradiction, huh?

What made you decide to record another record? Did demand from fans come into it at all?
As, I say… I think it’s probably some kind of mania. Although, as I mentioned, the fact that Graeme came up with so many interesting ideas was particularly inspiring.

Do you see this new album as a new direction for The Wedding Present? If so, how?
Well, it’s a new direction in that it’s a new line-up… that’s always going to affect the way a record sounds. I mean, there’s a multi-lingual duet on there, for a start!

Have you ever listened to a relatively new band and heard the influence of your sound in theirs?
On several occasions, yes… but I’m always wary of naming names. That’s because the band in question, if asked if they were influenced by The Wedding Present… will undoubtedly answer “The Wedding Who?”

You recently chose The Victorian English Gentlemens Club for support, are there any other bands you admire at the moment?
I recently discovered a band from Norwich, but only because two of the band members have the same surname as myself… and it’s obviously quite an unusual name. They’re called The Brownies and, happily, they turned out to be excellent… so I’m trying to arrange concerts where they can play with us now.

How do you go about deciding set lists? It must be hard to choose from such a vast back catalogue.
The simple answer is that I don’t. It’s far too difficult a job for me and so I usually hand it to another band member who can also have a bit more distance from the earlier songs… because they’re not on them… and can come up with a more objective set. But even for them it’s a thankless task… whatever set we play there’s always someone who comes up after the concert to say ‘Why didn’t you play <>?’

Which song resonates best with your fans when played live?
Well, the faster, more aggressive songs usually go down the best, I guess. So, historically, that’s songs like ‘Brassneck’ and ‘Kennedy’, and then newer songs like ‘Deer Caught In The Headlights’. But we are a live band, so most of the songs that we’ve released over the years go down pretty well because they have been assembled in the live arena and are tried and tested in front of audiences.

On your forthcoming tour you’ll be playing ‘Seamonsters’ in its entirety. Where did the inspiration for that idea come from?
It goes back a couple of years to 2007 when someone suggested that we celebrate the 20th anniversary of George Best by playing that live. At the time I was actually against the idea because I felt more preoccupied with the future of the band than its history, but I came round to the idea and ended up really enjoying it. I suppose I came to the conclusion that the history of a band is as important as what they’re doing at the moment. So it just seemed a natural step to have a go at re-evaluating ‘Bizarro’ and ‘Seamonsters’ for our current audiences, too.

Are you looking forward to playing the older tracks? Was it like riding a bike or is a bit more work required practice-wise?
It’s definitely not like riding a bike because, for a start, it’s a different band now, than it was, and so there’s a certain element of exploring and re-interpretation. I’m looking forward to playing ‘Seamonsters’, though, because it’s a very different type of record to ‘George Best’ and ‘Bizarro’. It’s less audience friendly in some ways, but it’s actually quite an intense experience, so I’m interested to see how it works.

Finally, where do you see The Wedding Present headed in the future? What’s the plan for the rest of the year?
2012 will be taken up with us playing a lot of concerts, which, of course, always happens when you release a record. But other than that, there are no long-term plans. I think one of the benefits of my job is that I don’t have to plan. Opportunities often appear randomly and unexpectedly and it’s nice to have a bit of freedom to be able to go off on a tangent sometimes.

The Wedding Present will release ‘Valentina’ on 19th March 2012.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

February 2024

Featuring The Last Dinner Party, IDLES, Yard Act, Crawlers, Remi Wolf and more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY