Albion – Is Out

Posted by Chris | 2nd January 2014

Hello again,

 

Happy New Year! It’s that time of the year when you look forward to the new dawn of diets, gym, driving better, spending less money and drinking less, honestly and truly thinking that actually this is the year that you can fundamentally alter your DNA despite history (and science) proving to you otherwise. Ha ha. This year will be different though, I feel like I’m actually allowing myself a learning curve now. Might even be growing up a little bit. Even been listening to a bit of Radio 4 of late. Jesus.

 

The behemoth ‘Albion’ has finally landed, following endless mixes, remixes, recalls, masters, further recalls and the usual last-minute wrangling over… everything, which I am pleased to say I had no part of whatsoever. I’ll be honest, I had hoped to have been more involved in the mixes but actually in retrospect it was probably not a bad thing at all to have some people involved not getting involved, if that makes sense. I heard the raw materials when we were in the studio then the finished article, without the minutiae of the mix, and – if you’re Ginger, Kev and Gav – then I know first hand how confusing and unwanted it is to have a bunch of clowns like me chucking their oar in with ‘I’m not loud enough’.

 

For what it’s worth… I think it’s fantastic. Kev has done an AMAZING job with a LOT of raw material. There’s been a lot of talk about the production and I think it sounds like how we all hoped it would. Deep and crisp and even. Sonically it’s MASSIVE while retaining an edge of realness… This is a real album, played by great players, sung by great singers. Now I don’t want to get all Ocean Colour Scene on your arse, I love drum machines and technology and all that stuff, but the remit on this record was to make it as organic as possible. Like what records used to be like. Capturing a spirit, being a triumph of collectively hundreds of years of musicianship and craft, rather than being a triumph of autotune and Beat Detective. There are, as ever, a couple of things I’d change, but it’s all taste stuff really. For instance, I like to hear bass guitar louder and harsher than Kev, but that’s just me. There is a LOT of information in there, and to get it all out is nothing short of miraculous, so well done Kev.

 

The songs have come out fantastic too. I’ll be honest, there were a couple of times I didn’t really ‘get’ what we were doing, but – having been guilty of not doing this in the past on certain projects – I decided to take the tack of ‘get behind every idea and commit to it with the intention of making everything as brilliant as it can be and following the artist’s vision at all times’, which I am glad we did, as ideas that I wasn’t 100% convinced by have turned out to be some of my favourite bits. Working with people of the calibre of who we had in the studio, with a proven track record, means that a blind faith isn’t always misplaced, and it seems to have worked.

 

I’m particularly proud of ‘Burn This City Down’, which features chunks of a song I wrote for a solo project I was/am going to start in 2014. I didn’t feel like it fit in for Eureka Machines. Ginger re-wrote the lyrics (I did the drop bit before the last chorus, he did the rest) and added the chorus and it has come out great. I think it’s really different for both of us and for the band, and think/hope it bodes well for doing some more in the future.

 

I also really like how Drive, Albion, Grow A Pair and Cambria have come out. Some really spine-tingling moments in there, and you lot seem to like them too.

 

The album was not easy to make and fraught with the usual difficulties and some unusual ones, as is the wont of having seven bizarre and brilliant personalities all under one roof. But it’s a learning curve – for ALL of us – and I think we’ve all come out of it having learned a lot about ourselves, each other, what it is we do and how it is that we do it. I know that the recording process of this album was not easy for everyone, but I certainly will look back at it – and the resultant 15 tracks – with a great fondness.

 

Signing off for now,

Chris X

Ears, Nose, Throat and Bollocks.

Posted by Ginger | 28th November 2013

Just been to see the Ears, Nose and Throat specialist. Lovely fellow, very agreeable demeanour. Reminded me of a kinder looking Chris Eubanks until he started ramming a lubed-up tube in me nose and down into me gullet, at which point I started to think that being punched by a champion level boxer would be a might preferable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not ‘painful’ painful as much as it’s ‘horrible’ horrible. Y’know that ‘dentist rummaging around in yer gob’ horrible? (or getting those ‘swabs’ at a VD clinic, should you have ever been unfortunate enough to face that treatment, which I’m not ashamed to say I was. Y’know the small q-tip, and then the bigger one? Do they even do that any more? It was back in the early Quireboys days. Simpler times. I digress…)

Anyway, turns out that when I get sober (which I, currently, still am… man it feels like a fucking lifetime) fit and healthy, start working out like crazy and lay off the junk food I stop taking my Lanzoprazole (heartburn medicine) as I don’t appear to need it. Seems that the subtle-but-still-active acid reflux has still been pumping digestive fluid into my throat and playing merry hell with my vocal chords, only in the most painless manner, unlike the agony that is a red wine induced attack that acts as a huge alarm bell/indicator to take a couple of pills.

See? Drinking IS good for me, I fucking knew it.

Gotta see a speech therapist next week and a vocal coach after that. So this could be a good thing. Probably will be. Most bad things are simply good things wrapped up in untimely arrival.

