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Pledge Update

Dear Everyone,

The closing date of the current Songs & Words PledgeMusic campaign has been extended and will officially be October 27th (not November 27th as previously announced on Pledge).

That’s it. No more. The train will have left the station along with the last horse bolting and the fat lady singing. It will be an ex-Pledge campaign. It will cease to be.

I notice that it has already been generously extended, which is a lovely idea – keeping Pledge campaigns going on forever n’ that, hey I hate saying goodbye too. The fact of the matter is that we won’t be saying “goodbye”, as much as “hang on a tic” …with another Pledge campaign following hot on the heels of this S&W one.

I won’t say too much about the new campaign, apart from this:

It launches on November 9th.

It is unlike anything I’ve ever done with Pledge.

It won’t be dependent on reaching 100%.

It will last a very long time.

Curious? Just hang tight until September, when all will be fully revealed like a top quality stripper.

Until then, thank you for making the Songs & Words campaign the most exciting and surprising one of them all.

Hey, I wrote a bloody book!

Gx

Ginger reflects on 2012, year of pledges

Ginger on stage at Brixton academy, copyright Trudi KnightEnd of the year. Bit of contemplation n’ all that. So, anything important happen in 2012?

It’s funny but it really doesn’t feel like a mere year since the world was an uncertain, confusing and frustrating place for a musician or a fan (and believe me I am both). And now we’ve extended the Pledge freedom account to Willie Dowling, Chris Catalyst, Todd Kerns, Obsessive Compulsive and even that bloody Random Jon Poole (with rumours of Rich Jones, CJ, Denzel and Givvi Flynn getting involved next year), the scene is getting clearer by the campaign.

Musicians more deserving of a break do not exist.

So, what the Hell happened?

Well, we did, basically. And by ‘we’ I don’t mean just me, Gav and you lot, I mean ‘we’ as in this entire community that we’ve created, the likes of which are faceless and many. This team is a body run by the heart.

We’ve decided we want change, we’ve assumed control and we’ve put our time and money where our belief is.
You don’t have to be reminded of the failure of many stars, in many high profile positions, to set the music world alight despite lavish budgets and jaw dropping promotion. Budgets and promo don’t make fans, fans make fans and passion keeps them motivated. And there’s just no simple way for the mainstream to create passion enough to leak into every frame of people’s lives, resulting in the kind of drive that makes people represent outside of being asked/forced to by advertising and TV scheduling.

This is different, this is love. This is real people really giving a shit.

We’ve won awards, we’ve gained momentum and we’ve made the world take notice, and we did it together through love of music. And the best bit is that we’ve only just begun.

Next year is going to be truly insane. Actually insane. Like the kind of stuff that only the insane would even imagine, let alone actually attempt. But see? That’s what we’ve created here. Together we’ve made a business model that suits the creative, the passionate and the insane to a tee. And the average pop star could only look at this opportunity and walk away scratching their expensively coiffured head.

In 2012 we’ve been able to say that success = passion + belief.

In 2013 we’ll add consistency to that theory. As in “just gimme a fucking chance and I’ll show you what I can do”, and once given that chance then really blowing the lid off this fucking pot.

Together we’ve created that chance 2012, now just you wait to see what insane shit we’re gonna get up to in 2013.

The future is bright because it needs to be, we’re leading the way through the darkness, the confusion, the frustration and the uncertainty. We ARE the fucking light!!

Have a wonderful Xmas and see you on the other side for some proper rule breaking.

You in?

Gx

Ginger Says – My Old Friend The Clock

Ginger and the Sonic Circus - Highbury Garage - 27th January 2006 - © Richy Boot (http://www.richyboot.com/) 2006Just got myself re-domesticated back in glorious Newcastle, right on the Tyne. I can even walk to the match from here, bliss, and in the process got myself back online, after what seems months (actually, it was) of blissfully computer free activity. Try it sometimes. It’s great!

So I decided to visit my ‘myspace’ page (confession, the guys from the web site run it, first time I ever took a peek… fucking hell, some stunning girls on there! Hey, I’m single, get in touch!), along with this very website and got a bit of a shock reading through the intro page that has been up for far, far too long.

Shit! 2005 was certainly one fucked up year.

What a difference time makes in one’s emotional engineering. I’d best illustrate that point further, but first can I just please say that I am not the depressed guy that reading through that entry would paint me as. Don’t get me wrong, that was a pretty accurate portrait of a traumatic period in my life. We’ve all had them, we’ll get more, but the point I’m trying to make is that just as all things must pass (the good and the bad) it’s probably a good idea to let people know.

Going through a bad patch? Get it out of your system. Tell people. Going through a great phase? See above.

Everything moves along. Time is a fidgety fucker with a low boredom threshold, and just as you wish the best party you ever went to would never end, the darkest periods of your entire life will only stick to the very marrow of your soul until it’s time to split. The great thing about being in a slump is that you get out of it a much stronger person, with more appreciation for some of things you may have taken for granted previously. Friends, family, music, your good points, the list is as long as it is personal. So what’s so bad about it then? It’s actually pretty cool to go through a depression (not that I’d recommend it, you understand), just make sure that you actually get through to the other end. You’ll be amazed at the results. Seriously.

So what’s been happening since my last post? Fuck, where to start?

Firstly, I guess thanks are in order. The solo album (‘Valor Del Corazon’… and can I just get one thing out of the way? I have Spanish and Mexican friends and I obviously asked them for the correct way of translating that title literally. They all told me that the proper way to say it is Valor DE Corazon. Thing is, I woke up one morning with the title right in my face, and while I know it isn’t text book Spanish, I was getting tons of spiritual information, divine support and genuine paranormal weirdness around me. So much so that I took it for granted that this was completely natural within the whole ‘fixing yourself’ process. Anyway, I wasn’t going to argue with an album title given to me from sources beyond my surroundings. So, as illiterate as it may read to my Spanish speaking fans I stuck with it! Anyway, this solo album…) was finally finished and released through my own label, with the wonderful help of Sammy Andrews and a fine team of fans tirelessly working its profile on the internet. Yeah, I know I said I don’t like computers (apart from the ones in the studio, which I love with the kind of zest that I normally reserve for breaking guitars) and the internet, but I love other people doing it!

So thank you a million times to those that helped make this album such a shock to some of the retailers who refused to stock it, until the pre-orders started coming in! Would have loved to have seen their face when it appeared as the number one pre-order on their industry lists!

You guys all rock so hard that you make me hard. Does that sound weird? Well, it’s true. Hey, one thing that happens when you quit drugs and heavy drinking is that you get your sex drive well and truly back! Yeah, that’s right. I’ve been clean (apart from fine red wine, which I treat as medicine that even gets you slightly drunk!) for a year, as of December 17th. I know, weird, huh? It was actually much easier than I thought. You get a ton of stuff back that you’d forgotten about (apart from an exaggerated libido), like your memory, a sense of humour, appreciation of friends, the desire to leave the house, a healthy work ethic and drive, the list is currently being completed as I speak. All of which renders you so excited about being alive that the idea of scoring drugs is something akin to wanting sex with Scarlet Johanssen. It crosses your mind, but the effort versus the likelihood of succeeding renders all thoughts null and void. Anyway I wouldn’t even know where to go for that kind of thing. And scoring drugs would be difficult too… (boom, and indeed boom).

So anyway, if you want to congratulate me next time you see me, mine’s a large absinthe and heroin chaser.

So, with the label (Round Records, more details available on the new sister site: Ginger and the Sonic Circus) all set up and running, we decided to keep communication problems to a minimum and set up a management company (Karma Management… more details available, etc etc), to handle the effective distribution of information between departments;

Me:”Hey me, wanna do this?”
Me: “Yes”.

It’s all going great so far. I know, early days ‘n’ all that. But what exciting early days these really are. And we’re going to be getting involved in merchandise too, soon. So watch this space, and check on our sister site regularly too.

There would appear to be tons of people that hate the way the industry is run, and some of them have left their ‘comfy couch’ gig, and have decided to go independent. The feeling I get is one of a Punk ethic/’80’s hedonism hybrid starting to form. Doing things yourself but having big goals. I, for one, am really fucking excited about the future. The potential is there, now if we can insert the balls (aaarrgghh! more sexual references, or am I just obsessed? Answers to www.givesafuck?.com) into the deal, then we’ll really be cooking with gas, electricity and solar power. Hey, if you don’t like the way things are being currently run then get involved. We’d like to hear from you.

Oh, and news of an exciting new charity that we are setting up imminently (Circle Of Friends), will soon be made available. It will deal with mental health issues, concentrating on community help and effective counselling, as opposed to sympathetic but untrained GP’s offering ill-advised treatment such as creating new drug habits thinly disguised as prescription drugs. Much more later.

So, back to album related news. I recently played the dreaded ‘first’ gig (well, I always dread ’em anyway) with the new band, Ginger and the Sonic Circus. It was fucking great! The group played a blinder (what superb musicians, I’m such a fan!), and the audience were typically wonderful (incidentally can the mad American bastard that gave me the IPod please get in touch? I really need to give you something in return. And, incidentally, I’m loving the music!). When playing live, I don’t know if you guys really know how much it means to have you lot singing your overstuffed hearts out to brand new songs. Needless to say it gives me the horn.

For anyone that couldn’t make it, we are touring in late March. For fucks sake get down and make history, willya? Just seeing the bands expression during the show as the whole place erupted into song, I’d love to see that look on their faces at every show on the tour. This is all your doing as much as mine, y’know?

