early January 1998 Danny's new band, now called The Chasers, go into the studio to record four songs. Nick Parsons, ex-Whatever, has reportedly joined the band. It's said that the EP will be released by Limited Records, a label set up by Melody Maker journalist Ben Myers and 3 Colours Red guitarist (and brother of Danny) Chris McCormack. Rumours start to surface that CJ will join a reformed Wildhearts for a tour of Japan in April or May.
7 January 1998 The results of the 1997 Kerrang! Readers' Poll are announced in the magazine. "The Wildhearts' split" wins the award for 'Shittiest Thing Of '97'. The Wildhearts are voted into the top tens of seven categories in total, including best single, best and worst album and best promo video. Ginger is voted into the top tens of a further five categories, including 'Nutter Of The Year' and 'Evil Git Of 97'. The Wildhearts also put in an appearance in the Melody Maker's gossip column awards, ironically bagging themselves a runners-up prize in the 'Wildhearts Award For The Most Consistent Appearance In A Gossip Column Even Though The Band Appear To Be Doing Absolutely Fuck All In The Way Of Music' award.
20 January 1998 Danny asks Steph Taylor, moderator of THE WiLDHEARTS MAiLiNG LiST, to put an advertisement on the list asking people to try to come up with a good name for his new band. Danny changed the name of the band from The Yo-Yo's to The Chasers when he thought that there was another band already with the same name. But he's obviously not happy with The Chasers...
25 January 1998 EastWest Japan release Moodswings And Roundabouts, a limited edition (there's 8,000) 4 CD boxed set of Wildhearts recordings. (Ginger is presented with boxed set number 1217 - the month and day of his birth.) The set contains: Mondo Akimbo A-Go-Go (plus the extra track Truth, a song snippet that was previously only available on the original vinyl version of the EP); Fishing For Luckies (the Japanese version featuring the extra tracks Beautiful Me Beautiful You, Caffeine Bomb and the two re-recordings from the UK vinyl issue, 29 x The Pain and Weekend '96); the B-sides disc from the Japanese Best Of The Wildhearts; and a completely new disc featuring all of the band's EastWest-era B-sides that weren't on the original Japanese Best Of..., plus the previously unreleased track One Before The Lights Go Out, and the untitled choral track from the vinyl version of the revamped Fishing For Luckies.
28 January 1998 Kerrang! run a news item reporting on the forthcoming release of a new Wildhearts LP, Anarchic Airwaves: The Wildhearts At The BBC. The album will be released through the Kuro Neko label on 16 March, and features live and studio recordings from Radio One's archives, including the four tracks that the band recorded for the Friday Rock Show in 1993. The band are reported to be unhappy with the album's release, and stress that it is in no way an official Wildhearts record. Ginger advises fans not to buy it.
4 February 1998 Ginger tells Kerrang! that The Wildhearts haven't split for good, they're merely "on hold." He explains that the band have had a mad six years, and just want to take some time off, though he's not sure how long the holiday will last. Ginger says he plans to work with Strapping Young Lad frontman and one-time Wildhearts guitarist Devin Townsend. He also talks about the cancellation of The Wildhearts' October 1997 UK tour, explaining that the band were both mentally and physically exhausted, and were worried that, had they'd played in that state, their reputation as a great live band would be ruined.
11 February 1998 Kerrang! publish an interview with Ginger in which he talks about the future of The Wildhearts. He says the band aren't the sort to split up, even though they may not work together for a long time. Ginger also hints at his plans for the future, letting slip that he has a great idea for a movie and wants to spend 1998 making the music that he wants to hear. When questioned about the music he's listening to at the moment, he talks about his love for Swedish rock 'n' roll bands Backyard Babies and The Hellacopters.
March 1998 BMG Japan release Anthem - The Single Tracks, a Japan-only Wildhearts album. The LP contains all 12 tracks from the UK Mushroom singles, along with Ginger's own sleeve notes
2 March 1998 Ginger makes a surprise appearance in a band called The Unrehearsed at a gig in London supporting Backyard Babies. The makeshift band - featuring Tom Spencer on guitar, Bladder on drums, and ex-Realtv bassist Johnny - with a little help from Kerrang! journalist/cartoonist Ray Zell and ex-RealTV frontman Jay - play a riotous 25 minute set of cover versions at the tiny capacity Water Rats club in King's Cross. The set list runs: Chip Away The Stone (originally recorded by Aerosmith; Ginger on vocals), Queen Bitch (originally recorded by David Bowie; Ginger on vocals - dedicated to "the late great Mick Ronson, and also the late, great Father Ted"), Personality Crisis (originally recorded by the New York Dolls; Ray Zell on vocals), Under My Wheels (originally recorded by Alice Cooper; Ray Zell on vocals), Malibu Beach Nightmare (originally recorded by Hanoi Rocks; Jay on vocals), Anthem (originally recorded by, erm, The Wildhearts; Jay on vocals).
