In the studio with Ginger early in the making of the forthcoming album 'The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed' · Words by Kris Coverdale
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It's with a more than a little trepidation that I walk down a darkened road in North London, looking for an address where I've arranged to meet Rudy & Gary (The Wildhearts management) for a quick chat about how the website is going and plans for the future. Trepidation in part because everyone I've mentioned the address to has asked if I have my bulletproof jacket with me. After what seems to be an endless walk I eventually climb the steps on the outside of a warehouse like building to knock on a very unlikely looking first floor door.
Once answered, I find that the management are not yet here and am instead lead into a cramped studio control room to find Ginger as surprised to see me as I am seeing him. Consummate pro that he is though, he's swiftly making me welcome and in seconds I'm perched in the producer's chair, beer in hand, with songs from the new album blasting out.
The songs are still early versions and Ginger is continually pointing out changes and improvements to be made: "faster, heavier, catchier…" but as always with the Wildhearts, the quality more than shines through.
'It's All Up To Me' is first up, showcasing a heavy Zeppelin like groovy riff and a polished sound. This is followed up by 'Top of the World', which as anyone who has seen the recent tour can testify, is already well on its way to classic status: by the end of the first chorus I'm already singing along to the Guns n Roses-like main line of 'top of the world, where the sky's so blue and the girls are so beautiful' like I've known it since birth.
'Nexus Icon' is stylistically different, featuring a low fi distorted verse with sharp, shouty vocals that begins to bring Endless Nameless to mind. However just as I'm beginning to pigeon-hole it, an uplifting wall of guitars soar in for the chorus and do that big melodic kick to the head that the Wildhearts have honed to a tee.
'Its Only Love' is another with potential hit single written all the way through it like Blackpool rock; the verse alone is catchier than SARS and I'm still singing the chorus now after just one listen. It's a classic Wildhearts tune, but far more 'up' than what has gone before – you're going to love it!
Ginger beams like the proud father that he is, as I marvel at one amazing song after another. When I comment that it sounds like every song could be a single he points out that is exactly the plan "Then a record company can release anything they want from it and we'll still be happy". Sounds like a great plan to me.
Taken as a whole, even in this early incarnation, the album sounds like somewhere the Wildhearts have never been before: a summer album. If unlike me, you live in sunny climes and can go cruising with the top down, this is the CD you'll be turning to everytime. Comments Ginger "we want it to be the soundtrack to people's summers, to their festivals".
The overall feel is akin to the positivity of Silver Ginger 5 songs, played with that indefinable Wildhearts sense of attitude and rock n rolling, street-fighting, heart-stopping, melodic heaviness that sets them apart from the crowd. I'm also getting overtones of outdoor drinking, with an aftertaste of overwhelming optimism and a slight hint of burgeoning love affairs. And it's even better than 40%...
But before I can get too cosy with the new songs though (which is probably just as well, as re-reading that last paragraph I seemed to be losing the plot a little with the excitement of it all), the bands management – Rudy and Gary – arrive. A very productive chat follows which leads to among other things the recent band chats we've seen during the tour and also a forthcoming merchandise section.
Whilst we're talking I can hear Ginger laying down rafts of extra guitars to 'So Into You'. Along with Vanilla Radio this is receiving steroid injections for its appearance on the album (note at the time of writing 'Stormy' wasn't set to appear on the album). By the sounds of it, the band is developing a thing for Phil Spector / Brian May-like walls of guitars.
Following the meeting we marvel a little further at the new songs and I take the chance to chat to guitar tech 'Hot Steve' about the infamous sticker splattered black Les Paul that has become the onstage trademark. I'm shown both the guitar (a 25/50 Anniversary, guitar spotters) and its infrequently seen spare. Having shown me round the main guitar and its customisations Steve proffers it to me.
How can I turn down an opportunity like this? So quick as a shot I have it slung around my neck. And slung is the right word. Ok, so Ginger is taller than me, but its lower than Eminem's jeans. And it begs to rock. Powerchords are essential on a beast of a Les Paul like this. So I proceed to forget how to play the guitar in front of producer Russ, Hot Steve and Ginger himself. Still I think I manage to rescue the situation with a quick rendition of Joan Jet's 'I love Rock n Roll' which sparks a mini singalong, before the evening descends into drinking and guitar playing.
With everything becoming a hazy glow, its soon time to leave, with both the chorus of 'So Into You' and the parting words 'don't forget your shotgun for the walk back to the station' ringing in my ears, and I walk back along the darkened paths of North London musing on what a blinder of an album the Wildhearts have on their hands.
N.B. The album is currently scheduled for an August / September release.