Category: Music

Zealot through the looking glass: Gary Davidson on his Wildhearts book, writing and depression

Gary Davidson, author of Zealot In Wonderland, with some Wildhearts press cuttings“In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”
–  Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

“I’ve been loved by the sweetest and hated by heroes.”
– Geordie In Wonderland by The Wildhearts

The first time that Gary Davidson met The Wildhearts’ frontman, Ginger, things did not go well. It was April 1998, and Gary was at a Backyard Babies gig in London, when he spied his hero in the bar area. After tapping him on the shoulder and declaring “I’ve waited ages to meet you!” he went in for a handshake, only to send Ginger’s drink flying – a cue for the off-duty musician to storm off.

“What a fucking first meeting,” says Gary, as I remind him of the incident from his book, Zealot In Wonderland.

Zealous guy: Author takes a fan’s-eye view of The Wildhearts in new book Zealot In Wonderland

Zealot In Wonderland by Gary DavidsonThe first time I met Gary Davidson, at a Silver Ginger 5 gig in December 2000, he was a pain in the arse. All these years later, this sorry tale (“whoops and sorry,” in fact) is recounted in Gary’s first book, Zealot In Wonderland.

This 350-page confessional, written over 10 years, details the ups, downs and inside-outs of his Wildhearts fandom – from his discovery of the band in 1992, to frontman Ginger’s game-changing PledgeMusic campaign, which kicked off in 2011.

Just doin’ it: Tommy Hale on touring, performing, friendship and the future

Nick Beere, John O'Sullivan and Tommy Hale, live at The Star Inn, Guildford, 18 April 2017It’s 7pm on a balmy spring evening, and I’m wandering up Orsman Road in Hoxton, towards The Stag’s Head. I have no idea why I expect to find a tranquil beer garden on a Friday night in London’s East End, but my awakening is far from rude. As I enter the pub I’m immediately greeted by Tommy Hale, who’s standing just inside the doorway nursing a large wooden spoon bearing the number five.

The singer, songwriter and sometime guitarist from Dallas, Texas, is in the UK for an eight-date tour, which has already taken him and his band from Exmouth to Hastings, via Swindon, Bristol and Guildford. I saw the latter show three nights ago, and this evening I’m looking forward to questioning Tommy about some of its finer details – hopefully, for the benefit of the tape, in a nice quiet spot.

But first, there’s that wooden spoon to take care of.

Director’s cut: John Carpenter live in London and Brighton, Oct/Nov 2016

Cody Carpenter and John Carpenter live at the Troxy, London, 1 November 2016“Please be aware no food, drink or chewing gum is allowed in the venue. Thank you.”

The printed sign, one of a handful dotted around the entrance and foyer area of the Troxy, is trying its polite best to look after the venue’s interests, but it doesn’t seem to have caught the attention of tonight’s performer, John Carpenter, who’s happily chewing away.

It’s hard not to think of Roddy Piper in They Live: “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubblegum.” Carpenter’s supply seems plentiful, but asses – or rather arses, as we’re in London – still get a good shoeing.

The filmmaker/composer is in the capital to finish up his nine-date tour of the UK and Ireland, and I’m feeling a bit emotional. With my legs planted firmly on a prime piece of real estate – ie, down the front by the barrier, about 15 feet away from the man himself – I’m trying to soak up every last drop of what’s happening on stage. It’s my third and final show of the tour. Once this is over, that’s it – certainly for a while, but maybe forever.

The Gates of ‘Hello’! Meeting Fabio Frizzi and Catriona MacColl

Me with Fabio Frizzi and Catriona MaColl at Union Chapel, 29 October 2016Here’s one for fans of ’70s and ’80s Italian exploitation films. From left to right we have composer Fabio Frizzi, some interloping no-mark and actress Catriona MacColl.

Last night Fabio and his six-piece band played a wonderful gig at Union Chapel in Islington, performing suites of music from throughout Fabio’s career as a composer for film and television.

It was his third London show since 2013, and he’d reworked his set since his last visit to the UK two years ago, though of course all of his ‘hits’ from Lucio Fulci’s gothic horrors – the likes of Zombie Flesh Eaters, The Beyond and City Of The Living Dead (or The Gates Of Hell, as it was titled in the US) – were present and correct.