Johnathan Cilia September 29, 2017
As The Music Industry Changed, The Wedding Present Remained True
The music industry rises and falls with trends, and no-one knows this more than David Gedge, sole remaining founding member and singer of The Wedding Present. Having formed his band in 1985 in Leeds, England, he has rode the waves of indie stardom for over three decades, and will soon be playing his very first Maltese concert this weekend at the Nil By Mouth Sessions.
But right now, he’s just excited to be coming to Malta from Spain where they are finishing off their European tour of their 2016 release Going Going.
“I’m really looking forward to it because it’s our first ever concert in Malta, so that’s going to be quite interesting,” David says happily, “and secondly I had been to Malta once years ago. When I was there it was quite old fashioned and quaint but I’ve heard that the area has become fashionable. I’m sure it’s good for the economy of Malta though!”
Economics aside, David is well placed to have seen the change in Malta, and Europe in general, over the last 32 years. He laughs at how 30 years ago they had just released their new album George Best on the latest technological advance: the CD.
Now, CDs are practically a dead format.
But with technological advances comes new opportunities – like social media, which can sometimes be a double-edged sword. For David Gedge, it sure is interesting.
“Well, the interacting with fans certainly is,” he says. “After concerts I’ve always been very interested and happy to speak to fans, it’s always nice to meet people and know what they thinks. But sometimes they won’t always be positive, and they’ll say “oh you know I didn’t like the new album” and Facebook has sort of taken that to the international field now.”
“In the early days it was people just writing letters or speaking at concerts, now people go on Twitter and have a whole conversation. But I think it’s really interesting, I do enjoy it, and it is useful – and sometimes if there’s something we need to deal with in the group we can just ask people on Twitter for help!”
It’s not only the interaction with fans that has changed, but the industry in and of itself.
“The main thing is there is less income,” says Dave straightforwardly. “When we started there was a whole lot of record labels and major record labels, and a lot of those have disappeared now, and in the case of the majors they’ve either gotten smaller or joined up, there’s only like three major record labels in the world anymore, because there’s less income through sales of recordings. When we used to make records in the 80s and 90s our tour would be to promote a record and that’s where the income comes from, and now it’s the opposite way, you sort of make a record, hope not to lose a lot of money, and go out on tour to make the money.”
“At the same time it’s a lot easier to make songs, there’s technology to record or write songs on your computer, co-write with people on the other side of the world or Skype people. Even going on tour is easier nowadays with mobiles and GPS – when we started touring there was not of that really, there was a map, and trying to find a phone box and hoping you have enough coins to make the call so yeah it’s all changed.”
Tastes are changing too. I ask David if he thinks more young musicians are getting into electronic music as opposed to rock music.
“Not really no, I do meet a lot of young people who are into Black Sabbath, but that’s the point really, musicians just sort of copying what came before and evolving it in someway.” he says.
David laments what he sees as the loss of originality in music nowadays, reminiscing about the days when Sonic Youth or the Pixies were tearing the rule books up. “When punk rock showed up in the ‘70s it was so radically different from everything, even culturally, from what came before that the music was seen as quite extreme. But just the notion of how it changed society is quite interesting I think, even now with dance music you kind of have that as well, but I don’t really see a scene like that nowadays.”
He pauses, then continues. “I do see some interesting ideas, but it’s usually in the way the way the music is recorded or promoted or produced, or distributed. But in the bands themselves I don’t really see anything new anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think rock is dead, but oftentimes it’s just not quite as challenging anymore somehow,” says David with a wink.
With all this said, The Wedding Present has been on tour non-stop since September 2016, so clearly rock is not dead around these here parts, and David and the gang are keen for the Maltese crowd after hearing about the quality of the scene here.
On the 30 year anniversary of the release of one of their more frenetic and energetic albums, George Best, it seems like The Wedding Present are just as fiery as ever. Their concert this weekend will channel this sustained radicalism while also showcasing the synergy that forms from over 32 years in the industry, riding waves and trends while staying true to your colours.
The Wedding Present will be performing at the Nil by Mouth Sessions this Sunday 30th September at The Dome, San Gwann. Tickets are available here .