Louder Than War’s Andy Santiago recently caught up with the “force of nature” that is Ginger Wildheart to chat about what motivates him, how he can possible be so productive, the PledgeMusic formula & how he’s finding it being just a guitarist (as opposed to a frontman also) in Courtney Love’s band.
Six full length albums in less than two years, numerous UK, European and Far Eastern tours in the same period, a triumphant sold-out tour celebrating a 20 year anniversary of a classic album and he still finds time to tour the US as guitarist for Courtney Love’s band.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the force of nature that is Ginger Wildheart.
I doubt a harder working man exists in the world of Rock today and he’s showing no signs of slowing down – if anything the work ethic is stronger than ever.
We all know about his band The Wildhearts and their legacy spanning over 2 decades, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg where Ginger is concerned. This year alone has seen the release of 2 heavy as all fuck albums under the ‘Mutation’ banner and very soon, the hugely contrasting Pop / Rock of Hey!Hello! will be unleashed in all it’s shimmering glory.
I’ve been a massive supporter of all things Ginger / Wildhearts for many, many years and when an opportunity to do a bit of an interview with the great man came my way, I was in there like swimwear!
Here’s how the conversation, via email, went.
Louder Than War: Hi Ginger, how are you and where are you today?
Ginger: I’m in sweltering New York City and I’m feeling pretty fine. How’s yerself?
You are without doubt one of the most motivated and productive men working in music today, how do you maintain such an intensive work rate? What fires you up to push so hard?
I just believe that if you can then you should. One day I might get sick or something, but while I have my health I want to work hard and leave a good legacy.
Historically I don’t do well with idle hands. It seems that I’d be busy doing something stupid if i tried to slow down, so I might as well do something productive.
‘Valor Del Corazon’ in my opinion, was a turning point in your career, would you agree and how do you feel about that album looking back on it today?
I’m very proud of that album, and thank you for the kind words.
It was a giant leap of faith at the time to make a solo album, and I still remember how nervous I was to have the name Ginger on the front. Would anyone care, would people laugh? Thankfully they did, and they didn’t!
It was also an intensely honest album and a very dark period of my life. Some of the lyrics on that album are the most truthful I’ve ever written, and it was a cathartic experience that I still rely on in my writing to this day.
It was also the album that pushed me to start my own label.
There’s no doubt the PledgeMusic formula really works for you. How far do you think it could go for bands and what could be the long term knock-on effects for the ‘Music Business’ as we know it?
For new bands it isn’t a good place to start, but it could really change the world of music if major stars were to go DIY and release albums through Pledge. All it would need is Rush, Slash and 30 Seconds To Mars to release Pledge albums to shake up the entire world and direct a massive change for the better. I live in hope that it will happen, and in the meantime i’ll just keep on making my modest albums, happily working under the radar.
Can you let slip any details about the next Pledge project? Other than it will be ‘The Ginger Wildheart Band’ and launched in august. Also, have you plans reaching beyond that for even more Pledges?
There’s little more to add. It’ll be insane, eclectic, bombastic, melodic, intense, huge and will be with you by Xmas.
After that I’d like to write and make available an acoustic album through Pledge, but I don’t tend to believe that plans will ever stay as initially designed. Things tend to move around a lot round here, i’m more than happy to say.
You seem to have been doing a lot of work on the promotion of ‘Hey! Hello!’ recently. I really love that album, it’s like an IV drip of distilled sunshine! What are the future plans for ‘H!H!’? Has there been any talk of doing it live and if so, how would that work with you playing everything on the album?
We’d like to play it live, probably using different bands in each continent. We’re still chatting about that though, so nothing is concrete. It’s more like custard.
Can you tell us more about the US tour with Courtney Love and do you think by the end of it ‘The Thrill Of It All’ will be in the set?
I don’t think that song would have suited Ms Love at all, and it’s found a much more appropriate home with Hey! Hello!
I’m absolutely loving being a guitar player again. it’s such a thrill for me, getting to provide harmonies and tight rhythm. People don’t normally see me as a guitarist, more of a singer / frontman, so it’s nice to remind myself, and others, that I can throw down some slamming guitar when given the opportunity.
