ThisIsNotAScene‘s Steve Fallows sat down with iconic Wildhearts frontman Ginger Wildheart to discuss his Pledge campaign, his GASS fan club and what the future holds for the workaholic singer.
First of all, congratulations on another hugely successful Pledge campaign. Despite the bizarre reactions of a few people online, did you expect such a huge response so quickly?
I wasn’t expecting this response at all. I’ve never had a response like this, even on the campaigns where I won event of the year at Classic Rock, and we aren’t even a month in. It’s going to be interesting to see where this goes from here, I mean, things usually pick up around the middle of a campaign until the end. If that’s the case then this one is going to eclipse 555% by some margin.
Tell us a bit more about Songs & Words?
The book is the story of 20 years as a songwriter, told through the songs themselves. The stories behind the songs, and the life behind the stories. It goes very dark indeed before finally coming out into the light around 2012. The ’90s was a particularly harrowing time of huge career derailments, personal disasters and hopeless drug abuse, and as an avid reader I know that makes a fucking good story. Obviously I’d feel far less comfortable writing about those times if my life hadn’t turned around, as it has today, but I’m aware that personal dramas make for good reading and I don’t intend on pulling any punches, nor do I need to embellish on the truth. This is a naturally very dark tale with an awesome ending!
As well as frequently breaking Pledge servers, you have also brought back the old-school fan club idea with GASS. How has that lived up to the original idea? It seems a massive body of work.
It was a huge challenge that I needed to set myself after the failing of ‘The Singles Club’ (in 2001) where I promised to release a 3-song single every month for a year, but the record label pulled the funds after five singles. Ever since then I’ve worn that guilt of letting people down, as well as my own goals, and needed to let myself know that I could have done it. So I did it with GASS while turning the challenge into a forward thinking, digital version of a fan club, something that my younger fans are probably unaware even used to exist. I wanted to provide an insane amount of value for money, and let people know that some musicians want to work hard for their fans.
It was a massive body of work, but with all 36 songs written and recorded I can look back on the last 12 months with pride and move on.
As used as you are to collaborations this year has been an eclectic mix with The Wildhearts/Hey! Hello! tour, Courtney Love’s band and the ongoing GASS work. Do you find it easy to switch between projects so often?
I don’t think I’d be much good at sticking with one project to be honest, I get distracted and bored too easily. I need the thrill of something new to sustain my interest. I thrive when faced with challenges and I’m at my best when I need to think quick, so my different projects all benefit from getting 100% of my total interest for as long as it’s needed for them to be completed. I can’t see myself settling down yet either, as I get older my attention span shortens and I need more stimulus. New stuff excites the fuck out of me, to be honest.
For all the successes, this year you have been very frank and open about your battles with depression. What was it that made it possible for you to open up to such a large audience?
The answer is the audience, plain and simple. I feel like I’m sharing my experiences and, in this day and age, I get instant feedback, support and empathy. I’m amazed at how many people suffer from the same ailment as I do, and I’m glad to be there as support for them, as well as provide a sympathetic soundtrack as we all grow older. And believe me it works just as effectively the other way around. The community of people around me and my music believe this too. I see them helping each other, and I can’t think of anything more satisfying than that. People helping other people live a better life is worth more money than anyone could spend, and I’m honoured to be a part of that positivity in some way.
You have recently teased about being inspired to write new Wildhearts material. What can you tell us about this? Album? Shows?
Shows? Definitely. We’re due a September 20th Anniversary of the “PHUQ” album, and I believe in celebrating anniversaries, especially since I’ve known so many people who haven’t made it this far. We’re still here so let’s party!
An album? That’s a fantasy of mine that I’m not sure shouldn’t stay a fantasy. I’ve seen a lot of fantasies come true and, to be honest, I preferred most of them when they were in my head. And I often think that making another album with The Wildhearts would be like that. I would love to work with the lads again but there are so many inherent personal issues within that organisation that it would go against most of what I’ve set up since the last Wildhearts album came out, failed and the band fell apart again.
One day I’ll be into the idea of writing new material then the next I haven’t got a clue what I’d write about. I wish I felt more positive about it but I’d be lying if I said it was something I believed in 100%, and if that’s the case then what’s the point?
Is the plan still to retire from solo work?
During the recording of 36 new songs for GASS that was definitely the plan, but now I’ve got to the top of the mountain I’m looking around and I can see bigger mountains, and I’m like “Fuck, I bet I could climb that one too!”.
The freedom I have with staying solo is very liberating and to give all that up, which I worked fucking hard for, feels a bit like getting back with an ex or something. It feels like walking backwards.
I don’t know, but it’s not like I have to make my mind up for good or I’m not allowed to change my mind. At this point I can do what the fuck I want, I’ve worked for that privilege. That’s the ‘get out of jail free’ card I’ve earned myself.
With the Halloween Hootenanny being another big success this year, what else would you like to do with that. As a big fan of horror films, is there scope to make that a bigger event?
Well, we’re definitely going to do it again! I think we’ll do it as a two day event next time as the last one sold out too quickly, and contrary to popular theory I’m not a big fan of selling out gigs quickly and people missing out on getting tickets because they couldn’t afford one in time. I don’t mind playing sold out gigs on the night of the show, obviously, but I hate the thought of anyone feeling left out in the run up, it makes me feel a bit miserable actually.
So this year I hope we can have The Halloween Hootenanny and The Nightmare Before Halloween then everyone can come and join the fun!
The end of year lists are all over the internet at the moment. What have been your favourite new bands, albums and movies from 2014?
Are you kidding? There have been far too many.
One of the best things about not being a big rock star is that I get left out of all those ‘your best of…’ lists, which would drive me mental. I couldn’t pick any best of 2014 if you put a gun against my head. It’s been a great year for bands, albums and especially movies. How the fuck could you pick a best of 2014 list of movies? I’d be pulling my hair out around number 58 on the list.
As GASS comes to and end and the Songs & Words tour takes shape, what other plans do you have for 2015 and beyond?”
Today I feel like it’s pointless to speculate on what to expect in 2015. I always make myself look like a cunt because I run my mouth off saying what I want to do on the Monday and people hold me to it, even though I’ll change my mind by the Friday.
I don’t know I’ve got planned for 2015 and beyond. I’ll stay busy, and that’s about all I can promise.