Tag Archives: Simon Pearson

Wow

Cinerama had been around for a couple of years by the time that ‘Wow’ arrived. Just as some fans couldn’t take to the new band, Va Va Voom brought others that were new to the delights of David Gedge’s songs. Releases were coming thick and fast: four singles with fantastic b-sides, one album and a compilation of earlier singles and b-sides all came out in 2000.

‘Wow’ was a surprise to some of us at that time as it seemed like a return to the sound of previous years. Mixed in with the slinky orchestration of Cinerama, it was a heady mix. There was a new drummer in Simon Pearson whilst ex-The Wedding Present guitarist, Simon Cleave had been back in the fold for about a year and along with Terry DeCastro’s ever-excellent musicianship this was a band making some beautiful music.

‘Wow’ is kind of a perfect Gedge formula in many ways: Lust + Couplets + Roaring Guitars + Long Melodic Outro = Pop Genius. It’s been performed in many ways over the years from stripped down acoustic to full rock band to augmented orchestra and it never ever gets old. You want it to last forever. You compel it to stay. You are sure. OK?

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

I guess the big question about this song is, it came kind of in the middle of the Cinerama era but was the first clear sign that the Wedding Present ‘sound’ was ‘returning’. It was noisier and rockier than anything in the Va Va Voom era. What was it that made you write (or record) a song that sounded so much like your (then) former band?

DLG: I didn’t go out to create something that sounded like The Wedding Present; I think it was just the way it came together. I’d written and arranged Va Va Voom totally on my own and had consciously tried to write songs around other instruments, rather than concentrating on the guitar as we’d done in The Wedding Present. But, after the release of Va Va Voom, Cinerama became more of a band and so, even though I still wrote this song at home on my own using the computer, we started arranging songs more as a band, too. And I think that’s where the similarities to The Wedding Present started to creep in, especially since the Wedding Present guitarist was now the Cinerama guitarist!

The songs recorded as part of the Disco Volante sessions are pretty varied. At what stage in the recording process was ‘Wow’ and how much of the result was influenced by Steve Albini?

DLG:  ‘Wow’ was one of the first songs to be written for what would be the follow up to Va Va Voom. I think the variety comes from the fact that I was still in the poppy post – Va Va Voom stage but, at the same time, also immersing myself in those rockier Cinerama band surroundings. Albini never really influences recordings, to be honest. He sees himself more of a documenter.

I’m assuming the single/album versions were cut from the same recording sessions? Was ‘Wow’ always going to be a single or did you only realise after recording and so have to create an edited version?

DLG: It was always going to be a single, yes. I’d earmarked it as ‘the herald’ for the next album quite early on and doing the two versions was always part of that strategy. It was just one of those songs that sounded like a statement of intent!

We tracked the six and a half minute version in Chicago with Albini but the only additional instrument we recorded at that time was the flute part. It was mixed, along with ‘Gigolo’, there and then by Albini and we faded it out over the outro to make the length a more radio-friendly four minutes. The third track on the ‘Wow’ CD single, ’10 Denier’, was left over from a previous recording session. When the single came out in the summer of 2000 we were still working on Disco Volante here in England with Dare Mason. For the album version of ‘Wow’ we added strings and french horn and, obviously, didn’t fade it out this time!

The Extended version includes some chitter-chatter at the start, the gorgeous instrumental outro and some distortion at the end. Any thoughts on the extra elements?

DLG: I surreptitiously recorded the chitter-chatter in a London restaurant on my portable mini-disc but then we recorded the ‘wine pouring’ in the studio. It was Dare’s idea to have one glass panned in one speaker and one in the other… ‘some for you, some for me’.

You’ve written quite a few songs that have long outros, with ‘Take Me!’ being perhaps the most famous example. What makes you think a song should have an end like that? And what makes you decide when enough is enough? I could listen to the end of ‘Wow’ for ten minutes and never get bored. Why stop where you did?