The ‘Mutation’ side of things. Was that a one-off that you just needed to get out or will it be an on-going thing with more to follow?
The plan was always to make three Mutation albums, so I have little doubt that another will be recorded someday. I’ve no idea when, but can say that it doesn’t feature in any of the ideas we have lined up for 2014.
You have a strong work ethic when it comes to playing live. Are you more choosy about what gigs and tours you play these days or is it a case of “Fuck it, let’s get on the bus and do it”?
It all depends. With The Wildhearts we are very specific about where we play, and what we charge. The solo band is way more flexible, but I still won’t play somewhere without a shower, a working toilet and a clean dressing room, as I don’t see why Victoria should have to suffer just because we’re a smaller band.
If I do make an acoustic album next year then I imagine the rules will become a lot more bendy again.
Do you feel that after all these years in ‘the biz’ you are finally getting some of the recognition in the media that you deserve?
It’s about time the rest of the world caught up!
Things certainly feel like they have more relevance in regards to how music is changing to favour the innovative. Plus we’re building up enough momentum to see us through the next few years, so seeing the hard work finally paying off is something I’ve been looking forward to.
This doesn’t, however, mean that we can take our foot off the accelerator. In fact this is when we should hit the next gear.
The recent ‘Earth vs..’ gigs were a triumph, I was at 3 of them and I’ve never seen The Wildhearts looking or sounding so good. Would you say that what we saw was THE definitive Wildhearts line-up and how did you all feel about the crowd reaction at the shows?
This line up is insanely tight, and we have such a lot of fun together. I’d definitely say it’s the best Wildhearts I’ve ever been involved with. Some fans might prefer the haircut or whatever of previous members, but as a writer and musician this band shows the respect that the songs, and the fans deserve.
The crowd reaction really has been a beautiful thing to witness. We’ve all been pretty much floored by the response. Jon actually cried one night, i hope he doesn’t mind me saying that.
In 3 years it will be the 20th anniversary of ‘P.H.U.Q.’…. Just sayin’ like…
Come on, how about it?
How do you know we’ll all still be here in 3 years? The fucking aliens might have landed by then and started selling us as ornaments. Let’s take things a few months at a time, eh?
Your birthday shows have become the stuff of legend, is there anything you’d like to divulge about this years and what we might be seeing at the gig?
All information about the Birthday Bash will continue to adopt a policy of strict secrecy. This is largely down to not wanting to spoil the surprise, and not actually knowing what the hell is happening ourselves.
You are a firm supporter of new UK talent, are there any bands you would like to mention at this point who you think are destined for greatness or just make a great fucking noise? Baby Godzilla for example?
I think Baby Godzilla are tremendous and I expect amazing things to follow them around like a large magnetic puppy. I’d like to see God Damn and Raven Vandelle get some proper attention too. Watch this space.
Oh, and I really want to get LaFaro on tour with The Wildhearts someday.
How’s the ‘Splattermania’ book progressing and have you set yourself a time for it to be finished by?
Writing a book is a full time occupation, and can’t easily be shunted around to fit in with touring and recording. I’m going to have to come back to it when I have time to devote to getting stuck in.
I’d like to think that it’ll be finished in 2015.
In a career that spans 3 decades, has there anything you really regret or really wish you had done differently? Or would you not have had it any other way?
I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. My life is insane right now, and I couldn’t wish to have more going on in it, and that’s a product of everything that has happened to this point, good and bad.
I’m very grateful and hope that things just carry on exactly how they are.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I’ve not covered?
Check out Nails – Abandon All Life. You deserve it.
As Ginger mentioned, the brand new Pledge Music campaign for ‘The Ginger Wildheart Band’ will be launched next month and will doubtless break all previous Pledge Music records previously set by ‘555%’ and the Mutation / Hey!Hello pledge.
The term ‘National Treasure’ is frequently misused but in the case of Mr Ginger Wildheart it couldn’t be more fucking apt.
Support the man and his endeavours on every level for he may well be the true saviour of music, and in this day and age, we need musicians like him more than ever.
All thanks to Ginger for taking time out of his obscenely busy schedule to answer my questions and thanks to Gav, the super-manager for setting it up.
All words by Andy Santiango. More of Andy’s writing for Louder Than War can be found in his author’s archive.