Tag Archives: Charles Layton

England

Instrumentals are strange beasts and I have a confession to make that I’m not normally a fan of the form. Lyrics are the anchor that attach me to a song and without them I am washed away. But age and experience have given me the wisdom to realise that I am at fault. There are songs that have no singing and these are just as worthy as those ditties that are full up with words.

I consider myself both English and also British and I am both proud of it and uncomfortable. They are different tributaries of a river that sometimes I don’t want to traverse. As every historical proudness competes with despicable sadness and horror of what our forebears did. And in the shadow of the present there are those that seek to echo the awful, imperialist past.

So if we must have a flag then let it be a flag that everyone can stand beneath. If our nation’s teams must battle then let it be a battle where defeat is just a loss of goals. Every country is worthy and every country should be a piece of the world’s jigsaw. We should be part of the together because being alone forever is just a sign that your country didn’t work.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

When it comes to instrumentals, are these songs you have never been able to ‘finish’ with lyrics or do they start as lyric-free?

DLG: No, they’ve always been instrumentals from the outset. I approach the writing in a different way. I feel that the lyric and vocal melody are typically a listener’s primary focus in a song and if they’re not present I think you have to have enough ‘other’ things in there to maintain interest. Having said that, I’ve heard instrumental versions of Wedding Present and, even more so, Cinerama songs and they work perfectly well without the vocal… so what do I know?!

How do you know Simon Armitage who narrates the poem at that start of the track and gets a co-credit?

DLG: I’d been aware of Simon’s work for a long time – hearing him on the radio and stuff – but I don’t think I actually met him until he interviewed me for his book ‘Gig : The Life And Times Of A Rock-Star Fantasist’ which came out in 2008. He interviewed me in the dressing room of the Picturedrome venue in Holmfirth, which is near where he lives, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He’s a lovely bloke.

When we were writing ‘England’ I decided that I wanted some form of narration on there but it was actually Jessica who suggested Simon. I asked him if he’d be interested and, by an amazing coincidence, he told me about his poem ‘The English’ which fits perfectly! It’s brilliant when things fall into place like that…

What do you define as Englishness? Did you try and bring anything specifically ‘English’ to this song or did it just fit a mood?

DLG: I think the arrangement is sympathetic to the feeling of Simon’s poem… so, if the words represent ‘Englishness’, I guess the music does, too. I’m actually fascinated by how we define Englishness and how it relates to the rest of The United Kingdom, Europe, The Commonwealth, the U.S.A., etc. While the English haven’t always behaved in the most honourable way through the years I think the effect that this part of a small island has had on the world is undeniably remarkable. But to answer the question properly I would need to write an essay.

Patrick Alexander was back to record guitar on this track. Was this track formed from your mutual early work on Going, Going… or did you just want to work with him again? I love the urgent guitar work at, for example, 3:03-3:33.

DLG: ‘England’ is one of a tetralogy of tracks released as the ‘Home Internationals’ EP together with, somewhat inevitably, ‘Scotland’, ‘Wales’ and ‘Northern Ireland’. ‘Wales’ is one of my favourite moments of Going, Going… and so I decided that I wanted to use it as the starting point and inspiration for three other instrumentals. When we were writing Going, Going… Patrick churned out a seemingly endless supply of ideas and so, unsurprisingly, there were some guitar parts that were never used… and not because they weren’t good enough!

We know the people who run the Primavera Festival in Barcelona and so, when they invited us to release an E.P. on their label, I felt that the obvious thing to do was to pop up to Oxford, where Patrick works as a lecturer, and assemble some new tracks from those unused Going, Going… bits and pieces.

Official Lyrics

The English (poem by Simon Armitage)

They are a gentleman farmer, living on reduced means
A cricketer’s widow sowing a kitchen garden with sweet peas
A lighthouse-keeper counting aeroplanes

Old blackout curtains staunch the break of day
Regard the way they dwell; the harking back
How the women at home went soldiering on with pillows for husbands, fingers for sons

How man after man emerged at dawn from his house, in his socks
Then laced his boots on the step, locked up, then steadied himself to post a key back through a letterbox

The afternoon naps, the quaint hours they keep
But, since you ask them, that is how they sleep

Written and published by Gedge / Layton / Alexander / Wadey / Armitage. The publishing of Gedge / Layton / Alexander / Wadey is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music.

