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Interview: GINGER

Rock Stars...


Former Wildheart singer/guitarist Ginger has had various projects, and releases a compilation album Ten to celebrate 10 years of solo work. This features 2 new tracks.

Also coming up is a solo UK tour towards Christmas and some remastered reissues of Wildhearts albums as 2 CDs with a lot of bonus tracks.

Before the solo tour, Ginger will be touring the UK with Motorhead, playing guitar with former Hanoi Rocks vocalist Michael Monroe.

I caught up with Ginger shortly after his return from America, where Michael's new album is being mixed, and he was sporting a leg cast having broken his foot tripping over a wire on stage.

How's the album with Michael Monroe going?

Great. It's almost all mixed. It's being mixed by Jack Douglas, who have mixed and produced more of my favourite albums than anyone, from John Lennon to Cheap Trick to Starz to Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, I mean they occupy so much of my record collection, it's ridiculous that I get to work with him. It just sounds exactly like I hoped it would sound.

Have you been involved with the song writing?

Yeah yeah I've written loads for it. When I joined the band there were a bunch of songs already written and it was a weird position to be in because I didn't like them very much. Well, they were alright but they weren't great songs, you know, and I'm not saying I wrote great songs, I'm just saying I put a bit of heaviness in there, a bit of catchiness.

Joe What's Michael like to work with?

He's an absolute joy. He's the loveliest boss you could work with, absolutely without any diva qualities, he's a lovely guy.

Were Hanoi Rocks much of an influence on you?

Massive, massive, we did a gig, and our guitarist Steve had to go visit his wife who was sick so Nasty Suicide stood in, so we had Michael Monroe, Sami Yaffa and Nasty Suicide from the original Hanoi Rocks line-up and I was playing Andy McCoy, it was like a dream come true. A massive influence.

How does it feel to celebrate 10 years of your solo career?

I don't know, I'm glad I'm still here, I'm glad I'm still doing it. I do hope there's another 10 years. It's nice to celebrate anything, whether it's 10 years, a new album or just getting a cast off a broken foot, it's good to celebrate anything, it means nothing really.

Was it hard to select the tracks?

I didn't. I couldn't do it, I can't pick set lists, and I can't select tracks from albums, I always leave it to someone else. Here I left to my colleague Gaz, who runs Round Records with me.

How about the 2 new tracks?

There's a CD and then there's a free download, and he picked the lot, a 10 track definitive of what the fans would want to hear, what he thinks are the best ones.

What's a good song? I've no idea, what's a good or a bad song, it's what I like. To be honest I couldn't say what of any of my stuff is the best or worst, it's just stuff that I do, the quality is up to someone else.

What are the highlights of your solo career?

Working with Tim Smith of The Cardiacs. Working with Tim is a definite highlight of my life, he's a genius. He's very sick right now, best wishes to him, he's a massive influence. He's one of the last living geniuses and the word genius is banded about too easily, but he really is a genius, in the Frank Zappa kind of mould. That is without doubt the highlight of my musical career.

How does writing solo compare to working in a band?

You don't have to ask anyone, there's no committee. Every band that's run with the slightest modicum of democracy has some kind of committee process where 'Is it ok with you guys if I go for a shit?'.   When you do it solo you just say 'this is how it goes'. There's a lot of fun doing things by committee and it's fun to do it on your own. I don't prefer either, it's just a different process.

When can we expect the next solo album?

January. I'm recording with some guys as The Ginger Wildheart Band. Some of my favourite guys from the London rock'n'roll scene. It's gonna be great, nice and noisy, I can't wait for it.

What can fans expect from the forthcoming tour?

The Christmas tour? Oh my God, ask Christmas. The reason we're doing so many Wildhearts songs is because we're unlikely to get back together, everyone's doing their own private lives and so on.

There's no bad feelings, everybody loves each other very much. It's the strongest members have ever been together, as a family, but we've all got families, and I miss playing the Wildhearts songs, especially at Christmas.

Fans have been bugging me for ages to do another Christmas show and we're just not. So that's what fans can expect, to get drunk at Christmas and sing Wildhearts songs. They're just a great sounding bunch.

And of course you're doing the Motorhead tour with Michael?

Yeah, that's going to be weird. I didn't expect to be touring with Motorhead with a cast on my foot. I'm going to be a bit more static that I'd like to be but Michael's going to make up for it, he can't stand still, he's a devil.

Is he still playing the saxophone?

Yeah yeah, he plays the saxophone on a couple of the new songs. I think he'll come on with the saxophone for the first song - it's got a great solo in it, he's an amazing sax player. And harmonica player.

So how about Silver Ginger 5, can we expect anything more from them?

No. There's just not enough time in the day, you know, if I ever get any time off I want to do something brand new, that I've never done before.

The Wildhearts, is that pretty much it for them now?

Ginger Scott went back to America to sort out some stuff, family stuff that is not music related, and is much more important, and if he wanted to come back then yeah we'd do it. But at the moment he has no intention of leaving his family and coming back and going on tour, and I don't blame him. If I wasn't the singer I could get out of this, I probably would want a year off, but I'm the singer, and one of the main writers, I can't really take myself out of the picture. I understand his reasons, but unless Scott comes back there's absolutely no Wildhearts.

How involved were you with the forthcoming Wildhearts 2CD remasters?

Not at all. They said I was, and I don't mind that. But not at all.

Are you a completist?

I love people coming up and telling me it's great, buying them and it's got all the b-sides on it and it's well packaged. I love the fans being happy.


I see making a record like taking a shit, it's like done and dusted and I like to move on.

So you're not a collector yourself?

I don't actually own all our records. I see making a record like taking a shit, it's like done and dusted and I like to move on.

Is there anything else in the vaults, unreleased?

I'm sure there is, I'm sure there's an album's worth of material that didn't make it. Like there's a track called 'Push' that never made it on anything, I'm sure there is, but we worked with so many different labels that getting legal access to all those songs would be such a nightmare I can't imagine anyone wanting to do it.

How did you actually become involved with Michael Monroe's band?

Umm. I started writing with Michael last summer, and he had no intention of putting a band together, he had no idea what he wanted to do, I just wrote the songs with him, and then he said he had Sami Yaffa on bass and at this point it sounded too good to be true, I wanted in on this one.

They had a guitar player and wanted another guitar player and they were looking at the guy from Guns'n'Roses, Richard Fortus, who didn't know if Guns'n'Roses would be touring again.

Then they did so he wasn't available and I talked my way in to the gig. It's what I do, I talk my way into things, it's how I got in the Quireboys.

Do you still play any Quireboys material?

Noooo. Ha Ha. I wasn't part of that really, I mean I joined, I was young, I was in London, new, fresh, having a Geordie in the band, but I wasn't really involved in it, I didn't write anything.

Who is your greatest all time influence?

Keith Richards. Just because he's Keith Richards. He's just so, I could fill your machine with Keith Richards anecdotes. But I won't. He is to me the perfect all round rock'n'roller, and a survivor. There is nothing about the guy I don't like.

Who else would you like to play with?

There's so many. I'd like to play with, god there's 100s, Cheap Trick, Slash, there's so many I haven't played with. I've been lucky to play. Steve Earl is another I love to.


... rock'n'roll is taking bits of your record collection and making something fresh

Which riff are you most proud of?

Wow I've never been asked that before. I've got a lot of good runs, they're alright, there's a Wildhearts song called 'Urge', there's some good riffs in that.

And there's some good riffs in the first album. Oh God you've put me on the spot. I like the real heavy riffs, like the crunchy stuff. I like them all, for different reasons. I like the ones people tell me are good. I like the ones musicians tell me they rip off.

Because that's all I do, I rip off Master Of Puppets and The Ramones and stick'em together. It's alchemy, rock'n'roll is taking bits of your record collection and making something fresh. And I love it when I'm included...

It's like the greatest accolade.

Yes it really is, it's like I've always wanted to tell my heroes thank you for writing, like Thank you Cheap Trick for writing 'He's A Whore'; without that I don't know how many riffs I would've wrote, because that's my blueprint for every riff.

And with the internet people can get in touch with me now and it's so accessible, people can tell me 'I like this song' or so on. It's a good time to be alive.

What's the first record you bought?

The first album was Ride A White Swan by Marc Bolan and T Rex, and the first single was Drive In Saturday by David Bowie. They're actually two pretty cool choices considering I was a little lad, I was like 6 or 7 buying singles and albums.

What is your all time favourite record?

I've no idea. Which of the hairs on your head is your favourite? Rocket To Russia by The Ramones and Dream Police by Cheap Trick. Both classics. And 'So Divided by Trail Of The Dead, I've bought that one for more people than anything.

What fact about you would most surprise your fans?

I love country music, I wish I was a UFOlogist, and I've got a great arse (Laughs).

Do you keep a diary?

No. I do go online, like a carbon footprint diary. But I've never been able to keep a diary. I was jealous when Nikki Sixx's Heroin Diaries came out because I wished I'd kept a diary. I forgot the best bits.

I've tried twice to write a book, an autobiography, talking about the Wildhearts, but I realised it was incriminating so many people. I didn't want to be a guy who reviled for being the grass, so to speak, so I went off the idea. I've tried twice and I've failed twice. I'll let someone else do it?

A rock'n'roll story you could share here?

That's a hard one because they'll all incriminate someone. We did this gig in Toronto, I think it was, with AC/DC and they brought down the mayor to present us with Cowboy hats.

And during the day we'd gone to get some strippers, for a private show in the dressing room, and our tour manager got the two worst strippers he could be find, to be funny.

We had this pole in the middle of the room and as Brian Johnson walked in with the Mayor to present us with these cowboy hats and this girl was up the pole with her legs apart with her smile for all to see and they turned round and went out the door. We didn't get the hats. The look on his face was priceless. If you had a video phone at the time ..

A final message for your fans?

Thank you. Thank you for all of all of them, for sticking with us. It's great I've been able to do this for this long. The only way to make a living at this game is to be honest and I've been direct, talked to people, not like a rock star in some kind of palace. The fans can smell the bullshit. Be honest and you can make a living, and be good as well. A bit of talent.


Interview October 2010 Joe Geesin


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