Regifting Record

David Gedge hedges his band-name bets

The Wedding Present started in Leeds, England, in 1986, and stopped in 1996. Or so everyone thought.

David Gedge, the creative force behind the band, decided to take a more filmic turn after The Wedding Present's Saturnalia was released in 1996, and formed Cinerama with his then-girlfriend, Sally Murrell, in 1997. But in 2002, as Cinerama began performing a new crop of songs for a BBC radio session in London, a strange thing happened: The music started sounding more like The Wedding Present.

"It was a Cinerama session," explained Gedge, "and even the engineers and the producers said, 'David, this is The Wedding Present; who are you trying to kid?' With the Cinerama sessions, it was just more orchestrated--we had string players and flutes and trumpets and stuff--and then here we were, back with a four-piece, rock 'n' roll guitar lineup again."

Hence, The Wedding Present rose from the ashes with Take Fountain (Manifesto, 2005), the band's first release in eight years.

"We got to the point where we thought, actually, we should rebrand it in a way, because we didn't want to confuse people; we didn't want people buying this album thinking it was going to be Cinerama, and it sounds more like The Wedding Present," said Gedge. "In the end, we decided we'd call it The Wedding Present, so we did. It wasn't like a big change or a big comeback. It was a path that was laid out for us, really, without us knowing it."

Take Fountain, though clearly a Wedding Present record--the driving guitars, Gedge's emotive vocals--shows the band incorporating the quieter, more orchestral vein Gedge had been tapping into in Cinerama, with the dense and darker rock of The Wedding Present. The mournful trumpets and strings at the end of "Interstate 5" suddenly twist it into something like you'd expect at the dramatic end of a Western, when the hero is shot by his adversary, and "Perfect Blue," the last track on the album, swells into a guitar and string frenzy.

Explained Gedge, "I think it does bring the album together, in a way, and it almost cements the relationship, if you like, between The Wedding Present and Cinerama. I think it makes it like a cinematic Wedding Present album."

The Wedding Present, during their first run, were creating a sound that is identifiable in many recent bands--you can hear it in the more rock-heavy songs of Interpol and the monotone drones of Coldplay, just to name a couple. The Wedding Present, though, have managed to maintain their own originality even as more bands reference their sound; this, says Gedge, is for two reasons.

"One is that I've always been a fan of pop music--that's why I started doing this--and I still am, really, so I'm always very aware of what's going on outside of the band, and I like to think that I'm not close-minded in regards to what else is going on, so I think we are still a very modern-sounding band. And also, I think, we've had a series of lineup changes throughout the years, and I think that does help. It's always sad when someone leaves the group, but I've found that someone else will come with new ideas and inspirations, and I think that helps to move the band on as well."

Throughout the band's career, each record has been a slightly different take on the band's sound. Even early in their career, they went from pop on 1987's George Best to covering Ukrainian folk songs on 1989's Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peel. 1991's Seamonsters was recorded with Steve Albini, who added a rougher edge to the band's pop-rock, and 1994's Watusi found the Wedding Present working with producer Steve Fisk, who also produced Take Fountain.

Gedge's ability to be inspired by what is around him is what makes The Wedding Present able to resurface after so long--infused with elements of Cinerama and still maintaining a modern sound, The Wedding Present sounds far from dated.

"I think that the only goal I've ever had is to make great records, but then, make different records as well," said Gedge. With that in mind, Gedge isn't sure if his next record will be a Wedding Present record, a Cinerama record or something entirely different.

"It depends what the music sounds like next. If it sounds like The Wedding Present again, I suppose it'll be The Wedding Present; on the other hand, if it starts being about more cinematic fields, I suppose we'll call it a Cinerama record. In fact, I'm keeping both band names open. I'm hedging my bets."

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