Other news? Albion is done, the album and the title track. I was watching the road movie recently (lovingly cobbled together by Ash, a genuine champ of a fellow – this was a helluva task I can tell you), which will be featured exclusively on the DVD that you have already coming your way Pledgers. ‘Albion’, as it turns out, was the first song written for this album. Imagine how unpleasant it would have been to find that out later, if we hadn’t featured the song on the album? Anyway, it’s a mad track. Jon has gone proper prognasty on the keys for this one, and shows where his true calling lies..but more on that later.

I’m stunned at how live and involved the album sounds. In fact I went through a phase of not even liking it due to how utterly dense and packed it is (it just confused the shit out of me) and now that’s the reason why I’m growing so fond of it. I suspect you will feel something of the same emotions when listening, which I cannot wait for. Heaven and Earth wouldn’t budge so we can’t get the hard copies with you by Xmas, but we’ll be holding the listening parties this Yule, and I can’t wait to get involved with you in that festive little treat.

Speaking of listening parties, I know I said this would be the last solo album offering from me and I meant it, but I’m still writing a ton of material that doesn’t really fit anywhere. Too  melodic and light for fans of The Wildhearts, and too weird and incohesive to release as an album in itself. What the Hell do I do with these new songs?

Hmmm…I’m formulating a plan on how to get this material to the most hardcore fans out there, but I’m still very much in the planning stages and won’t be revealing much until next year. The Wildhearts may or may not be recording again in 2014, but regardless I feel like I shouldn’t turn my back on people who actually like the other material that I write (don’t worry, I know some of you hate it, I’m actively ignoring you right now). So, I’m thinking more of a fan club type thing that enables me to get up close and personal with those of you that like the tuneful and off the wall stuff. I don’t see The Wildhearts releasing anything ‘lite’,  should we release anything, so rivet heads (of which I include myself) will be more than taken care of in the rifferama area. Still, I do like to write a lot of decidedly un-Wildhearts material.

Anyway I’m still just thinking about it all while the songs keep flowing out of me. Thinking and thinking and thinking.

Speaking of The Wildhearts we’ll be touring in April as you are probably aware of by now. Obviously a lot of you are surprised and confused by the Jon/Scott switch. The truth is Jon had already committed to touring with a prog rock supergroup in April. In a delicious twist of fortune we found this out after Scott had been asked, and subsequently confirmed to be on the tour. We hadn’t quite figured out exactly how to fit two bass players in the band, and now we don’t have to. Funny how things happen if you let them, innit? Don’t worry about who is or isn’t the full time bass player in The Wildhearts. They both are.

Elsewhere this month I met and interviewed Ron Mael of Sparks, one of the very biggest influences on me as a writer. It was an amazing experience and something that the wonderful Eugene at Vive Le Rock magazine had promised me years ago. True to his word I finally came face to face with the wonderful Mr Mael to pick his brains on all things punk, Sparks and DIY. He is an amazingly nice gentleman, and most true legends tend to be. The interview will appear in the December edition of Vive le Rock, featuring Slade on the cover, so make sure to grab a copy.

I think that’s it for now. Funny but there always seems to be a ton of stuff going on even when there’s nothing going on. I really should consider doing a podcast, shouldn’t I?

Looking forward to seeing you all at the Birthday Bash. The jury is out on how much or how little I’ll be singing at that point. I’m hoping I can do the whole 3 hours, but I have more than enough guests to cover for me should the worst happen and my voice completely buys it. I can’t remember a year when we had so many guests offering to take part. It’s a wonderful feeling.

Anyway, we’ll be there. Try to make sure that you are too, alright?

Alrite!

 

And Then There Was One.

Posted by Ginger | 28th October 2013

Ahoy there,

Ginger, captain of the ship, here…on what looks like a pretty empty vessel of late.

Don’t worry, it’ll probably fill up any day soon. And if it doesn’t then hopefully I’ll do for suitable company. I’m a good talker and I make a mean pot of coffee. Which is handy as it seems to be all I’m drinking these days, since doing the sober thing for NSPCC – which, incidentally, is going amazingly well, thanks to you lot. We’ve made over two and a half grand already, and we still have a month and a half to go. Once again your awesomeness shines for all to see.

So, what’s it like being sober, a great viking berserker of a drinking animal like myself?

Well, the first week is pretty fidgety, with nothing in the whole world able to combat the withdrawal symptoms of detoxing almost a years worth of constant partying out of one’s system.

If you’re interested in getting sober for any length of time (I suggest 90 days which, if you want to lose weight and get fit is the absolute ONLY way to go) then I would suggest not changing your diet for the first week (btw…if you’re not interested in getting sober then stop reading here and I will see you in 5 paragraphs time).

Craving those comforting sugars and carbs that alcohol gives you in buckets, will turn you so snappy and mean that you might just start drinking again to keep the peace. Take it easy and relax. Spend some time looking on eBay or Amazon for some cheap DVD boxsets and order a couple of things you’ve been curious to see, they’ll come in handy later.

After that initial week you head into the long haul where the diet should kick in and thoughts turn to your imminent fitness schedule. You have all of week 2 to shrink that stomach down a little with a strict lesser food intake, surrendering to the awful hungers that come when beginning  any diet. Don’t worry they don’t last very long.