DLG:  I love a long outro, ha, ha… and some songs just call out for it. It just needs a pattern and tempo that can withstand repetition, I guess. But on ‘Wow’ the point is that the whole thing gradually builds and builds… the drums and guitars increasingly get more intense, additional guitar layers enter, then the solo french horn joins in… and I think that you ultimately reach a point where it feels that the arrangement is busy enough. At the end of the outro the higher strings play a counter melody and I sometimes think that maybe I went too far with that!

The lyrics are pretty unambiguous and in fact the stark reality that lust can overtake all rational and moral thought maybe strikes a chord with fans. Do you think this ‘weakness’  is something that most people succumb to at some point in their lives?

DLG: You would have to conduct a survey to answer that!

I know people that have had secret rendezvous at Wedding Present/Cinerama concerts. Do you think your fans are drawn to your lyrics because they already live lives that replicate your words or do they act out in ways that they wouldn’t normally because they are fans?

DLG: I think people are drawn to my lyrics because they’re meaningful and unambiguous and are rarely cloaked in ridiculous imagery. I just try to discuss the kinds of things that happen to us all.

Cinerama singles and albums had great sleeves. Is that Gina Lollobrigida on the single release and who designed the cover?

DLG: The earlier sleeves, including this one, were usually designed by Andrew Swain at Cactus following my brief that I wanted a modern feel applied to retro photographic imagery. I think Andrew went with more of a lighter ‘pop culture’ approach than Egelnick & Webb who did the later Cinerama sleeves. But it’s not Gina Lollobrigida, no.

You’ve played the song live as Cinerama in the old days; with the Wedding Present; with a couple of brass musicians and with a full orchestra. How much difference does this make to you live how many musicians are on stage? Do you prefer the full orchestra version over the others?

DLG: Ultimately, if a song is good enough it’ll stand being played by one person on an acoustic guitar… and I think this song is good enough. That being said, it does sound ‘huge’ when the band is complemented by a string section and the brass and flute and I’m really glad we were able to record a version in that format for the Live 2015 album/DVD.

Official Lyrics:

You’ve avoided questions that could’ve easily spoilt the mood
Like ‘where does my girlfriend work?’, ‘what’s her favourite food?’
I think I know someone who could give me an alibi
So, yes, I think I’ve just proved that I’m prepared to lie

But there is nothing quite like a secret rendezvous
I think I know already what I’m going to do
Outside the air is cold and your arm slips into mine
When you invite me in, you know I won’t decline

But I don’t want to stay forever
Oh, I don’t want to leave my girlfriend but, wow, this isn’t happening the way I’d planned
I’m not going to say never but I don’t want to fall in love right now
Well, just as long as we both understand

As you lead me up the stairs, I’m leering at your thighs
You’re revealing parts of me I just don’t recognise
You leave behind a scent that lingers in the air
It draws me up the steps but I should not be there

But I don’t want to stay forever
Oh, I don’t want to leave my girlfriend but, wow, this isn’t happening the way I’d planned
Oh, I’m not going to say never but I don’t want to fall in love right now
Well, just as long as we both understand

You’re telling me, almost compelling me, to stay
But don’t close the door because I’m still not sure
OK

Written and published by Gedge, whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV.

Studio Version:

1 – Single version released 12/06/2000 [Scopitones, TONE CD 002]TIME: 3:59

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Sally Murrell (vocals, keyboards); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass and backing vocals); Simon Pearson (drums); Paul Martens (flute); Steve Albini (engineer); Dare Mason (mixer)

2 – Disco Volante version released 18/09/2000 [Scopitones, TONE CD 004] TIME: 6:44

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Sally Murrell (vocals, keyboards); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass and backing vocals); Simon Pearson (drums); Paul Martens (flute); Abigail Trundle (cello); Rachel Davis (violin); Andrew Blick (trumpet); Jon Boswell (french horn); Steve Albini (engineer); Dare Mason (mixer)

(Recorded in Electrical Audio, Chicago and Oaklands Groove, London in the Summer of 2000)