So there we have it.

God closes a door but opens up a window.

I’m a much happier person. I’ve swapped my old addictions for a new one, positivity. Anything is possible if you can imagine yourself doing it.

Wouldn’t it be great if 2006 kicked off something that we can all get our collective gnashers around.

Hey Ho, it’s back off to work I go. Just took some time off from writing the next album (due to begin recording soon), to visit the computer quickly. Still, at least it’s got rid of that Godawful old intro page, eh?

Stay positive

Ginger

Pic: Ginger and the Sonic Circus – Highbury Garage – 27th January 2006 – © Richy Boot (http://www.richyboot.com/) 2006

Ginger Says – Valor Del Corazon

Ginger on the BusMy life turned into shit on an aeroplane heading for the sunny Philippines at the end of 2004, a holiday my family would take every Christmas – we’d visit family members, hang out on beaches, eat great food and chill out further than we thought possible.

The trip began fairly smoothly.

On the plane I informed Angie that I would ask her to marry me while on this vacation, and she said she would happily accept. Not the most romantic of proposals, granted, but the reason I wanted to inform her in advance was that I was harbouring a secret. I always promised that I would never lie to Angie, and in marriage there would definitely be no exception.

I admitted that I had been taking heroin for a number of months – about four.

She told me that the marriage and the relationship was over.

That was it. Over.

Two children, five years and thousands of precious moments down the pan, with the only reason being the intention to be honourable in the face of weakness. Being honest had caused unrest once again.

Some relationship.

I began cold turkey (drug withdrawal) while on the aeroplane, forcing the air stewards to either make an emergency landing, or give me a bunch of blue pills and sit me in first class to sleep, away from the discomfort of the other passengers.

Heroin is a sneaky motherfucker of a drug and if you invite it into your life it’ll get you by the balls, no matter who you are.

I’d been living on my own for a few months in 2004, in a tiny flat around the corner from my children and lover. Angie and I had decided that a trial separation would bring us closer together. I could be close by and dependable. And I still loved her.

I had not had sex in a long time, and heroin effectively kills the libido. It removes your penis. Girls simply become eye candy, as opposed to the threat to one’s relationship that I had seen so many times while in a band.

It worked as a lust removal serum, as well as a means of obtaining a seemingly eternal youth. People would constantly tell me that I was looking better than I ever had. Girls began to find me ‘hot’. The effect of heroin was not only a social boost unlike anything I had ever known but a medical wonder (I had suffered from severe depression for years and tried every medicine invented, none of which had any effect whatsoever, resulting in a spell in hospital where they attempted to have me sectioned due to the untreatable nature of my illness), and it typically crept up on me until I found that I needed it every day to avoid a sickness similar to a common cold.

The day before we left for the Philippines, 17 December, my birthday, I quit the drug – no more euphoric daily relief, no more people telling me how ‘good I was looking’, no more fitting into old, tight clothes, no more escape from the desire to die every day.

I was going to tough it out, throw away my phone book full of drug dealers’ numbers and get healthy again, albeit with equal feelings of ugliness and misery. And on turning 40, with a celebratory birthday show to play that evening, performing with my favourite musicians in the whole of Britain, I re-entered reality.

Withdrawal lasted about 10 days after arriving in Manila, where I spent the entire period locked in a room in the expansive mansion that is Angie’s family’s abode.

Once the spell was broken, it was time to take the traditional family vacation to paradise – Boracay, the most beautiful, white-sanded, turquoise-skied place on earth. And I would spend the vacation with a woman who had booked me into a different hotel from the one that she would stay with my children and my mother.

The Wildhearts’ soundman Matt had recently come out to the Philippines to be a friend in a time when friendship would have medicinal properties, and he came to the beach with us and happily soaked up the sun while I, on the other hand, lay in bed with a brand new sickness. I had dined on oysters on the first evening there and suffered the worst case of food poisoning I had ever known, rendering me bedridden for the entire time while the world outside enjoyed paradise.

After I refused to allow a drip to be inserted into my arm by the local doctor, she put me on a course of medication. I couldn’t understand the practicality of a drip as I was running to the bathroom with the regularity of a clock and the speed of thought. Dragging an intravenous insert on a heavy stand was never going be a practical attachment.

The illness worsened until it looked likely that I would have to extend my stay on the island and be admitted into hospital as the fever rose to heights that food poisoning would rarely reach. I made it safely back to the mainland, puking and shitting all the way home. When we arrived back I was told that one should never eat oysters before a storm. The tsunami had just hit this end of the world, presumably rendering these bottom-feeding molluscs extremely poisonous.

Great information is only great when you find it out before it’s needed.Afterwards, it is merely annoying.

The rest of the month was spent sad and alone in my room while Angie slept in another bedroom. Lonely, sick and with almost suicidal boredom, I sat with my guitar and wrote. And wrote and wrote.

I had written an entire album of new material by the time I had to prepare to leave for London. In the meantime, I had begun working out with weights. Matt had begun by pushing my skinny, emaciated mess of a body into shape. Twice a day I would pay penance in a gym. It seemed appropriate punishment.

Though I was unaware of any physical improvement, the exercise was at least making me feel much more positive. I’ve never been able to put on weight or ‘buff up’, due to an unnaturally speedy metabolism, but daily exercise does keep one thin. And thin is always in when in the rock ‘n’ roll business. By New Year’s Eve I was starting to look and feel human again, and as the New Year celebrations went on all around, I sat with my mother and friends drinking wine, listening to guns being fired into the spectacular Manila sunset, a panoramic firework display loudly drowning out the silence between me and Angie, the mother of my children and love of my life.

And I couldn’t have been more unhappy.

With sour relations between us reaching a chilly peak, we arrived back in Britain. I dropped off Angie and the kids at their London flat, collected my boxed possessions from storage and drove to my parents’ house in Newcastle. I then dropped off my belongings and boarded the first plane to LA.

London had too many bad memories for me, and besides, I was unable to get a job due to the sinister obsession the UK music business has with pretty young boys. It would seem that 40 years old is beyond employable age in music in my country, and I ain’t pretty. Experience and talent effectively render one redundant in the field of rock music in Britain. So, fully intending to remain a faithful father and provider, I went looking for work in America and landed a job in a band called the Brides Of Destruction, an outfit put together by one of my heroes, Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue. My good friend Scott Sorry (formerly of Amen) had replaced Nikki after Motley Crue reformed and the Brides found themselves without a bass player. Scott had already told me about joining the band and how happy he was in his current position. Needing friendship and a job, I persuaded the Brides’ guitar player Tracii Guns (formerly of LA Guns) to let me tentatively join and see how the relationship would work out.

Staying with Tracii on the coast of Malibu Beach, the situation looked positive and the creative process of writing songs for the new Brides album went into overdrive. The band seemed on fire; the humour was warm and contagious and the new songs were rapidly spat out of the tiny rehearsal room near Venice Beach. It was the most productive I had been since leaving The Wildhearts at the beginning of the year – a move that proved as difficult as it did worthwhile.

I had grown frustrated at The Wildhearts’ lack of commercial success and the band had become a personal Groundhog Day for me. Constant complaints about lack of money combined with a refusal to assist had worn me down and I had been forced into a reluctant position of sole personality in the band. Along with co-managing our affairs and supplying the band with songs (which I would ultimately end up producing), I was personally expected to write for the website, answer the fan mail, map out the band’s future with lawyers and record companies, invest time and money in artwork and videos, and still find time to conduct every phone, radio, TV, internet or personal interview alone, and in the process become the public fall guy for all ills in the history of the band, which were many and ugly. The Wildhearts had become me, and I hated it.

I was tired of seeing only my face in photographs but group shots were impractical as our guitar player had decided to get married and live in Japan. Meanwhile, the bass player had made progress impossible due to his extreme lifestyle and would eventually leave, and the drummer would often offer help but never acted upon the promise. This combination of elements ultimately destroyed whatever passion I had for The Wildhearts. In fact, the mere mention of the band’s name would in time induce feelings of nausea. Maybe if everyone had thrown themselves into the running of the group as willingly as the procuring of drugs we may have been an unstoppable force.

Drug problems had ran like the proverbial vein through the life of The Wildhearts. We didn’t have any acquaintances around the band that didn’t use drugs – hard, soft or prescribed – in the 15 years of our career. We didn’t take more or less than the average factory worker but the use was dramatically over-documented in the press, turning the band into a poster group for hedonism, and with the position of lone spokesperson I was constantly tarnished with the brush of the entire band and crew for over a decade.

The truth was that I had never had a problem with heroin in the past. It made me vomit and fall asleep and there was nothing about either effect that I liked. I was a fan of cocaine. It made me chatty and lively and was the most popular narcotic in the circles that I had moved in since being a teenager.

Musicians and non-musicians alike would regularly be seen cramming themselves into toilets in every pub in London. For years I was unaware that the cistern of a toilet had another use than to snort lines of coke from. I couldn’t afford to put any more of the drug into my system than the average menial worker, such was our financial status, so contributing whatever money I had into a drug pool was the obvious method of getting high. And seeing as cocaine was the drug of choice for most of society, it was that or cannabis, which I have always hated. Pot makes you eat; coke makes you stop eating. And waking up with a mouth full of food is far less glamorous than imagining being the most intelligent and interesting person in a room full of overactive and extremely boring chatterboxes.

I had stumbled upon heroin long after it was cool to be a fucked-up teenaged rock star. I was 39 when it grabbed hold of me.