Week 3 you’ll be into your training regime so you’ll want to start regulating your carbs (to a minimum) and eating hi protein snacks every 3 hours. By this time you’ll start struggling to fit in every meal (apart from breakfast, where you’ll convince yourself you will be hungry for the rest of time) but you must keep it up – eating small and often. You will want to start your day off with cardio. An outdoor run in the morning is ideal (after a small bowl of oats – mixed with water, and perhaps some ground cinnamon, a few pomegranate seeds and some chai seed or linseed – I have both, fuck it) although outdoor running is obviously impractical if you live in this spongey slice of atmospheric misery we call Britain. Join a gym if you can afford it. You won’t regret it, if only to have somewhere warm to run every day. Did I say every day? Okay 5 days a week. Oh, alright, 3, if you’re really struggling, but only then and no less than three. C’mon, that flab ain’t gonna shift itself.

By week 4 you’ll be comfortable with your schedule and starting to feel results. Do yourself a favour and don’t stare in mirrors at the seemingly hopeless task ahead of you, this is a trick that your brain will play in its demand for sugar and couch life. I wouldn’t start expecting to see ANY results for at least a month of relatively heavy duty training, meaning Monday to Friday, with weekends off for good behaviour.

By week 5 you’ll start getting bored and that’s when you’re going to find those DVD box sets essential company. You need to switch off your mind in order to focus on what needs to be done, namely staying positive, keeping sober and maintaining what is now becoming a quite boring fitness routine.

And this is where I currently find myself. Do I feel better? Of course I do, and I’m actually seeing real results. The belly has almost gone and the chest and upper arms are back. I like the way I’m starting to look, and it’s fun to feel your body working properly again.It really doesn’t take long, and it’s important to remember that however difficult it is to keep up a regular fitness routine it is just as difficult for anyone else. No one gets results the easy way.

Trouble is, for me anyway,  I get easily bored and so I accept the challenge while busying myself with various distractions, like Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/gingerwildheart/boards/ and writing songs for the next album. I’m being very selective about what I keep and what I jettison in this new collection of tunes, which is a tough call for someone who likes to believes that anything I write could be someones favourite piece of music of mine. I guess the next album I make I will be making for me, and will feature only sections that I personally like. If you can imagine the polar opposite of Error 500 then you’ll be part the way there. This album will NOT rock, it will be a very laid back, melodic affair.

My next album, to begin recording around March/April, will not only be a very personal album for me but the last Ginger Wildhearts album I will make. Ever? That I obviously can’t say, but I will say that I won’t be recording any more solo albums for a very long time. Next year will be my last blast of solo representation, and after that I’ll go back into Wildhearts mode for a while. The break has been amazing, life changing and has reinforced what I’ve always thought of you, namely that you are the best crowd I could have ever dreamed of having on my side. To know you’ll be there whenever The Wildhearts Bat-sign goes up into the sky is one very comforting aspect of our relationship, but to know you’re there for me is something else altogether. The solo period has been the most rewarding point of my entire career, and I don’t think I’ll ever recover!

Anyway, enough of the funeral flavoured banter, the end of my solo stint is far from sight. I’ve been listening to mixes of the Albion tracks and I’m genuinely blown away by them. Kevin has taken the tracks and moulded them into a genuinely thrilling adventure ride. The wonderful Sammy Andrews (that name should ring a few bells, and yes, we are very good friends again) has been helping organise the new front cover and the equally wonderful Caroline Fish http://www.madoldcatlady.com/ has been elbows deep in the designing of the thing. It’s going to be a lovely front image that suits the music, the theme and the general vibe better than the previous artwork did. Still, that previous artwork will feature on the deluxe version of the CD/DVD (that’s ANY version of the actual CD/DVD that you buy on the new Pledge) and oh boy, is this fucker gonna be rare!!!

The birthday show is almost Sold Out, which is always a delight and a surprise. There are TONS of guests insisting they’ll be there on the night. It’ll be fun to see who actually makes it, and who ends up there that we aren’t expecting at all, which is 100% guaranteed to happen.

I just watched Love/Hate, a highly recommended gangster drama set in Ireland. Buy series 1-3 box set if you like gritty drama with awesome accents, guns, violence and brilliant acting, you won’t regret it.

I’m writing a song today that I just thought of a chorus for. Had the thing hanging around for a week now, unfinished, and now I have the missing part. I love it when that happens.

Everything is going exactly how it should.

Tally ho, me hearties.

 

 

 

Practical Musician and Albion

Posted by Ginger | 10th October 2013

It’s been bugging me for a while now.

Normally bands record material before giving their album a title. Occasionally the title will arrive before anything is even written yet will still suit the music perfectly. And sometimes a band don’t hear what the album/band sound like until a finished mix arrives. The latter scenario seems to be best fitting for what we are doing with our new album.

Not only did we not know the songs before entering the studio, but we had never even heard the band in its entirety. None of us have. Well, that’s a lie. I have.

I just got the mix for possible album opener Cambria, and on peeling myself off the sofa I’d just been pinned to one thought entered my buzzing head…”Practical Musician” is way too light and jaunty an album title to house a track that sounds like My Bloody Valentine by way of Mutation, as played by the punk hearted offspring of the E Street Band. I listened to the song again, this time imagining that the album retained its original working title of Albion, and the difference in aural perception was startling.