Studio Version:

1 – Home Internationals version [El Segell del Primavera  PS033EP] TIME: 5:22
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Patrick Alexander (guitar); Danielle Wadey (bass); Charlie Layton (drums); Simon Armitage (narration)
Released May 2017


Video:

A live video from June 2017 by Kirk (8Boing).

Live: 

The song debuted in 2017 and has had a fair few outings so far.

Two Bridges

I know I seem to say this about a lot of songs on this blog but this one means a lot to me. A few years back I befriended someone who would become very special. As fate would have it, they were also a huge fan of the works of Mr Gedge. When we first heard ‘Two Bridges’ live at the Scarborough and Brighton gigs in the summer of 2013, we were both blown away by the song’s power and intensity. It sounded like a blast from the past freshened up with a 21st century twist. To be able to equally enjoy a song and discuss it passionately alongside someone else was a truly magical feeling.

By the time the single was released later that year and when we saw them play it again in Leeds, we were a couple. When I’ve listened to it since (and I have done, regularly – when Going, Going… was released I played nothing else for weeks), it took me back to those joyful days of early romance. Even though the song is about breaking away from a relationship, it just makes me think of a new one bursting into life. The music helps with that feeling – everything about it feels full of positivism and newness.

Structurally, the song is interesting – bursting along at pace, rattling through two verses and two choruses then, halfway through, it changes direction and starting slowly at first, the piece builds and grows, adding instruments as it climbs and soars all the way through to a breathless finish.

Bridges can be for jumping off of or for taking you from one place to another. This song, thankfully, is about the latter.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

Two Bridges is an area of Manhattan based in sight of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. Any particular emotional resonance of that place? The main thing I think of with Brooklyn Bridge is that it’s where Gwen Stacy was killed by the Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man 121/122.

DLG: Ha, ha… trust you to spot that one! Well, you know more than most how comic book culture in general and the Spider-Man stories in particular have been inspirational to me throughout the years! I remember Keith Gregory telling me how shocked and upset he was by that particular watershed story…

The song lyrics are about a person being at a crossroads and taking a chance. What are you like in those situations? Are you impulsive/reckless/a gambler or do you tend to take the safe option, steady with no risks?

DLG: I think I try to be the latter but am probably more like the former. Maybe with age I’ve become a bit less impulsive… I don’t know.

I’m intrigued by the hand claps. I remember the first time I saw it live and seeing the rest of the band doing the little hand clap routine. I couldn’t work out how whole-heartedly it was performed by them and I wasn’t sure how I felt as an audience member. But every single time afterwards that I’ve seen the song played, I can’t help myself but do the hand claps despite knowing I must look silly doing it.

DLG: Ha, ha. Blame Patrick Alexander for that one; I’m pretty sure it was his idea. But it feels like an integral part of the song to me now and I like the playful quirkiness of it. The band were whole-heartedly behind it, yes.

How big was the involvement of co-writers Charlie Layton and Patrick Alexander on this song? They co-wrote a lot of the songs on Going, Going… – how did that that partnership work?

DLG: For those songs Patrick turned up at the rehearsal studio with ideas for guitar parts and a basic notion of how they would fit together and the rest of us would attempt to play along. I say ‘attempt’ because Patrick’s ideas often come from a different world! They’re often, initially, at least, hard to get your head round. That being said I think he came up with some dazzling ideas which both referenced The Wedding Present’s history at the same time as taking us to another place.

Then, as usual, I took those rehearsal room recordings home and did further work on them… adding my parts and thinking about the arrangements and instrumentation.

You re-recorded the song from the single in 2013 to the album version in 2016. What were the reasons for that and what are the main differences? The single sounds a lot rougher and more visceral to my ears.

DLG: We’d played that song live extensively and just felt that we might as well re-record it when we did the first batch of album tracks in Provence in October, 2014. We were playing it so much more confidently by that point, I think… I’d certainly gotten a better hold of the vocal part by then, for example. In addition we were able to take advantage of the huge sounds created by Andrew Scheps in Studios La Fabrique’s cavernous live room. Andrew wasn’t involved with the 2013 single. The drums sound enormous on the second version. I know what you mean though; the first version holds up well and does have a certain feel to it. It was recorded a lot quicker and probably has a ‘live’ or ‘Peel Session’ type of energy to it because of that.

