The Wildhearts are usual visitors in Finland. The band from Newcastle has gone through good and tough times during their career, but after two decades, they are still on the road, more alive than ever. They recently visited Estonia for first time to play at Rabarock, the biggest summer festival of the Baltic state, and we had a long and very interesting talk with Ginger, their leader and founder, after they performed an amazing gig. Without doubt, this must be one of the most interesting interviews ever published at FREE! Magazine, so do not miss it!
The Estonian audience was not very big during the concert, but The Wildhearts did not seem to mind. You could notice how they were having fun on stage and feeling at ease (maybe helped by the view of some Estonian beauties around). But honestly, I did not know what to expect when accessing the backstage of the festival to meet Ginger. Organization’s rules were so strict that my photographer could not even step with me inside. But same than Ginger defined during the interview Lemmy from Motörhead as a real gentleman, I could say the same about him. He was funny, friendly, polite and intelligent in his comments; A man who has seen the dark side of rock & roll, and was able to go through it and be reborn stronger than ever. I think this must be one of the best interviews I have ever had so far while doing FREE! Magazine. It was easy and natural to talk to Ginger while smoking cigarettes and having a beer, sitting at the sofa of the backstage, and if it would have not been for the hurry of the organizers, we could have continued talking long after the recorder was turned off. Apart from a great interview, I came back home with a set list signed by the entire band, a guitar pick, and a great hug goodbye from Ginger. You cannot ask for more from one guy who is a true legend of the dirtiest and more mischievous side of hard rock!
Thanks a lot for attending us Ginger! What do you think of Rabarock festival, here in Estonia, after your performance?
This festival? I loved it! It is so cool; there are so many pretty girls! My mind is blowing! They are so beautiful. For me, and for the rest of the band, coming from England, it is a bit of a shock!
When did you arrive?
Just last night
Is your first time in Estonia?
Yes. And I want to come back! I liked the atmosphere; they know how to have a good time. So I am very happy with the experience.
You are also usual visitors in Finland. How the atmosphere is when you play there, compared to Estonia?
Kind of the same, it is very open. A lot of countries are very dedicated to what they listen to, and some other countries are very open. If it sounds good, it is good. And I like that about Finland, I like that about Estonia. Some countries you go to, and it is hard to get through them.
Some other foreign bands I have interviewed said that audience can be a bit cold in these countries, but they know how to appreciate the music. Do you have that same feeling?
Yes, as long as the music provokes something in the people, then there is a relationship. The music is not just what is going onstage and selling something. It has never been like that. We go onstage and people want to have some fun and you know, as many other bands, we have had hard times, we have had drug problems, we have had things going really wrong, but the heart of the band is still to have fun; to enjoy life, to be positive.
How do you feel about those tough and hard times, if you look back into the past now? Do you see life with a different perspective?
Well, I think that when you get older, your perspective improves. And you always have hard times; everyone has hard times, now there is a recession going on around the whole world, so your perspective changes and you find also some good and positive sides in everything. Back in the days, back in the 90s, we didn´t find anything positive, we would always have a very negative vibe.
Because we were all… drug addicts… hehehe So everything was bad, and then you got the drugs and everything was good, and then everything went bad again.
Actually I just read the book by Nikki Sixxx
Ah the Heroin Diaries!
Yeah, it was amazing how he describes so well that you could have everything, fame, money, women, but still feeling so bad and empty.
That is why I tried to remember all the time, just because you have no money, just because you have problems in your relationships, etc do not feel that you are alone, because that is happening all over, you know, you can have good times and bad times, but it is all about how you make it. There is a great Chinese proverb that says that it is not about how a man falls, it is about how a man gets over it, and I always believe that. Things can go wrong, but it is about how you find something positive in that. That is what my attitude is all about these days.
Yeah, people from outside can think “oh people in rock bands have everything we dream of”! But in the end everybody has the same kind of problems, isn’t it?
