Can you believe it’s been 20 years since the shiny guitar-driven nugget that is The Wedding Present’s Watusi landed with a crash into the drawers of our collective CD players? Two decades on it’s lost none of its considerable lustre and if you love it like I do, or even think you might, then you’re in luck because David Gedge and the gang have decided to tour the country playing the aforementioned album to eager crowds in its full 1994 entirety.
In anticipation of the band’s gig at The Cluny on 10 November we chatted to David about longevity, reissues, musical heroes and, of course, Watusi.
I started by asking David whether, given the impending Watusi tour and the reissue programme of Wedding Present albums, he had any inkling in the early days that he’d be an artist who enjoyed this kind of longevity
“It’s kind of a difficult question to answer because on the one hand no, I definitely didn’t, I never really planned more than the next 6 months so even when we started we never really had a long-term plan to do loads of tours and albums and carry on for thirty years, but at the same time, if I’m honest with you I’ve kind of always had nothing else that I wanted to do, kind of growing up from an early age I’ve always been obsessed with music and wanted to be in bands or be a DJ or something. I’m kind of driven to do this. It’s like any other thing, you can’t imagine yourself in 30 years, you just concentrate on what you’re doing at the time. I’ve always been obsessed with music and wanted to be in bands or be a DJ or something. I’m kind of driven to do this."
David explained that he’d recently given the album a run through at his ‘At the edge of the sea’ festival in Brighton, so I cheekily asked if he’d had to re-learn any of the tracks.
“Oh, Yeah,” (he chuckles) “I don’t really play my LPs. It’s kind of a weird thing, once you’ve done it you move on to the next thing. When we come to actually play something like this live we generally have to go back and try and work out what we did really, because it’s not written down or anything, there’s the odd note but it’s generally trying to piece it together from memory. It’s a funny thing to go back and re-analyze something from 20 years ago with a new line-up. It’s fascinating to be honest and it’s quite good fun.”
I ask David if he could see one artist play one of their albums live, who and what he would choose.
After a very deep breath, he responds “Blimey, there’s a question. While you’re asking I’ve already thought of three. One that would never happen now obviously is The Velvet Underground playing what’s actually a live album, The Velvet Underground 1969 Live, which is definitely my favourite live album of all time. I would definitely like to have seen that. Of studio albums I was definitely thinking of The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa or My Bloody Valentine playing Loveless.”
When I ask about influences, David goes on to tell me “In some ways I try not to be influenced, I never wanted to sound like any other artist. I don’t mind people who sound like other bands but I wanted The Wedding Present to have a unique sound really. Having said that, obviously everyone is influenced, so guitar bands from the ‘60s onwards really, starting with The Beatles, going through glam rock and punk and then I love The Velvet Underground and bands like that. The same as everyone else really, New Order, Pixies, Sonic Youth. I’d say my background is definitely guitar bands. And probably John Peel was my greatest influence, I used to listen to that programme all the time from being about 16 onwards all the way through school and university and being in a band myself. I think my main influence was the stuff that he used to play on the radio. Somebody said that we were very fortunate that John Peel liked the band and obviously I did feel very fortunate and I felt flattered, but at the same time I think it was a foregone conclusion because I knew we were going to be a John Peel band because of the fact that I absorbed all that stuff that he was giving me. That became The Wedding Present and we slotted in to that sort of band really. It would have been very disappointing had he not liked us.”
"I try not to be influenced, I never wanted to sound like any other artist. I don’t mind people who sound like other bands but I wanted The Wedding Present to have a unique sound."
When I turn thoughts back to the forthcoming Cluny gig, David explains that his only previous visit to the venue had been as a compere for a tour showcasing new bands. “I remember thinking at the time, great venue actually, nice kind of intimate size. It’s got the production values, a good PA and the lights, seemed like a really good place to play and at the same time it wasn’t too big. I’m really looking forward to playing there actually.”
Originally published by NE:MM (nemm.org.uk)
Originally published by NE:MM (nemm.org.uk)