Skin Diving

 

The mid-nineties were a time of flux for The Wedding Present but even though band members came and went, great songs continued to be written. Born in the same fire as the rocking tunes from Mini, came a few teasers from the next full-length album.

I remember seeing the band play at a record store in London where I heard this song for the first time. I recorded the ‘show’ on a massive camcorder and watching it back now, I remember the feeling that the new songs really stood out, full of energy and thrust.

It feels like a neglected gem these days, hidden away on what was the band’s swan song (or so we thought at the time). When I hear it live now, it still sounds as fresh as it did twenty years ago under the garish bright lighting of the Virgin megastore on Oxford Street.

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

I recall this song along with Snake Eyes being previewed live alongside the songs from Mini. Was it always planned to be on what became Saturnalia? I guess there’s no car theme for it to get onto Mini.

DLG: Yes, it was always destined to be on Saturnalia. It just happened to be one of the songs written following the release of Watusi, along with Snake Eyes, Dreamworld, Project Cenzo, Real Thing, Sucker, Jet Girl, Big Boots and the six Mini songs. Some of my favourite Wedding Present songs are actually in that list.

Any thoughts about the writing of this one, what the rest of the band contributed? It was written around that brief period you were a three-piece with Simon Smith and Darren Belk. By the time you recorded it, Jayne Lockey and Simon Cleave had joined and Darren had left. Jayne provided backing vocals, any other changes?

DLG: Of the dozen or so songs in that list above, Paul Dorrington [the guitarist on Watusi] contributed to only a few… Snake Eyes, Big Boots and Jet Girl. After that Darren moved from bass to guitar but wrote the bass lines for these songs as well as his guitar parts. I think that actually worked very well. The guitar lines are pretty simple and melodic but I think they’re written to work with the bass… so on Skin Diving, for instance, you get this big, driving, rocky sound.

To me, it sounds like the narrator is trying to get back with his ex and this liaison isn’t nearly as irrelevant as he’s making it out to be. He hopes it will lead to more and maybe even hopes the new boyfriend will find out. He doesn’t plan to disappear at all. Am I right?

DLG: I can see how you’d draw those conclusions as the song progresses, yes.

Likewise, the line “Oh, so then we both agree that this means you must be still a little bit in love with me”, is that arrogance or uncertainty? Who is he trying to convince, himself or her?

DLG: Ha, ha… I think that’s for you to decide!

The song title, one assumes, refers to the swimming mentioned in the lyrics but there is a ruder meaning to the phrase. Were you aware of that at the time?

DLG: I was most definitely not… but it does sort of work in the context, I guess!

As I write this, I saw you play this song last night. It still sounds fantastic. Do you enjoy playing it live? I think it’s one that gets a crowd going even if they don’t know it as well as others.

DLG: I think that’s because it just ‘rocks’… for the reason I gave above. It’s simple and effective. The current band always enjoys playing it.

Have you ever been skinny dipping?!

DLG: Yes! Very liberating!

Official Lyrics:

I know you said not to call
Well, so what?
I’ve lost you anyway
But, darling, that’s not all
I’ve got something else to say

Well, you pretend that I’m not here
So I guess you’re hardly pining
If you want, oh, I’ll disappear
But right now the sun is shining

So come on, just this one more time, then I’m gone
Well he can’t expect you to stay home
This is summertime
Besides which, he’d never suspect you

Sure, just take off your things
Because this is such a cool place to swim
We should go skin diving and just forget about him

So come on, just this one more time, then I’m gone
Well he can’t expect you to stay home
This is summertime
Besides which, he’d never suspect you

I’ll do it if you will
Oh, so then we both agree that this means you must be still a little bit in love with me

So come on, just this one more time, then I’m gone
Well he can’t expect you to stay home
This is summertime
Besides which, he’d never suspect you

Written by Gedge / Belk / Smith and published by Cooking Vinyl Publishing.

Studio Version:

1 – Saturnalia version released 24/09/1996 TIME: 3:11

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Jayne Lockey (bass and backing vocals); Simon Smith (drums); Cenzo Townsend (and The Wedding Present) (producers)

Live Versions:

1 – Detroit 1996 version as featured on Mini – Deluxe edition (EDSEL EDSJ9010) TIME: 3:00

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Darren Belk (guitar); Jayne Lockey (bass and backing vocals); Simon Smith (drums)

(Recorded at The Shelter, Detroit on 21/03/1996)

2 –  BBC Sound City 1996 version as featured on both Mini – Deluxe edition & Complete Peel Sessions  (BBC, CMXBX1447) TIME: 3:18

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Darren Belk (guitar); Jayne Lockey (bass and backing vocals); Simon Smith & Chris Cooper (drums);

(Recorded at The Metropolitan University, Leeds on 12/04/1996)

395153

Live:

First appeared around the time of Mini in early 1996 and was a feature in those final years. Sadly it’s only appeared rarely since the reformation in 2005 but it’s currently on the set lists again in 2016 thanks to the upcoming Saturnalia tour.

Videos:

No official video ever made so here’s a recent live performance from the Indie Daze festival on 03/10/2015.

Skin Diving at The Forum, London

[Special thanks to Dawn Bellamy & John Marshall]

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