Braving the by now biting cold wind I was led to a chalet door at this year’s Hard Rock Hell festival in Prestatyn North Wales and eventually summoned into the warmth inside, warmth not just from the rather tired 1980’s storage heater but from the man himself. Ginger Wildheart famed wild man of rock sat at the table in front of me, a nearly full shot glass by his hand next to a copy of Ace Frehley’s autobiography ‘No Regrets’, a title which could just as easily be applied to him.
I ask, How much are you looking forward to facing the famous Ginger Wildheart crowd in a few hours time?
“ I don’t really know if they are ‘my crowd’” he replies “like any festival really but more so here with it perhaps being more of a Metal festival than a crossover or Rock’N’ Roll show, and I like a challenge you know, I like to feel a bit anxious before we go on, I’m thinking are we going to die here or are we going to go down well but the good news is it’s fucking freezing out there so everyone’s going to have to be indoors!”
PlanetMosh:And then you embark on a full U.K. tour?
“Well, we’re off to Helsinki first and then we come back and start the Christmas tour which ends with my Birthday bash in London on the 17th (December) and then we’ve added another date on the 18th , then I have a nervous breakdown and get on a flight and off for a holiday for Christmas”
PM:Is the London Birthday gig different to others, more relaxed?
“It is, I’ve got to say that since the first one I’ve got into this routine of going out and buying a lamp, I sit at a table with my drink and a book and a big setlist stuck on the wall, a real relaxed kind of vibe”
PM:Earlier in the year you launched the TRIPLE ALBUM PROJECT through PLEDGEMUSIC, which went mental, did the success of it knock you back at all?
“Mate, I didn’t even know if it was going to get 100%, we had 60 days to reach the target which it did in just 6 hours! And then I suddenly realised, oh my God, I’ve now got to record a triple album. To see it now at 400+% (a world record) is amazing, I’ve never broken records before in my life and it just goes to show that the fans are the most awesome fans in the world. I was really considering quitting at that point and they did come to my aid and threw me a lifejacket”
PM:How difficult is it for bands nowadays to get music out there without major backing?
“Like anything, making it work is a process. You’ve got to go through failure to get success, if failure puts you off you’re not going to do it anyway, if you get success too quick that’s not going to work for you either. Right now it’s much more DIY, you’ve got to be hands on, you’ve got to know how to talk to your audience, how to appreciate your audience. You’ve also got to be good and you’ve got to know how to use the internet and if you’re not going to do one of the above then your times short. Ok, you might scrape by for a while but reality will bite you on the arse because what you’re doing isn’t the truth and no matter how much you try to create an illusion it’s still not the truth and will be revealed as such. Forging a relationship with your supporters, that is the only truth and if you don’t have a relationship with your fans your screwed mate and you kind of deserve it.”
PM:And is that why the live music scene is still as important?
“Yeah, and the bands that have always believed that are actually good bands now because they’ve played for so long. Bands who’s management have just been telling them “Oh just make a pretty video and we’ll get it on the telly” now they’ve got to go out and work hard and put in the 10,000 hours on the road before they get to be any good. You can’t decide that live is where it’s at and all of a sudden you’re going to be good at it, it doesn’t work like that, there’s bands out there that have been slogging for years and are only now going “Hang on this could be our time” and if they have a really good relationship with their fans they can go and do a pledge album and the people will stick by them. In history you’ll often find that the underdog has the advantage and maybe this one of those times.”
PM:Going back a bit you auctioned one of your guitars to raise funds for the British Red Cross and the Japanese Tsunami relief effort which raised thousands of pounds. How did you get involved with the fundraising? Your quote after the auction which I thought was so touching was “The money will mean more to some than the memories mean to me”.
“Well thank you, Japan is and always has been really important to me, even before I first went over there with the Wildhearts I was always curious about Japan, when I was a kid I used to eat with chopsticks and me Mam used to think I was just daft! I don’t know what it is, I’ve always had a love and fascination for the place and then since going there and seeing how loyal and beautiful the people are. That horrible tv footage, I was sat in my hotel room in Finland when it happened and I was just crying. I’m not a rich man, I don’t have money to give to the Tsunami relief effort and all that I had that was worth anything was that guitar and so I got in touch with a few people and said “Listen, this is the only way I can help”. They’ve been helping me for the best part of 20 years now and now I could give something back and ironically the person who bought the guitar was actually from Sendai where those first images of the Tsunami were shot”
PM:Finally, you’ve seen the music scene change over the year’s, do you think Rock music is as strong now as it’s ever been?
“I just think you only have to look at all these magazines with their plummeting sales figures and yet publications like Kerrang’s are going up, Rock music is as strong now as it’s ever been, and I say this every year because people think it’s some flash in the pan. Rock music is going to be here as long as there are guitars, cars and girls! We’re fine, it’s never going to go away, there are more great young bands out there now and more ways of good bands being able to get out there, working hard and getting the attention they deserve without having to have the right cheekbones or the right amount of money put behind them. Rock music has now joined up with its constituents, it’s joined up with the reason for it being popular in the first place, its working class music for people who work hard all week and then at the weekend party hard and it’s time for the musicians to work just as hard”
With that, my all too brief an audience with this truly gifted and often misunderstood man was over and the sub zero temperatures of the night beckoned. I left Ginger behind with his book and drink and warm chalet but took with me a sense that even after so many years in the business his passion and desire to create is as strong as ever.
Catch Ginger on tour throughout the U.K. this month.
Photo by David Farrell.