You have a new PledgeMusic campaign aimed for December, before you tell us about that, how has the ability to start PledgeMusic campaigns affected you and the way you make music?
Benji, Pledgemusic CEO, got in touch with me at precisely the right time, just as I was about to give up on music. It just wasn’t paying the bills. Someone very wise told me that whatever I do for a future vocation I should first choose something I’d gladly do for free. The only thing I could think of was interaction with fans, and that ain’t going to put food on the table. Cue Pledge getting in touch and the fans coming to save my bacon. Benji taught me a very important lesson, and the fans backed him up, and that lesson was never underestimate the power of a few passionate people, that is, after all, where every revolution ever started from.
Is there any profit margin in Pledgemusic or is it all about the fans?
At first the profit was amazing but then my ex manager got a bit money happy and by the last Pledge campaign I didn’t earn a penny. At that point it was time to re-evaluate the whole deal, and that’s where G•A•S•S• came from, as a means getting rid of the commissions that starve musicians. I’m the kind of person that has to find things out for themselves, and that’s why I took fan-funding on to another level.
With regard your last campaign (Mutation) we were divided in the musicscramble camp from one writer feeling it was “largely unlistenable”, to another labelling it “kinda brilliant”. What was the general reaction to Mutation (your totally different side project)?
It was beautifully polarised. To me all art should divide and stir emotions, positive and negative its purpose is to elicit response. I believe music to be art and I love to force reactions from people, especially when they’re equally divided between “it’s shit” and “it’s great”. One man’s shit is, after all, another mans toothpaste. And let’s be honest there’s just too much middle of the road music being made today that demands nothing from you.
I’m a big fan of extreme music, whether that’s Merzbow, The Body or Napalm Death, so I wanted to make something that embraces the opposite sides of extreme, from extreme pomp to extreme noise. I didn’t expect it to please everyone, that would have been a failed attempt at the genre, for sure.
We’ve already mentioned your new Pledgemusic campaign in the works. Tell us about that, and what we can expect
Well, part of the intention with G•A•S•S• was to see how many people actually wanted a physical CD and how many would be happy with digital information. It’s good for any artist to have those numbers at hand, y’know? About half of my fanbase were happy enough with downloads and flac files and half want physical hardcopy. I get it, I buy music on CD myself. So I’m releasing the best of G•A•S•S• as part of this new Pledge campaign. Along with that I’ll be making available a tour DVD and a book, both called Songs & Words and both based on the last 20 years as a songwriter, with the story of The Wildhearts onwards told through songs.
Your online secret society project, G·A·S·S, has reached the halfway point of a year’s content. Will it continue after the initial year?
No, we’ll quit at the end of April, in conjunction with the Songs & Words acoustic and spoken word tour. G•A•S•S• will stay online for latecomers and all digital content will remain available. Who knows, maybe we’ll come back to it at another time? After the tour is done, however, I’ll start on a new chapter of my life and leave the solo music career behind. At least for the foreseeable future.
What’s the current situation with the Wildhearts? Will we see more from them?
Oh, you’ll always see more of The Wildhearts. We’re like wasps, we disappear for a while until you forget about us then we’re all in your face again. We tend to make a little distance between each other after a period of intense activity, then gradually get back in contact until we confess actually missing each other. It’s a very organic process that dictates its own timeline. I’ve given up on saying I won’t do anything else with the band, I’m tired of contradicting myself and looking like a flake.
You recently did a duet with Courtney Love. How did that come about, and why?
The song is called ‘Honour’ and it started out as a demo back when Courtney was looking to do something melodic. Once she decided to go all out punk the songs sat collecting dust until I asked if I could take her vocal track and re-record the music as a duet. She was fine with that, which is great as it’s a killer vocal, one of her best. Anyone who says she can’t sing should check it out, she fucking rips on this one.
Earlier this year she toured Australia and allowed me to film the Sydney show for a video to accompany the song. The video will be airing from November and the song will be available to everyone on Dec 1st. That’s basically my style, pushing things forward like a cheeky little kid.
Will there be more duets?
For G•A•S•S• ? No. We’re almost at the end of recording all 36 songs. Actually, I’m writing and recording something with Jaret from Bowling For Soup next month, maybe that’ll turn into a bromo erotic duet? Who knows?
You’ve worked with lots of people such as Eureka Machines’ Chris Catalyst (a regular in your live band), Random John Poole, Victoria Liedtke (for Hey! Hello!). Have any of those taken you in directions you didn’t expect?
Jon Poole always drags me in directions I wouldn’t expect, it’s what he does. He brings out the inner muso in me and whenever we’re jamming new together, usually with Denzel playing drums, the tendency to go off into prog wig-outs in alarmingly high. I’m not a fan of prog music at all and have no idea why I allow him to do this. It’s like abuse. Jon Poole has abused me on more than enough occasions. I doubt it’ll end here either.
Do you have a favourite “team up” for writing?
Probably Jon and Denzel, they’re such a killer rhythm section and an endless fountain of insane ideas. Having Chris Catalyst involved is also great as he has such a great ear for melody and structure. You can’t go wrong with a team like that, just stick us in a room and tell us how many songs you want.
What would be your dream duet/writing partnership you’ve not yet managed to make happen?
I’d love to write with Imani Coppola, I think she’d be great fun to compose with. Obvious the fanboy in me would love to get lyrical with Dolly Parton, and I think Butch Walker would be fun to make pop rock with.
More recently I’ve been most impressed with Chris Gordon, from Baby Chaos. His writing skills are off the scale. Dave McPherson is hugely talented too. We’ve all spoken about putting a side project together that sounds like it would be a lot of fun. Watch this space.
I love the Hey! Hello! releases, will there be more?
No, for some reason me and Victoria don’t talk any more. I don’t really know why, lack of communication maybe, the irony of which isn’t lost on me. We don’t talk because we don’t talk. How stupid is that?
I stopped working with my ex manager who is her boyfriend, I guess that has more to do with it than anything. They met at a Wildhearts gig too. That’s the nature of this industry. Once you working someone you work with everyone they know, and if you fall out the same thing happens. It’s sad that people’s private lives have to ruin creativity but we’re an emotional species, and that doesn’t always make for the best creative choices. Hey, we got an album out of it, and I helped boost Victoria’s profile, I’m happy about that. She’s a special talent and I love her, and nothing is going to change that for me.
You’re out on tour very very soon, tell us more about what to expect at the Halloween shows?
We’ll be playing songs from all through my solo career as well as a few Wildhearts ones. There will be guests popping up to play but most importantly the bands playing each night are of a very superior standard. Eureka Machines, Scaramanga Six, Baby Chaos, each as good as anything the US have to offer. Wherever you catch a show you’re guaranteed of an incredible line up of talent so please get down early and support the best that UK music has to offer. And if you don’t then you really can’t complain that there isn’t great music around.
Well you can, but no-one’s going to be listening, they’ll be too busy singing. Don’t moan, sing.
You can catch Ginger on the following dates:
Thursday 30th October – York Fibbers
Friday 31st October – Wolverhampton Slade Rooms [sold out]
Saturday 1st November – Manchester Roadhouse
Sunday 2nd November – Glasgow Classic Grand