Interview with David Gedge
by Alexander Laurence
is a solo project formed by The Wedding Present's David
Gedge. Their debut long player VA VA VOOM was released
in 1998 to universal critical acclaim. Following the initial
success and the limitations placed on them by restrictive
record contracts, Cinerama decided to set up their own label,
Scopitones. In 2000, Gedge went on to release some singles
and a follow-up long-player: DISCO VOLANTE.
For their second album, David renewed an old friendship
when the band flew to the United States to record with producer
Steve Albini. Albini worked with David in 1991, when The
Wedding Present recorded their highly praised Seamonsters
album. This time, however, the chosen location was Albini's
own custom built studio in Chicago. Although, quite different,
the third album was another collaboration with Albini. The
finished product is TORINO. It is a harder-edged
record. Cinerama are currently on their longest tour of
the USA that will last five weeks, mostly during October
2002. David lives in Leeds. I was able to talk to him before
one of the first gigs of the tour.
AL: You did much orchestration on these last two Cinerama
albums. Did you do that a lot before with The Wedding Present?
David: Absolutely none. That was the main reason I wanted
to start Cinerama. I didn't think it was fair to the people
in The Wedding Present to say suddenly that I wanted a string
section. So I had to go solo. That was five years ago. Now
it's become a proper band of its own.
AL: You did the first Cinerama record with Cooked Vinyl?
David. I didn't like them. Cooked Vinyl is a weird label.
The people who run the label don't have an interest in music.
They are just interested in selling records. They signed
a lot of established bands who have a huge fanbase like
The Wedding Present. Then they just sell records to those
people. When Cinerama came along, I thought it was going
to be a departure and an entirely new thing. They just try
to interest Wedding Present fans. I hoped that they would
do something with more imagination. So I just got frustrated
really. I parted company with them, and then spoke to a
few other labels, and just decided to do it myself.
AL: Are you a fan of the Scopitones films of the 1960s?
They were like video jukeboxes and the real first MTV.
David: Yeah, that's where I nicked the name. They are great.
It's a great story how they happened. They came to America
and then a few years later they were gone because TV came
along, much like cinerama. Cinerama was a three-screen thing.
The Cinerama Dome in Hollywood is not an actual cinerama.
There are only two left that actually exist. One's in Ohio,
and one's in Yorkshire where I live. I always thought it
was a cool name for a band.
You have done a few albums with Steve Albini. Many of us
in America think of him doing some harder edged stuff like
Big Black and Shellac.
David: That's what he's known for. He's just my favorite
engineer in the world. He does bring a harder edge. But
this album really needed it. The first Cinerama record is
a good pop record but in retrospect it does sound light.
I need some edge and darkness. The records with Albini just
sound more powerful. Cinerama has evolved in that direction
with the songwriting.
AL: These songs on Torino sound like chapters in an ongoing
David: That's just the way that I do it. There's no real
plan. The way I write is very honest and it's based on relationships.
It's related to film. It's all about relationships: how
they do it, why they do it, especially in times of emotional
stress, like the beginning or an end of a relationship.
I tried to write about other things but I have never been
happy with the results. Sometimes I feel that I am limiting
myself to this one subject, but it's such a massive subject.
All my favorite music has always been love songs and about
AL: Do you read poetry?
David: I don't think that my stuff is very poetic. My stuff
is more like a dialogue. I have always shunned poetry, metaphor
and imagery. I am in favor of straight-forward speaking.
Speaking the way people speak to each other. Anything else
is pretentious and unsatisfactory.
AL: We were talking about filmic music and soundtracks
before. Do you like things like John Barry and Serge Gainsbourg?
David: I have always loved that stuff. I couldn't do that
stuff in The Wedding Present, so that was the focus of this
new band, Cinerama. John Barry has changed my life. The
arrangements he did are absolutely fantastic. The compositions
are like a classical composer doing pop music. He has twangy
guitar in there. It's such dramatic and exciting music.
AL: Are the three records you have done as Cinerama a trilogy?
David: Maybe. I always felt that after I have made a record,
I should go back and make a different record. I hate those
bands who make a record and then a year later they make
the same record. Why bother? That's why I started Cinerama.
Torino sounds nothing like the other two: it's harder and
darker. The arrangements were slightly different. It was
the same thing in The Wedding Present.
AL: Are The Wedding Present going to reform and tour at
David: It's funny. Seamonsters and Bizarro, two of our
albums, were re-released a few years ago. They were remastered
and all that. The label said "Do you want to tour?"