This was first played live back in May 2013 in Bristol. It seems like a good one to play live?

DLG: It’s a rocker, for sure! I have to really concentrate during the end section, though… lots of stressful counting and worrying about hitting overdrive pedals at the wrong time.

Back in 2013, I asked if we could cover the then new single ‘Two Bridges’ for the blog and you said you’d rather wait, as it was part one of something that you didn’t want to talk about. That was clearly what became Going, Going… Was there anything more than that that you wanted to talk about but couldn’t at the time?

DLG: No, it was simply because at that moment I’d just started to think about the concept of Going, Going… and I still had lots of ideas to formulate. I knew that ‘Two Bridges’ was going to play an introductory role in the eventual story but I wasn’t completely sure then what that role was going to be. It was the first Going, Going… song to be written and, in fact, the only Going, Going… song to be finished during 2013 so, at that time, I was still working out how the other tracks would complement it.

You’ve talked a lot about the concept album / road trip concept of Going, Going… but what exactly came first? Was it the songs? Was it the places you visited? Or did you do the whole trip and then look back in retrospect and piece together a concept from what you had experienced?

DLG: The project evolved over a period of time. As I say, ‘Two Bridges’ was written in 2013 and ‘Bear’ was finished in 2014. Most of the album’s other non-instrumental pieces were completed during late 2014 and 2015. But Jessica and I had made the trip during the summer of 2014 [during the 20th World Cup Finals, in fact!] so, yes, it’s safe to say that the journey informed the writing. At the outset I just had a list of twenty locations in twenty different American states that I wanted to visit. The names of those places ultimately became the titles of the tracks on the album, of course. So I had a rough idea of the concept before we embarked on the trip but there’s nothing like driving four and a half thousand miles across the USA to focus your thoughts.

Did the places suggest locations to film (there are watery themes to most of the films that accompany the songs)? You added GPS co-ordinates on the album sleeve so do they match closely to where you and Jessica did the films?

DLG: Yes, we wanted to capture a sense of the journey so we filmed at locations en route. We didn’t initially plan the ‘water’ theme. We just noticed that it was present in the first few films and we decided to incorporate it into all the others. There are various themes running throughout the album… the music, the lyrics, the videos… some came about by accident and some were planned. But the GPS co-ordinates refer to the track titles rather than the film locations.

Going, Going… info:

Track: Five
Journey: 142 miles further South than ‘Sprague’ brings us to the famous city of New York and within it, Manhattan (title of another Gedge song of course).
Place: Two Bridges, Manhattan, New York City
GPS: 41°38’N 72°5’W
Wiki

Official Lyrics:

Of course you’ll scoff but since you’re ‘phone’s switched off
I’m going to call and leave a message now
I’m going to try and explain, somehow, what I’m hoping to achieve
And it’s a coward’s way and I know I may come to regret this bit
But it’s guaranteed that, darling, you’ll succeed in talking me out of it

Because it’s not easy to explain without sounding a little bit insane
I’m in-between two bridges that aren’t so far apart
Where am I going? I don’t care
It’s better than not going anywhere
I’m in-between two bridges and this is where I start

It’s not that I never cared; it’s just that I’m really scared of where my life is going
I did love you and maybe I still do
But there is no way of knowing just what I might achieve  if I don’t ever leave
If I don’t push myself
I know exactly what you will be thinking of but there is nobody else

And, yeah, I’ve mentioned it before, I just can’t think straight anymore
I’m in-between two bridges and it’s breaking my heart
I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m just trying to make it work
I’m in-between two bridges and this is where we start

Written and published by Gedge, Alexander & Layton, whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music.

