Interview with Ginger Wildheart by Adrian Hextall
Extreme Metal Band Featuring Famed Frontman Ginger Wildheart is set to release New LP, ‘Mutation III: Dark Black’ on June 30
The album also features Devin Townsend, members of Motörhead, Primitive Weapons, UK Subs and More.
While MUTATION has been called “the manifestation of all the horrible stuff that goes on in Ginger’s head,” the most extreme moments on those first two records sound like David Essex’s “Hold Me Close” compared to the seething, mentally shattered insanity of Mutation III: Dark Black. This is a ridiculously extreme, obnoxious and hostile piece of work. It’s an exorcism, a venting of malevolent spirits and mental exhaustion. But it’s also an extraordinary piece of art and one of the most obscenely exciting bursts of freewheeling, kamikaze noise that you will ever hear.
Via the medium of a terrible internet connection, a Skype call and several repeated call backs that ended with Ginger candidly saying “I hate the internet”, we did however manage to talk for long enough to glimpse into the mind of the man.
AH: It’s been a while since I’ve managed to catch up with you, actually, ’cause we didn’t see you at Camden Rocks Festival this year, which may quite change.
GW: You just cut out there. I’ve got a very weird intermediate signal on my Wi-Fi. Can you you just repeat that last bit? [ and so it began…]
AH: We didn’t manage to catch up with you this year at Camden Rocks which it made for quite unusual day.
GW: Yeah, I didn’t fancy it this year. There was a few names and faces I wasn’t too keen on seeing. I just didn’t fancy it. It’s great fun, but it’s nice to take a break. I know it only happens once a year, but it was still nice to not do it one year.
AH: Last year or the year before, you played at least three shows in the day, didn’t you?
GW: Yeah, I’ll just get bored hanging around. What else you gonna do? Hang around in someone else’s dressing room?
AH: Given a break this year, it might make it a little bit more fresh for you next year to reconsider?
GW: Absolutely, absolutely. I got so much going on next year. It’s gonna be a joy to do it, maybe with both the solo album and Mutation. That would be something, wouldn’t it?
AH: It would, indeed. Yes. Of course, that brings us neatly around to how busy you are at the moment as well. You have the new Mutation album and, of course, now, the band need to get together for rehearsals for tour later this year.
GW: No, not really, because Scott’s in Australia. So, we’re not gonna bother rehearsing together. When all three of us got together we pulled together Hate, which is the live video version within a day. I predicted that it would take a day a song to do more. They reckon it would be quicker once we get of speed with each other, once get used to used to each other’s ways.
We haven’t rehearsed for the tour yet. The whole thing, the best thing, without a doubt, about Mutation, is nothing that happens with it is expected, ’cause I don’t expect anything from it. All these delayed responses to the album, and people are getting excited about the tour, we’re like, we’re as excited, if not more excited than anyone else, ’cause, I mean, it’s brand new for us as well. That’s the whole thing about Mutation. It’s supposed to be a cathartic experience for everyone involved on that. We don’t wanna rehearse so much or we get bored and overdo it, ’cause, then, we’d lose the spirit.
I haven’t toured. I didn’t wanna be on the roll this year until the, obviously, the Mutation thing started taking off. I wanted to concentrate on getting record labels or getting other people involved in what I do. I made a couple of mistakes along the way, but that didn’t put me off this thing. I just said “Okay, we’re ready to work with other people now that we got Round Records established and all of that.”
One of the delightful things was Undergroove who were the doing the Mutation release, I mean, Darren Sadler, I’ve known for years and years and years, he’s always been a big supporter of my music. So, to finally get to work with him, one, was fantastic and big. You see how absolutely dedicated he is to what he does. It’s another great surprise and a joy. So, I’ve been trying to do that because a lot of the time people say, “What about doing an album on Pledge?” Then, they’re not available while you’re doing anything to promote them. It’s because a lot of the time, not every album needs to be promoted like that. We’re not in the ’70s. It can just be a bit of fun.
