By Ginger | December 24, 2001
What a year. A few things to remember, at worst; at best, some valuable lessons learned about re-visiting old haunts and the art of moving on. Some things worked and some didn’t, but all were attempted.
The Wildhearts: The biggest mistake of the year was to re-form The Wildhearts’ original line-up and think it would be any less disastrous than the time before. What a colossal fuck-up, and what a treat for the voyeurs out there.
SEE a man fall asleep in front of your very eyes. HEAR the band play the songs you love, in different keys to each other. WITNESS a band dead set on reviving the dormant spirit of UK rock ‘n’ roll, only to succumb to inter-band fighting and latching onto the oldest cliché in the book… drugs.
The Wildhearts will work again next year, as the fans are second to none and the money’s good. But don’t expect the old line-up unless you get off on seeing things fail spectacularly.
SilverGinger 5: We came, we saw… a few people clapped. The fate of SG5 is as shaky as an epileptic on crack. The album came out and didn’t even get reviewed by most of the magazines. How very insulting. It seems that the press don’t want to feature SG5 and no one knows the reason. Kerrang! have refused the band a feature, despite giving them loads of 5K reviews.
It’s not that the band are unpopular – the last London date proved that. OK, so the rest of the country didn’t respond as willingly as London as far as attendances are concerned. Perhaps they were still waiting for The Wildhearts to re-form, or maybe they just had to wash their hair that night; whatever the reasons for staying at home, staying at home is what people largely did. Amazing really, since the show that we took out was as spectacular as any you will ever see in a pub (see the Tour Diary).
I just hope that we can do it again. Maybe I’ll even stay sober for the tour, like I did on the last one. Let’s pray that next year is a little more favourable to SG5.
Singles Club / solo shows: The Singles Club started with every good intention and then slowed to an embarrassing halt. All excitement in the beginning seemed to fizzle out faster than the songs were recorded, but for a short while there, the band were on fire, learning and recording so many songs in such a short period of time. It was an intensely exciting period. I’m sure that all 12 singles will eventually come out next year, but you can safely forget having 12 singles in 12 months as promised.
More reassuring were the solo shows played at the end of the year. In January 2001, I gave myself the goal of playing all guitar and singing in my own three-piece band solo shows come December… and damn if it didn’t just happen!
So this time next year, I’d like to think we’ll be playing three-hour sets! Let’s just see, huh? Wouldn’t it be cool to play Wildhearts tracks, SG5 tracks and solo tracks all in the same set? Who knows how that one will pan out? One thing’s for sure, though, 2002 looks like an interesting year for musical developments. Watch this space.
Recording with Jason: Getting the chance to write and record a song with Jason Ringenberg (of Jason and the Scorchers fame) was one of my personal highlights of this past year (see feature). It was also the only recording of the re-formed Wildhearts as we acted as Jason’s backing band. The song is called One Less Heartache and features on his next solo album. Do you need any more reason to buy it?
Jason turned out to be the most honest and decent musician I have met since the late Mick Ronson (back in the Earth Vs days), armed with a voice to kill for and a gentle, good-natured disposition. It would be great to see Jason reap a little more of the fame that he rightfully deserves next year. He is a very special guy.
Grievous Acoustic Behaviour: The funniest, most drunken acoustic performance was captured on this live album of my first ever acoustic show. Warts, blemishes, scars, deformities and babbling were all intact in what must surely rank alongside the most live live albums ever released. To think originally I didn’t want to release this. Ironically, I inadvertently ended up with more good reviews than anything else I’ve done in a long time. If only Black Leather Mojo had received the same praise.
G.A.Y.: Another challenge met – a result of Barney Greenway singing on one of the Singles Club songs, The Dying Art Of The Chorus. When someone dared me to play a metal set in front of Napalm Death’s hardcore legion of fans, the idea seemed like fun. Once the adverts went up, it was a little more daunting. And come the day of the show, it was as nerve-wracking as a gig can get.
Fate intervened in the shape of a huge backdrop from the previous night’s gay themed club, with the letters G.A.Y. in big flashing lights. So we decided to name the band Ginger’s Angry Youth to utilise the backdrop. When the announcer introduced the band “Ginger’s… Angry… Youth!” the huge letters flashed up one at a time, to huge laughter from the audience. Surely the first time a Napalm Death audience had laughed a support band onto the stage and cheered through their set.
Jake: To see my lad growing up has been easily the most moving and essential thing to happen all year. He was even featured in a Kerrang! magazine photo shoot. He has proved to be the best company of anyone I know, and funnier than Eddie Izzard surgically transplanted onto the side of Bill Hicks. It’s official: kids make life really rewarding. Without them, this whole thing just seems a little too difficult and pointless.
Leaving Sanctuary Management: Without leaving this large – and largely successful – management company, I wouldn’t have done half of the things I have achieved in the past year. It’s a very daunting prospect to walk out of a big team like Sanctuary but the wheels of success move very slowly when they’re that large. I am not designed to move slowly, so it was inevitable that we part company. Pity. Managing yourself sucks Bin Laden’s dick.
The big month: Touring with three separate acts in one month was something I considered impossible. The brain can only concentrate so much, right? Wrong! If you can imagine it, then chances are it can happen.
The month of June began with acoustic shows featuring me, Random Jon Poole and Alex Kane. With AntiProduct in the support slot, the shows went by in a whirlwind of acoustic moshing, smiles and many drinks.
There was just enough time to unpack and re-pack before heading out with SG5. We had hardly any time to rehearse, but we still managed to play some new material, which found its way onto the bonus disk of the Black Leather Mojo UK release.
Then, without saying hello / goodbye to the missus and kissing the dog, The Wildhearts tour started up. The less said about that the better; suffice to say that it was a loaded month with a few surprises and disappointments thrown in.
Driving the band: I had always thought that driving the band to the show, getting up onstage to play the gig, and then driving home was pretty much the most hardcore thing to do in this business. I mean, how many things can you do in a day? Well, probably more than you are going to do! I thought driving to Bradford from London only to jump right onstage for soundcheck was quite rock ‘n’ roll. Next year, I have a feeling I’m going to do a lot of stupid things just because no one else does.
It’s also been a fucked up year, what with the bombing of the Twin Towers and the war in Afghanistan, anthrax scares, foot and mouth, and the deaths of Joey Ramone, George Harrison and Stuart Adamson. The last 12 months have seen more lows than highs, but at least there’s been music and lots of it. And next year will beat this one, if these tunes I’m sitting on in secret have anything to do with it.
Thanks for making this year mean so much to me. Thanks to everyone that was involved with the recording of 37 x The Pain (what a tremendous birthday gift). Thanks to everyone that turned up to any of the shows I played this year… be seeing you next year, I hope. It’s been a cool year but nothing that we can’t kick the ass of next year.
I’ll be having it hard but large next year, and I hope you are all with me. Happy new year.
Love and peace