People, we’re gonna have to change the name of the album.

Never could a title be less appropriate than if they’d jumped into a time machine and changed Bridge Over Troubled Water to Never Mind The Bollocks. I swear I don’t do things like to play games with your head, or mess up your new tattoo, but the right thing must be done, regardless of when the ‘right thing’ becomes glaringly apparent.

The new stuff is insane. The most challenging thing I’ve ever recorded. Not simply in extremity (although there are shades of Error 500 in places), nor complexity (although the track Albion alone rivals anything that Vernix could throw up over your shoes). The thing that I can’t wait to see you all respond to is the broad sonic brushstrokes that place highly inappropriate colours next others, designed to signify some kind of ‘last word’ in songwriting bravado and arrangement chops. Unlike 555% this album sees the most dense stoner/shoegaze/90’s indie noise rubbing shoulders with arena rock sized musical interplay and harmony laden melody, the likes of which I have never dare try before.  It’s My Bloody Valentine with prog ambition, it’s The Clash after learning to play like Jellyfish. It’s also, I imagine, the last time I will make an album like this, at least for a very long time. What else could I say? How much higher could I build? It’s all here.

So there we have it, Practical Musician has become Albion, because it sounds like a cast iron statement of sonic intent, as opposed to a fanciful collection of choons.

Expect a video update on this very topic, but I will say this. Buy TWO copies of the deluxe special CD because the amazing packaging (not to mention extra songs) will not feature on the retail version, due early(ish) 2014, and believe me this packaging is going to be a thing of awe and wonder. This will become a collectors item every bit as valuable as the 555% triple album, trust me on this. I wouldn’t have you backing a lame donkey, would I?

‘Til next time keep your gunpowder dry and keep watching the sky.

Gx

As Sobriety Descends

Posted by Ginger | 3rd October 2013

I love a drink, me.

Many people say it, some mean it, and others definitely shouldn’t even think it. The bane of destruction in more than enough situations, I’ve witnessed it reduce the loving and conscientious to dribbling derivatives, and lead the naturally peaceful into pointless aggression. But for me it’s always been a constant comforting agent, a friendly manipulator of the harder edges of reality. That’s not to say it hasn’t gotten me into trouble, turned me into a mad one or threatened my body with physical closure, it has on all three counts and more, but, like any troubled yet intriguing, and ultimately rewarding relationship I’ve learned to take the the skids with the cruise and arrived at a slightly complex, wholly optimistic notion that me and booze will never stop being mates.

So when I offered to get sober for a whopping two and a half months (a pinch to some, a salt mine to others) you guys seemed to acknowledge the gravity of the offer. Many of you, presumably wine lovers, whiskey connoisseurs and real ale supporters – like myself – may even have been impressed at the levels of commitment that a feat such as this would undertake, compared to, say a simple triathlon or attempting to circle the world on the back of a pigeon.

It is with steel of conviction and jut of jaw that I accept your challenge. It’ll be tea for me until the Birthday Bash, when I will join you in a toast and probably fall over from that glass of champagne.

Speaking of which, the Birthday Bash looks likely to be the maddest, busiest and most insane of them all. And why the Hell not? Another year on this planet, facing unrealistic goals with uncommon relish and winning? What’s not to celebrate? And many agree, as the guests are already lining up to join in the messy fun. Of course I’m not going to tell you who’s appearing, largely down to the fact that names and availability change within hours of the lights going down. It’s that kind of event. A potentially heart attack inducing rush of frantic activity resulting in what can even (sometimes) appear to be a smooth and deeply organised show.

Who am I kidding? It’s mayhem. You’ve been, you know. But it’s still the gig of the year.

In other news I wrote the first song of the next album, which I hope to record as an acoustic album. Yes, I know I’ve often said I would never make such a stripped down album, but after writing the first song, and imagining the most simple accompaniment I’ve ever almost-not-even imagined, I’m starting to develop a sense of ‘what’s in the cave’ like wonder, that of a little kid more amazed at what lies within the dark than an adults experience of darkness itself. There are few things I’ve never done before, and those few precious challenges still have the power to unlock the imagination, wander the shadowy recesses and discover new creative elements. I’ve done noise, but I’ve never done quiet. I’m slightly nervous.

Don’t worry, I won’t be throwing this NEW new album at you any time soon. I’m very much committed to getting Practical Musician finished and in your Xmas stocking (like a big old cheesy foot, there to kick ass and stomp on the remains – oh yes), it’s just that I can’t write a new song without getting so excited about that I want to tell everyone, so consider yourself told. I’m so grateful for the ability to wrangle the next tune out of my guitar, and I usually consider the lyrics to even more perfectly capture what I’m feeling than ever before. It’s at this point where I can’t help thinking if you really do believe yourself to be improving through experience then you are exactly where you should be in life, and just as happy as you have a right to be. Unlike Practical Musician – the lyrical sum of all my thoughts on Great Britain, the person it has made me and the life I have as a result, the proposed acoustic album will be as autobiographical as I want to get. A trawl through memories, inspirations, resignations and reflections on the death of so many people that I’ve loved. I’m not rushing the songs, they will come as the recollections arrive.