Look, relationships problems are always the same, either if you are broke or if you have money. Problems with your confidence… etc. It is all about finding something good, remembering something that you love, little tricks like that. This morning I woke up and I was in a terrible mood, and my girlfriend told me “remember the things that you love”. Tell somebody that you love them!, and that will make you feel better.
So do you believe in karma?
Well, I understand karma as meaning “action”. Karma is not something that comes back to you; karma is about something that you do. And that why people get it wrong, so I think that karma is how you behave. If you are being negative, and things keep going wrong, it is awful, but when you are positive, things start to improve, it really is the truth.
I am going to make a long jump in time to the 80s, when The Quireboys, your former band, got started. You were sacked from the band. What do you remember of it?
Well, I was a fucking crazy bastard! I was drinking, I was taking so many drugs, I mean, I would have sacked myself from the band!
Were you pissed off with the decision at that time?
Ohh, yeah, I was pissed off at that time, but because I thought the entire whole world was against me. Then I just realized that I was being unprofessional while they were trying to go to the next level. And they did go to the next level! The band became very successful; it could have not made that step with me at that time. And The Wildhearts screwed it so bad many times because of me in the past.
Ginger: I would have sacked myself from The Quireboys!
Have you been in the situation of taking the phone and telling the guys “sorry guys, I was behaving like an asshole”?
Oh yeah, I have seen the guys of The Quireboys since, I have seen Spike and he understands that we were too young and crazy. Let’s face it, if in your life you are going to have a period acting crazy, you better do it when you are young! Because then you can possibly get over it. I had all my crazy acts at the time when I should have been crazy. In my 20s and my early 30s. Now I am in my 40s and I cannot be crazy no more. I have got babies, I have go responsibilities! But you know, I have no regrets, I have had a fantastic time and one day I will write a book and the “crazy times” will be the “good chapters” in the book, where people go like “oh my god, oh my god”!
Now you have a new album, Chutzpah! What can we expect form it?
Oh, it sounds so great! We worked with a producer called Jacob Hansen, who has produced Volbeat, and we are all very big fans of Volbeat, and he is just an incredible producer, so talented! It sounds like a very expensive record.
You recorded 19 songs for it, didn’t you?
Yes, we recorded 19 songs but the album has just 10 songs. But what we are going to do is, and we talked about this just yesterday, is that we hope that we are going to have a limited edition where everyone in the band makes their own cover and everyone in the band has their personal bonus track. So for the first thousand copies of the album we would have that bonus track and a band cover.
Years ago, when I was basically a child, albums used to have 15-16 songs. Now all the new albums have 10-11. Is that trend ok for u or would you like the albums released to be longer?
Well, like I said, I like to keep up with the times. And now there is so much music out there that people do not have time to pay attention. Doing a longer album now is expecting too much. You have to make them short but make the people really listen to the band. Then maybe they will listen to the whole album. I still love albums, I still buy albums. I do not download songs. I still need real albums. But I also understand that people do not need albums anymore. They need a kind of “soundtrack to their busy lives”. But they still need the live experience, they still need to go to the concerts; they still need to meet people, they still need to meet partners. And the music and the concerts make possible more people meet and have sex and socialize. That is actually the main thing! It always was and it always will be, and not marketing things or selling albums or whatever.
I know that you are a very active blogger in the official site of The Wildhearts. How do you see the impact of the new technologies and the possibilities of keeping closer contact with the fans?
Oh yeah! I use Twitter all the time as well, keeping it as part of the fun. I think now it is the most important time in music ever because I came into this as a punk, and punk was all about sharing, talking to the people and then the 80s turned out and it was all about glam rock and not talking to the people, it was about being mysterious. I am not very good at being mysterious, I like talking to the people. I love to talk and find that we are all the same, that we all love music, that we have the same spirit.
You shared tour with The Darkness and you have always spoken very well of them. They were advertised as “the next big band”, but then we all know the problems they had gone through. Why is so difficult for new bands to break through, is it really so difficult to be original nowadays?