Watch out though, I’m always trying to do something that people don’t seem to be doing with Pledge yet. I’m still trying and so far it’s working fantastic with the solo thing, with Levellers gigs. I’m doing Beautiful Days festival. Then, with Mutation working with other people really is where it is in the future ’cause you could build on something new. Always look for some new angle.
AH: Mutation itself, and, of course, Ghost in the Tanglewood. They’re polar opposites, but it’s still new, it’s something different for the fans, isn’t it? With the Mutation album I can’t imagine to create the sound that you’ve got on the album is that easy in a live environment, is it? There’s gotta be some additional effort required to replicate that mix.
GW: Well, we did alright. You can imagine that the Hate video is played through tiny little speakers, And just not play live with just a couple of effects, without the benefits of extreme volume. I don’t feel lots of people watch it. I think, live, it’s gonna be……, we’re going to have a team. We’re not just the three of us in that, gonna be setting up and hoping for the best. We’re gonna have a sound man who knows exactly what’s going on. Even flying some sounds in. It’s gonna be an essential part of the band. I wouldn’t wanna play a gig without him. Then, we’re gonna have a guitar check who’s gonna keep it all in tune or fix things back together again.
The whole thing’s gonna be very, very professional. It’s gonna be very loud, it’s gonna be very tight. In that way, you can get the sounds like weapons, like shards of volume hitting you. The effect is really, it’s almost the performance, it’s the communal effect of everybody being stoned by something. That’s why I have got no idea what it’s gonna be like. I think it’s gonna be different, almost you’ll gonna know all the songs. If anyone, to anyone who has heard the songs and likes the songs, he’s gonna recognise the songs, but it won’t be like listening to the album, like all good live experiences should be.
AH: Bring something new to the crowd, then, isn’t it?
GW: But it’s gonna be more brutal, it’s gonna be more primal, it’s gonna be more direct. It’s not gonna be as kind of panoramic ’cause it doesn’t need to be. ‘Cause you’re not pleased with the imagination when you put album on it. It need to provide a certain service for your imagination to be taken away and believe it. It’s hard to really believe an album is authentic. Live, there’s a different set of rules, but there are rules, nonetheless. It’s a different kind of sport.
I think, I haven’t played as many live gigs as I have seen live gigs. I realized that it’s not about lights, it’s not about a show. It’s about the connection and the sound, the sound above me. We had to play the video live just to prove that we were any good so we could go to book some shows. So, given that we’re good players, the plan is still to do it properly. I don’t wanna turn up in front just to be like a kind of a side project where you couldn’t hear the guitars. You know what I mean? That’s not gonna be what it’s all about. It’s gonna be shock and awe.
AH: Yeah. I mean, that’s kind of the message you’ve had with Mutation from the off. I remember the original Pledge video that you did to advertise it. That whole point about the impact from the weaponry and you there with welder’s mask being pulled out over your faces. Well, as you were talking about that, the power of the riffs coming in. That’s maintained itself throughout all three albums, doesn’t it?
GW: The thing when you deal with anything like, I mean, what I’m doing now, extreme metal as it’s being called, I don’t know. I’m not one to argue it. I don’t make names for things. My solo album, Ghost in the Tanglewood, is being called country. Again, it’s not, I didn’t understand the meaning like country would. They’re both things I haven’t really dedicated a lot of time to doing it. They’re both really, really close to me, in opposite sides of the honesty that music can have. How honest it sounds. Nothing makes you feel emotional quite like a great country song or a great folk songs. Something that’s just packed full of drama. Then, nothing just satisfies the animal side of you like something that is so all compromising.
At my time of each, I was being… I’m not really old yet. I’m kinda getting old. It’s like I’m preparing for being old. In that, I can’t have anything that’s not honest. I can’t even stand, all I can read is all the biographies, which not always honest. But, I mean, at least, they found the horse’s mouth. I demand a certain amount of honesty from friends and from governments and from movies and, especially, from music. That’s why the country, whatever thing, and the extreme metal, whatever thing, they’re just two sides of this pathological honesty that I’ve got going on.
