Formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1985, Weddings Parties Anything were a gritty folk-rock band with distinct Pogues leanings and a very strong Australian colloquial flavour.
Fronted by songwriter Michael Thomas, the band released their first single in 1986 – the independently released Go! Move! Shift!
This was followed early in 1987 by the single Away, Away and their superb debut album Scorn Of The Women. The album covered many topics, including infanticide (The Infanticide of Marie Farrar), women’s rights (Ladies Lounge), and poverty (Hungry Years), all within a Marxist perspective.
Original bassist Janine Hall left the band following the release of the album and was replaced by Peter Lawler. It was that lineup that produced follow-up album Roaring Days (1988).
Dave Steel left the band following a tour of North America, citing exhaustion as the chief reason (although he also noted in some interviews that he was feeling frustrated not getting a lot of his material on the WPA albums). He was replaced by Richard Burgman (ex-Sunnyboys) for 1989’s The Big Don’t Argue, and accompanying tours.
The band spent a great deal of time touring over the next three years and managed to release only one EP in 1990, titled The Weddings Play Sports (and Falcons), featuring cover versions of songs by Melbourne stalwarts The Sports, and Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons.
The band resurfaced in 1992 with an EP featuring the popular track One Perfect Day, originally released by The Little Heroes, and a new CD with yet another guitarist, Paul Thomas, replacing the departing Richard Burgman.
Their major chart moment came in 1992 with Father’s Day from the Difficult Loves album, which won awards for song of the year. This line-up remained stable for another two years, producing one more album, King Tide (1993).
Following the world tour to promote that release, Peter Lawler, and Marcus Schintler left the band and by 1996, a new line-up of WPA were ready for their first release, the independently produced Donkey Serenade.
The band now included Jen Anderson (ex-Black Sorrows) on violins and mandolin, Michael Barclay on drums, Stephen O’Prey on bass, joining Michael Thomas, Paul Thomas and Mark Wallace.
WPA finished 1997 with a new release, Riveresque on a new label (Mushroom/Sony), and by 1998, the band decided to take a break and work on several solo projects, including Michael Thomas’s musical Wide Open Road.
Weddings Parties Anything rarely set the charts on fire, but instead developed and maintained a solid and passionate live following, especially in Australia, but also made inroads into the UK and Canada where they toured frequently.
What set WPA apart from most other bands were Thomas’ songs with contemporary issues set in distinct Australian geographical and historical settings. Over more than a decade, Weddings Parties Anything carved a distinct terrain in Australian folk/rock.