DAVID GEDGE, THE FOUNDING MEMBER OF LEGENDARY INDIE NOISEMAKERS THE WEDDING PRESENT, IS ABOUT TO ISSUE A NEW ALBUM BY HIS ‘OTHER’ PROJECT CINERAMA. THE SONGS ON VALENTINA ARE FAMILIAR – THIS NEW RELEASE IS A REWORKING OF THE WEDDING PRESENT’S 2012 ALBUM.
Always a man looking to find an unusual angle for what he’s doing, Gedge has overseen some interesting projects in the past. The Wedding Present released an album of Ukranian songs in 1989, issued twelve UK-charting (record breaking) 7″ HIT PARADE singles in 1992, issued a Mini-themed album in 1996 and a series of foreign-language EPs in the last couple of years.
For VALENTINA, Gedge had long been harbouring a dream – to record one version of an album as The Wedding Present and another (with reworked songs) as Cinerama. The initial plan was to release both versions simultaneously but it was soon realised that this project would take years to accomplish, to allow time to complete the complex Cinerama arrangements. From the first blast of horns to the last twinkle of piano keys, Cinerama’s version of VALENTINA sparkles. In this new interview with The Mouth Magazine, Gedge discusses the Cinerama version of VALENTINA, which is released on 18th May…
THE NEW CINERAMA ALBUM IS A FAMILIAR SET OF SONGS… IT’S AN INTERESTING CONCEPT – RECORDING THE SAME MATERIAL IN TWO VASTLY DIFFERENT STYLES. TRITE QUESTION, PERHAPS, BUT OTHER THAN YOUR INSTINCT TO COME UP WITH THESE KIND OF CURIOS (THE HIT PARADE SINGLES IN 1992, THE MINI ALBUM IN 1996 AND SO ON), WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION?
That was the inspiration. I’ve never wanted to be an album / tour / another album / another tour type of artist and so I’m continually trying to think up thought-provoking and challenging projects. As you say… this is just the latest in the series that includes the Ukrainian mini-album, the HIT PARADE series, MINI, the foreign language EPs, even my The Wedding Present comic!
WHAT MADE YOU SURE IT WAS THIS PARTICULAR SET OF SONGS THAT WOULD STAND FOR THIS TREATMENT BETTER THAN, SAY, THE STUFF ON 2005’S TAKE FOUNTAIN? I’M PRETTY SURE I CAN HEAR A FANTASTIC CINERAMA VERSION OF RINGWAY TO SEATAC IN MY HEAD, FOR INSTANCE…
My original idea… three or four years ago, now… was to develop and release a set of songs simultaneously as both Cinerama and The Wedding Present – and the songs that eventually became VALENTINA just happened to be the ‘next’ set of songs. That was the extent of my planning! Obviously the LPs didn’t come out simultaneously, though… That was a bit over-ambitious on my part!
YOU’RE DEAD ON THE WEDDING PRESENT’S VERSION OF VALENTINA BEGINS WITH THIS ROLLING TOM-TOM PATTERN WHICH FEELS ABSOLUTELY INTEGRAL TO THE MOOD OF THE SONG… AND THAT’S ACTUALLY ABSENT ON THE CINERAMA VERSION, WHICH HAS MUCH MORE ‘AIR’ ABOUT IT. I MENTION THIS TO HIGHLIGHT THE DIFFERENCES IN THE ARRANGEMENTS… WERE THERE MUSICAL THINGS THAT IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO ‘LET GO OF’, OR WAS THERE ALWAYS A FRESH CANVAS?
I think I would’ve found it difficult to ‘let go’ of certain aspects of The Wedding Present arrangements, yes… So my solution was to collaborate with a friend of mine called Pedro Vigil. Together we took the view that these new Cinerama arrangements should be a) entirely different from The Wedding Present versions and b) different from arrangements on previous Cinerama albums. I gave Pedro a lot of freedom to get the ball rolling and, as you say, the resulting album is like nothing I’ve ever done before!
IN TERMS OF TIMELINE, THIS PROJECT HAS BEEN QUITE A WHILE IN THE MAKING… IT’S OBVIOUSLY BEEN A LABOUR OF LOVE GETTING FROM THE ORIGINAL IDEA TO THE FINISHED RELEASE?
Well… I’m very meticulous. I’m probably over-meticulous, really… but I want anything that’s ever released bearing my name to be as good as it possibly can be… And that will often take a lot of time!
