For most bands, the road to success involves writing a good album, getting noticed for it, and continuing to put out a string of follow-ups that play around with similar themes, often falling back on a sound that doesn’t venture too far beyond the constraints of its particular genre.
But for a band like The Wedding Present, changing it up is not only a way of keeping things interesting; it’s inevitable. And one only needs to look at the roster of more than a dozen former members to understand exactly how the sound is reinvented from album to album.
“We’ve had several line-up changes over the years, which have contributed to that really,” singer, guitarist, and founding member David Gedge shared. “People will come in with, you know, sort of new ideas and fresh inspiration and influences and things.”
He went on to liken these changes in personnel to moments of rebirth for The Wedding Present, with each evolution resulting in a new start. And overall, he’s found that the change is a positive thing, allowing the band to explore a range of styles.
“In my mind, even though I’m the constant member throughout all that, it’s hard for me to compare two albums that are from totally different lineups, really, because it is like totally different bands, in a way,” Gedge elaborated. “[Plus] I think purposely with The Wedding Present we’ve always tried to make each record different, so even though we might have had a successful kind of album, I didn’t want to make it again.”
The band first formed nearly 30 years ago in Britain, with Gedge at the helm. Today, the lineup also includes Patrick Alexander, Katharine Wallinger, and Charlie Layton. And while it’s clear that The Wedding Present “belongs” to Gedge in a sense, he is quick to dismiss any notions that it’s a solo project.
“I think I’ve got overall control of it, obviously, ’cause I’m the major songwriter and it’s my group, and I think even the musicians in the band are aware of that. But at the same time, it’s a lot of freedom to kind of push the band in a certain direction and, you know, go down a certain tangent. I do encourage that, really. I would say it helps the development,” he said. “I always thought that the sound of The Wedding Present is basically the sound made by the people in the band at that time really. And I try not to influence that too much because a)…it helps make it different really, and b) because obviously, you know, I’ve picked people…to join the band who’ve interested me in a certain way musically.”
Long-time fans of the band will note that The Wedding Present essentially broke up, or went on hiatus, in the late 90s. When that happened, Gedge began what he refers to as his real solo project, Cinerama, with his then-girlfriend. Unavoidably, fans would show up to gigs hoping to hear songs from The Wedding Present, and their persistence ultimately paid off when, in 2004, Gedge opted to bring The Wedding Present back.
The group differentiated itself from many other band reunions in that The Wedding Present went on to record and release new music, as evidenced by Take Fountain (2005), El Rey (2008), and Valentina (2012).
In the time since reforming, the band has also not only played new music, but toured old albums exclusively. This first occurred pre-hiatus, in 1997, when the group celebrated the 20th anniversary of 1987’s George Best. It was followed up with a tour of 1989’s Bizarro in late 2011, and 1991’s Seamonsters just last year.
“We’re kind of working our way through them again now,” Gedge shared, pointing to the band’s current leg on the road as example.
“On this tour we’re performing the 12 a-sides of our Hit Parade series of singles from 1992, which I never really see as an album, to be honest,” he said. “I always kind of see it as a collection of 12 singles, but obviously it was compiled as an album.”
Back when the band came up with the idea to release 12 singles, each accompanied by a cover, the media were all over it. In fact, it even earned the band a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, having equaled Elvis Presley’s record for having the most hits in a single year.
But, as Gedge explained it, the idea alone seemed to garner more attention than the songs themselves.
“It sounds a bit like I’m, you know, moaning about it, but the music was a bit overshadowed by the actual concept really,” he explained. “I think when we play it live, it’s an opportunity to actually, you know, show people that really. Because some of my favorite Wedding Present songs are in that series.”
After the tour, it’s anyone’s best guess what will happen again – whether The Wedding Present comes out with a new album or tours an old one. However, Gedge did mention that he will return to solo project Cinerama, which has plans to reinterpret and re-record Valentina.
In addition to allowing him to get creative on the solo front, the project will provide Gedge with a break from touring, and it’s this rotating, cyclical nature of being a musician that he said he enjoys.
“I think as soon as you ever get bored of one aspect of it, here comes the next one to kind of take your mind off of that really,” he said.
But while he welcomes to break from being on the road, he did admit that, when forced to pick a favorite, shows are what he loves best about it all.
“Playing live is probably the most immediately thrilling,” Gedge said. “There’s nothing to beat that kind of walking on to a stage in front of people who have come to see you play.”
The Wedding Present plays Tuesday night, Sept. 24, at Bi Nuu in Berlin. The show begins at 20.00.