With drugs, for any touring band, goes alcohol, and The Wildhearts drank heroically, appearing afraid that each drink was the last. A bottle of Jack Daniel’s would last one round. Hangovers were daily excuses to get drunk again, and abuse of alcohol had made violence and aggression regular features. I hated any kind of fighting but would never fear it – therefore I gained a reputation as a psychopath, a charge that I can only partly confess to.

My childhood had been spoiled by domestic violence, as my mother had married a second husband who regularly beat her mercilessly, and I had spent enough of my youth in battered wives’ shelters shaking in fear as drunken men outside threatened to invade the only safe haven left to its inhabitants. I had been raised to believe that men were either drunken wife-beaters or policemen. I have hated men all my life, until recent years.

The sound of police radios squawking was a semi-permanent sound in our house, as neighbours would report the crying and shouting coming from next door. My mother would be regularly thrown out of the door into the street by our sadistic stepfather – often crying, always bloody – while this coward would take out the rest of his invective on the two small children indoors. I can’t remember a day where I wasn’t scared to be at home, but I can clearly recall Christmas Days without toys and not having enough food or money to buy clothes.

I was once thrown out of a school disco for being poorly dressed, and I was wearing clothes that had been bought that day (on an expired credit card) that I assumed were not only acceptable attire but quite dapper at that.

To say that my life as a child was an unhappy one would be a huge understatement. I experienced the kind of upbringing that would ultimately end in disaster, with my mother stabbing my father. I remember her running a huge kitchen knife through the fat stomach of the thug that had beaten her for years.

It was the night that Elvis Presley died.

My sister and I were in bed crying at the news on the radio, turned up to its maximum in a bid to drown out the sound of walkie-talkies in the passage. Suddenly our stepfather fell through the door, staggering against the wall with the blade of a knife protruding from his belly, blood spurting wildly in all directions. It was the biggest knife in the rack of knives that he would use in his job as a chef; it had been thrust into him all the way up to its hilt. There must have been 10 inches of steel inside his gut. And it still didn’t kill the cunt.

The night that Elvis died ended with my mother being taken away into custody, while my sister and I wondered at the amount of blood in our bedroom and chaos erupted in our street to the sound of police and ambulance sirens. But the ogre with the bad, drunken breath and the big, painful fists had been slain. And at last my sister and I had something to smile about.

Having experienced more violence than a child should ever endure, I had grown up immune and unimpressed by its constant presence in my life. What I thought was gentlemanly conduct would strike Angie as aggression. What I assumed to be the typical behaviour of a rock band would produce outrage and promote fear. I feel comfortable in situations that would terrify most men, and as a result alienate people with accuracy and regularity.

My intended wife would leave me, and my band would eventually turn into antisocial outcasts whose reputation I would wear like a contagion. And the responsibility lies in the mistreatment and ruination of a child at the hands of a violent alcoholic.

I despise violence with such a passion that I would gladly kill someone who used violence on a woman. Some paradox, huh?

On the plane to LA I sat cramped next to two large Geordies who had obviously never flown before. Everything was exciting for them on the flight. Even the free nuts promoted bellowing, joyous laughter and another attempt to engage me in conversation. After leaving a band I had loved for almost 15 years, a woman I had loved for five, children I had loved for four and two years and a drug I had loved for a few months, I had no love left. I was cold and indifferent to these gleeful northerners and asked to be relocated to another seat on the premise that I needed more leg room, which isn’t a lie as I have legs far longer than the average ‘cattle class’ passenger.

I was escorted to a seat next to the door that means you are expected to be a hero in the event of emergency, and which is therefore usually empty, next to a lovely Philippino lady called Hennie. She was reluctant to enter into conversation at first, but the ice was broken when I spilled a glass of red wine on her beige trousers. Most Philippinos are incredible at coping with difficult situations (I had previously vomited over the legs of my favourite Philippino lady, who exuded the sheer class of a mother of five that still looked 21) and as a result are cool as fuck. I love Philippinos – they take no shit yet are incredibly affectionate. I had managed to have two children with the least Philippino person I ever met from their country and now I was sitting next to a classic example of tolerance. Strange coincidence? It would get stranger.

LA had spat me out the last time I tried to live there, and this time I was determined it was going to be different. After feeling like a real member of the Brides Of Destruction, I set about getting a place to live and came across a ranch built upon an Indian reservation, complete with an energy vortex and swimming pool. The place was unlike any I had ever seen outside of a Charles Manson movie. In fact, the Manson family had actually lived on the property prior to the Sharon Tate murders. Axl Rose lived down the road. The place had been a country studio in the late ’50s, when the Reverend Fred’s family had taken over residency and seemed perfect for our rehearsal and recording needs.

After gaining the trust and respect of this huge, generous reverend, I moved the band’s gear into the large hunting lodge situated at the front of the property. Tracii had fallen out badly with the owner of the rehearsal studio that they currently occupied, and I was shocked at the reaction of the quite obviously ‘bad ass’ proprietor of the establishment when Tracii announced that we were relocating. I have always moved along in life and thought everyone understood the concept of inevitable change, but the studio owner’s violent accusation that Tracii had a reputation for burning bridges was almost as much of a surprise as the band’s gear being thrown into the street by a bunch of heavies.

It was late, I was tired and jetlagged, and it was about to rain. I phoned the Reverend Fred (when phoning Fred I would always announce “Hey, Fred, it’s Ginger”, courting good humour with the reference to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) and he allowed us to store our equipment at the ranch while we figured out a means of payment for the property. Tracii and I would split the cost in half; I would pay for the apartment section of the place while the band would fund the lodge.

It wasn’t long before things turned dark. The singer of the group, a hairdresser named London, was staying over one night. He and his girlfriend, another Philippino (Jesus, this was getting to be a theme), had been given my bed to sleep in. Out of the blue, London began complaining about the pressures of his life and how no one understood him or assisted him in his struggle. Considering that his woman was upstairs in my bed waiting for him while mine was thousands of miles away with my children, I took this petty whining with the grace of a rhino. I demanded that he vacate my room and property, otherwise I would personally, physically throw him out.

I was missing my life back home and was in no mood for musicians complaining about their lot. I had just left a band because of their childlike refusal to accept group responsibility, and here I was, on a ranch that I had found for the new group at a crucial time, listening to the bleatings of the singer about his problems. I was ready to kill someone. I furiously threw his bag out of the room, which connected with the doorframe and rebounded, breaking a finger on the ‘important’ hand of anyone that plays guitar. With a show looming, a broken finger and whining singer and homesickness from Hell, I reluctantly played the most awkward and uncomfortable gig of my life. I was starting to drink heavily again too.

While the band enjoyed the aftershow delights of Vinnie Paul’s strip bar (Vinnie is the brother of Dimebag Darrell, who was sadly killed by an insane Marine at a show recently, and is a fine man), I contemplated the fact that I was a violent drunk capable of serious damage. My life was fucked. Everything I had loved had been taken from me, I was in a band that was beginning to mirror the one I had just left and I had just lost control of my bowels and shit in my pants. This wasn’t good.

I asked to leave the band.

I would never start something I didn’t intend to finish, hence the cancellation of the proposed Wildhearts album, the termination of involvement in the Brides and the commitment and loyalty I had shown to Angie with the admission of my sins.

The depression I had always been a prisoner of came back to my life like a mallet to the head. How could things get worse? Oh, easily. The next event in my life was to be either a final straw or a reason to begin anew.

I was to be evicted from the ranch in which I was living.

Tracii had decided that he wanted me out of the house, and was withholding the rent that the Reverend Fred was in serious need of until my removal from the property was effected. While throwing me out onto the street seemed a strange reaction to my irrational behaviour, I couldn’t argue that I was becoming a liability and that all my past experiences had finally manifested themselves into a raging volcano of anger that threatened to erupt and destroy at any point. I was ready to kill Tracii, quite literally. It was obvious to everyone around me that I was going slowly insane with grief.

After emailing around to find record companies to fund a solo album, my life took a dramatic transition. I had reached the bottom of life. I was homeless, jobless, lonely and hungover, with a fucked-up finger and without a reason to carry on living.

This is the point in one’s life where there are two roads and one is a dead end. You can choose life or choose death; there is no third option. Something really huge was going to have to intervene in this comically awful situation.

Suddenly Hennie, the woman I had spilled a drink upon during my flight to LA, got in touch and accepted the offer of acting as my manager and making available to me her great social skills, knowledge of high finance and experience in organising the business of very important men.

On the very same day as Hennie contacted me, Ralph Jezzard, producer of The Wildhearts’ finest and most controversial album, Endless, Nameless, replied to my request to produce my new album. He prepared to make himself available and start recording immediately. He had a spare room in the house that he shared with his son George. And he lived in Texas, home of Willie Nelson, the oldest living hero of country and a huge inspiration in my life.

Ironically, the studio that The Wildhearts would have made our next album in was Willie Nelson’s own studio in Texas. I had regretted not meeting the great man himself far more than leaving the band behind.

Suddenly Willie Nelson’s studio got in contact with Ralph to inform him that they had received a cancellation and would be available immediately. I would have to immediately leave LA for Texas.

I would have a home with an English friend, an appointment with destiny in the shape of the great Willie Nelson and finally a chance to record the songs I had been writing that graphically documented my turbulent year.