WHO WERE THE OTHER PERSONNEL INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT, AND TO WHAT DEGREE DID THEIR PRESENCE HAVE AN INFLUENCE?
Well… I’ve already mentioned Pedro. The other people I used were pretty much all introduced to me by him and, again, that’s because I was trying to avoid using people who were involved with The Wedding Present’s version of VALENTINA. I wanted as few connections between the two albums as possible. So apart from the long-time Cinerama vocalist Terry de Castro and myself all the other contributors were Pedro’s friends!
CINERAMA BEGAN IN 1996, OR THEREABOUTS… SHORTLY AFTER THE WEDDING PRESENT ISSUED SATURNALIA (WHICH IS, I THINK, AN UNDERRATED ALBUM). THERE WERE SMALL SEEDS ON SATURNALIA, AND ON SOMETHING LIKE LOVE MACHINE FROM MINI, BUT THE FIRST CINERAMA ALBUM VA VA VOOM (IN 1998) WAS A SURPRISE – A RADICAL DEPARTURE. WERE YOU ‘KICKING AGAINST’ THE PLACE THE WEDDING PRESENT OCCUPIED IN MUSIC? WAS IT A NEED IN YOU TO ‘FIGHT BACK’ AGAINST PERCEPTION AS A ‘POP STAR’ OR TO ‘FLEX MUSCLES’ AS A SONGWRITER ..?
I had a desire to make an album that sounded totally different to The Wedding Present and so I started exploring some of my other influences… by which I mean classic pop music, film soundtracks… stuff that hadn’t overly influenced The Wedding Present, really. And, with only having myself to please on VA VA VOOM I was able to immerse myself in a completely different sound and style… and I found that very liberating…
CINERAMA GRADUALLY BEGAN TO DRIFT TOWARDS THE WEDDING PRESENT’S SOUND – MORE ANGULAR AND MORE GUITARS. BY THE TIME OF TORINO (CINERAMA’S 2002 ALBUM) YOU WERE IN ROUGHLY SIMILAR SONIC TERRITORY TO SATURNALIA. WAS THAT A NATURAL THING, OR DID YOU PURPOSELY MOVE IN A HARDER DIRECTION?
It was totally natural, yeah. I think the orchestral Cinerama backdrop is an ideal setting for the traditional The Wedding Present guitar sound… but it was just that I was initially trying to get away from using that guitar sound for a while. I didn’t want Cinerama to be ‘The Wedding Present with strings’! As Cinerama progressed, though, I wrote more and more songs with Simon Cleave – who was The Wedding Present’s guitarist at the time – and his influence grew over the years, too.
YOU PERFORMED WITH THE BBC BIG BAND A FEW YEARS AGO… HOW DOES THE EXPERIENCE OF PLAYING THIS KIND OF STUFF LIVE DIFFER FOR YOU? DO YOU PREFER BEING SUITED-AND-BOOTED ‘DAVID GEDGE, LOUNGE SINGER’ OR T-SHIRTED ‘DAVID GEDGE, FRONTMAN OF SEMI-LEGENDARY NOISEMAKERS THE WEDDING PRESENT’..?
They’re like chalk and cheese, really. I can’t say I prefer one to the other! I just feel fortunate I’ve been able to have done both.
EVER TEMPTED TO VEER OFF INTO SHATNERESQUE SPOKEN WORD LOUNGE STUFF? YOUR CONVERSATIONAL LYRICS MIGHT LEND THEMSELVES WELL TO IT… I’D LOVE TO HEAR WILLIAM SHATNER DO A VERSION OF ANYONE CAN MAKE A MISTAKE, WOULDN’T YOU?
Ha ha… I would! There have been a couple of lines over the years which have sounded more fitting as spoken word… But, no. I suppose it’s not a style that I personally feel I’d like to use on a larger scale…
THERE’S A ONE-OFF GIG WITH A TWELVE-PIECE ORCHESTRA IN LONDON IN JUNE… BUT WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR CINERAMA (AND, OF COURSE, FOR THE WEDDING PRESENT) AFTER THE VALENTINA PROJECT?
2015 is kind of becoming the year of Cinerama’s ‘return’! As well as the VALENTINA album we recently released a new compilation called SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD and even the third Cinerama album, TORINO, has finally got a release on vinyl. We’re also playing at the PRIMAVERA SOUND festival in Barcelona and at INDIETRACKS here in England. And quite a few other shows including Norwich and Manchester. And, of course, at my own festival – AT THE EDGE OF THE SEA – in Brighton, at which Cinerama plays every year…