To quote the last Levellers album, Static on the Airwaves….. and not for the last time during the interview, it went something like this….
GW: Are you still there?
GW: Have I lost you?
AH: Can you hear me alright, or not? I’m still here. I can hear you. Ginger?
GW: Hello? Are you still there?
AH: Yeah, I’m still here if you can hear me.
As the dodgy internet connection stabilises, we carry on….
GW: Yeah, I’m good. I was waffling on this. I don’t know how much you’ve kept and how much you’ve missed.
AH: No, for some reason, I heard everything from you, but you seem to lost me for a moment, I think. Now, what I was gonna ask was, because they all sort of polar opposites as far as the style is concerned, do you find that depending on how you’re feeling at any particular point in time, so, the Mutation stuff kind of helped blast away the cobwebs and clears out the sinuses as it were, whereas, the country side allows you to, or the folk side allows you to be a little bit more reflective?
GW: Well, again, I’ll say, if you’re a fan, if you’re a fan of type of music or you wanna create a style of music, you kinda know if you haven’t got it. You know if it’s a good, if it’s a real convincing representation of what you wanna do. They’re both there. One’s the little red feller on one shoulder, and one’s a white feller on the other shoulder. They’re both there all the time.
It’s just, make a lot music. We did a lot of music with G.A.S.S. There wasn’t anything that I did that I thought, “I would have followed this trend of music,” with just an interest and experiment how to make some subconscious stop. But this is really primeval, I need to scream, I need to just feel peace often at the f*****g same time. That’s the, I guess, one of the benefits of being a bit bipolar, but I think that’s in most people. That need to scream while you try and smile. I’m just glad that we’ve managed that, put it down in music.
AH: Did you find it helps? Is it a natural, almost medication for you, being able to do that?
GW: To be able to get out emotions through music?
AH: The primal side and that being able to stand in the face of something that just screams back at you?
Round two of internet tennis mixed with a slight case of The Chuckle Brothers (to me, to you , to me, to you.)
GW: I lost you again.
AH: I’m still here if you are. Have you got me or not?
GW: I’ll keep talking and hope that you can hear me.
AH: I can.
GW: I’ll let you know if I can hear you.
AH: Yeah, hold on. I’m still here. I’m really hoping you’ll pick me up again at some point.
GW: There you are, there you are.
GW: It’s just the way that it should be at the moment. I’m starting to get very philosophical about everything.
AH: I can imagine that something like Mutation acts as a medicine, almost? It’s a supplement to your medication when you need it, that being able to scream in the face of adversity?
GW: I don’t know. It probably, yeah, I guess, it helps everyone to be able to get out of frustrations. Well, it doesn’t really help to ease things up. I mean, I have such a high level of anger about so many things that my medication just does f**k all to help. It’s a good time to be angry. It’s a good time to be an angry person. I’m f*****g getting a perverse kind of enjoyment out of current affairs, how f*****g misguided and without a head, this being f*****g the chicken of Great f*****g Britain. That’s what it is. It shouldn’t be a f*****g bulldog. It should just be a big fat headless chicken Great Britain, I think.
A f*****g bulldog thing, wishful thinking. Well, f*****g, it’s got f**k all to do with dogs now. This country, this thing is now like a chicken. Like f*****g animal rights don’t even cover chickens. So, you go to this f*****g chickens being tortured. Well, eggs, we’ll that’s not flesh, it’s just an egg. Well, the hens, the ones who are f*****g raped their whole life and f*****g get pregnant. Even if we say it’s free range on the side, the ones are still alive, the ones are f*****g tortured so don’t buy. So, if anything, eggs is worse than f*****g chicken lips. That kind of makes an analogy of what’s happening to us. We just f*****g keep getting it ripped out of us and, we, there’s our response of, “Oh, well, you know”
There’s always room for improvement. The fact that 26% of the country voted in the Brexit, f*****g pull over, makes me think the, again, the rest of the country aren’t just lazy, they’re concerned until the old turned out to be f*****g racist. That still holds up. The old turned out to be nice. ‘Cause in the end of this, it’s all species. All we’re doing is f*****g most species.