Studio Versions:

1 – Single version [7″ only, Scopitones  TONE 053] TIME: 4:17
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Patrick Alexander (guitar); Katharine Wallinger (bass, backing vocals); Charlie Layton (drums)
Released 21/10/2013

2 – Going, Going… album version [Scopitones TONE 066] TIME: 3:58
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Patrick Alexander (guitar); Katharine Wallinger (bass, backing vocals); Charlie Layton (drums); Andrew Scheps (producer)
Recorded in 2014-15 but released 02/09/2016

Live Version:

1 – Two Bridges (Live in Gijón/Xixón)  TIME: 4:06
Available on Going, Going… [on the extra CD of the deluxe version TONE BP 066)
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Patrick Alexander (guitar); Katharine Wallinger (bass, backing vocals); Charlie Layton (drums)
Recorded live at Sala Acapulco, Gijón/Xixón, Spain on 07/10/2013. Mixed by Richard Jackson.

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Two Bridges (7″ single)

The single sleeve (by Dan Johnson) was partially inspired by The Hit Parade singles, with the suggestion that this was #13 (see the flag on the ship). This is because the single was released only on 7″, the same as The Hit Parade and because it was released during The Hit Parade 21st Anniversary Tour of 2013.

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Deer Caught in the Headlights

Like many other fans the first time I heard ‘Deer Caught in the Headlights’ was live on the Bizarro 21st Anniversary tour in 2010. There was a bootleg circulating amongst fans of The Wedding Present concert in Zagreb  and then the Bizarro: Live in Tokyo also came out, a full year ahead of the polished studio version on Valentina. Despite this, there was no feeling of over-familiarity when the latter was released. And as with the rest of Valentina, we also gratefully a Cinerama version with the Vegas levels turned up to 10.

On the original version, well, what a sum of varying sounds: that glorious roaring start; the frantic pace of the verses mixed with the slower chorus and the plaintive quiet ‘painter’ section; the noisy outro before the vignette at the end with the mournful organ*. The lyrics tell an uncomplicated tale of pure unadulterated love. No cynicism here, just a man who can’t get over how lucky he is to have someone with him who is so dear to his heart.

*FUN FACT: This vignette was always intended for this song  –  it features the same chords, just played slightly differently.

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

I am curious about the title as you had to slightly alter the lyric to make it. Was the imagery of the deer so strong that the title was never going to be anything else?

DLG: I don’t think there any rules saying that the title has to be extracted word-for-word from the lyric, are there?! In this case I think ‘Deer Caught In The Headlights’ works well because it’s adapted from a well-known idiom but then in the actual lyric I personalised the imagery to illustrate how the narrator actually feels and to make it flow in the song better.

How much of the song was written by Terry de Castro? Was it the main guitar riffs or more than that?

DLG: Terry thought of the main guitar riffs that Graeme Ramsay played on the original Wedding Present version of Valentina, yes… and she also came up with her own bass line and vocal parts, of course, as she usually did. I remember that when we started working with her riffs it sounded quite poppy but it changed once we’d sorted out the bass and drums. Terry says ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ by The Rolling Stones inspired her while we were working on the rhythm section parts. It’s odd, though, how what started out being quite a mellow song became one of the loudest, most intense Wedding Present tracks ever!

“Ingenuousness” is such a great word to rhyme with “dress”. I’m betting no other pop song has ever had that word in it before but have you ever used it in a real life conversation?

DLG: Probably not! Ironically, I suppose we’re much more likely to use the opposite in real life conversation, as in “you’re being very disingenuous!”

A version was released on the Bizarro: Live In Tokyo album before it came out on Valentina. Presumably you don’t have any preciousness over that sort of thing? Over having new songs out ‘there’ before they are perfectly honed in the studio?

DLG: I don’t think a song is ever really ‘finished’… but, usually, if we’re playing it at concerts we’re, by and large, happy with the existing arrangement and excited about playing it live. And that’s especially the case with this one as Graeme points out in the Valentina : The Story Of A Wedding Present Album book. “This quickly became the best Wedding Present song to play live. Without fail, any gig not going well could be redeemed from the monster instrumental section onwards.” – Graeme Ramsay [drums; The Wedding Present, 2006-2009, guitar; The Wedding Present, 2009-2011].

Do you prefer The Wedding Present or Cinerama version?

DLG: Ha, ha… how could I possibly answer that? Chalk and cheese, my friend. I love Terry’s singing on the Cinerama version, though.

Anything you’d change?

DLG: I did change something. As you can hear on the recording for the Live In Tokyo album that you mention, I used to sing: “If I was a painter, I’d just paint portraits of you” in the quiet bit. Until someone pointed out that it was grammatically incorrect!