Live Version:

1 –  Live in Los Angeles version released 2002 (Scopitones, TONE CD 009) TIME: 7:05

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Sally Murrell (vocals, keyboards); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass and backing vocals); Kari Paavola (drums); Ethan Kairer (live sound mixer)

(Recorded at The Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, USA on 05/11/2000 [Cinerama: Winter Tour])

2 – Live in Belfast version released 06/10/2003 [Scopitones, TONE CD 015] TIME: 6:05

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); (Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass and backing vocals); Kari Paavola (drums); Richard Jackson (live sound mixer)

(Recorded at The Empire, Belfast, Northern Ireland on 05/09/2002 [Cinerama: 2002 Tour])

3 – Live 2015 version released 09/11/2015 [Scoptiones, TONE 062] TIME: 6:25

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Samuel Beer-Pearce (guitar); Katherine Wallinger (bass); Charles Layton (drums); Danielle Wadey (keyboards, glockenspiel, backing vocals); Melanie Howard (keyboards, backing vocals); Pedro Vigil (guitar); Rebecca Doe (violin); Michael Simmonds (violin); Robert Spriggs (viola); Anna Beryl (cello); Andrew Blick (trumpet); Elizabeth Palmer (flute); Sebastian Falcone (live recording/mixer)

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Live:

Debuting in 2000 to rapturous reception, ‘Wow’ continued in the set until the seeming demise of Cinerama around 2004 but as soon as 2006, it was already back in the Wedding Present’s repertoire.

Videos:

 

Don’t Talk, Just Kiss

It was February of 1990 and things were about to change. The Wedding Present had recently come out of the studio with renowned engineer (not producer!) Steve Albini, he of Pixies, Nirvana, Black Flag etc. fame. According to David Gedge at the time, he might finally be able to reproduce the ferocious sound that the Leeds-based band had so far not been able to capture on record. The Brassneck EP [RCA ‎– PT43404] was the first result of that collaboration and it was a blessing from the gods. Four tracks of blistering and powerful guitars including the finest song ever recorded in the title track. Nestled comfortably on that EP was Don’t Talk, Just Kiss, a song of yearning and lust.

The protagonist is pleading with the girl to forget her boyfriend (“He’s probably not even there”). There’s a desperation inherent in the lyrics familiar to many a young male. Nothing is more important than this moment even if it involves cheating and infidelity. “Don’t talk, just kiss”: so simple and yet words that resound with anyone who has ever been drawn to someone they can’t or shouldn’t have.

The most striking thing about this song however and something that really comes across live is the tempo change between the verses and the choruses. Twice, the verse leads into a ferocious storm of guitar as the drums double up in speed and lead into the “If you’re worried he’s so near” segment. At a gig, this has always led to an uncontrollable amount of moshing, such is the excitement that this combination of speed and rhythm and noise create.

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

Do you have any memories of how the idea first came to you?

DLG: I have a vague memory that “Don’t Talk, Just Kiss!” was the title of a novel I saw in a bookshop once and the idea of how lust can be so powerful that it can overcome the need for conversation immediately appealed to me!

Any general thoughts on the song now and whether you like playing it live?

DLG:  It’s an exciting song to play live, primarily because the fast bit is so frantic. Charles Layton [drums; The Wedding Present, 2005 onwards] agrees and adds: “I love playing this song live. It has a great driving and punky feel to it… from the two thumping drum hits at the beginning to the guitar driven verse and then the double time chorus. The bass intro back to second verse is a nice touch, too. An early precursor to Corduroy, I feel!”

Is there anything you would change about the song now?

DLG: From a boring technical point of view I think it should be in a slightly higher key because the vocal is right at the bottom of my range. The only other annoying thing is that the pop group Right Said Fred released a single the year after we released “Don’t Talk, Just Kiss” with exactly the same title… and theirs went to Number 3 in the British charts!