The Reverend Fred drove me to the airport, where I would fly to Texas and begin work on the songs with Ralph. After finding the musicians needed to complete the work, the songs started to develop a life of their own. The music I had wrote was as honest as it was melodic and we both found ourselves falling in love with this brutally open-hearted collection of songs. The songs that had been written as depicting my terrible year fit together unlike any album I have ever been involved in. They are genuine stories of love, loss, struggle and desperation, and they shine in complete opposition to their themes.

There are country songs, gospel songs, rock ‘n’ roll songs, boogie songs, riff-laden songs and pop/punk/metal songs, and they span the gamut of musical history. It is without doubt my most personal collection and, I’m reliably informed, my best work to date. I am so proud of these tracks and can’t wait for you to hear them.

I am now sitting in Ralph’s house in San Antonio writing this, and tomorrow we begin recording the album, which will be tentatively titled Valor Del Corazon (‘Strength Of Heart’). The musicians are fantastic, the songs are wonderful and Ralph is a technical genius and a wonderful man. My life has been thrown around and reassembled.

I have found my home, and it is in travelling the world, experiencing every emotion and situation that a man can endure and then writing about my experiences in songs. I have been blessed with a talent that has proven more reliable than most people I have met, and it has guided me to safety in the middle of a tornado.

The people that have stayed with me are angels, the most incredible people any man could hope to meet. They inspire and comfort me, and always give me reason to carry on, even on the blackest days. The people I have left behind will be judged by God and not me. I have harnessed my aggression and channelled it into creativity. I live with the constant love of my two children and have therefore a heart filled to the brim – perfectly opposite to my own childhood, in fact.

In the end, all faith or religious beliefs are in direct reference to a person’s parents and childhood. I have seen all the bad that a man can see and I have not given in to the demons that have threatened to destroy me as a result.

I refuse to use physical violence unless someone hurts my loved ones, I will never leave my children, I will not judge nor condemn and I will face the future with a fearless heart and open mind.

Life is not knowing what will greet you each day but having the courage to tackle it regardless.

There is an old Chinese proverb that goes: “The glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time you fail.”

Take it on the chin and wear the scars with pride.

Love

Ginger

Ginger Says – The Changing Face Of Rock

Ginger on the Bus“The more that things change the more they stay the same”

If, like me, you are old enough to remember music before Nirvana, or ways of finding out about bands without the aid of the internet, or waiting to seeing ‘how your favourite group moves on-stage’ without having the dream shattered by MTV showing ‘how your favourite group mimes on video’, then you will see this current wave of interest in rock music as nothing more than an example of fashion running out of ideas. Again.

It has chased the past for ideas under the banner of ‘retro’ (or Nu-Retro, as some shlong swallowers will no doubt name it), until it has ran into its own anus.

Those without original idea have caught up with themselves in their tireless search for something to rip off.

Plunder without incrimination until someone finds out, they say, which would hopefully be ages away, giving them time enough to think up something original.

Surely?

Of course, as stated on these very pages in the past (go check), Rock was always going to come back into fashion. Rock music has always represented quality, in sound, presentation and performance, and trends will always level out in the presence of quality, the ‘retro’ that will always be hardest to move on from.

Fashion was destined to meet rock and a marriage in both Heaven and Hell was inevitably going to take place.

HEAVEN: The whole image and sound being a gold-mine of ideas for a gaggle of new designers/musicians to plunder the endless depths of.

HELL: Rock has been around for longer than any other genre of contemporary music/dress. Where the fuck are you going to go when THAT well has dried up?

And drying up it most certainly is. Great news for us ‘older’ people for whom rock music has ultimately paid most handsomely anyway. Feels good to back a winning horse, right?

Gloating aside… (nah, fuck it, there’s always time for a little more gloating when it means seeing clueless opportunists squirm in discomfort…)

Okay, gloating NOW aside… let’s take a look at how desperate the art of eking has been made to look since Rock left it’s underground haven and came unto the light of mass public acceptance.

NU-Metal. The genre that reinvented Grunge as a new way of complaining about the same old shit. Misery for prepubescent teens. Feeding the unhappiness of those still too young to buy into anything more positive but old enough to buy ‘album/t-shirt’ after ‘album/t-shirt’ after ‘album/t-shirt’ of every faceless bunch of major label Pinocchio’s currently being thrust at a TV set near you. A genre destined to die quickly due to the inevitability that its audience would out grow out of it just as soon as they developed a fully rounded sex drive.

Goth: The perfect soundtrack for those kids who grew up and didn’t develop a fully rounded sex drive. Music whose main property is to stick ugly cider drinking people next to other, like-minded ugly cider drinking people, and have them bond under the misguided pretence that they have style. For those not ugly enough to naturally gravitate to ‘Goth’, the look fortunately involves black lipstick and badly made high-street clothing brands favouring black fashion. For those too stylish to fully understand how to look bad in black, try baggy PVC trousers.

Punk: The home of the middle class rebel, who’s only sworn enemy is ultimately the middle class parent that offered to put them through college. Music is secondary to the fashion, based on the original concept of ‘Punk’, ripping previously un-ripped clothing and fixing the tear with safety pins/loose stitching and finally stenciling a slogan on the back of said garment (slogan must read as a statement against establishment, such as ‘destroy’ or ‘anti-something’, or ‘anarchy’, a popular favourite). Fortunately these styles can be obtained in ‘Rock’ clothing shops (situated on most high streets and areas near the coast), conveniently involving none of the originals link with personal expression. Sadly the music is either a bad pastiche of Discharge, or the more commonly known exponent of the ‘punk’ (or nu-punk) soundtrack, Pop/Punk (Avril, Blink 182, Sum 41, Busted… yeah Busted). The search for a less mainstream sounding form of sonic representation leads, ultimately, back to ‘Goth’ and ‘Nu-Metal’. Resulting in…

Cyber-Goth: A plastic, shrink-wrapped version of Punk meets Goth fashion with a heavier soundtrack indicating a more serious demeanour. Red and black striped, fake hair extensioned fans of ‘metal’ hobble about on built-up footwear, claiming an alternative lifestyle while pouring money into largely expensive fashion, more money, in fact, than the three above-mentioned styles combined. The soundtrack resembles dance music for people that can’t dance mixed with industrial tinged Heavy Metal for angry people that still live with their parents.

And now let’s introduce the newest addition to this crazy phase: Classic Rock.

This is Rock music that visually resembles early ’80’s Denim/T-shirt/Leather jacket/fallen curly-perm sporting bands such as Def Leppard, mixed with a slight ‘glam’ edge as favoured by Guns and Roses (i.e. with optional eye liner and Motorhead/MC5/Iggy t-shirts), while sounding like Rock music played by people that appear on the front of musician magazines. This is a relatively new genre that has no embarrassing exponents of the style, so far. But such is the excitement being shown by ‘World-renowned’ ‘A&R’ ‘Gurus’ that the cringe factor is literally days away. Resembling the more Blues based, back-to-basics traditions of Rock (AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and soon to be name checked UFO) it has yet to be seen to be a failure, so anyone already starting out in music that needs an image/style pointer, go buy some Free, Bad Company, early Aerosmith albums and get copying. See you in the bank.

Indications point to a well-worn theme usually revealed when the life-span of trends are observed, namely the inevitable stripping of superficiality in favour of a more ‘authentic’ direction. As previously mentioned, a trend will seek added ‘quality’ with which to twist the final precious drips of loyalty from it’s consumer.

It stands to reason that the next step in the current evolution, or milking, of Rock music will be AOR.

Similar in intention to the blues based ‘Classic Rock’ genre, as noted above, in as much as it is aimed at an audience older and more stable than the teenage market. The music industry are finally waking up to the fact that the years following ‘the teenage years’ are actually more plentiful.

They’re smart, that’s for damn sure, but we’re smarter.

Any musicians want to hit the big time at any cost? Then here’s my lucky tip, my dead cert, my winning horse, my no-lose situation. Take it or leave it.

Write a bunch of catchy tunes with the minimum of chords, form a (loosely) Blues based band, similar to the ones that you will soon see taking over your TV and radio. Add an extra element of Pop. Then, and this is very important…

GET A FRIEND TO LEARN TO PLAY KEYBOARDS

It should take him no longer than six months, in which time you will all have all longer hair (essential) and will have been able to assemble some great tunes.

If writing a great tune is difficult then ask an older teacher/grandparent to cast their mind back to the late 50’s/early 60’s, write down a bunch of titles for you to find, then go and rip ’em off. Seriously, just copy the fuckers, no one will ever notice, the gap from then ’til now being so long. Shit, even if you did get found out you’ve already banked the cash, and logic dictates that the people who wrote it will already be dead anyway.

Regardez vous those history books people. Wank, wank, money in the bank.

Why not stick it to those lazy cunts in the industry that are about to follow the natural evolution of a trend (purely because thinking of how to do it with any originality takes brains and time, the two things that people in this business have very little of) and second guess their next move?

But when you get signed and are given the cheque then that money better be used wisely, like booking studio time to write essential material and set a more exciting future for us all, or investing the cash into forming your own label in order to help bands that are being criminally ignored all over the country. No ‘high interest accounts’ or expensive cars please, this is not technically ‘your’ cash.

This is a ‘Monkeys Paw’ type of offer, and if you go thinking you’re ‘really onto something’ or that your shit smells like the heads of babies then you will drink the warm juice of Satan’s big pink tap, for eternity. I swear this to be true. Maybe not any day soon, but as sure as God made greedy little A&R men you WILL be swallowing Ol’ Red’s toxic custard in that infernal basement should you follow the hideous tradition of forgetting your own past, come V-Day. You mark my words.

To summarise, then, second guessing the idiots running this show, how difficult could it possibly be? They honestly think they know what’s best for you the public? Well, then why not show them that they are freekin’ A. This is our world too, and every success story that has existed has been a product of following simple technique. And technique is nothing but whatever tried and tested formula that has proven most previously reliable. Like a trend, technique involves keeping an eye in the present and a foot in the past. No one that ever succeeded was smarter than you, they were just a little more in touch with their technique. More in tune with current trends. More familiar with their history.

History is never wrong, remember this. It is the reason for every new thought and every modern advance. History has the largest, deepest carpet under which a host of unsavoury confessions are swept, the biggest one being the admission that everything has been done before.

The present exists on a basis of mass consciousness, and the future depends on eternal continuation. And there will always be continuation, even when there is a drought of original thought. Continuation does not depend on originality only on the dependency of evolution.

No matter how dire a situation appears to be the human being will naturally look forward to the future, as the future is where dreams live. And there is money in dreams.

So while the suits continue to cruise, wearing expressions indicating that they just signed an act so enormously talented that you will, in turn, offer eternal gratitude to their record labels savvy, we can take a leaf out of the history books and beat them at their own game. We could be that signing. And you read it here first.

Oh how we would all laugh.

If only until the next trend.

Haha… keyboard orientated pop/rock for an older audience?

Last one there is a rotten purist.

Ginger

Ginger Says – Faceless Music in a Lifeless Industry

Ginger in the USA. © Kevin Graft.Having just got back from America, I have to admit that I have managed to somehow rub the brilliant sheen of the experience almost completely away.

Reality, and London, have stripped me of all the joy and hope I had for this upsetting little system of power games that we call a ‘business’.

I will not refer to it as the ‘music business’ any more, as the beauty and life enhancing properties of music are the last thing that motivates those bereft of taste, especially those in the position to dictate it.

Before I toured America I imagined that it’s heritage would lift it above the UK in my estimations, and true talent and conviction would conquer all in the land of opportunity.

What utter balls.

They’re as shit fed as we are.

The business over there starves its youth of dreams just as effectively as ours. It forbids ‘the unique’ the luxury to dream of being publicly accepted – special, even. Rewarded for years for being the oddball in school, and a social outcast on leaving.

Where music has been the best friend to the lonely in an unjust, uncaring and unforgiving World, music could be the one thing that may, more than likely, serve as a curse in later life. Musicians may be forced to change their personal style, or be cast into the flotilla of unappreciated talent. But unappreciated by who exactly?

Music is made up of two teams.

Those that will bend, emulate and adapt to whatever is going on around them: Let’s call them ‘Moths’.

And those with a born talent and a reason to live and spread life through music: Let’s call them ‘Rats’.

Now, the Moths are the ones you see on TV. They clog up the radio with song after song after identical song. Strange, yet perfectly fitting with the A&R department, whom we will call the ‘Ticks’, and their current idea of what represents ‘now’.

Whatever the guise of ‘now’ appears to be, at any given time.

The Rats, on the other hand, are the bands and players that people talk about with respect. Those maverick types held in high esteem by people that may later take the torch and carry it to the next Rat, bound yet bonded by talent.

The Ticks are the chess players. The string pullers. The makers of the success stories, and the sworn enemy of the Rat.

The Ticks live on the host known as the ‘Managing Director’, for whom there is no animal or insect worth insulting enough to share its name with.

Without the Ticks there is no business as we know it.

And herein lies the problem.

The Ticks have redesigned the shape of adoration with a loveless generation in mind. Knowing how easily guided this new generation are, the Ticks flood the market with sub standard fodder than can be duplicated with ease. Restricting the Rats from causing unnecessary creative unrest within the game, while moulding the Moths into whatever is needed to obtain the annual business earnings expected of Tick – thus keeping the ‘business’ afloat, year by year. The essential sum is met, and the Ticks survive another annum. The Moths are presumably dropped from their lofty position, only to redesign themselves for future use. And the Rats?

Well, the Rats actually come off better than the Moths and the Ticks.

Okay, so the Rats are forced to scrape a living out of tiny pieces of fortune, awarded them by virtue of their specialist trade. A trade so increasingly rare, that every year it looks more and more in danger of extinction. Fortunately extinction can never happen, as the people who appreciate the Rat’s stimulus can get satisfaction from nowhere else. The Rats have a job for life. It doesn’t pay as well as the Ticks and the Moths, initially, but it is by far the safest position to be in. The business will never kill the Rats, it will just make them more resilient to setbacks, and more determined to survive.

The poor Moths, however, are lost in a strange sea just as soon as the umbilical cord of the ‘business’ deems them unfit for employment, and superfluous to requirements.

The Ticks sit back and gloat, blissfully unaware that they are, in fact, in the most dangerous position of survival of all involved.

For, in years to come, the annual budget will no longer suffice when faced with a more demanding and less patient market, and more revenue is needed. This must come in the form of ‘back catalogue’.

It is at this point where the seemingly indestructible Ticks will panic, as the Moths have left them no back catalogue in which to exploit. They didn’t really get much chance as they were discarded after their first/second album (subject to TV appearance and cheekbones/haircuts). Just as well really, as the Moths didn’t have any more songs in them, having covered every inch of their emotional spectrum in their material to date.

Leaving the Rats as the Ticks only possible best friend.

And then justice is served cold and well past its sell-by date.

This is the day that I pray will not be ruined by greed, desperation and the underlying need to be ‘accepted’.

The Rats will own the world. Potentially.

But will the lure of fame prove too much to resist? After all, there are years of standing on the sidelines, watching the game progress, to take into consideration.

Is it a human trait, buried deep within us all, to turn away from the mine as soon as the gold turns into sterling?

Is the promise of success within the business the most addictive drug known to the musician?

Or will ‘Indie-Man’ arrive, just in the nick of time, and save the world from a fate worse than MTV?

Well, he’d better get his fucking skates on (or rocket powered boots, for better effect), and pronto, as the day is surely coming. And if Indie Man isn’t checking out the richest businessmen that he can possibly come into contact with, and using the might of Universal and Clear Channel as a catalyst – and nothing more – to a brighter, more controllable future (one that favours the artist and the listener), then he may just be a little late arriving at the party of the Century.

If Indie Man does not save the day, then the Rats may be forced to peddle their supreme trade to an unloving audience who feel robbed of the cheekbones/haircuts that they demand as an essential part of the overall package.

Will the Rats be forced to water down their trade, as the majority of their new public will not understand the difference between good art and a bad video?

Maybe the Rat will have to learn how to ‘act’? Say thank you to people who never say please, and shake hands with limp-wristed Ticks. And wear a tutu. Maybe.

They ultimately will not be adored as they had imagined. And then the drug-like cycle will begin, first with loss of confidence then loss of self, until only loss of life is left, appearing like a beacon of escape in a loveless business that promised so much, yet took away much more (Hi, Kurt!).

So, in summary, what do we do?

Well, the Ticks cannot help the way they are made, and actually do not mind the destruction of a once glowing industry, as change in Capitalism is as important as stability.

The Moths (bless ’em) were kind of designed to be meat for the masses. Any species that exists for the adoration of a camera will be more than happy to be locked in a room with only two mirrors. One small to sniff off and one large to look at.

Indie Man? Does he even exist? We have dreamed of his presence saving the dreams of thousands, even millions of kids seeing/hearing something that will steer them into wanting to emulate some grand talent, and inject the existing energy with a shot of their own special sauce. What if these potential influential would have found a reason to believe at the end of a Burger, a Beer or a Bottle of Whiskey? What if they didn’t even need Indie Man? Maybe they had actually invented him, if only as a figure of faith?

Which brings us finally to the Rats. The dreamers. The survivors. The product of not being suppressed nor impressed by the glossy promises dished out by the Ticks. The Rats live in pity of the Moths, knowing their fate is manifest destiny, as handed down by the many history books that Rats have educated themselves on. After all, how can you be a Rat unless you’re smart, and how can you be smart unless you read a book?

The Rats will still be here when the Moths have ran out of support, the Ticks have ran out of ideas and Indie Man was last seen riding the back of the Loch Ness Monster.

The moral of the story, boys and girls?

If it smells of shit, stands to reason that it probably is.

Keep yer nose up, and yer head on.

Ginger

Ginger Says – And the consistent will inherit the Earth

Jon, Ginger & CJ @ Whitehaven. © Mike McKenzie

It’s been a while since doing one of these ‘intro’ things, and I have to say I have been dreading starting up this little habit again. Not because of the work (surely, Dear Reader, you know you deserve that), but because every time I sit down to write an intro, something else good happens. Every day… something new, and something good.

Talk about ‘careful what you wish for’, ‘cos I must have gotten greedy with my wishlist along the way.

It gets like that. Wish for the world, and settle for a large healthy chunk of earth, y’know? Occasionally however, (and you gotta believe that I had, almost, become resolved to the fact it was never going to be me), someone is going to inherit the Earth.

If last year’s ‘black’ was skinny boys in ‘thrifty store’ gear (or ‘classic clothing’ as it is now known as, and sold at five times the price, as a result) staring aimlessly goofy at the floor below their converse all-stars, and the year before that, ‘black’ was short spiky haired boys complaining about their parental neglect issues, then this year’s shade of Johnny Cash is, surely, all about ability.

Rock has gotten itself classy again, and not before fucking time, I am sure you will agree.

