I’ve always admired Paul McCartney, not because I’m a massive Beatles fan but because he is an amazing song writer that doesn’t stick to one musical genre. Then you come across Ginger Wildheart (Paul McCartney on speed). Where most bands kick out a good album every two year, you can expect 2 or 3 a year from Ginger. What’s truly amazing though is they are all great, and just like Mr McCartney they can be any musical genre from Country to Hard Metal.
I first saw Ginger many years ago back in The Quireboys days in a small club in Nottingham called Mardi Gras, it was a great night but little did we know what was going to happen after Sharon Osbourne fired him.
In this interview Ginger talks about the New Wildhearts Album 21st Century Love Songs, his love for country and so much more, enjoy.
You seem to be very approachable to fans and generous with your time, but meeting your idols face to face can be nerve-wracking. Have you ever met any of your idols and been nervous?
Oh yeah, I’m nervous meeting anyone who’s been a big influence on me. Usually they’re so established that they have experience in putting people at ease, and the conversation becomes easier. I’ve met some heroes, who are now ex heroes, who seem to like intimidating you, obviously revenge for being a nervous person when they themselves were younger. But those people lose as many fans as they gain. Now I see those same people today, old, paranoid and unfulfilled.
The people who have taught me how to behave with fans, they realise how fortunate they are. And their cool never goes away.
In the song The Pendine Incident you tell us of a Geordie with amazing stories. Given your extensive career you must have loads of great stories, do you have one you can share with our readers?
Jane is reminding about when I lived in New York, and Fox News Network had a space that they asked me to fill. I was looking after Taylor, my little boy, that day, he was only about 6 months old. I asked if I could take him on telly with me. He cried and cried right up until the show went live and the cameras started rolling, at which point he stopped on cue, and just stared intensely at Greg Gutfeld who was interviewing me. He was silent for the entire interview, and as soon as they went to their next segment he started screaming like a banshee again. Brilliant timing.
What was the moment, the artist, the song you heard that made you think I want to be a Rock Star?
I never wanted to be a rock star, but I knew I wanted to be in a band when I saw The Sweet on Top Of The Pops and the guitar player had a sticker that said “shit’. At that point I figured it would be good fun getting away with murder for a living.
Later I got into songs and songwriters, and their mastery of words, chords and melodies fascinated me. I started out singing harmonies to any songs that didn’t have them, and started writing my own songs. They say that a person should spend 10,000 hours on something they like doing before they’ve passed their apprenticeship. That’s roughly ten years. So as you can imagine, my first ten years of songs had some of the worst lyrics ever written by anyone. Soppy, generic love songs mainly. But by the time I moved from The North East to London I was writing stuff that people seemed to like.
You have often expressed your admiration for Dolly Parton and country music in general which has been an influence in your recent solo albums. What turned you on to country?
I have loved Country since I was a little kid. There would always be a country single in the charts, and I’d just be drawn into it more than the other stuff on the radio. The stories within the songs, the harmonies, the lift into the chorus, these are things I still feature in my songs to this day.
Obviously Dolly Parton was a permanent figure in the British charts, and I was just fascinated by her. I eventually got to meet her a while ago, where she signed my ribs and I promised to get it tattooed. Which I did that same night.
When the charts got irredeemably shit in the 80’s, and my mates were listening to heavy metal, I started tracking down what was going on in Country, where I found Maria McKee (who was encouraged by Dolly herself), Jason & the Scorchers, The Long Ryders and a few more bands kicking off what was to become Alt-country. And the love has just continued to this day.
The Last Wildhearts album was exceptional for any band neverminded one so well established. What can we expect from the new album?
Renaissance Men reminded me of the unfiltered energy of Earth Vs, and the new album, called 21st Century Love Songs, reminds me of PHUQ, when I wanted to see what else we could do well as a band. It’s a very ‘interesting’ album, lots of parts, big riffs and big choruses. I think older Wildhearts fans will get a big kick out of it, and I’m sure there’s enough exciting things going on for newer fans to enjoy.
Do you have any plans to do more solo material in the vain of “Ghost in Tanglewood”, “The Pessimist’s Companion”?
I have another band called Ginger Wildheart & the Sinners, which takes my love of folk and country, and matches it with my love for Georgia Satellites, Jason & the Scorchers, Creedence, The Band, The Stones, Hoodoo Gurus and all the roots rock n roll stuff that I’ve always loved. We are negotiating with American labels and should have a single out by Xmas, with the album to follow next year.
We have new Wildhearts gigs to look forward to, but will we get to see you tour your solo material this year?
Yes, I do plan on taking The Sinners out on tour just as soon as venues start opening up again. I really love this band and can’t wait for people to get to know them. It’s an effortlessly great outfit with such a natural groove, skilled players and three part harmonies. In fact if someone described a new band/album like that I’d be very excited to check them out.
If you had to pick just one what was the best gig you ever played and why?
I’d have to say the Wildhearts at Download, the year they unplugged the power for fear of us starting a riot on the crowd. We were just on form at that show, and the audience just kept getting larger, and wilder and more into it. A few people started throwing shit, at which time I said “when I used to go to festivals as a kind, people KNEW how to throw stuff”, and got them to put some passion behind it. At which point they started REALLY throwing stuff!
It was magical, we seemed like we had an anti-magnetic force around us, not one thing hit any of us. By the end the thing had turned into a proper, old school festival party which made the organisers nervous, and they pull the plug on us. Magical.
What was the best gig you attended?
I’d have to say …Trail Of Dead in New York, on my last evening as a drunk. They were amazing, I almost got in a fight with some other drunken guy, and I ended up on their bus getting hammered until they left, at which point I couldn’t get a lift home. So I started walking in one direction until I couldn’t walk anymore and fell asleep in a shop doorway. When I woke up I was about 60 feet from my house. The next day I got sober for a year and a half.
Your struggles with metal health are well documented in your tweets and music, and you have always been a great help to others, how have you copped with lock down?
I’ve just kept really busy, writing, recording and planning for the future. If there’s one thing I do well it is escaping boredom. Now I just recorded one album that I wrote for (The Wildhearts) I’m mixing another that I wrote for (the Sinners) and soon I’ll start recording another solo album that I also wrote. Lockdown has motivated me to always keep going.
Finally thanks again and behalf of all fans out there I would just like to say we can’t wait to see you back on that stage.
And I assure you I can’t wait to get back on that stage. See you soon I hope.
You can check out even more from Ginger below.