Simon Harper grabbed a chat with indie legend David Gedge after last week?s triumphant Wedding Present gig in Birmingham...
What?s in a name? Apart from being a handy moniker which people can associate with you, it can govern how you are received. Accordingly, a change of name can often lead to a sense of reinvigoration; a renaissance.
For example, Prince has had more handles than can be found in your local DIY superstore. But the phenomenon isn?t just confined to elastic-limbed soul-funk lotharios.
David Gedge is the mainstay of indie rock legends The Wedding Present, who have just released their first album in eight years. Gedge released his previous three albums under the guise of Cinerama, but candidly explains the reasoning behind reverting to his former band name.
?It?s a gradual decision that we?ve made over the last couple of years. When I started writing the songs that became the foundation of this album, I did think that I was writing Cinerama songs,? he admits.
?But then over the last couple of years, as we?ve been putting it together and started doing demos and things, it just sounded more and more like a Wedding Present record.
For instance, we did a Cinerama session for John Peel, and even the engineers were saying, ?Er, why?s this called Cinerama? There?s no strings, no flute player and no keyboards; it sounds like The Wedding Present to us?.
Eventually, the penny dropped.?
The resulting album, Take Fountain, has rekindled interest in Gedge?s incisive song-writing, and this commercial revival can, perhaps unfairly, be attributed to his decision to record again under the name The Wedding Present. So what does the name mean to him?
?It?s weird because it?s my life, and I?m obsessed with it now. It?s gone beyond context for me now. The actual idea of a wedding present doesn?t mean anything to me. I think there?s a distinctive sound to the band, and we?ve moved back towards that sound now, so it seemed the obvious thing to do.
?It?s been quite surprising, because there?s been extra interest because it?s The Wedding Present, and I find that quite strange because it could easily have been a Cinerama record. As soon as we made that decision, the reaction from people was, ?Oh, it?s a Wedding Present record?, it was almost as if it was something extra now just because of the name. It?s just the kind of kudos the name has, and there do seem to be people coming out of the woodwork.
?It is [frustrating], to be honest,? laughs Gedge. ?I think I was quite naive in how big I thought the name of The Wedding Present was. I assumed that people would be interested whether it was The Wedding Present, or me, or Cinerama, but obviously there is actually more interest because of the name. And it is a bit frustrating, because you think, ?Well, I should?ve called the other three albums The Wedding Present?.?
Despite having never disappeared, as anyone who owns the three excellent albums by Cinerama will attest, Take Fountain is a triumphant return of sorts. It features essentially the Cinerama line-up, minus Sally Murrell, also his ex-girlfriend. While all of Gedge?s albums have a boldly personal feel to them, the latest, which was ironically released on Valentine?s Day, finds him in an even more honest mood.
?I think it?s the most personal record I?ve ever made, primarily because I?ve always written about relationships starting and ending, and on previous occasions I?ve always used lots of my own imagination or my memory. But on this occasion it was actually happening to me as I was writing it, so it was easier to write in some respects. It was almost like writing a diary.
?I?ve always thought it was the most obvious thing to write pop music about relationships. When I think of my favourite songs, like Motown, it?s always been love songs or hate songs. I try occasionally to write about different subjects, and I?m never as happy with the result as I am with writing about what people say to each other, why they say it, and how they say it.?
Gedge confesses that his main song-writing strength is that he?s ?just really nosey?, absorbing ideas from overheard conversations in the street as much as other music, books, films and television. He even plays down his reputation as a hugely talented writer, claiming that he feels ?more like a sieve?.
A close friend of the late John Peel, Gedge recorded rafts of sessions for the DJ?s Radio 1 show, and enjoyed the patronage of the inimitable broadcaster. Consequently, the news of his death last October was a huge shock. ?There weren?t any quotes from me that day, because I did genuinely feel it was like losing a member of the family,? he says.
?Radio 1 did a tribute night in December. That was strange, because obviously it was like a concert, and there?s people there having a good time and getting drunk, and coming up saying, ?I bet you?re really excited about playing this?. And I said, ?Well, no, I?m not, actually I feel quite sad about doing this?. It was a hard thing to do. I wouldn?t have missed it for the world, but I didn?t enjoy it.?
The Wedding Present, who in 1992 equalled Elvis Presley?s 35-year-old record for the biggest number of hit singles in a year, by releasing a new single each month, have gone through a number of changes in their 20-year history. As David Gedge reveals, the band?s sound has changed just as much as it?s personnel.
?I?m proud of the fact that we?ve made a series of good records that don?t sound the same. I think, with the possible exception of the first two Wedding Present records, George Best and Bizarro, they?ve all got their own personality and style, and that?s continued on into Cinerama. My main ambition is, if we carry on doing it, to move on each time.?
The question on most peoples? lips, though, is whether another name change is in the pipeline. Gedge seems unsure. ?I?m interested to see which way it goes myself, because it could easily go down the Wedding Present route again, or just as easily shift back towards the Cinerama sound. Who knows??