When trends fall, quality takes over, and in music, no genre represents quality with the consistency of Rock. Guitar solos are back, because people actually learned how to play that wooden thing that can get your dick sucked. Showmanship has become the new ‘Heroin chic’ (or, put another way, having little in the way of rhythm), because people have taken time out to master a few dance steps, and bust a few moves.

And surely the fact that rhythm sections are becoming more commonly brilliant is down in no small part to The White Stripes. Nothing against the White Stripes, or anyone else for that matter (‘couldn’t give a shit’ actually more neatly rounds up the depth of emotion), but following the success of someone banging on a drum kit like a bored child messing around with the dinner pots could drive the most timid of drummer into a Keith Moon sized frenzy. All the while being applauded by a clueless gaggle of journalists (or is it a flotilla of journalists? or a turd?… yes, a turd of journalists will do nicely).

You can almost feel Big John Bonham stirring in his grave.

Yes, thanx to the lightweight, anorexic variety of ‘garage’ paraded as ‘Rock n Roll’, by the ‘scenesters’, it’s time to let the big boys have a go.

Because the big boys make rock sound the way it should sound.

HEAVYWEIGHT.

At the beginning of the year The Wildhearts were about to call it a day, do some crippling US punk (or if British, read ‘pub’) tour, that would have thoroughly demoralised the band into quitting, and we were going to record a final album called “Sod’s Law” that would have been a sweet swan-song, complete with final cash-in tour of UK and Japan.

Then The Darkness asked for us to tour Europe with them.

Our record company, Gut, decided it was an inappropriate tour for us, so we instead booked a bunch of shit-holes to play and earn enough money to hire a bus to take us around Europe (read the journals on this very website, they’re a blast for any aspiring musicians currently considering giving up). Fuck it, we’d figure out a way to eat once we were in Europe.

Only the most independent of passion could see no benefit in touring with the hottest UK Rock act in well over ten years. We, on the other hand, occupy the seam-bursting end of the passion spectrum. The tour went ahead.

The European tour yielded benefits that we would never have believed, had we not believed in the first place.

Album distribution, agents vying for our attention and a much needed ego boost in the form of a ton of Darkness fans rabid over our music. From a state of lovelessness in the UK to ecstatic reactions from music fans throughout the whole of Europe.

This, then, begat the American Darkness tour, which ushered in a new age of appreciation for our ‘un-fashionable’ brand of powerful rock with melody. Beginning with the involvement of a nice big US management company and culminating in a record deal with Sanctuary, with a single (Vanilla Radio) to be released in June.

Then things really started to get weird.

Another tour of America is offered to us by those wonderful, career-saving boys in The Darkness (without whom you would not be reading this, because right about now I would be nestled deep within the Philippines, languishing in paradise, family and guitar in tow).

This new tour commences at the beginning of June. The same week/month that our first ever official Wildhearts single is released in USA.

Make it up? You should be writing books if you can even fucking imagine this shit!

A tour of the UK is completed, (with the mighty Therapy? and the superb Glitterati), which is a huge financial success, and every show is almost sold out, except for the ones that were actually sold out of course. We, quite frankly, make a well deserved mint.

Not bad going, so far, for a band on their last legs not four months prior.

No, it gets better.

We are even, finally, playing Reading and Leeds festival. And on no less a stage than the Radio One stage, a corporation that had us blacklisted from their playlist not 12 months ago.

Then, in January, we will head back to USA for our first headline tour, and with luck we can bring Therapy? along, carrying on the tradition that The Darkness have set down, namely helping out your mates and not being a selfish, pocket-lining cunt.

And it looks like we’ll be demo-ing the new album in July (no longer called ‘Sod’s Law’, that will have to wait until this roll stops a rollin’). Brand new tracks that rock your fucking ass clean from under your hips.

The band are all writing, and the riffs are fucking… fucking… fucking… descriptions fail to do them justice. Choruses and melodies to kill chickens for. I kid you not one jot.

What can I say, as some form of summation?

I guess the moral of this tale is that if you keep your shit together, and DO NOT GIVE UP NO MATTER WHAT… hang on, let’s just repeat that one more time…

DO… NOT… GIVE… UP… NO… MATTER… FUCKING… WHAT!…

….then who knows what fate has lined up for you?

You do not know. Your friends do not know. And you can be pretty damn certain that magazines and record companies do not know.

What I do know, however, is that the longer it takes to make it, the better player you are. And the better player you are the more likely you are to blow someone’s fucking socks off come their first live introduction to your band.

So my advice to any aspiring musicians out there is simply this: keep playing, keep improving and keep the faith. It is all working for the larger goal. It is all important. There is no disgrace in making it big anymore.

Be honourable and be professional… and let’s not break this chain.

The UK is rising again, for the first time since the early ’80’s.

The post Nirvana generation grew up and had some really cool kids. They now attend concerts. As musicians it is our duty, our responsibility to entertain these people, be they parent or child.

The Wildhearts are testament to many things, but the power of quality and the infectious nature of consistency is new to me.

All of this is new to me, and I’m nearly fucking 40, I look great and I feel fantastic. And I can play the living shit out of my guitar. And I love this band more now than I ever have.

There, boys and girls is the eternal power of rock.

And until someone invents a trend that lasts as long as rock has lasted, then trends are strictly for those without imagination. It is all rock, the rest is padding.

FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK – DO IT WITH A BIG FUCKING SMILE ON YOUR FACE!

Still scratching my head, while constantly pinching myself…

Your local Rock Star, and damn proud to represent
Ginger

Ginger Says – We cannot fail – because the only critic capable of thwarting our zest for life, for the unchartered and intensely difficult times ahead, is ourselves

Ginger. © Dave Heulun
HAPPY NEW YEAR, ALL YOU FAITHFUL…

…and go fuck yourself, all you moaning bastards that have marred what was otherwise a perfectly rotten 2003!

Jeez, what a year!

It started well. Independently reaching the hallowed UK top 20 and appearing on Top Of The Pops with ‘Stormy In The North, Karma In The South’. Personally financed by our management and myself, the single and self directed video shot way past all expectations. So much so in fact, that had we not been so broke from paying for everything ourselves, we could have made a killing at Ladbrokes if we’d been able to bet on its success.

After signing to GUT records the following two single fared less favourably and neither touched the sales of our own efforts. Still, that’s progress.

The biggest surprise tho’, came in the form of our ‘feelgood’ album ‘The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed’, the first full length release in some six years. And of all the feelings associated with the execution of said recording, ‘good’ never entered the running. With location cut from Los Angeles, to Vancouver and eventually to commence in Skegness, armed with zero budget, things were not primed to be the most joyous of experiences. And in our album making history that really is saying something.

With Danny entering alcohol-rehab on the morning of his scheduled bass parts, the mood began to darken. And then the lights that had once been the inspiration for the reformation began to collectively become extinguished. Danny had been having a hard time in the months prior to recording. He was becoming less interested in rehearsing, sometimes not turning up at all, and the shows were suffering as a result of lack of band morale. This lack of morale was not entirely down to Danny of course, but it was becoming increasingly clear that his interests were not in making The Wildhearts the best band it could possibly be.

Which was the whole point of getting back together in the first place.

From what we hear, the stint in alcohol rehab hasn’t been entirely successful, but for the purpose of the recording sessions it was imperative to stick with the budget, this meant the schedule had to be adhered to – to the day. No one could possibly learn the bass parts in a morning, so I was roped in to play.

So, apart from the original producer backing out at the last minute, leaving me with the job of production (again, necessity and time), I’m now the Bass player!

The album began as an intended collective of songs from all members. I had a bunch of new songs I was dying to try out, and come demo-day I was eager to hear the fruits of the lads labour.

Of which there was one, the CJ penned “Out From The Inside”.

Being producer, arranger and main singer / songwriter (I really had hoped to ideally sing about HALF of this album) meant that I was away from my family the whole time the album was being recorded, with no money coming in, and a family relying on my financial input and emotional involvement. And stress began to kick in.

Stress turned into frustration, and frustration turned into panic.

Not the best time to break the routine to tour the UK with Amen, I’m sure you will agree. A fantastic idea at any other time of the century, but not necessarily at this time. Still, contracts are contracts, and from the studio to the road we reluctantly went.

On looking for a suitable stand-in to replace the ailing Danny, the only guy that was even close to filling the shoes was Random Jon Poole.

It is important to know that at NO time was it planned to replace Danny with Jon, or anyone else for that matter. We just needed a bassist that was match fit and able to complete the tour.

Then something really disturbing happened. Some of the fans began turning against the band for the first time in our mixed up, replacement filled history. And for the first time I was forced to take back the statement I had always stood by.

Our fans are the greatest fans in the world.

Now I would have to get used to saying that most of our fans are the greatest fans in the world, I’d marry them in an instant, but some of them are the kind of fucking arseholes that I would personally like to kick repeatedly in the mouth.

The insults aimed at Jon, for no more heinous a crime than ensuring that the tour went ahead, that fans were not let down and the band were not sued, were nothing short of disgraceful.

Accusations of ‘trying too hard on stage’ (!) and ‘not being Danny’ (?) neither phased the guy, nor put him off his stride in completing the job that he’d accepted gracefully. Proving that his balls are a damn sight larger than those of the hidden little shits that would hurl insults at a guy trying his best in an amazingly difficult situation.

Tour over and directly back into the studio without time to unpack a bag, the toll was finally becoming evident, resulting in a stint in hospital for your truly. Stress related nervous breakdown, or just a need to escape the growing negativity? Whatever… I fell. Mentally and physically.

