THIS WEEK The Wedding Present, the iconic British band that formed in the mid-1980s and helped to define a generation of rock groups with jangly guitars and feelings-soaked lyrics, is coming through town to celebrate the 21st birthday of its second album, Bizarro. And while the whole anniversary-of-an-album tour has become a bit played out, this is one of those records that seems incredibly important to see performed live.
We spoke to David Gedge, the band’s front man and its only consistent member over the years, about what it’s like to have made a record so old that it could drink.
New York Press: You’ve been quoted as saying that you’ve always thought The Wedding Present was an inappropriate name for a band. Is this still true?
David Gedge: Yeah. It’s not a great name, it’s kind of unusual.Weddings are odd and a bit surreal, joining people and giving people away… I haven’t been to a wedding in a while. [Asks someone in the background.] Oh, there was one on the 4th of June, apparently. I can’t remember one before that.
Why tour for the 21st anniversary of your record Bizarro? Is it something you’ll do for all of your records?
No, I don’t plan to.When we did [the band’s first album] George Best, a record label that wanted to rerelease the record first suggested the idea, but they didn’t in the end.They asked if we would be interested— it’s the new fashion—but I was appalled by the idea. I was thinking that nostalgia’s not a good thing, but everybody I spoke to said I had to. So we did it and I did find myself enjoying it. It’s interesting to put yourself back two decades and almost forget everything you’ve learned.Whether we do more, it will depend on how this one goes.
How has it been revisiting where you were 21 years ago? I know you’ve played these songs since, but probably not in this way. Is it a strange feeling?
It is very odd, 20 years is a long time for an artist because you want to develop and change, so you have to work out what you did and why you did it. I’m the only person in the band now who was in the band then, so I also need to explain things to people. Secondly it’s a bit weird because my songs are so personal and to look at lyrics that were written a couple decades ago, it’s kind of like finding an old diary.
A lot of bands are doing the reunion tour thing, and it’s not always good. Why will this be different?
To be honest, the main thing that people have told me—we did it a couple years ago with our first LP but only in Europe—is that the thing they enjoyed most from it is that when the album came out, you didn’t see the band play it. At that time it was new songs and a band will play half a dozen maybe, interspersed with older stuff, and people have found it generally interesting to see the album played live in one go.
The record gave The Wedding Present its first big hits. How were things different for you after Bizarro came out? The biggest thing was the financial thing.
When we did Bizarro, we had our own label in Britain and then we signed to RCA and we signed at a time when the record companies were throwing a lot of money around.
We could afford better studios and we spent a lot more than we did on the previous record. It took the pressure off, having an unlimited budget.
Now that the album is old enough for kids who were conceived while it was playing to actually come see your shows, what sort of crowds are you expecting?
I’ll be interested to see.We do get young people coming.
> The Wedding Present
April 11, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St. (betw. Chrystie St. & Bowery), 212-533-2111; 8, $17.