Any indie kid can instantly identify the trademark Wedding Present choppy guitars but main man David Gedge has a fascinating side line as Cinerema where he experiments with very different sounds.
He’s really gone for this time on Valentina which is a radical recording of the Weddoes album in the style of a louche Vegas cabaret singer.
“For quite a few years I’ve had this idea that as the two bands are quite different in style it would interesting to get a set of songs arranged and played as the Wedding Present, and then rearrange and record them as Cinerama.
“I originally thought it would be good to do it at the same time, but then I thought that was fraught with logistical and artistic problems. If you are working on one set of songs then that influences the other set so my plan was to do this one later as the other one came out in 2012. It’s the culmination of a daft plan I’ve had for a while.”
So why make an all-out pop album that might well piss off his loyal fans who have supported him since he founded the Wedding Present in 1985,
“If I’m honest that’s not the main reason I did it as I just wanted to do it and fancied doing something radically different. With fans it is a weird one as some really like it, and think it is a really interesting idea. Some will hate it, if I’m honest, as it’s not the Wedding Present and loud guitars.
“I loved the challenge of it and I’ve loved doing off on a tangent as I’ve never wanted to be one of those bands who wrote an LP, go on tour and carry on like that endlessly.
“We’ve always had these offshoot ideas like when we did the Ukrainian album, the 7 inch singles series and this is another one. It’s nice to try something that takes you out of your comfort zone and in a different direction.”
This version of Valentina is about as far away from the original album as you can get without doing thrash metal as Gedge has packed it full of pianos, brass and strings that wouldn’t be out of place on an album by Sir Tom Jones.
“Musically I’ve always been interested in that kind of music which is why I started Cinerama in the first place to experiment with a pop and filmic sound. I love the sounds that some records have, but the Wedding Present is your classic rock and roll guitar band, and this is your classic pop sound, film soundtrack, big band stuff and Elvis.”
Wisely Gedge recruited Spanish indie legend Pedro Vigil to get a fresh eye on the sound he was after before jetting off to Spain to finish the album off.
“One thing that put me off doing was if I rearranged it could I make it different as I would always be rooted in the Wedding Present arrangements which would influence it. So Pedro came with a completely clean palate so I said just do what you want.
“It’s been going on for a couple of years as he‘s been sending me demos and I’ve been like that, or I’m not quite sure on that one. Between us we have put it together, but as he comes from a different place as it doesn’t even sound like the other Cinerama albums.”
Shouting is out and proper singing is in much reminiscent of fellow White Rose crooner Tony Christine including a full on ballad Mystery Date.
“Your style adapts to the music and there is bit of Las Vegas in there, and Elvis Live in Hawaii, which influences the way you perform. A lot of people who heard it first said they prefer my singing as with the Wedding Present the singing isn’t the be all and end all.
“Half the time the singing is fighting against the loud guitars, which is part of the deliberate style of the band, whereas this is more pop where the vocals take more precedent.”
So there’s no danger of you becoming an indie Michael Buble?
“If I could make as much money as him I wouldn’t be moaning,” laughs Gedge.
But the acid test is whether long time Wedding Present champion John Peel would have got what Gedge was trying to do if he was still around.
“I’d like to think so, and I think he would take on board it is a stretch and not everybody is going to like it. When we did the Ukrainian stuff that was a Peel session, and he loved that because we didn’t even tell it was going to be folk music from Ukraine.
“We went in and recorded it and he thought it was our fourth or fifth session as usual, but he loved the fact we did something different.”
Gedge is clear that The Wedding Present remains his day job as they are already recording their next album, but Cinerama will take up most of the year with a greatest hits album out for Record Store Day and festival shows in the offing.
Valentina is out now on Scopitones.