David Gedge interview: The Wedding Present frontman on the band's changing sound and 24 songs for 2022

A whopping 24 members have joined and then left The Wedding Present since its formation in 1985.

By Abbey Maclure
Sunday, 6th March 2022, 4:45 am

David Gedge, the band's lead vocalist and guitarist, has enjoyed the partnership with various combinations of musicians over the years, having a far-reaching impact on the Leeds music scene and beyond.

Initially a fast-paced indie rock band, The Wedding Present has had many rebirths in its 37-year history, its changing sound influenced in part by its current members.

As they release a track every month this year as part of the 24 Songs project, a nod to their historic run of 12 Top 40 tracks in 1992, David reflects on where The Wedding Present journey began.

David Gedge (second from left) was the only remaining member of The Wedding Present by 1993 (Photo: Jessica McMillan)

Most Popular

    David was born in Bramley before his family moved to Manchester when he was a toddler.

    He came back to Leeds to study mathematics at university, "persuaded" by the city's rich music scene.

    Read More

    Read More
    I Like Trains interview: The Leeds band on Kompromat, getting back to the stage ...

    “It was exciting," the 61-year-old told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

    The Wedding Present during the Bizarro era, their second studio album released more than 30 years ago (Photo: Kevin Westenberg)

    "There were so many bands playing in Leeds, or from Leeds, and so many venues. It was going back to my roots and it was a very vibrant time.

    "It’s not a massive city, but it punches above its weight in terms of music and it always has done, from the Gang of Four and Sisters of Mercy right through to the Kaiser Chiefs."

    The Wedding Present released their first, self-funded single 'Go Out And Get 'Em, Boy!' in 1985, followed by their debut album George Best two years later.

    It was dubbed an "unmitigated delight" by the NME.

    The Wedding Present are releasing a new 7” single every month throughout 2022. (Photo: Jessica McMillan)

    David has had many memorable moments with The Wedding Present over the years - the first time they toured in America, then Japan, going on Top of the Pops and performing at BBC radio DJ John Peel's 50th birthday.

    By 1993, three albums into the band's career, David was the only remaining member of the group.

    “It’s always been me, my voice and guitar style, but everything else has changed around that," he said.

    "We've had loads of different people come through and every time they join, they’ve got a different idea of where the band should be going and what we should sound like.

    The Wedding Present in the Mini era, the car-themed six-track mini-album of 1996

    “It pushes you in different directions. We’ve had darker, more rocky albums and more poppy, lighter albums.

    "We’ve experimented with our album Watusi, which was almost like a sixties record that avoided the rock sound, then I launched my project Cinerama.

    “And Cinerama has subsequently changed what we’ve done in the Wedding Present in recent years."

    The band took a long sabbatical from 1997 to 2004 and David focused on the Cinerama project, which became a full-time band.

    But The Wedding Present has enjoyed a revival in the years since, releasing four albums since they got back together.

    Fresh home from the 20th anniversary tour of Bizarro, their second album, the band decided to have a quieter year in 2020.

    "As it was, we didn’t have any choice," David added.

    “It was a terrible disease and terrible times, but for us, we’d just ended a long time of touring - playing Bizarro live and touring as far as Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

    "It was convenient in a way for me as there were a few projects I wanted to do.

    "I’ve released volume one of my autobiography in comic book form. I wouldn’t have had the time to sit down and finish it all if we were off playing concerts around the world.

    “We did a charity album of Bond theme covers, which had been on the backburner for about seven years.

    “It was helpful in that way, it forced me to stay in one place and do stuff that I’d been putting off.”

    As well as the 24 Songs project and rescheduled tour dates this year, a Wedding Present musical is in the pipeline.

    Written and directed by Matt Aston, ‘Reception’ will tell the story of a group of university friends who keep in touch over two decades of trials, tribulations and receptions - to the soundtrack of music from David Gedge, Cinerama and The Wedding Present.

    David added: "We did a crowdfunder to get it off the mark and there was a lot of interest in it.

    "It’s a world I don’t know much about but I’m interested to see how it turns out.”

    An unexpected acoustic sound

    David now lives on the south coast, where he hosts his At The Edge Of The Sea on the Brighton seafront every year.

    The indoor event, which usually runs in August, has been unable to go ahead for the last two years due to the pandemic - so David brought it online.

    Joining a line-up of other bands and friends, The Wedding Present performed acoustic versions of its tracks through the years.

    The renditions were so popular with fans that the tracks were later released as an album, with a second edition set to be released this year.

    "Loads of people told us they loved the versions," David said.

    "Usually the wedding present is this loud guitar, in-your-face, dramatic and rocky music.

    "Suddenly we had these completely different versions where it was softer and all acoustic."

    24 Songs in 2022

    The Wedding Present are releasing a new 7” single every month throughout 2022.

    The 24 Songs project comes 30 years after the band’s similar Hit Parade series of 7”s in 1992, which all charted in the Top 40.

    Fans can buy the singles one at a time, online or from record stores, or subscribe for the whole series to be delivered to their door.

    Each of the records will come in a sleeve featuring brutalist photography by Jessica McMillan and there will also be a hand-numbered collector’s box to put them in.

    David said: “As you’re moving through the year, it’s different from doing an LP as it evolves.

    “With an LP, you have a collection of songs that have a mood to them and they’ve all been written over the same period.

    "But with this, it’s different. We might go into the studio six weeks after the last lot of songs and things have changed by then.

    “It’s interesting the way it develops. The downside is you have a deadline to write songs which you don’t usually have.”

    Every single will be made up of two original tracks from the band, which now comprises David, drummer Nicholas Wellauer, guitarist Jon Stewart and Melanie Howard on bass.

    “People analyse the songs a bit more," David added.

    "When you release an LP half of the songs will be ignored. But if you’re doing it every month, they can’t ignore it."

    Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United. With a digital subscription, you'll see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.