Ginger Wildheart is one of the most prolific, diverse rockers on the scene. Best known for his long-running band The Wildhearts, Ginger also has a large solo catalog. He’s about to add a new chapter with his latest band Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners. Their debut release is out on October 7 and Ginger recently sat down to talk about it.
Please press the PLAY icon for the MisplacedStraws Conversation with Ginger Wildheart –
On how The Sinners came together – It was just before lockdown that we put the band together. I say “putting the band together”, we met at the studio, we were supposed to get together and rehearse, support to get together and I have a drink and just say hello, and we never got around to it. So we actually met at the studio. So we figured, “Well, we don’t know each other, it’s pointless making music, even good music, if we don’t get on”, so we all went to the pub and we had the kind of audition in the pub, making sure that everyone could handle their beer, no monsters. It was great, and then we just plugged in and played, and that’s exactly what you hear on the record. It’s very live…Neil Ivison is the guitar player and a co-lead vocalist with me. Neil Ivison is a famous guitar maker, Ivison guitars are taking off at the moment, and he’s having a real good purple patch of fortune. Bass player is called Nick Lyndon, and he’s the wise fellow of the group, he’s like the Dad of the group, sartorially elegant man at that, and our drummer is called Shane Dixon, and he’s like the little brother that we all wish that we had. Together, it just makes a really good, strong friendship, which is really important. 1:01
On this being a true band, not a solo project – Well, absolutely, I didn’t want anything else. Doing the major brunt of the work, the writing, and stuff with The Wildhearts, I was just bored of writing everything myself. Might as well make solo albums if I’m gonna do that. I want to be in a band because I wanted to hear what everybody else had to offer, n just people trying to muscle in, but what do we sound like guys, give me some songs. It was great that everyone just chipped in and everyone was really receptive, and as much as no one took it personally and they had a part that didn’t fit. There’s nothing like that in this group, which is lovely, really. I’m not used to writing with people, so that could have been a bone of contention if someone was too precious about their part. Where like if it’s good, it’s good, it’s done move on. That’s been the kind of personality of the group since we got together, so much so that we recorded this album before lockdown and then locked down hit, so we wrote another one, and recorded the second album during lockdown. Yeah, there’s no stop in this lot, it’s got a lot of energy. 3:04
On switching from the punk of The Wildhearts to the Americana of The Sinners – Well, I mean, the easy way of explaining it is before punk, I love country and pop, pop rock, glam all that sort of stuff. But I heard a lot of country. So I always had a love of country, country harmonies, country writing, storytelling, the arrangement of songs. Then a bit later, just after punk, it kind of went off the boil a little bit, and there was very few good punk bands. There was Discharge, and GBH, Exploited, but what was really going on was punk was showing up in bands like Jason & The Scorchers and the Long Riders, and even Lone Justice had a very punk spirit, and it just got me back into all the old Little Feet, and Steely Dan, and Fleetwood Mac, and The Band, Almond Brothers. When the Wildhearts came together, we loved the Ramones, the Damned, Stiff Little Fingers, Motorhead, and when the Sinners got together, it was all about the Allman Brothers, Little Feet, The Band, Creedence, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, all this stuff with just great players, and that’s the sound that we make naturally. We don’t really wanna do anything else. Stylistically, it is a bit of a departure from The Wildhearts, but it’s music that I love every bit as much as I do rock or punk or anything else…It’s working-class music. It’s white blues, basically, all that country and folk. It’s telling stories about what you’ve been through, and that’s exactly what our lyrics are all about. Obviously, there’s a lot of standard topics like heartbreak and falling in and out of love, but then there’s songs about mental health issues, something that I’ve experienced myself over the years. A lot of people either experienced it or know someone who is. It talks about a lot of stuff, and real stuff, when singing fantasy lyrics in this group. Tom Waites said his favorite thing is a terrible story wrapped up in a nice tune. That’s exactly what I do. I write really dark lyrics, but if you heard the song for the first time, you wouldn’t know. It’ll put a smile on your face before you know what it’s about. 4:49
On working with Wicked Cool Records and Little Steven – They obviously trust me because they have not had much input at all, really, as far as the music is concerned, but then again, the album was recorded before they got together. Little Steven was a supporter of my writing earlier on because I wrote a song with Ryan Hamilton, and I think that that got his attention, so it was just lovely to find an excuse to work with them because I’m a huge fan of his. Don’t tell him, but I’m a huge fan of his, his book’s amazing. I go camping with my dog, we travel hundreds of miles a day, and audiobooks are really handy. I just finished a John Cooper Clark audiobook, and he’s got such a familiar, comforting voice. Who do I go to now? Steven’s book had just come out on audiobook, and I’m like, “I’m halfway through reading it, but that we’ll put him on”. It was just having Sylvio talking to you, t was fantastic. Then after that, we got together. So it was a lovely little bit of synchronicity. But the thing I love most about Little Steven is his support of music, especially songs, he really is a songsmith, he loves songwriting and I’m a big fan of songwriting. It’s a tradition that you’ve gotta be careful not to let it go because there’s a lot of stuff on the charts and a lot of stuff on the radio, that’s not really songs as I know on them. There’s no lyrics that are gonna inspire anyone to do anything other than make money. So it’s great to have someone working with you that’s been around for a while, remembers the ’60s and still is just as passionate about music. 8:28
On if he would write a book – Well, I’ve got one, it’s out already. But it was in the kind of format I was writing about the songs. The book’s called Songs & Words and it starts off from the beginning of The Wildhearts to the 555 thing with a kind of complete circle. There’s something like 20 albums in there or something, and all of the songs kind of tell a story as well. I said, if I do that many albums again before I die, I’ll do a Volume 2, and I’ve done more than that now. I have to do a Volume 2 at some point. Well, aside from that, there’s a fellow called Mick Wall who is wanting to write a book about me. Mick Wall’s written some of my favorite biographies. He’s a fantastic writer, and I’ve known him since I moved to London. He was the guy that made me form The Wildhearts because when I got kicked out of the Quireboys, I said to him, “Do you think anyone’s going to care if I did a band?” He went, “Yeah, they would”. He’s partly responsible for this. So it’s a lovely about circle to meet back up with him, the guy who’s kind of partly responsible for me having the confidence to go and to do it myself. The first book, that I was just talking about, I was gonna get Lemmy to write the forward, and he was reading the book when he died, so that was the book, he didn’t have time to the forward obviously, that was the book he was reading when he died, so that’s another lovely circle. I had Lemmy posters on my wall. Stick around long enough and things work out. 10:32
On covering Status Quo’s “Dirty Water” and Georgia Satellites’ “Six Years Gone” – We were backstage talking about music typically. We’re all big Status Quo fans, especially me and Neil. I was telling them a story, I met Rick Parfitt on the Darkness tour, and I told him my favorite song was “Dirty Water”, and he was like, “Oh yeah, who’s that by?” He didn’t remember the song, me and Neil were laughing about that! Then we decided to have a little play on the acoustic guitar, and that night we went on stage and played it, and it be in the set ever since. So we thought, “Well, we’re gonna have to record it.”. It’s one of those songs, Neil gets to sing it, which gives me a little space at the mic, which I love. It’s again, a joy, my favorite Status Quo song and we get to play it every night…I was lucky enough to write with Dan (Baird) for the last Jason & The Scorchers album. I went over to Nashville and we wrote the album with the band together. It was funny, I was staying with a friend who came to Lemmy’s funeral with me, nice links. But this guy lives in Los Angeles, and he’s got the biggest record collection I’ve ever seen, and we just were both drawn to his Georgia Satellites album. So during the night, because we just stayed awake all night playing music and we just played this Georgia Satellites album over again, “Six Years Gone”, just kept putting it on again, I couldn’t get enough of it. I know that they did it for the first proper album, the debut album, but The Land of Salvation and Sin has a better version on that album. Again, it was one of those beautiful moments that I can’t believe that we get to play that. I get to play it to Don Baird, “What do you think of our little attempt?” He’s like, “Yeah, we should’ve done it more like that”. They’re one of those bands. We all love Georgia Satellites. They’re one of those bands, if you look at live footage on YouTube, Jesus, they are as powerful as Motorhead, just in a different way, but it’s relentless. He’s such a superb fellow as well. He’s such a lovely guy.12:45
On writing the melodies for the songs – (We are) huge fans of Jayhawks and just how beautiful it is. So again, one of the things that I keep looking for in new bands is melody and harmony. There are some amazing bands, they sound incredible, look great, and I’m listening to the records and going, “Where’s the knock-out chorus? Where’s the three-part harmony?” I mean, you can’t forget the fundamentals like that, and if people are going away from the harmony and melody, then great, I love it. I can’t get enough melody and harmony, which is just as well, because I can’t do anything else, everything I write has got a hook…I think it probably shows my age a little bit. I was brought up on Dolly Parton and George Jones was still on the radio when I was little. Then the first thing that the next generation heard was punk, so it was informed with ongoing aggression. Then the next generation from them was probably Nirvana maybe, something like that. Progressively, people are getting away from the fundamentals of songwriting, and again, if that’s the way it’s gonna go, then more fun for me. So that’s where I come from. I mean, that’s what I do all the time, that’s why I make so many records, I’ve got to get these songs out of my head so I can write some more, the only way I can do that is by recording them. 16:33
On upcoming touring plans – That’s a question for Wicked Cool Records. I hope so. I’m not saying all my influences are American, but a lot of them are. The way the American people will always say English bands as being the real deal, being a country fan, I’m Nashville all the way or the mavericks that left Nashville. So yeah, America is in my sites all the time, and yeah, it’s still a place that you can get one song just takes off on radio on, that’s it, you’re over there touring. So I guess we just need to get cleared and then get heard, and they come over and tour, There’s nothing I want more than the Sinners to come to America because I think you guys will get it. The harmonies live are really, really almost like an Eagles kind of thing going on, which I think you guys like. 19:03Now streaming on nugs.net – Bruce Springsteen LIVE – 40 years of concerts on-demand. Stream exclusive official recordings from The Roxy ’75 to stadiums in the 2000s.
On other upcoming projects – I’m recording a solo album at the moment called It Came From the North, that will be out March, maybe next year. Is really, really fun. It’s really good. It’s like one of the things we’ve talked about, my love of country and my love of punk, but my love of rock and pop is probably what people that like me know me for. There have been accusations that The Wildhearts have lost the poppy element, I agree with that. So this one is just really pop. It’s got really big production and crazy songs, loads of harmonies, loads of melodies, tons and tons of bits and pieces and parts, and that’s a very interesting record, and I think anyone who’s been following my career could well be their favorite album of mine. 21:00
On if he would join Spike in the new version of The Quireboys – Well he turned up to a gig the other month, and it was a Sinner’s gig actually, and he came by. It was lovely to see him. Spike’s like, I don’t know a relative, I very rarely see, and when I see him, we have been through a lot. Then there was being fired from the group, It wasn’t being fired, it was the way that it was done, being fired with their back to you. They did teach me how to fire people from a band, so I’ll give them that. But he asked me to get back, to get involved, and he’s putting the original band back. I moved on so far from that, I was very flattered to be asked and it was lovely to see them, but it’s not where I am anymore, The Quireboys. 22:21