And I thought well, yeah, maybe. We never split up. So I
called the other members of the band and they were looking
in the diaries and asking "How long is the tour going
to be?" There wasn't that excitement there to do it
again. I am more excited about Cinerama myself. I make more
money from The Wedding Present but money isn't everything.
When I got involved in the remastering those early records,
I got excited again myself, because I haven't heard those
records in years. So we ended up playing a few of them in
the Cinerama set. We are like a cover band. It's good because
you can cherry pick the songs because there are 150 Wedding
Present songs altogether.
AL: Simon Cleave was the guitarist in The Wedding Present.
He plays in Cinerama. What do some of the other members
David: The drummer is a tour manager now. He was the tour
manager of the Wedding Present as well, and when we stopped,
he went on to do that full-time. He works with Mogwai and
a few other bands. The bass player is a website designer
now. Like everyone else.
AL: You started The Wedding Present around 1995. Not many
bands from that time are still around intact.
David: Even in The Wedding Present members come and go.
They think "Yeah, I'll be in a band and travel the
world and play music." Then you do it and it's great
but you end up sitting in the van for twenty hours a day.
You are away from home six months a year. It's quite tiring
to travel around on a bus on a big tour. Those people do
it for a few years and they become bored. Others like myself
have stayed around.
AL: You have done ten quality albums over the years. Most
bands only do one or two good records and then they are
David: Success changes people doesn't it? I have met bands
when they have just started and they are enthusiastic about
writing songs and doing great music. You meet them a few
years later, after they have had a little success, and suddenly
they are different people. Then they do a record that is
just rubbish because they have spent too much time and too
AL: You never hung out at the Met Bar?
David: It's weird. Had I lived in London, I would have
probably been more successful. That's where the mover and
shakers are. But that's not me. I can't do that.
AL: Did you go to the Hacienda?
David: Yeah, because I lived in Manchester for a while.
It was just another nightclub really. I haven't seen that
movie 24 Hour Party People yet. I should go see it. People
have told me it is good.
AL: What do you think of Britpop? Did you have any contact
with those bands?
David: I like some of those groups. Blur supported The
Wedding Present a few times when they were just starting
out. It was before they got really big. It was a good time
in music. If nothing else it meant that radio would play
guitar music rather than that horrendous crap that they
usually play. It's gone downhill again recently. There were
a lot of good bands to come after The Wedding Present like
Blur, Pulp, and Oasis. We were sort of included in that.
I don't think we would have if we had come out later or
AL: What do you think of Suede?
David: I never liked them. I have never been a fan. It's
too affected for me.
AL: After Britpop, there was many boy bands and nu-metal.
But now there are guitar bands again like The Strokes and
The White Stripes.
David. The Strokes are great.
AL: What do you think of The Streets?
David: The Streets are rubbish. It's English hiphop. It's
really bad. It was nominated for the Mercury Prize. I just
don't get it.
AL: Were you ever nominated fro The Mercury Prize?
David: No, because we never entered it. I am don't like
the idea of competitions in pop music. Either I like a record
or I don't. The Mercury thing: you have to pay two hundred
pounds to enter into it. If you get shortlisted you have
to pay another two thousand pounds. It's just another bizarre
idea by the music industry. It's like a marketing ploy.
You pay us money and everyone puts "Mercury Music Nominated"
on the album.
AL: Do you read books?
David: No, I don't read books at all. I think life is too
short. Books were invented for Victorian times when there
was no TV and no films. People had long dark nights to read
all the time. That's fine. Now we have so much more to fill
our time. Film is the ultimate medium, and in a way film
has replaced books. When I was growing up I was much more
in comic books. It's not as respected in Britain as much
as it is in America. When I come to America I love pop culture
and comic books.
AL: Do you have any advice to young musicians?
David: Take Fountain. That was Mae West. That was the advice
she gave to all the aspiring starlets who came to Hollywood.
It's a road. Apparently it's a road with less traffic. I
might call the next record "Take Fountain."
AL: Are there any other bands that you like?
David: I like Broadcast. The Pixies are great. And I like
AL: Did Courtney Love
write letters to you?
David: No, but she actually slapped me across the face
once. It was at The Reading Festival. She was with a friend
of mine who is a writer. He said "David I want you
to meet Courtney Love." I was a massive Hole fan. She
said "You worked with Steve Albini." And then
she slapped me, but it wasn't serious. I think that she's
a bit out of her head really. It was strange to get slapped
by one of your heroes.