Life’s a G.A.S.S. – An Interview with Ginger Wildheart
You can’t keep a good man down. Even by his own workaholic standards, 2016 looks set to be insanely busy year for Mr. Ginger Wildheart; fans of the prolific Geordie’s music have a plethora of different projects to look forward to over the course of the next twelve months. First up is the official release of Year Of The Fanclub on February 12th, pulling together some of the best tracks from online fan club G.A.S.S.
Ginger recently found some time to talk to Pure Rawk about the album, and also up for discussion were Hey! Hello! Mk II, the support of his fans, and the ways in which he differs from Nickleback….
Hi Ginger. Year of the Fanclub features twelve tracks, selected by yourself, from the year long G.A.S.S. project. How difficult was it picking the tracks from the huge amount of material you recorded over the course of G.A.S.S.?
It wasn’t really difficult at all, I just went for the ones that had the most meaning, or the catchiest tunes, as far as I’m concerned. At times I was swayed by popular choice, songs that were universally loved by all who heard them, but not big on my list, and these tracks have proven to be the ones always mentioned in reviews so far.
Proof positive that you don’t know everything, but if you listen to people then you’ll know more than you did.
Looking back now, how was the G.A.S.S. experience for you? Is it something you would consider doing again? If so, is there anything you would do differently?
I can’t see myself ever wanting to repeat the G.A.S.S. experience, it was a year out of my life where I wasn’t allowed to think of anything else. Everything I did was for this project, and I knew this would be the case. Like any large task, I was ready for the hard work and the work sure was hard.
I’m very happy with the results and incredibly proud of the team that did it with me.
This year will also see the release of the Songs & Words book and DVD from your most recent pledge campaign. How challenging has the book been, compared with making an album for example?
It has been pretty frustrating to be honest. I hate to sound like I’m moaning, when I really am proud to have finally written a book. It is something I always wanted to do, and there’s nothing like the feeling of writing that final sentence. The process of finishing a book, however, once it is written, is much different than that of finishing an album, once it has been recorded. Of course, this is the only comparison I have at hand, and maybe I’m just used to making albums now?
I’ll tell you something though, I prefer making albums.
The video for the new Hey! Hello! single, Automatic Love, has also been released recently. Were you expecting such an enthusiastic reaction from the fans? There seems to be a huge level of excitement around the band.
We didn’t know what to expect. It seems like one second we were playing Download festival, then got whisked away to write the album, went in to rehearse the album, recorded the album then whisked away to film the video. We didn’t even have enough time to think about it.
When I saw the finished video I was so excited I immediately emailed everyone to see if they agreed. We all shared the same level of excitement. It seems that this positive energy is infectious.
I’m honestly not surprised that people are excited about this band. It’s a true phenomenon that was thrown together because of love, luck and mutual respect. We never even thought we were going to make a second album, it just happened by chance when we all met at my Birthday Bash.
As Woody Allen said “80% of success is just showing up”, and Hey! Hello! are living proof of this equation.
In what way will the new Hey! Hello! album differ from the last one? Do you consider Hey! Hello! to be a long term project?
The second album, entitled Hey! Hello! Too!, is a more boisterous affair due to the fact that we recorded it as a band this time around, and we are a very noisy band. The melodies are present and correct and the guitars are raging, so expect righteous riffage, but on the whole I think it sounds more like a band. We feel more like a band. It all makes sense, at least to us.
You’ve always been very open about your battle with depression. When the decision to postpone the Hey! Hello! tour was made at the end of last year, the reaction from your fans was overwhelmingly supportive. How important was that to you?
It was vital. It pulled me back together. It made me realise that I wasn’t letting anyone down by putting myself first, which is a concept that all sufferers of depression struggle with.
It wasn’t the first time that my life has been vastly improved by our community. I’m so proud of the way they look after each other, and how much love people seem to have in general. I couldn’t be happier to have the fans that I have, and that is the straight truth. In this community we literally save lives.
What else is in the pipeline for 2016? Word is you’ve got another couple of albums in the works.
Apart from Hey! Hello! I have two albums to release, a couple of DVDs, a bunch of touring and something very special set up to be launched around April time.
I like to try different ways of making the new shape of the music industry work for me, by moulding it into something new and fresh. You have to keep the water fresh, it is vitally important not to stagnate, so I don’t plan to. I love to come up with new ideas, and don’t mind failing if that is to be the case. It’s all part of learning who you are and becoming who you’ll be. I’m more concerned about this than anything else. I trust the music won’t leave me, and the fans will stick by me if I maintain quality control, and the rest of my time is deciding what to do, when to do it, and how it’s going to affect me.
I’m learning all the time, and you can’t really ask much from life than that, can you?
Do you ever think more casual fans may struggle to keep up with the sheer amount of material you produce?
I don’t think I’m the kind of musician designed for casual fans. That’s why we have Nickleback.
Finally, what are you listening to at the moment? Any recommendations for Pure Rawk readers?
There are tons of new bands I’m getting into. Gang are great, they’re Bernie Torme’s sons and sound like Voivod playing Syd Barret era Pink Floyd. I love Dirt Box Disco, who may be new to a lot of readers, they write the catchiest punk you can imagine. Death Koolaid are another band that will appeal to people who enjoy darker, noisier music. They have an amazing vibe and make an incredibly large sound considering they don’t have a bass player.
The new material I’ve heard by Heck and Tropical Contact is out of this world, and, as you all probably know, Scott Sorry and CJ’s albums are killer. There’s tons of great music out there, you just have to be prepared to look for it.
The stars haven’t died, they just went underground.
Ginger Wildheart’s Year of the Fanclub is released on 12th February. Ginger is on tour in April with Hey! Hello!, supported by Dirt Box Disco, Tropical Contact and Death Koolaid.
To accompany the forthcoming single from the album, Don’t Lose Your Tail Girl, Ginger has also produced a 9 minute short film with director Mark Haldor.
Describing the song as “a feminist song written by a man”, Ginger says of the film that it is “a work of art, occasionally uncomfortable to watch, but with a lasting feeling of freedom. It’s a song about not losing your identity, and the film captures that in the natural beauty of the performances.”