Then, pass the keys,go lock doors, the faster the better as far I’m concerned.
Round three of internet tennis continues just at the crucial point of the conversation.
AH: Oh, man!
GW: This f*****g Wi-Fi is s**t. Sorry, mate.
One re connection later….
GW: There you are.
Oh, technology. What a f*****g joke.
AH: Fingers crossed. I saw a couple of photos. I think Jane might even have taken them when he played with Rev on Saturday just gone. Are you guys gonna be playing together on the band side of things again at any point? So, we miss you and Hey! Hello!.
GW: Well, that ‘s great. I just feel like concentrating on and promoting the solo stuff and Mutation stuff, really. Hey! Hello!, the very unlucky group. At first singer couldn’t do it anymore because she wanted to get paid and that was not gonna really work with the brand new band, unless, it came up from my pocket. I’m not rich.
Second singer left because she didn’t like the weather in England and wanted to go and live on the beach in California. [Sighing….] but it’s just so… When you see how effortless some other things are in your life, you still realise there’s a big difference between working hard and hard work. Hey! Hello! is very much hard work. I love Toshi, I love Ai, and I love Rev. It would be great to get back together and do something in the future, but…
AH: When it’s time.
GW: Right now, I’m just gonna concentrate on just promoting this lot.
AH: No, that’s fair enough of you. It was just nice to see you guys back on stage together.
As the connection disappears once more, we consider how actors work when they have no co-stars on set with them and are simply playing to a screen waiting for the FX to be added:
GW: Hey, you’re gone again. This is cold. Take a minute, interview with a blue screen. When the hell do these actors and actresses actually conduct themselves in a movie when they’re playing to nothing?
AH: Apparently, you’re supposed to follow a tennis board across the screen to work out where your eyes should be.
GW: There you are again just where begun. I know where the microphone is so, it sort of works, the blue screen effect is in action.
AH: No, that’s fair enough. Now, all I was saying is it’s nice to hear, it’s not a lost cause for the four of you to be working together ’cause I do hope that again brings something in the future.
GW: We’re very fond of each other. At the end of the day, that’s a friendship that is kind of it’s in the band. We’ll still be very fond of each other. I don’t know, you can just get a few too many knocks and just go, “Ah, call me brother.” There’s too much, I don’t know, there’s too much history. Seem so wild, it’s nice to do something brand new. You know what, after a couple of years doing extreme noise and seeing what that world is like and play folk festival and see what that’s all like, maybe I wanted The Wild hearts and Hey! Hello! again, I don’t know. You can never say never. That’s the only thing that I’ve learned.
AH: – With the solo tour, Is your drummer and the female singer, are they likely to make the trip to the Union Chapel show?
GW: Yeah, I would imagine so. Then, we’re doing Beautiful Days afterwards. So, yeah, I’d like the, you know, the plan is for that solo band, I’d like to build it all up so it’s a full country band with piano and metal steel .
I’ll hope that we’ll have some rhythm and some gorgeous female vocals from the next gig that we do. We’ll just see. I’m not the guy in charge. I’m not, cut that, [laughs] I’m not the lady in charge of the purse strings so, she’ll tell me how many of us are able to be paid that night.
AH: I like that. That’s a nice analogy. I can appreciate, that won’t miss out. No, that’s very good. Thank you.
As is always the case, a chat with Ginger can continue, sadly the internet cannot…. so 2 more failed calls and we call it a day. As ever, a great man to talk to and several upcoming shows to look forward to: