The Wildhearts Must Be In London: Interview With Ginger And CJ. Part II

I personally think that there's a Wildhearts size hole in the world of music right now. There's a lot of bands I used to love that aren't there anymore....

Interview by Adrian Hextall \ Krishan Singh

Live Photos (C) Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media

Following on from Part I of our interview with Ginger and CJ whilst they were in London, we looked deeper at the new album, the fine art of creating the right running order, the elusive ‘last track on the album’ and touring partners Massive Wagons and Towers of London who will be on the road with the band in May 2019.

Part I of the interview can be found here:

Following on from the first part of the interview, the set lists and amount of content from albums was discussed. Both CJ and Ginger seemed to agree that one of the best shows they ever played where the crowd interaction was perfect was when the band performed “The Fisherman from Loch Ness” in full. Wait… what???? As ever my trusty transcription service has come up with the gold again with “Fishing for Luckies” converted to the above for the duration of the document.

Two shows, Nottingham and Japan. Two incredible show that left the band feeling on a high.

CJ: Everyone was singing in the end with us and it was almost religious. It’s the first time I went wow, it was like, it was just shouting at the end as it was so loud in there.

MGM: The upcoming shows will also be able to celebrate the 10th anniversary reissue of ¡Chutzpah! Multiple versions are available for fans to buy including a rather fabulous 4 disc vinyl set, boxed featuring the remastered album (incl’ ¡Chutzpah! Jnr) and 2 sets of demo versions as well. Click the link below to check the versions available:

GINGER: I love box sets. One of my favorite albums in the whole world is “Discharge – Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing.” I’ve got the album on vinyl, cassette, probably got another cassette. I’ve got it on CD as well. When the box set came out with the vinyl and a book, it was an easy choice, ‘I’m buying it that!’

MGM: There’s been some interesting feedback about the formats and the reissues online..?

I understand the demand. I also get why people would say I don’t need that in my life. I can’t afford it so I’m not going to buy it. What does get me though is why people would complain there’s something to buy that they don’t want to buy unless it was a different color or in a different shade. Do you walk around Walmart going pointing out things that you don’t want? ‘I’m disgusted at that chair, looks more like a table.’

I like things so I buy them. If you don’t like them don’t buy them. It’s really easy!

MGM: You’re managing to connect with different audiences this time around. Interviews on Radio Two and more?

CJ: Yeah.

GINGER: Yeah. It’s a bit odd, ain’t it.

MGM: Yeah but in a good way.

GINGER: Jazz radio yesterday. A little bit odd.

CJ: I think we’ve been around long enough to cover a different sort of ground now. You’re not seeing us like young guns in the music business, more getting into a different space like a classic motor.

MGM: But it’s also the bigger audience. Radio 2 is way bigger than Radio 1 now, isn’t it?

CJ: Potentially, there is a bigger audience and we have new management and their attitude is to try and get us into new things and we’re dipping our toes into other ponds this year. We got nothing to lose. It’s not like we’re going to tour around America for four months and be back to do another tour here, we can’t do that. We are making some trips to distant parts of countries and just trying something different. And then with this album, we’re not wasting our time and losing our money doing stuff that we know wouldn’t work.

GINGER: I personally think that there’s a Wildhearts size hole in the world of music right now. There’s a lot of bands I used to love that aren’t there anymore and that love, the dedication, and commitment isn’t there. Motorhead, Slayer, Status Quo, they took it with them when they decided they’re not going to go on anymore. And there’s a big hole there. We’re going to know very quickly if we’re going to fill that hole or not, because there’s no one there. No one else.

So, there’s still a demand for that and we are almost designed to be that group. We’ve been around for a long time. We’re fucking old and grizzled but we don’t look like we can’t keep it up anymore. And we’re as passionate as we ever were which is like always being the sign of a classic band whether it’s AC/DC or Metallica or whoever. All the elements are there. We’re going to know pretty quick if it’s going to work like that.

MGM: You’ve always had the songs. You’ve never been short of songs.

GINGER: Yeah but songs has never been really that important in the world of music, has it? Songs and lyrics, let’s face it, otherwise you fucking wouldn’t have Nickelback, the fucking Red Hot Chili Peppers and shit like that.

MGM: It also means you can’t be afraid of tackling particular subjects and you guys aren’t.

CJ: No.

GINGER: The fact that we’re from a similar place is that we were brought up with it. What we wanted to do when we formed a band doesn’t really exist anymore. People’s concerns, people’s ideals are different now. So, that’s another thing that makes us unique because we’re tied to where and how we grew up. With what was going on when we were being brought up in music especially. There’s an awful lot to choose from. People looked for more colour back then. Now you just got a lot of stuff that sounds very very similar. We’re talking about music that doesn’t even sound like it should be in the same genre. I used to like Cardiacs, Sparks, Motorhead, there’s not a world where those three bands coexist comfortably. Now, everything sounds a little bit homogenized. Rock music’s got a sound now. Whereas when we grew up, we didn’t have a sound.

CJ: We do have a very distinct style, a mixture of stuff which wouldn’t normally go together. I think there’s always a little crack in there which we can fill because we are rock old school and it’s hard to beat.

Even when we first came out we were so different to all our contemporaries. We were just always been seen as this kind of little bastard sons it’s the Wildhearts. It’s something we just do naturally and I think even on this album here it’s got some real dark subjects on it. It’s also this in the face album, but it’s uplifting as well.

I think it puts us in a nice position, yeah. And it’s exciting to see where things are going to go. You don’t know where it’s going to go and it’s a nice feeling.

MGM: The vocal work on the new album is very full. To your earlier point [in the first part of the interview] you’re not using multiple vocal layers either I presume?

CJ: Because everything’s so stripped down now we were actually really comfortable with our vocals. We used to hide them in the layers. Layers of double tracking but also layers of guitars and our vocals were always sunk in the mix.

We are more comfortable as singers now, and I think the main change of harmonizing will create a nice noise. It should be heard. If you don’t have any double tracks, if it’s just the two voices, you really hear Ginger’s voice, I really like how my voice sounds. It’s a really important sound. We’re running just vocals like, you know, really tight singers now. We never felt comfortable with that before but, we are now, you know comfortable reluctant singers. [laughs]

MGM: Have you utilised Danny more on the vocal side this time? When you played live on the BritRock shows, for example, his mic was way up. You can hear him singing along and he was adding that extra depth in the choruses as well.

GINGER: Danny’s always sung in the band. In fact there was a time when me and CJ first fell out in the early 90’s, when we would play as a three piece. We just didn’t want anyone else in the band then so Danny did all the CJ harmonies. I think he can’t remember that many words now [laughs], but he’s doing the harmonies.

CJ: He’s on the album as well. Danny’s so loud as is his bass. He’s a loud, loud person generally.

MGM: Let’s look at the order in which you wrote the songs. When we’ve interviewed other bands, one of the things that they’d always say, “And this last one that we just threw it together at the 11th hour and it came out like this”, have you got one of those for this album?

GINGER: Pilo Erection: We were rehearsing, coming up with new songs and Ritch always keeps saying “We haven’t got our last song”, “What do you mean we’ve not got a last song?” “We haven’t got our last song!” So we go over to the pub, we sit down and get Ritch describe to me what a ‘last song’ sounds like and he sat down and we just went through what he wanted for the last song. And we’re open to all information and then we wrote that song.

Right until the very last moment, he was just going like, “This is not working.” In fact, we’ve all agreed that song wasn’t working. It’s such a hard song to do, because it’s so ambitious. Eventually, I didn’t have enough ideas, so we just slapped it together, what had worked earlier and that sounds great as the last song.

That was definitely written as the song that finished the album. None of the rest of the tracks were written with that place in mind.

CJ: There’s definitely a democratic process in this band now. Take something like Diagnosis, it just wasn’t working for Jim [Pinder who recorded and mixed the album]. And we all said, even though he wanted it off and we’d say, “No! No! We’re gonna finish this song.” It’s a good job as it has become the favorite song on the album for a lot of people.

MGM: It has to be there, because the actual intro of that song is just incredible. Before you even settle into the song, that intro is just huge.

CJ: And you can hear it live as well. It just sounds like you need to hear it live. It’s because we all have a voice. It shows that the whole process of making this album is very different from what normally do, really different.

GINGER: It’s nice and raw, and in a climate like today, people do need something nice and raw. In this country when the politics are just through the roof bullshit, that’s when great music needs to come through. It’s all stripped down, almost like vicious intent. Nobody really wants an overproduced album from us at this point.

CJ: Ultimately, for a rock band, it’s all about that live performance that is where you cut it. We know how to release music so we can go and tour it. We could have spent a year making this album but it’s not what we’re about. When we stripped everything away we’re just four rockers that’s what we are.

GINGER: Four rockers that learned how to play. [laughs]

MGM: Final comment, the UK tour has Massive Wagons and a reformed Towers of London as well.

CJ: It’s a good line up. It’s a very good line up.

GINGER: Another thing we’ve always really been sticklers for is getting a great bill. The show starts, after the door’s open with the first band, and then when we’re finished playing, it’s always been really important to thank people who would come and pay lots of money for us to make a living as this band, by giving the best night that we’re gonna give.

CJ: Yeah, I mean the bill is, you know, it is not done overnight. There’s a lot to it, like the firm and the management, promoters. There’s quite a few bands mentioned. I think that’s a really, really important thing.

I think we’re gonna have a good night out, you know not just about the headlines, but the whole package.

The tour starts tomorrow , May 3rd in Manchester.

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Photo Credit: Chris Rugowski

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