With the release of the band’s new album Going, Going… I’m curious to find out how the process and experience of creating it compares to previous albums?
The simple answer that is every record is different, but this one especially so: I didn’t want to create another album which was just a collection of songs, I wanted there to be some sort of theme to it. I hate saying it sounds of a concept LP because when you say “concept LP” people assume progressive rock or Rick Wakeman; but if I’m honest it is a bit of a concept because it is based on this road trip I took around the USA from Maine to California – coast to coast – where we went through twenty states. So, I kind of based on that which I thought of “ok, we can do twenty pieces of music” – although not all necessarily songs as there are some with no lyrics, but each of the titles are based on a location and then we did filming and photographs and the whole thing evolved from that. The lyrics came separately but they all linked in a way to form a story. I had never done a method like that before, so it was all new to me. I had no idea what it’d end up like, to be honest with you, it’s taken a long time as it’s been four years since the last LP. Three of those years were spent on this project. I’m very happy with it; it’s got a certain mood to it and feel to it that I didn’t plan; it all started with this idea I had and ultimately fell into place.
Being together for three decades, which decade has meant the most to you with the band? Either out of enjoyment or sentiment?
I think enjoyment is a strange word as it’s not done for fun. But if I had to say the decade that meant the most to me, it’d probably be the first year because I’d always planned on doing this since I was about five: I wanted to be something in music whereas that was in a band, a DJ or a music writer. I’ve always been obsessed with pop music and pop culture, and I suppose films, comics and stuff. I had been working towards it for a while; I’d say the band started in 85, but I feel it started before then as I had been in different groups. There was the band The Lost Pandas which we actually went with. In the mid 80s when I finally started releasing records and we started getting reviews and recognition, the fulfilment started there. It was always exciting getting off the initial concert anywhere: whether that be in France, Germany, America or Japan. I would say it meant more in those days (because of the idea of fulfilling my young ambition) but that doesn’t at all mean I’m any less driven now than I was 30 years ago; I was very driven to do Going, Going…
Albeit with a large amount of formation changes throughout the many years of being together, what has kept The Wedding Present together?
I think the main thing that has kept it was my obsession really; my slight mental illness about it. I started years ago wanting to have a group, and then I eventually found The Wedding Present, and it has been a driving force ever since. We’ve had a few different line-ups, and it’s definitely contributed to the band; everybody comes in with different visions, different ideas and it’d be stupid not to absorb that in a way because it often pushes me in a different direction which is really good. It also takes the band in different places which are really good – I almost feel as though I’ve been in four different bands.
I’ve noticed that during your tour, you’ve played a couple of gigs on boats… How’re they? Difficult? Atmospheric? Restrictive?
They can be quite difficult actually as you’re limited. The last one we did was in Paris was actually quite a big boat, so that was almost like a normal venue – you didn’t realise you were on a boat. Although the last two, one was in Bordeaux and the other was in Lyon and they were more difficult, the Lyon one was especially as the stage was quite narrow and I’m not sure the sound was great, but people seemed to love it. I think there’s one in Bristol isn’t there, called Thekla? I’ve never played there, but it was quite of like that.
Is your dog Doris here with you today?
Yeah, she’s in the next room.
Really? Do you take her on every tour?
We do now, yeah. I mean I’ve always had dogs, and it’s always been a problem in a group because if you’re going away travelling the world you’ve always left the dog with other people. It’s not nice because A, you’re imposing on the other people and B, the dogs like “oh hey, why are you leaving me?”. Whereas Doris, who’s a cross between a Yorkshire Terrier and Bichon Frise, has been to North America with us and Europe and has kept well.
2016 has been a tragic year overall with world affairs and the loss of many musicians. Which, for you, has been the biggest loss?
They seem to be dropping like flies recently. I was really surprised with Lemmy from Motörhead although I was particularly sad when Lou Reed died actually, although it was a few years back. I was always a fan of The Velvet Underground because I didn’t really like pop lyrics in general; I found them a bit banal, too metaphorical or too poetic. I think with Lou Reed’s style, I really locked into it as it’s very conversational and with the guitars, I thought it was perfect for what they did. That was probably the one that meant the most to me.
My final question is: what is your future vision for the band? Do you have any concepts lined up or anything planned after the tour?
I try not to plan too much, to be honest, because I think that planning is for architects and teachers. I think the beauty of what I do is that when I have an idea I just go into the next room where I can be spontaneous with it. There are a few things: one thing is that we’ve got a festival we’ve got in Barcelona called Primavera Sound – it’s my favourite festival – where we’ve played there about five times in the last seven years. They’ve recently started a label and have invited The Wedding Present to be one of the bands on there. I was also really pleased with the instrumental tracks on Going, Going… and I’ve been thinking about doing an instrumental record as we’ve never done anything like that before. Taking the ball from Going, Going… and going forward with it. Another thing is it’s the 30th anniversary of George Best next year, and we’ve had a few people asking about doing something with that, so it looks like we’ll be playing that live again next year.