Believe me, that collections of songs will be a very humble ‘then’ album to follow Practical Musician’s bombastic ‘NOW!’ stance.

Damn, I miss those GWB guys already. Really can’t wait until the Birthday Bash when I can rejoin my peeps in sonic matrimony.

Until then I’m gonna be finishing off Practical Musician (which still needs overdubs and some major recording, not to mention mixing and mastering) keeping my nose clean, staying fit, living well and being thankful that I have my three families around me. My direct one, my musical one and this wonderful community of ours that make all things worthwhile in so many ways.

I tend to think too much when I’m sober – which, admittedly, hasn’t been for about 5 years now – so expect more updates as they leave my fingers and onto these pages.

Meanwhile, be grateful for everything you have, thanks for donating if you have, and thanks in advance if you haven’t. Trust me, I had a rough childhood but it’s never worse than at Xmas.

Hey, why not leave the house half an hour later next time you go to the pub, and donate that money for the pint you didn’t drink? If I can stay sober for over two months to help children then you can do it for one pint, right? Okay, game on.

We were all little kids, and most of us had happier childhoods than some of the children that we’ll be helping this Christmas. The difference is we all deserve a happy childhood. Let’s do what we can so that we know we tried our best to help.

Love,

Gx

Working Hard At hardly Working

Posted by Ginger | 27th September 2013

It seems that you guys enjoy these ramblings of Chris and I, and with Gav’s continuous video updates the GWB posse has been effectively downsized to a handy three piece for the time being. So further employing my ‘last one out the door’ policy, of whatever metaphorical room we’re involved in, I’ll stay here until the last man has ceased to commit. I thrive on healthy competition, as you may have gathered.

I appear to have entered a strange phase of inertia in my life cycle, after months of intense activity. Fresh from my stint with Ms Love, resulting in two perky wee tracks fully demo-ed, one of which looks likely to be her comeback single (which pleases me greatly as I wrote it) I returned home feeling less than brand new, only to be whisked off to that London – after emptying my bags (euphemise that however you will) – to be interviewed for a brand new KISS movie, due out late next year. If writing for Courtney Love isn’t enough of a thrill (cast iron sarcasm there, it most definitely is insanely thrilling) then the little kid in me was positively squealing at being asked to take part in an official, tell-all, KISS movie. I wasn’t a KISS fan when I was 14, I was a KISS addict. I collected everything that featured their likeness and housed it in a bedroom covered from ceiling-to-wall-to-ceiling in KISS posters and pictures. A bedroom that was never silent, and – until I heard Ramones, Sex Pistols, Cheap Trick and Motorhead – played KISS albums on loop. I’d do my homework with KISS blaring at extreme volume. These days I can’t write if there’s a fly in the room, but back then it was the fuel to my creativity, or simply the reason why my homework sucked to badly. Regardless of what I think about some of the stuff Gene Simmons says (the “show me a musician who got into this for the music and I’ll show you a liar” quote still sticking painfully in my craw) there is no avoiding one very basic truth, if it weren’t for KISS it is unlikely I would have escaped crime as a kid and got into music.

I do hope you get to hear the Courtney song too. It’s called “In Your Honour” and is typically catchy rock n’ roll with an edge and a swaggering guitar riff. And she sings it great. I searched for her ideal range when writing the melody, and I think I got her perfect pitch, the one that makes the world seem golden again. When Courtney hits that register (Celebrity Skin/Violet) my skin bristles, and that’s no lie.

And we’ve decided to complete that prickly (read fucking annoying) 15th song on the GWB ‘Practical Musician’ album, entitled “Albion”. It’s a musicians nightmare, unless those musicians happen to be of the calibre of the guys n’ gal in our collective. 10 minutes of sonic insanity that covers the history of sound within its duration. I couldn’t live with myself if we didn’t finish it. There was talk of shelving it until next year, then releasing it as a free single, but I couldn’t relax with this idea, it felt like a cop-out, and I’m not one for giving in easily. So I’m going to finish that tricky fucker in time for your receipt of the new album.

Not today though, or tomorrow by the looks of it. I’ve hit a wall. The missus has a new job so I’m up early taking junior to school then getting back into the house at 9:15, only to go straight into a coma that releases me at 3:00 when I go pick him up again. I’ve never felt such an effective form of shut down, not without medicinal assistance that is. I do some housework – yeah, I’m that guy, I do my bit – then sit and literally shut down. I guess it’s called exhaustion in some circles, and in others it’s called recharge. I hang out in the latter circles and prefer to think of this process as a reboot in readiness for whatever madness is coming next. And if there’s one bet I can guarantee a win on it’s that new madness is always on its way. It’s unavoidable and I welcome it with the open arms of an old friend. Motion keeps me alive, keeps me young and keeps me positive. I was born to work harder than the average man, I consider it a great gift and will use it highly unwisely.

Someone recently said I should make less music. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything so confusing. Surely it would be easier for someone to simply listen to less if the quantity is too much. And as far as the quality is concerned I’ve never been more on my game. I listen to those 90’s recordings and see only a style in evolution. I can fully understand someone not liking everything I record (in fact I’d be very suspicious of you as a person of you did, you’re obviously as fucked up as I am) but to desire less of a person because you can’t keep up is base insanity, not to mention a little bit Nazi. I guess some fans aren’t really fans of what people do, but of their own opinions on what people do. Which fine. Fucked up and weird, but fine.