With the album in the bag, all that was left for me to do was mix the damn thing, then recover and wait for the responses to the painful process that was the new album.

And what a response.

Most, thankfully, accepted the new songs, appreciated that things have to move on, and that change in anything (and indeed everything) is inevitable, as well as essential. Most welcomed the new direction taken as something that would stand proudly alongside future Wildhearts albums as a refreshing oddity. More pop fused, with the euphoria that is fatherhood taking centre stage as the main inspiration for the songs. The album is a breezy, well crafted slice of Pop Rock. As daring, and radical a step in an age of Hardcore anger-fuelled Metal, proliferating the genre, as would be possible to make, without turning Reggae. Then came the accusations of ‘sell-out’!

I mean, isn’t selling out what people accuse you of when you willingly join in with the popular style of the times? When you copy the sound of the collective in order to facilitate easy commercial gain? Therefore, isn’t making a blatant Pop Rock album, in an age of screaming-agitated-testosterone-led frontmen screaming about the injustices of their childhood, the exact opposite of selling out?

People actually wanted us to split up, on the strength of one album!!

Maybe I’m just getting old, but I never wanted any of my favourite bands to quit, y’know? And I can’t say I loved every Stones, Ramones, Motorhead, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Iggy, Kiss or Cheap Trick album ever recorded, but where would they be if their fans dropped them on the first album that didn’t rate as their favourite release?

Some of this minority, that would claim that the band had indeed ‘been destroyed’ by the latest offering, were actually people that I had personally talked out of committing suicide in the past. Talk about loyalty, or even standing by a pal when he’s down.

You faithless shits.

You know who you are, and you also know who you will not have in your team should the darkside once again invade and envelop your confused world.

I hope that we have lost this contingent of ‘fan’ for good. I honestly do.

2003? From death threats aimed at me by virtue of my stance on the Iraq War, to those that demanded I disband The Wildhearts because you didn’t like one fucking album, to accusations of ‘betraying’ Danny because we wanted him to take the music as seriously as we do (even though we left the bass player spot open, at the cost of making a video for ‘Top Of The World’ without a bassist, in order to allow him to come back to the fold, should he have decided to dedicate himself to the group in the manner needed to ensure at least a decent attempt at a break, in this most fucked up of businesses), to you, the very few, I single fingeredly salute you.

You have tried to break us and you have failed.

In fact you have succeeded in making us stronger, crowning Jon Poole as a hero, and Danny as a martyr (shame on you, you fucking fools, shouldn’t you have been helping instead?), pushing us to look to the US for new ground to show off our wares, resulting in gaining US management, a US tour and imminent US record company involvement.

Those with least to say say it the loudest. We heard you, and we wore the courage of our own conviction as armour. Nothing prepares you for an attack from your own, and nothing like it makes you more resolved and determined to prove your worth. You succeeded in making us proud of ourselves and not to merely rely on appreciation.

We will carry on, with a new album of more than 30 songs, recorded later this year.

We will do this for ourselves, and for the people that understand that movement comes from fucking well moving! Changing. Trying. Testing new ground. Attempting things that seem terrifying in the mind. Having the guts to fail and the courage to applaud someone else’s brave efforts, whatever the outcome.

2004 belongs to those that would not judge, lest they themselves be judged.

It belongs to the victor, the one that would stand alone and speak, in a sea of silence. Inspire movement in an age of apathy.

We cannot fail – because the only critic capable of thwarting our zest for life, for the unchartered and intensely difficult times ahead, is ourselves.

And we take NO shit!

God bless those of you that have stayed with us…
…and a parting fuck you to those that have jumped ship.

Yours,
this year and the next bunch to follow

Ginger

Ginger Says – Greetings From Hospital

Ginger on stage, by Wayne Charlton.Just got back from a trip to Hell. It all started when… well, let’s go back aways.

I’ve always had a tremendously competitive streak. It has blurred my decisions, marred my enjoyment and misdirected my attention for years, ever since I got into this business, in fact. And if one can make comparisons between brains and computers then I downloaded far too many tons of useless information, with no idea how to erase it. And when it clogged up the system the computer ‘shut down’. It is far too easy to do, to fill your head with needless stress.

This comes to you in the form of a warning.

So, I did what I’ve heard people do when they break their head, they go to the Doctors to get it mended.

“Wassamatter, Ginge?”

“Well Doc, been having these suicidal thoughts for years now, but just the other day they turned into suicidal intentions. Scared the living shite outta me, to be honest, and although I’d never actually go through with the act it is still best for the safety of me, and the rest of the world (I’m ticking like a fucking time bomb at this point) if you give me a pill that makes me feel normal, like other people.”

A script for Lithium is produced and the evening is spent enjoying the most simple things, from my baby girls toothless grin to re-runs of Friends. Like normal people do. The next day an ignorant pig in a car made me want to step out onto the road and pummel him to hospitalisation.

“Doc, those pills aren’t working”

“Then you must be admitted into hospital. Immediately”

Fair enough. If it’s gonna work it’s worth a try, and believe me at this point I’m ready to try anything. Except that I didn’t get to see the face of my Doctor for more than 10 minutes once admitted. In his place is a younger Doctor (dunno why, but older Doctors put you more at ease, right?) who prescribed me a cocktail of pills so great that Elvis would have said “taking the piss a bit aren’t you, mate?”

It reads like Keith Richards monthly shopping bill, except this is my daily dose:

Sertraline (aka Lustral, an antidepressant) 50 mg
Zopiclone (a sleeping pill) 15mg
Librium (aka Chlordiazepoxide, a tranquillizer) 60mg
Chlorpromazine (aka Largactil, a tranquillizer) 50mg
Diazepam (aka Valium) 80mg
Lithium (a mood stabiliser) 800mg

Sounds like it would ‘fuck with one’ a little, right? Right! This Doctor ‘dosed’ me up good, while inserting little nuggets of information into his new, delicate and very impressionable, patient’s head such as:

“Who’s name is that tattooed on your hand?”
“It’s my son”
“He’ll never forgive you for that, and hate you for it when he gets older”
“And what on earth do you mean by that?”
Oh, it’s just something my Father used to say to me”
“And what on earth do you mean by that?”
“I don’t really know”.

So, this guy has assured my family that in 4 days I will be well. This was not essentially accurate as within four days of dribbling, burbling and bumping into walls I decided to test out the effects of asphyxiation using a shoelace. No-one told me it takes 2 seconds to asphyxiate oneself and I was found on the floor, broken shoelace around my neck waiting for the ambulance that this Doctor ordered to take me to Whittingtons, in Archway (a nut-house basically) to be sectioned on his recommendation.

Now, you gotta have figured out that assessments and recommendations don’t seem to be this guys ‘thing’, right. And a verdict of ‘attempted suicide’ by a six foot bloke trying to hang himself with a shoelace just isn’t going to hold up in an enquiry.

My Missus, after being told that her rights can be overridden by this Doctor rushed to the NHS hospital where I was being ushered, to stop this redirection taking place. And there, sat on an old chair with dried blood covering the arm, I sat and explained to the Senior House Officer for Psychiatry (Jesus, our seats didn’t even match, talk about underfunding) that I wasn’t in fact suicidal, but instead had suicidal thoughts from time to time. A common partner to being extremely creative and therefore over sensitive and over analysing everything.

The Crisis Response & Resolution Team (angels, every one of them… but more about them later) turned up to provide a verdict on my mental stability, or lack of. They eventually determined that the most humane way of dealing with my case would be to visit me at home as opposed to tying my arms behind my back and chaining me to a wall. It was that simple, and that perilous.

If it was not for the Crisis Response people you’d be getting no albums or tours, my children would be getting no hugs, and my family would get no money to eat.

So that was my week, how’s yours been?

Seriously, the last figures published by the Today show give you a greater idea of the sheer criminal neglect that mental health research suffers from. Annual charity donations are split like this:

£82 Million – Cancer
£43 Million – Animals
£40 Million – Blind
£13 Million – Heart and chest disease
£2 to 3 Million – Mental health research

It is currently estimated that one person in 32,000 suffers from Aids, one in fifty affected by mental handicap, one in 30 from cancer, and one in 10 from psychiatric ill-health. One in 20 adults suffer from it at any one time, while 70% of sufferers remain untreated. 80 million working days are lost every year through depression at an estimated financial cost to business and industry of around £4 billion a year. One in 10 men, and one in 5 women suffer from a severe depressive episode in their lifetime. It is estimated by the Medical Health Foundation in Britain that 6 MILLION people suffer from psychiatric ill-health in the UK in the course of an average year.

That’s one in ten of the population.

Between 25% to 50% of manic depressive sufferers have attempted suicide at least once. More than four in every five seriously depressed people will be troubled by suicidal thoughts.Two in every five will take preliminary steps to do so.One in seven sufferers of depression will die by suicide. 5000 people kill themselves every year, and the majority of these are believed to be depressed.

Depression is the most frequently occurring psychiatric disorder, but just take a look at HOW common.

At the present time in the UK:

One in 32,000 people suffer from Aids
One in 50 people suffer from mental handicap
One in 30 people suffer from Cancer
One in 10 people suffer from heart and respiratory disorders
One in 10 people suffer from mental illness

Mental health illness is as common as heart and respiratory problems, three times as common as Cancer and THREE THOUSAND times as common as AIDS. In fact the closest thing it has in common with these illnesses is that it KILLS.

If you have any history of mental illness and/or depression then have it seen to.

