Guitarist CJ of The Wildhearts is a busy guy. Besides his main band he has a nice solo career on the side and he also likes to keep himself busy with his other big passion, namely cooking spicy food. ThisIsNotAScene caught up with him in the Yorkshire countryside to discuss his upcoming solo album, entitled “Mable”, the remarkable success of Ginger Wildheart’s pledge campaign and his passion for cooking.
Ginger Wildheart has really made quite an impression on how he managed to raise enough money to record a couple of albums via crowdfunding. How did it all went down?
Yes, the whole pledge thing started out when Ginger asked his fan-base to donate money to him via pledge.com in order to record new music. We didn’t hava a record deal at the time and the whole pledge thing went through the roof, so Ginger went on to use this method to raise funds for a slew of other projects as well. Although I didn’t participate on Ginger’s “Albion” album, I did play on his “555%” album, which was entirely financed by crowdfunding. The pledge campaign for that album was a stunning success, which inspired me to do a similar thing for my own album, called “Mable”.
I really like the whole idea of of artists being able to sell their music directly to their fans. You don’t have to deal with the shenanigans of any record company and you’re in full control of your own artistic output. That’s not to say that I’m appreciative of what record companies can do for bands, but I really like doing business this way. It’s really much simpler, because it’s basically me and my manager Gavin running the whole operation.
What do you think are the basic rules of running a successful pledge campaign?
You really need to have a loyal fanbase, otherwise any pledge campaign is doomed to fail. It’s also about truly believing in the product that you are making. If you don’t believe in your own music, how can you expect other people to buy your product? You need to be sincere in what you are doing as an artist. Throughout the years I did lots of touring with The Wildhearts, so we managed to build a solid fan-base. Without one you’re lost as an artist. It also helps when you’re able to record your own music. That way you don’t need a external producer and an expensive studio. It’s a great way to reduce the costs and to stay in total control of your creative output.
Do you think crowdfunding is the way forward for bands and musicians now the music industry is pretty much in shambles?
I don’t know whether the whole music industry is in shambles as you put it, but things certainly have changed. Labels don’t have the money anymore to really invest in their bands that are no longer viable. Crowdfunding is a great way for artists and bands to get their music directly to their fans, but it means a lot of work. Like I said before, I’m really appreciative of what labels have done for me and The Wildhearts in the past, but I rather embrace the future and all the new possibilities that come with it. What currently is happening in the music industry is very much the same thing that happened with other types of business. If you don’t embrace new developments and adjust your business accordingly, you’ll be out of business really soon.
What I really love about The Wildhearts is the fact that the music is incredibly layered, but it’s accessible at the same time. How do you guys managed to pull it off?
Thank you for your kind words. That’s kind of the thing that happens when Ginger and I plug our guitars in and start playing together. Whatever we’ll play it will end up sounding as The Wildhearts. The band sound revolves around our individual styles and preferences as a musician. The way Ginger and I sound when we harmonize our vocals is also a big part of what makes The Wildhearts sound like it does. We’re also good musicians, not virtuosos if you will, but we really know how to play our instruments. No matter how outlandish or all over the place our music gets, we’re always in control. My favourite guitarists are Angus Young (AC/DC) and BB King. They may not be the most technical players on the block, but they have their own distinctive that is full of melody, textures and emotion. That’s what guitar playing is all about for me. I don’t care about playing a 1000 notes per second. If you want to put a guitar solo in a song, it should enhance the song, otherwise you might as well drop it. If said song is totally dependent on the guitar solo that’s in it, it’s simply a poorly written song. It’s all about being able to write a decent tune (laughs).
You’re also working on a new album called “Mable”. What’s the latest on that and what can we expect?
Yes, that’s my solo album. It’s basically the reflection of living in London for three years and trying to have a regular life. I’ve been in the music business for so long that I really needed to take a break from it all in order to get back to earth again. I started a cleaning company with eight employees, but I soon found out that a regular life is nothing for me. It was good for one thing though. It really made me appreciate being a musician again and how blessed I am that I’m able to make a living out being a musician.
The album itself contains some of the heaviest stuff I’ve written as a solo artist, but it also features influences from dance, house and rap. The material on “Mable” is all over the place, but that’s exactly what I like about it (laughs).
Another fun fact is that you have your own line of hot sauces, called “Chili Devil Sauces”. How did that came about and where can you get them?
Cooking is my other main passion. Creating dishes is basically my punk rock. It’s almost a spiritual experience for me. I really like to cook spicy food and at some point I started out experimenting with different ingredients and after a while I come up with this great recipe for a new chili sauce. It’s available under the “Chili Devil Sauces” moniker and you can buy it alongside my new album and you can also buy it during the upcoming Wildhearts tour. I’m also in talks with some specialised retail stores. They’re really into the product, so it should be available soon. I was actually planning to release a cookbook together with “Mable”, but that plan got shelved. I’ll probably release it when my next solo record will see the light of day.
What’s next for you as far as touring and other possible projects are concerned?
I’ll be doing a short UK tour with The Wildhearts next month. The Von Hertzen Brothers will be a part of the package too. Our old bassist will be a part of this too, so it should be great fun sharing the stage with him again. Ginger is working on a million different projects. He’s has so many things going on that I really lost count in all honesty. There are talks about doing a new Wildhearts records within the next five years are so. We’re really want to do this, but it’s quite a challenge of getting all the members in the same room. That’s the most honest answer that I can give you at this stage. Chances are that you probably find out what’s next before I do, but that’s what I really love being in The Wildhearts. You never know what’s next (laughs).