Anyway, I’m looking at the clock and seeing that it’s time to do the Daddy thing and wait with the other parents, all waiting to see that one beaming little face make eye contact.

Feeling very grateful lately, of everything I have in my life. Thank you all for being a very big part of that everything.

Gx

p.s. Oh, and read the Lost Gospels According To Al Jourgensen book. It is sheer, unbridled hilarity, both dark and fascinating, and he’s got a million great stories, which he tells with a seeming inability to pull punches. Like a real Rock N Roll autobiography should be. It makes me want to write one myself, and if there were more around of this standard I may well do – but there aren’t, and my story seems in around the lunchtime of its cycle, so plenty of time for those kind of thoughts while I’m living the plot. In the meantime I’m loving Al’s book I’m considering reading it again when I’m done. Along with the new Phil Anselmo album it is my current addiction. Well, that and falling asleep.

That guitar of Ginger’s you can win.

Posted by Chris | 24th September 2013

I was thinking about it before and, as the self-designated King Of Boring Stuff About Pedals Etc, I thought I would tell you a bit about Ginger’s guitar, which one of you lucky pledgsters will win come December.

People who aren’t interested in guitars – please tune out now. (I wouldn’t blame you)

It’s a Hagstrom Viking Deluxe. Hagstrom may not be a hugely familiar name to everyone, but they’ve been making brilliant and interesting electric guitars since the fifties, with big-name players including  the likes of Elvis Presley (who plays a Viking II in the ’68 Comeback Special), Pat Smear (who has a massive collection of Hagstrom guitars), Frank Zappa (who advertised them in the 70s) and Rich Jones.

This is a double cutaway, large semi-hollow-bodied guitar, which means it is louder than your average bear, due to the extra resonance that basically being built on top of a soundbox gives you (this works on the same principle putting your iPhone on top of the closed toilet lid in the bathroom to amplify the music – try it). The sound is allowed to resonate throughout the guitar, which makes for a warm and clean tone. Being ‘semi’ hollow bodied means that it has a wood block down the middle of it, which reduces the uncontrollable feedback which can be a problem when using higher-gain settings with full-hollow-body guitars (like the Gretsch White Falcon or the Gibson ES 175).

It’s fitted with two humbuckers, like a traditional Les Paul or 335 or SG, which means you get the fat rock guitar sustain, not the thinner single coil sound. This also means that there’s less buzz and less noise.

It has a speccy flamed maple top, which means it’s bright and snappy but with a tight bottom end. Matron. And a ebonol neck, which is a synthetic of ebony – this means it’s fast and hard-wearing, with a really nice thin profile.

It’s white, unlike all the other guitars you already own.

It was set up, intonated and generally Sorted Out by me.

And you will love it.

Ginger plays it (as you can see on the Pledge videos) for most of his ‘route one’ stuff on this album. That is, the bulk of the rock rhythm guitars, and a good proportion of the lead lines. I used it for a couple of my ‘drug music’ bits, the drony feedback Ebow-y stuff and some of the backwards guitars. I think it’s also the same one Ginger used on the recent ‘Earth Vs’ tour.

It’s a beauty guitar, I wouldn’t mind owning it myself!

Chris’s Studio Blog – Home

Posted by Chris | 22nd September 2013

(Realised I never made this ‘public’ so here it is now.)

So it’s a few days after I got home and I’m still slap-bang in the middle of decompressing. It turns out that coming back from five weeks away from phone, bare bones internet and a fortnight of 16 hour days means that if you don’t have a couple of days off, you might just have a bit of a weird and reasonably public meltdown in the middle of town halfway through the day. Who knew.

I got done on Friday, a morning of ticking off the final boxes, and left the last man standing Rich Jones with my Blackstar head to do the last of his guitars, which he seemed pretty chuffed with. I raced home only to realise I’d left my frigging suitcase at the studio (having packed everything else up in there), so had to double back, which neatly doubled my journey time. What a twat. I pride myself on never doing stuff like that, apart from every now and then, when I do things exactly like that, to remind myself to not do things like that. If that makes any sense. (Remind me to tell you about the time I got on the wrong plane.)

Got home at about 7pm and was in the new Leeds Arena by 8pm watching Pulled Apart By Horses stun a indie mum-and-dad crowd supporting the Kaiser Chiefs. They were excellent as ever but utterly unsuited to the support and I can’t help but think it was a bit of a waste of an opportunity for a more apposite band to play to 10,000 punters. The Chiefs were solid and great as ever – the new stuff is a lot better than the last album – and it was wonderful to see them. They’ve got a new drummer, the brilliant Vijay Singh, who is another old mate, and he kicks their set up the arse with jackhammer precision. He also offers to drum on my solo album, when I get round to doing it, which sounds like a plan.

It’s weird being home. The pressure-cooker environment of a studio – where there is a mixture of volatile personalities, extreme emotions, malnutrition, missing home/babies/wives/girlfriends, lack of sleep and a generally high alcohol percentage – is an exciting thing to be a part of, and I do miss it, as it happens.

