Rock music is full of larger than life characters who live life to the max like Lemmy, Ozzy. If you grew up through the ’90s UK rock explosion then bands like Wolfsbane and The Wildhearts regularly made headlines for both the right and wrong reasons. Talk about drink, drugs and partying and one name was never far from the headliners – Ginger Wildheart.
A rock legend in the truest sense, the fact that Ginger is still here to try and remember the tales is a miracle. His band The Wildhearts are heading out on the Britrock Must Be Destroyed tour later this month so we sat down with the man to discuss what he can remember from the wild days of the Britrock explosion.
1. So, the Britrock Must Be Destroyed Tour, how did you get involved?
Ginger: My new manager, Andy Farrow, put the whole thing together, and we were more than happy to jump onboard once the invite arrived. It’s a great chance for all bands to expand their audiences.
2. You must have so many great memories and stories from the first time around so wanted to pick your brains. First what was your favourite venue to play and why?
Ginger: Back in the 90’s? My favourite venue to play was always Nottingham Rock City. Great people, great crowds and some of the wildest nights of any tour. I’ve played there with SilverGinger 5, when we set the ceiling on fire using pyro, and had many a lost night, parked in the venue car park overnight, with various friends in the area.
In fact, when The Wildhearts played our first ever show with me and CJ singing, Andy Copping, now of Download Festival fame, was running Rock City. We thought we were the worst band in the world after our set. He came backstage with champagne and told us we’d be headlining there soon. He was right. Great times.
3. Was there any particular town or city you really looked forward to playing?
Ginger: Glasgow. The loudest crowd of every tour, by some margin. We recorded an entire tour for our live album The Wildhearts Strike Back, and the Glasgow crowd were so loud they fucked the recording up with their volume. And they never failed to live up to their reputation as the maddest crowd in Britain. Time and time again.
4. Was there a particular band, album or musician who you think epitomized everything that Britrock was about?
Ginger: There was never such a thing as Britrock, it was a silly name used by a couple of journalists to capitalise on the success of Oasis. I think the media of the time epitomise the term Britrock.
5. Excluding your own band, which of the other Brit rock bands around that time did you enjoy?
Ginger: See above. There were tons of great bands in Britain in the 90’s, but my favourites were never strictly rock bands. I loved Super Furry Animals, Cardiacs, Jesus & Mary Chain, Curve, Bis, Black Grape, Foil, The Cooper Temple Clause, Lo Fidelity Allstars, Chumbawamba, I could go on for ages…I used to buy a LOT of music.
6. Like I said, there must have been so many memories and stories from that period. What is your favourite recollection or story? It doesn’t have to be your band either..
Ginger: Like they say, if you remember the 90’s you weren’t there. I honestly don’t have a favourite bit. I partied hard throughout the entire decade, so every recollection blurs into the next. It was a really long party where I don’t think I drank water the entire time. I learned pretty much everything I know about drugs in that decade and did every stupid thing I regret, like spending time in prison in Thailand or leaving the AC/DC tour, in America, due to stupid behaviour. I regret nothing, but then I don’t remember much.
7. Who was your favourite band to tour with?
Ginger: Wolfsbane, without a doubt. They taught us to be good to your support band, their crew became our crew. They showed us everything we needed to know about showmanship and controlling an crowd while respecting every single member of the audience crowd. And the partied like vikings too.
8. Sex, drugs, rock n’ roll.. What sort of thing went onto your rider?
Ginger: We used to have riders that people thought were a joke, just the sheer amount of alcohol, and it would be finished every night. A bottle of Jack Daniels used to last one round of drinks.
9. How do you think the Brit bands of today compare to those when you first started in terms of the “Britrock” attitude?
Ginger: Bands don’t really get into trouble anymore. In the 90’s I didn’t know a single band that didn’t party just as hard as The Wildhearts, it’s just that we got the reputation. Everyone lived like today was the most important day of your life, every day. I don’t see a lot of excitement in being a British band these days. I guess that’s because their attention is on YouTube views and not building crowds by being on the road.
10. Fans who were around that period will be older now and probably introducing their kids to the shows. For those kids who are checking you out the first time around, what message do you have?
Ginger: Music is here to stay and everything changes. Who knows what’s going to be relevant in a decade or two? So play what is in your heart, be good to your audience and embrace music like the medical power that it is. In times of change music can be your best friend.
11. What do you know about the other three bands you’re touring with?
Ginger: They’ve all got quieter fans that ours.
12. Thanks for your time Ginger, Finally, if you could put together your ultimate line-up featuring British bands of any generation and genre which bands would you pick?
Ginger: Cardiacs, Discharge, The Wildhearts, The Damned, Motorhead and David Bowie. In that order.
Tour Dates (w/Terrorvision, Reef):
05/04 – Manchester – Academy
05/05 – Birmingham – Digbeth Arena
05/06 – London – Eventim Apollo
05/19 – Glasgow – O2 Academy
05/20 – Newcastle – O2 Academy
05/24 – Leeds – O2 Academy
05/25 – Bristol – Motion
05/26 – Portsmouth – Guildhall
Check out the video for the Wildhearts classic track “Caffeine Bomb”