He’s one of the most endearing men in rock and he’s one of our own. South Shields native and Newcastle United fan Ginger is still fronting one of the UK’s finest rock bands in the shape of award winning noiseniks The Wildhearts.
This month the band celebrate the release of modern classic Chutzpah! with a full UK tour and as well as making sure we check ’em out we’ve got the lowdown on loadsa stuff from the one-time Quireboy.
rushonrock: With another singalong rock classic in the shape of Chutzpah! under your belt just how difficult is it to keep the creative juices flowing these days?
Ginger: I suppose it’s like ‘how does rushonrock keep writing sentences?’. It’s just what I do. It’s all down to the inspiration that I get to pick the guitar up. It’s just business as usual but these days I’m inspired by absolutely everything. I’m on a journey towards self-improvement and I’m just trying to track down more information on this thing called happiness. I’ve always got a different take on it. The only thing which dries writers up is when they stop learning about themselves and they stop saying everything they have to say.
rushonrock: Do you ever wonder what a life without music might be like?
Ginger: I spend as much time wondering what a life without music would be like as I do wondering what a life without a cock would be like. I don’t give any thought to it at all, not really. It’s what I am now. I don’t even question what I do or who I am any more. I’ve been through so many changes in the music business – and I’m probably going through the biggest one right now – that it doesn’t affect me at all anymore. I’m a reporter on the human condition and if I wasn’t writing songs I’d be writing books. That’s just who I am.
rushonrock: Were you a prolific writer as a kid?
Ginger: I used to enjoy writing stories at school and I still enjoy writing now. I enjoy the feeling of a pen in my fingers. I think I always thought I’d finish with writing and come to my senses. I’d always enjoyed writing but I wasn’t interested in expressing myself or opening myself up. I was a bit of a late bloomer in that respect. In the North East of England we’re not really encouraged to express ourselves – that why football is such a big thing in Newcastle. It’s an acceptable outpouring of emotion. You really have to be sure of what you’re going to say if you’re a Geordie. You’re certainly not allowed to have flights of literary fancy if there’s nothing substantial to it.
rushonrock: The North East has clearly shaped your outlook on life.
Ginger: When you leave you’re always welcomed back but your families don’t want you to leave again. That’s why people move out of their mam’s house and move to a place just around the corner. Once you take the plunge and leave the area you realise that the world’s not a very big place after all. But it doesn’t always go down that well.
rushonrock: When you look at something like the Mercury Music Awards do you despair at the lack of recognition rock music gets in the UK?
Ginger: To be honest I spend no time thinking about that at all. If something doesn’t embrace all facets of music or whatever then it’s not really worth bothering about. It’s just another bunch of narrow minded nonsense that’s huge as far as the people involved in the awards are concerned. In reality it’s just a bunch of ‘cool’ guys with high cheekbones. I’m a career musician and the Mercury Music Awards are not aimed at people like me. It’s aimed at flash-in-the-pan artists and awards are all a little bit silly.
rushonrock: Newcastle is on your tour itinerary this time. Can you imagine missing the city out?
Ginger: There have been many tours when we haven’t played Newcastle. We’ve done tours when the venues in Newcastle just haven’t wanted to book us. Everyone who’s been in a band as long as we have gets used to being flavour of the month. We’ve become the flavour of shit and then the flavour of chicken korma. But every time we do come back to Newcastle it’s always one of the best received gigs of the tour. Everything changes so much in the world of agents and producers that it’s not a real working environment and too often we’re in their hands. Fortunately I know the true extent of the relationship we have with our audience I know they’ll always turn up and they know they’ll always get a great show. I think we’re a good horse to back right now and people are expecting good things from us. We’ve had a lot of great reviews and some great exposure and it looks like things are turning around for us again.
rushonrock: What advice would you give to an upcoming North East band like Dirty Rock And Roll in terms of taking the next step?
Ginger: That all depends upon what they sound like and what they want from life. Are they all ambitious of do they have one lad who’s happy doing what he’s doing and in his own little comfort zone? First off I’d advise them to move out of the area and spend some time gigging anywhere in Sweden, or Helsinki or Berlin. They need to get used to travelling and get out of the North East. And I’m not just talking about going to London. New bands need to stop waiting for the world to come to them and take their band to the world. They need to widen their horizons no matter how much they love life in the North East.