Well, to go from being a small band to headlining in festivals should take around 10 years. There is a theory about 10000 hours so well, you go to work 10000 hours to be good, to consider yourself good at what you do. Some people can get confident and success really quickly, but it is not natural. With The Darkness, it just happened too quickly. If the people just allow them to be a small band, or at least a big band playing small venues, but when we toured with them in America, the first half was in small venues and they were sold out completely. They got to play for a complete week at a venue and it was always sold out. So the second half of the tour were big venues and was not sold out. That hit the band’s confidence. The band was not the same band after that. And that is what I meant, people pushed them too quick. People do not remember that Led Zeppelin or The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, they did not make it in a year or in two years. 10 years is a nice period to make it.
Ginger: I am not very good at being mysterious. I like talking to the people
It just seems that people are a bit too desperate to find the “next big thing”. Since Guns & Roses, people do not see big new hard rock bands.
Well, everyone gets a change now. It is all about how good you are. It is not about how good your record company is, or how good your marketing team is or your management. It is about how good you are on stage in front of people. I am talking about something that has been since music first began. It is about communication. When a band understands communication, which is where the bands are making the money now. Bands just go onstage and it is like watching a movie, people do not feel anything for that. And people do not have so much money now, so they are going to be selective about what they spend money on. When recession is over, people will be confident again to spend money, but when that takes place, you better know how to speak to the audience instead of trying to sell something. A good show is not selling anything apart from a good time.
Well, it is interesting now that you talk about the audience that you released not so long time ago the DVD Live in the Studio, where The Wildhearts are just there playing alone with no audience. Where the ideas come from? Was just a kind of “fuck you and we do what we want” to everybody?
Well, that was actually from our good friend Tim Smith, he directed that, and he wanted to have a very close and personal DVD, about us playing in the studio, just showing the band being able to play. And I must admit that I did not like the idea at first. But I think it has a charm, it has a beauty in it. It is a bit strange, and I like things that are strange, because they make you think. Any art should make people think. Maybe people in 100 or 200 years will look back at it and will say “That was such a crazy and brave thing to do!”
And the sense of humor around the DVD was great, with a lot of edgy comments
Yeah, it was strange but I liked it. The same, we had an album called Endless Nameless, which is my favorite Wildhearts’ album, and it is such a strange one, because it is so noisy, but I love it! The fans hate it! But I think it still works well as an artistic statement. It makes people think.
You will play in Finland, England… what is next for 2009?
Japan. Then I have a solo album to record on Christmas and a solo tour. I am very busy and I am happy that I am busy.
Q&A with Ginger
Favorite city in the world?
Irish Whisky. Jameson or Black Bush or Bushmills. Anything from that family.
Craziest thing that has happened on or offstage through the years?
The last time we played at Bulldog Bash I was attacked by one of the Hells Angels, who was doing security, because he misheard something I said. He put his hand on my neck and that was pretty crazy, I thought I was going to die! Luckily the rest of the Hells Angels came and were like “hey, he did not say that!”
Is it true that you saw ghosts at Tutbury Castle during your stay there?
We saw some strange things. We were filming in the room one day and we saw little white lights glowing around. It was really strange. But I must say it was not so paranormal. I have had a lot of paranormal experiences, me and Scott were in a ranch in Malibu in 2005 and that was very paranormal! There was a lot of weird shit going on! A lot of crazy noises coming from anywhere. There are things we don´t know, and it is nothing sinister, it is just… something.
You said about the song “Yoni” and you have had a very promiscuous life. You have traveled and being around, so where do you think that are the hottest girls in the world?
Well, I must say that some of the girls here in Estonia are fucking hot, but I must say that the hottest girls in the world are in New York City, because they are from all over the world
Do you remember the last album you bought?
Yes, the last CD I bought was… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Death by the homonymous band. Wonderful, wonderful album!
Best band to tour with?
AC/DC and Motörhead, especially with Lemmy. He represents all the good sides of a rock musician: he is intelligent, funny and a gentleman.
Photos of Rabarock gig by Tarvet Kullman