It’s like coming back off a tour, except when you go on tour you get to see loads of interesting places, and loads of different faces.

On this tour we were stuck in the middle of nowhere, with only a variety of different sheep for companionship.

As far as I know, nobody took the sheep plunge (well none of our lot anyway).

I feel like I need a break. I’m off to London tomorrow. I’m knackered, but this is the life I signed up for. There are no ‘breaks’ in rock and roll. And that’s just how we like it.

What larks!

Still Standing

Posted by Ginger | 21st September 2013

As long as Gav keeps making video updates for you all to enjoy then I’m gonna keep using this page as some sort of diary, and keep you abreast of the my ongoing goings on. And there are many, trust me.

New York is flooded with beautiful people, a kind of Fashion Week hangover or something, and thus the streets are a glammed up smorgasbord of visual delights. None more so that at the premier of Rush (the James Hunt vs Niki Lauda thrust-a-thon) that I attended with Courtney the other day. The quite freakishly handsome Chris Hemsworth was in attendance, and the private screening room transformed into a seemingly exclusive hang for grey haired film industry blokes and their young, model dates. If I’ve ever been in a room with more stunning females then I was obviously on way more drugs than I was this evening. Models are very pretty. Usually until they smile.

We’ve (‘we’ being me and Micko Larkin, Courtney’s other guitarist, and the only other Brit in the operation) been frantically writing something that brings all our styles together in a way that doesn’t seem predatory on former glories yet still fresh and immediate, and we’re pretty happy with the two songs we’ve come up with. “Over The Wall” and “In You Honour”. Yesterday and today have been/will be a frantic scramble to the finish line in order to get these songs professionally demo’ed up and mixed for Courtney’s management to hear. It’s a strange feeling to be sitting on a couple of sonic eggs (ooer and that), not knowing if one will hatch into a soaring great winged success or they’ll both be snaffled up by the hungry moggy of indifference. Strange times indeed.

What else? Oh, had a wonderful party at a friends house. Saw most of my favourite people of New York there, heard some very scandalous things, laughed more than I have since I left UK and retired in the wee hours a very squiffy, but very happy mess. We had a bit of a fire in the house that killed a couch. I’ve eaten more food than I’ve ever consumed, well at least since I used to be a fridge fiending pot head. Oh, and Courtney’s dog has the shits, which reminds me that I’d better go and administer her medicine.

Rock n Roll, eh? Funny old game. Still, unlike pretty much every other game out there it NEVER gets boring. Plus everyone gets to win.

I like our little chats here, please let me know if you do too.

 

 

 

Chris’s Studio Blog – Last Day

Posted by Chris | 16th September 2013

Well that was (almost) that. I’ve got a few guitar bits to do in the morning, and a couple of ‘gang’ vocals, but otherwise, I sit here in my bed ruminating on the past five weeks of living inside this record.

I will be glad to get home, it’s been five weeks away from my life in Leeds which I have grown to love. There’s something about touring that makes it easier – going to new places, seeing new faces (and rocking them all etcs), but this stretch away has been very different. Not to say it hasn’t been enjoyable – I’ve had a brilliant time and learned a ton in my time here, and will return home tomorrow slightly heavier but with open ears and eyes inspired by making all this brilliant music with this excellent bunch of folks.

What will I miss? Constant inspiration, the sound of guitars, getting to cock around with pedals all the time, working on vocals in the wee early hours stacking up harmonies and hearing these choruses really come to life, the trips to the local for a couple at last orders, learning from pretty much everything Kev Vanbergen was doing (from production techniques to mic choices to watching him ‘produce’ each individual in order to get the best from us), cooking for a legion of hungry musicians, chats with Rod the studio guy about his work with Ronnie Wood and the rest… not to mention each and every single one of the rest of the band. Everyone has their moments, not least me, but they’re a good bunch of characters and no mistake.

What won’t I miss? The fucking flies.

The flies in the country are cocky little bastards, way more confident than their city cousins. Half the time, they just walk around, like the cock of the North, like the Liam Gallagher of the insect world. They should just be called ‘walks’. The rest of the time, they are buzzing RIGHT IN YOUR FACE and threatening to go in your ears. As soon as you switch off the light, the buzzing starts and I don’t know about you but as soon as I know there is a fly in the bedroom, chances of sleep disappear through the window, unlike the frigging fly, who spends the next hour banging into the window NEXT to the window that you’ve actually opened. I don’t like killing them, but after a few days of this, it becomes a war of attrition and I am having none.

Anyway I could harp on about that for a bit, but I shan’t. The main thing is that, despite the flies, we’ve managed to sort you out an album that I think will sit in your CD player for some time.

The last day or two I’ve spent doing guitars and (shock horror) acoustic guitars. Sorry to any rock purists reading, but there are a bunch of acoustics on this. It sounds nice, adding a texture and sweetness to some of the buzzsaw Jesus And Mary Chain stuff. Also adds to the percussive element of what’s going on. Victoria has been singing on an evening (she prefers to sing on a night time, like most proper singers, once the vocal chords are warmed up), which is also sounding fantastic. Rich Jones is up next, finishing his guitars and vocals. I’m hoping to get home in time to go see the Kaiser Chiefs and Pulled Apart By Horses at the new Leeds Arena, as much to see the venue as to see the bands.

In the meantime, I’m having a quiet night as I want to get up early and get done, then have a long drive back to The People’s Republic Of West Yorkshire. Also, last night we were up til 4am filming the video for Sampo Pankki, but that’s another story.

Night all.

Build It And They Will Come

Posted by Ginger | 15th September 2013

After the creative bushfire that was the Practical Musician recording session, how is damage assessment looking cap’n?

It was a bit of a whirlwind, to put it mildly (14 songs nailed, and only one song that looks unlikely to be finished if you want the album by Xmas – which you do), and now everyone is off curating their separate and individual realities, what of this place? Will folk still pop up here with tales from the outside, reminding us all that this community exists when no one is around falling in the woods, or some such metaphorical balderdash? I certainly hope so. If for no reason greater than I miss everyone and would like to know what they’re up to. Digits firmly twisted, eh?

So here goes.

I left the studio around 5pm, after nailing the final guitars and vocals needed, then floored it home to put my little boy to bed and grab some home time. A sleep in my own bed, fruit fly free, was a very welcome slice of bliss before being unceremoniously carted into a cab and sent to Manchester airport for the next mornings flight to Victoria, via Vancouver. Almost 10 hours in the air, in a seat so small I assumed my arse had inflated due to freakish cabin pressure. Once a generously sized Dad squeezed in next to me, armed with small, cute, potentially noisy-during-10-hours-of-cabin-pressure child, I figured things have been good to me recently. My conscience came resting on one thought: UPGRADE. And on checking my bank balance, and uttering the words “ah fuck it” under my breath, I was directed to my new seat next to a lady who subsequently complained about every service on offer, and a screaming baby, somewhere behind me, that seemed more genuinely distressed than uncomfortable. On rubbernecking the situation I was shocked to find the baby Mama comatose on the floor with an oxygen mask strapped to her face and Virgin staff filling up the modest isles in desperate search for a proper Doctor. I never knew there wasn’t a actual Doctor on board for every flight, as standard. This seems like an odd budgetary move being as a rush trip to A&E is unlikely at 50,000 ft.

So far so eventful. Nothing a few Bloody Mary’s can’t sort, and a good movie. Now I dunno if I’ve been traveling more recently than I had previously assumed, or that they’ve just been showing the same movies for the last three months but the only new film was Monsters University (which was incidentally fantastic) forcing me to load up my own hard drive of movies into my lap top and picking something random. The lady next to me was thrilled to have more fuel for disdain as an eavesdropped viewing of Cold Fish (2010) really gave cause for complaint, by which point the staff were firmly in my corner having shared tattoo stories and tales of the road, earning all the free drinks coming my way with simple decency and chat.

Eventually I land in Canada, only to miss my connecting flight due to the snaking great lines of travelers in immigration. Canadians being the ‘nicest people in the World’ (surely this is official?) I was planed, train’ed and automobile’d to my lovely hotel where I spent a lovely few hours chatting to our new monitor man Kyle, a friend to the stars and a genuinely nice fella. It’s an odd session when two men sit over burger n’ beer discussing their bosses. Mine, Courtney Love and his Miley Cyrus. It’s even greater when both iconic stars come out as hard working, no bullshit, 100% genuine gals. And so, with jet lag, fuzzy heads and not a negative word spat we head off in search of a decent night sleep.

The festival the next day is a thing of foreign beauty and wonder, namely due to Canadian sunshine and a festival set up that came off more like a village fete than a Glastonbury shit fest. Walking around during the day, testing the local dishes (Potein, oh man this dish would take over in UK if some smart Canuk got involved here) I can’t say I’ve ever met so many people generally offering sunny dispositions to anyone in orbit. It’s a genuine love fest that explodes into a full on LOVE fest as Courtney brings her A game to a packed and smiling audience. The band sounded amazing too, which after a month or so off isn’t awlyas to be assumed. The show is great fun. And even an early morning promise to be given the keys to the gold cart is honoured, as our dressing room lady hands them to me at around 11:00, once the park has emptied out. Me and our lovely teleprompter girl Betty go on the rampage, ultimately crashing the cart into a food stall. Remarkably, once the scaffolding and debris is carefully removed from the vehicle, the cart starts up first time. So with a hearty Bravo, and a lets-get-the-fuck-out-of-here we leave for a messy nite cap where I pop a Soma and wake up fully dressed, remembering that I’ve been enlisted to escort Courtney back to NYC. Eek.

The journey is far less terrifying than initially assumed as Courtney is awesome company, with comfortable yet mind boggling conversation that suggest her up coming book be one read with the lights on. Although I fail to see how you could read a book any other way.

This morning finds me woken and refreshed in NYC, ready to start a weeks writing with Ms Love and my English axeman in crime Mikko.

I’ll stop by and let you know how it’s all going in a day or two. In the meantime I hope the rest of the Ginger Wildheart Band chip in with their penneths worth’s at various points this coming week.

I give thanks for my life and my career. Thank you. Keep the faith and don’t touch that dial.