NOW.

Get in touch with your GP and ask them to refer you to the Crisis Response & Resolution Team. These people are a care in the community affair that visit your house and talk to you like you are a valid human being, and not a conveyor belt case getting in the way of a golf meeting. In all lines of work there are those that care and there are those that resent their position, and spend their time dreaming of being on the next rung.

BUT THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT CARE.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE …………YOU ARE NOT ALONE …………YOU ARE NOT
ALONE…………… YOU ARE NOT ALONE …………..YOU ARE NOT ALONE
………….YOU ARE NOT ALONE ………………YOU ARE NOT ALONE……..

Really, you aren’t. There ARE angels out there. They care. They care for you. Talk to them, and learn to love yourself again. Sometimes the pain you feel is heightened by the fact that no one can see it. There are no broken bones or running noses. But that excruciating pain that removes you, that hurts, that makes you feel disembodied and alone… truly, truly alone, that pain is real. As real as any broken bone. They believe you when you say you have a migraine and they can’t see that! People are afraid to help with, or even believe in mental illness. Just in case you’re bluffing. It’s also kind of embarrassing for them, even though they themselves are probably experiencing the same feelings occasionally (just look at the statistics above), but see it as a weakness to admit it. You are not alone. It’s hard to think, no fuck that… it’s IMPOSSIBLE to think that things can get better, but believe me they actually can. You’ve got to believe me on this. The human race isn’t a total waste of time. There are some good people.

Through the Crisis Response & Resolution Team I have found people that have no hidden agenda, no ‘checking their watch’, no ‘waiting for pay day’. Just a heart and a need to help. To help you live. To save lives, the most beautiful and vital thing of all.

If you think you’ve had enough then you could be just the person needed for recruitment into the Crisis Response & Resolution Team staff. Who better to talk to a suicidal person than a suicidal person?

None of this “pull yourself together” bullshit.

As the late, and astoundingly strong willed, Spike Milligan once said about people that say ‘snap out of it’:”That’s silly… like going round with a broken leg and saying ‘come on – walk, you’ll be alright'”

Spike Milligan suffered from bipolar manic depression all of his long life, but never succumbed to suicide, and neither need you. Counseling and medication mean that in this day and age you need not suffer.

You / we have a long way to go to find out what medication suits us. No two depressives are alike, and no theory on depression has it ‘nailed’.

The thing that has the greatest success rate is counseling. Whether it’s a expensive shrink or the guy in the chip shop. Talking is best.

Be strong. You’ll find that it’s worth it in the end.

Contact your GP, or write to me. I’m always here.

Just please, please stay alive.

Your’s in madness!
Ginger

Ginger Says – The Good, The Bad And The Mighty

Ginger on stageEver thought that things have gone as bad as things can possibly get, only for things to get worse? Much, much worse? In the quest for the official nadir of bad tidings the good news is that there isn’t one. When the smell of shit becomes too much to deal with, worry not… pretty soon you’ll have to eat that shit, and then pine for the days when all you had to do was smell it.

Rock ‘n’ roll… it’s a shit business. Well, it’s a brilliant game for those who enjoy it, but for some it is a one way ticket back to the hell that haunts them in the shape of alcohol and drug addiction. Everyone likes a drink or a drug of some kind, but to some it is not a casual relationship. It is a bunny boiler of a partner that demands the soul and sanity of its victims. Be it drink or drugs, the problem with the sufferers of this particular illness is not the vehicle but the direction. They will get that buzz whatever it takes, and will still hate themselves for it. It is not anyone’s place to judge the intentions of an addict, it is a mental state and therefore not up for discussion by anyone other than fellow sufferers or people that have been close to sufferers. Addiction is not aimed at you. It is not a personal jibe. The self loathing involved with being an addict, to anything from crack to chocolate, is something that the public do not see. The addict is not innocent as charged but neither is the person that would judge the addict, in any way. There are people that think that feeding an ex-heroin addict regular alcohol is okay because it isn’t heroin, blissfully ignorant to the fact that heroin isn’t even the problem.

Having an addictive personality is the problem.

Yet, these are the same people that will judge, condemn and insult those around them for having design faults. These are the people that addicts will suffer from knowing. People who will spread rumours, and try to alienate the addict from other people that care for the addict. Why? Because if the addict knew just how much these people blame the rest of the world for them being fucked up, the addict would then realise that their sinister plan is to keep the addict in a controlled environment so they won’t fly away, thus making the lives of the condemners even more meaningless.

What chance have addicts if there are people around them feeding their newest addiction? They will obviously revisit their old habits in time if they are left off the hook long enough.

Action is the final answer.

Danny, as you have probably heard, is not in The Wildhearts. We do not know if he will be back in the band. This sucks. Especially right now, when everything is supposed to be heading in the right direction.

The first thing we do not want to happen, and WILL NOT allow to happen is that Danny dies because of his inclusion in this band. We can’t watch him head slowly downhill, and we can’t force the band and crew to stop drinking to make things easier for him, as the addict will find another source to obtain his fix of whatever. We can’t encourage him to drink, and if you see him drinking please do not buy him a drink, otherwise you are helping kill Danny, and I can’t think why you would think that’s cool. All I can do is this, urge you to help. Spread the word, and of anyone see’s him with as much as a beer in his hand, they owe it to themselves to remind him that they love him and would rather not see him drinking. Believe me, booze will kill him as surely as heroin. Please help.

The second thing we want to happen is that we keep the band going, for us, for the fans and to give Danny something to work for if he decides he wants to get well and re-join. If Danny walked through the door in a years time, clean, sober and actually living a life, there isn’t anyone that wouldn’t weep, and welcome him back.

I hope that he can do it this time. Do it properly and for good. Some people should be clean.

Good luck Dan, we love you very much.

Other things that need mentioning are the new album, the new tour and my new baby.

First the album: fuck, this is a really good album!!! After getting as tired as everyone else must be, by bands ‘trying’ to be heavy (yeah, that’s cool, like trying to be angry!) we decided, in typical Wildhearts tradition, that we wanted to make an album that we would like to go out and buy. And, hey presto, “The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed”! An album so chock full of tunes and choruses that a quality warning should be employed. Man, if you like songs you will like these songs! I cannot wait to hear the public reaction to this album, probably more so than anything but ‘Endless Nameless’. In fact I guess this album is the opposite argument to EN’s belligerent spraffing. In its voluminous place is a collection of masterfully arranged (tho’ I say so meself!) and catchy-as-hell tracks that show off the musicianship of this band, a commodity that has been largely ignored in the past. Standing proudly against the current trends, the album discusses relationships and the politics of love and honour. Something we could all use right about now. Trust me, you’re gonna love it.

The up-coming tour (featuring Jon Poole on bass duties) will have our first ever tour programme, and boy is it a labour of love for all involved. The greatest writers of our generation (featuring award winning Ian Winwood, eager eyed and longterm fan Brett Callwood, infamous Steven Wells, legendary inventor of Rock journalism Geoff Barton and published book writer type bloke Jason Arnopp) rub shoulders with an international array of amazing artists to bring you a slice of sheer goodness. All bound in a shrink wrapped bag to save condensation damage due to the over zealous behaviour of the regular nutjobs that frequent our shows. You are gonna re-read this lil’ sucker for years to come. Best buy two if you do E-Bay.

The line-up for this jaunt is surely the greatest show of the year. Brand new cuties Darling open things in glamorous style, then Amen come and destroy the gaff, then it’s all heads down for the singalong of the summer. I honestly forget the sheer noise that you lot make until I’m onstage again. The sound of up to 2000 people singing along to every song takes some beating. Who else get’s this kind of reaction live? Who else brings this many tunes and this many people together under one roof? You got it. no-one. Where punks, metallers, straight edge and wasted, gather in the same building is where you want to be this April/May. Come on down, and don’t even think about missing this.

And if you’re coming down to the Oxford Zodiac gig, get there early as Darling are opening the show, and a rare appearance from Volta is also guaranteed. This is one gig I am personally looking forward to.

I won’t mention the war, except to say that everything I had predicted has happened. Babies die, families are wiped out and all in the name of progress. Lies, lies lies. I don’t buy bullshit anymore than you do. And if you do, then presumably you agree with this war and are backing the methods of exacting justice the American way, and are clapping your hands at the moment. We are gonna win! I only hope that my predictions for what happens, after the war is over, are dead wrong.

Jasmine, my new baby girl, is doing fine, getting huge and prettier every day. She is a blonde version of Jake, but seems to be much more chilled out. Jake, on the other hand, is getting crazier every day. And I thank God for it. Seriously, if you suffer from any kind of depression (or related mental illness) and are contemplating the future then… have kids.

Do it!

Find someone to love and have kids. You will change so much as a person that you won’t even recognise the person greeting you in the bathroom mirror every morning as the same miserable sod you used to see. Kids are the new everything. They rock, they don’t bullshit and they don’t fuck you over. It’s true. Not everyone is as selfish and ignorant as you sometimes see humanity. Kids are angels. And they fill you up with everything you need. Fact.

Things are as fucked up as they have ever been, these days. Best, then, concentrate on making sure that you don’t make things worse.

If you are not a part of the solution then you are a part of the problem.

Chin up. Work hard. Take no shit. Spread love. Make love. Be happy. They’ll never see it coming!!!

See you in April/May… and I can’t fucking wait. I need some fun as much as any of you. And I intend to get mine.

LET US HAVE IT!!!

Peace,
Ginger