Comments from the Valentina book [TONE 043]:

Terry de Castro: This one started as a jaunty (bordering on twee) little riff. It reminded me of ‘Holly Jolly Hollywood’, in that the chorus sounded….festive. We kept singing, “Merry-Christmastime…” in the breakdown. Oh, we had a laugh. But it turned into something altogether more aggressive and perhaps this happened in order to counteract the ‘Christmas’ in it. Or maybe it just happened naturally. It’s an aspect of the process I’ve always enjoyed, how some songs arrive fully formed and others shift around and become something that hardly resembles what they start as.

Charles Layton: I remember we weren’t too keen on this song until we arrived in America for the Bizarro Tour rehearsals. Then we looked at it again and decided on the verse pattern with the bass and drums. When it locked in, it changed the whole feel of the song. Then, as we began to play it live, it really came together and started going down really well with the crowds. The noisy part at the end was originally a third shorter, but it sounded so good we thought we could extend it so that David and Graeme could kick in with another pedal to go “one louder”!

Andrew Scheps: This is definitely one of my favourites. I wouldn’t mind if it was twice as long. I loved it from the first time I heard it on rehearsals; it got me really excited to mix the record.

David Gedge: The clattering sound in the quiet end section reprise thing is me, falling over one of those standing ashtray things, as I was trying to film Graeme playing the organ outside in the studio courtyard.

Official Lyrics:

You won’t give it a thought and that’s neither wrong nor right
But I’m the deer that’s caught in your headlight
And how can it be that just one glance is enough to petrify me?
How do you do that stuff?

Because as soon as you look my way, that’s when I totally freeze
And it’s at moments like these that I can’t think of a single thing to say
Except for, well, maybe: “You’re just too pretty for me”

You wear a stunning dress and then say: “What, this old thing?!”
And the ingenuousness is just so captivating

And as soon as you look my way, that’s when I totally freeze
And it’s at moments like these that I can’t think of a single thing to say
Except for, well, maybe: “You’re just too pretty for me”

And if I were a painter I’d just paint portraits of you
You’d be in everything I do

Song written by David Gedge and Terry de Castro. All publishing administered by Fintage Music International outside of the United Kingdom and Eire.

Studio Version:

1 – Valentina (by The Wedding Present) version released 19/03/2012 (Scopitones [TONE 037]) TIME: 5:25

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Graeme Ramsay (guitar); Pepe Le Moko (bass and backing vocals); Charles Layton (drums and percussion); Andrew Scheps etc (producer)

(Recorded in the Summer and Autumn of 2011 at Black Box Studios, France; vocals recorded at The Laundry Room, California, USA)

2 – Valentina (by Cinerama) version released 18/05/2015 (Scopitones [TONE 052]) TIME: 3:50

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals); Alvaro Escudero (electric guitar); David Casillas (bass); Terry De Castro (backing vocals); Fernando Arias (drums); Jose Ramon Feito (piano and other keys); Miguel Herrero (trumpet); Antonio Gomez (trombone); Tino Cuesta (saxophone); Elena Miro (cello); Ricardo Fernandez (viola); Jorge Diaz & Elisa Martinez (violins); Pedro Vigil (producer)

(Group recorded in July 2013 and July 2014 in Acme Studios and Teisco Studios in Asturias, Spain; vocals recorded January 2014 in Laundry Room Studios, California, USA; mixed in Andalucia, Spain in July 2014 )

Live Version:

1 –  Bizarro – Live in Tokyo 2010 released 16/02/2011 (& Records of Tokyo [YOUTH 114]) TIME: 5:23

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Graeme Ramsay (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass and backing vocals); Charles Layton (drums); Migi (live mix)

(Recorded on 07/05/2010 at O-West, Tokyo, Japan)

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Live:

‘Deer…’ was first played live on 01/04/2010 at the Casbah, San Diego, USA. It was played throughout the American tour and festival season until September that year. It returned to the set for a while in 2011 before becoming a mainstay of the set in 2012/3 where it sometimes ended the set. After an absence during 2014, it was back in 2015.  As of July 2016 it has been played  151 times with the last time being 21/05/2016 in Wolverhampton.

Videos:

[Special thanks to Tracy Hopkinson]