"YOU FEEL LIKE you're fighting with the songs. It's hard work," David Gedge says demurely about the prospect of performing the Wedding Present's Bizarro album in its entirety. Gedge and his bandmates were in their second day of rehearsals, working to capture the dexterous noise pop that captured the imaginations of angsty, lovelorn teens everywhere back in 1989.
Bizarro, of course, spawned some of the band's most enduring songs, in particular "Kennedy" and "Brassneck." The quartet, all the way from Leeds, England, also introduced people to an unknown indie rock band from Stockton, California, called Pavement with their cover of "Box Elder," which appeared as a bonus track on the record's US release.
If it feels as if Gedge & Co. are fighting with the songs, it's because Bizarro is one hell of an undertaking. It's pop music hopped up on speed (or more accurately, pure youthful energy). The band hasn't performed many of the songs in decades, as well. Add to that some epic moments ("Take Me!" clocks in at over nine minutes), and it becomes an exercise in both speed and endurance. And Gedge will be the first to admit that singing those lyrics again can be... well, a little bizarre.
"It's quite surreal to put yourself back 20 years," he explains, "like reading an old diary and reading all those old situations from a long time ago."
It isn't the first time the Wedding Present has revisited one of its early albums. Three years ago the band performed its debut George Best in its entirety. The record—named after Irish football legend George Best—set the stage in 1987 for Gedge's smart, wonderfully bitter lyrics twisted up inside those angular guitars, while eventually putting the Wedding Present in the good graces of the late legendary BBC broadcaster and outspoken admirer John Peel.
The band—in its different incarnations—continued to make records over the next two decades, but it always comes back to Bizarro, which stretched those hyperactive hooks a little further and put more focus on Gedge as a songwriter. Gedge himself isn't one to get sucked into the novelty of revisiting those old songs—for him the reason was simple.
"It's our best LP, which is why we wanted to do it."