I remember hearing this song live for the first time. It was ferocious and hasn’t let up since. Do you deliberately play it as aggressively as possible knowing it will generate a massive physical response?

DLG: It’s not played like that just to generate a response, no… it’s just that a certain amount of aggression is required for the playing of some Wedding Present songs… and this definitely falls into that category!

Did a specific incident lead to this song? Some of the lines seem so spot-on that I can’t imagine any of it being ‘made-up’. Lines about missing trains and waking up “near you” put this in the sometimes-rare category of ‘Romantic Songs’. Do you find it as easy to write such happy, thrilling lyrics as this compared to the more painful, angst-ridden ones?

DLG: I find it difficult to write any kind of lyric, to be honest, which is why I spend a long time doing them. If an incident in a song hasn’t happened to me directly I’m usually writing from the point of view of… if this had happened to me, what would I think? What would I say? What would I do? Etc. In this case I wanted the lyric to match the urgency and impatience of the fast section.

At the time it felt wasted as a b-side. I remember people thinking it should be a single before it appeared on the Brassneck EP. Any thoughts to it being an a-side?

DLG:  I think that any song that reaches a standard high enough for us to consider recording has the potential of becoming a single. I guess we just thought Brassneck was the more appropriate song for the A-side on this occasion.

The tempo change for the chorus was a first for you I think. Any idea what inspired that?

DLG:  When we are arranging a tune we will try countless different ways of playing it until something clicks. That kind of tempo change technique only suits certain songs, though… so we don’t use it that often. But it when it does work it can really enhance an arrangement.

Official Lyrics:

He didn’t see me
He sort of looked uneasy but I’m sure he didn’t guess
Oh, he’s never liked me
And, yes, OK… it might be a bit better if you left
Oh, was it me who said that?
No please, come straight back
You’ve got to stay with me somehow
Well, say you missed your train
What have you got to gain by leaving here right now?

If you’re worried he’s so near you might as well go back
You were never here, oh, why would I say that?
Look, everybody lies about this
Don’t talk, just kiss!

If you’re worried he’s so near you might as well go back
You were never here, oh, why would I say that?
Look, everybody lies about this
Don’t talk, just kiss!

I want to wake up near you
Oh, yes, of course I hear you but you’re just off back to row
Well, put yourself above him
Look… if you really loved him I don’t think you’d be here now
Oh, come on, what do you care?
He’s probably not even there
Oh, yes, I’m sure he’d sit and wait|
It’s just whenever you touch…
Oh, God, I want you so much
And you can’t say it’s too late

If you’re worried he’s so near you might as well go back
You were never here, oh, why would I say that?|
Look, everybody lies about this
Don’t talk, just kiss!

If you’re worried he’s so near you might as well go back
You were never here, oh, why would I say that?
Look, everybody lies about this
Don’t talk, just kiss!

Don’t talk, just kiss
Don’t talk, just kiss
Don’t talk, just kiss
Don’t talk, just kiss

Written and published by Gedge. Gedge’s publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Music International.

Studio Versions:

1 – Brassneck EP version  released 05/02/1990  [RCA PT43404] TIME: 3:16

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass) and Simon Smith (drums) Engineer: Steve Albini;  Mastered by: Miles Showell

Live Versions:

1 – Shepherd’s Bush Welcomes released 2007 [SECRET RECORDINGS CRIDEBI] TIME: 3:26

Recorded 20/11/2005 at Shepherds Bush Empire, London
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Simon Cleave (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass); Simon Pearson (drums) Mixed & mastered: Roger Lomas; Live Sound Mixed: Christopher McConville

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Shepherd's Bush Welcomes

Live:

Played regularly from 1989 to 1991 and then on and off since the reformation in 2005. In 1989, it often opened the shows such was its popularity.
It was finally officially released as a live version in 2007 on the Shepherds Bush Welcomes cd [Secret Records Limited ‎– CRIDE81] plus there’s the appearance on the video Spunk which combined live performances with promo videos (See below).

Video: 

From Spunk: