Category: Music

Ghost to coast: Ginger Wildheart takes Brighton, 6 March 2018

Ginger Wildheart at The Prince Albert, Brighton, 6 March 2018“There’s a ghost in the Tanglewood that offered light in the black separation.”
– Phantom Memories by Ginger Wildheart

“Get a move on, Stockford!”

Yes – tonight, Matthew, I am that guy, the bloke who spends an age at the front of a queue, holding everyone up. I don’t mean to be, but the prize now that I’ve reached pole position is a chat with Ginger Wildheart – someone I’ve not spoken to, in person, for… ooh, it must be about 16 years.

Back then, my wife Tara and I ran his website, as well as the discussion group The Wildhearts Mailing List. It was the days before Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – heck, even MySpace was a glint in its daddy’s eye – and a lot has happened since. I’ve gone bald, for starters.

Speed of sound: In the recording studio with Marc and Slyder from Last Great Dreamers, Dec 2017

Marc and Slyder of Last Great Dreamers at Henwood Studios, 12 December 2017“I think if you stick one back on, we’ll know.”

Record producer Pete Brown is guiding Last Great Dreamers’ frontman, Marc Valentine, towards a perfect vocal take. He advises him to listen to just one side of his headphones – to “take an ear off”.

“I’ve got all three off at the moment,” says Marc, before lead guitarist Slyder chimes in with an idea of his own.

“How about putting them over his eyes?”

It’s Monday the 11th of December and I’m at Henwood Studios in Oxfordshire, where the Dreamers’ fourth long-player, the follow-up to 2016’s Transmissions From Oblivion, is nearing completion. The album has been in production since early November, though the sessions have so far been split into three chunks, so no one has gone stir crazy yet.

No, really – they’re always like this.

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.