3 March 1998 Backyard Babies guitarist Dregen goes into the studio to record some guitar parts on a track of Ginger's called If I Were You, I'd Kiss Me. Dregen told me at the Water Rats gig: "I really liked The Wildhearts. And the Dogs D'Amour. They're the only bands from England since the Sex Pistols and The Damned who I think are worth listening to. I think The Wildhearts are the same kind of band as Backyard Babies because we don't compromise with stuff, and with Ginger it doesn't take more than five minutes to realise that. Unfortunately, there's not so many bands like that left, so we appreciate that lots. And he's a good guy."
11 March 1998 Ginger appears in Kerrang! Confidential, a regular feature in the back of Kerrang! magazine. He reveals that he has a new pet, a fluffy black and white cat called Shithead.
16 March 1998 The first entirely legal 'unofficial' Wildhearts album, Anarchic Airwaves, is released through the Kuro Neko label. The controversial LP comprises live and studio recordings from the BBC Radio One archives.
May 1998 Little Gods, a side-project band that Danny had formed with Dogs D'Amour frontman Tyla earlier in the year, cancel their proposed (May) support tour with Radiator. Rumoured reasons for the cancellation (as posted on THE WiLDHEARTS MAiLiNG LiST) vary wildly from 'Tyla has broken his wrist', to 'they didn't want to play a support tour', to 'Danny never intended touring with the band anyway'. When I contact Tyla to get his side of the story, he tells me: "Basically, I broke my arm quite badly so I couldn't even play guitar for six weeks; the whole time of the tour - typical. Then Danny decided he didn't want to do the tour, thus ending that idea." A few months later I speak to Danny and get his side of ths story: "What it was, was Tyla had some acoustic songs, and he played us a tape and I thought, 'fuck man, they're brilliant'. I went in the studio - I think it was a lad called Simon drumming - and we just did this thing. And it was like, Tyla has all this stuff and he called it Little Gods. It was just a one-off recording for a CD. I mean, I dunno what's gonna happen with it. I heard it was maybe getting released. We were supposed to be going on tour. But Tyla broke his arm... and I was quitting drugs (laughs). So it didn't happen."
May 1998 News of Ritch's new band, The Infidels, filters through to the Internet, thanks to fans who've recently spoken to Ritch about the project. The drummer says that the band comprises of himself and Endless, Nameless producer, Ralph Jezzard. He describes the sound as being similar to the Chemical Brothers, with big beats and even bigger guitars.
6 May 1998 Kerrang! publish a news item headlined: 'Danny: Join My Band!'. Danny has asked the magazine to help find a second guitarist for his new band, The Yo-Yo's. A PO Box number is printed for potential Yo-Yo's guitarists to contact. The current Yo-Yo's line-up consists of Danny, guitarist Tom Spencer and drummer Bladder. (Nick Parsons is gone.)
20 May 1998 An advert for the Phoenix Festival appears in UK music weekly Melody Maker. Among the bands scheduled to appear on the Dr Martens stage on Sunday 19 July are Eureka, Ginger's new ten-piece band, apparently featuring a horn section. There have been rumours amongst fans for some time that Ginger has put together a band called Eureka. No announcements have appeared in the music press to date, though, and unless fans have access to the many Internet Wildhearts resources, they are likely to remain in the dark about just who the mysterious Eureka are.
early June 1998 The Phoenix Festival is cancelled due to "slow advance ticket sales." It later transpires that Ginger was considering pulling Eureka out of the festival anyway. Apparently, their fee wasn't enough to cover the cost of hiring a van to transport the ten-piece band and their equipment to the site.
24 June 1998 Backyard Babies' press office announce details of If I Were You, I'd Kiss Me, the track that 'Babies guitarist Dregen recorded with Ginger earlier in the year. No release is scheduled at present, though the song apparently sounds "early Wildhearts-esque." The press office also reveals details of a new Ginger/Dregen side-project called Super Shit 666. Designed to both entertain and offend, the band is said to feature an "all star cast."
July 1998 The Wildhearts announce a Japanese tour for October. The Yo-Yo's recruit a second guitarist, known only as "Akke from Norway."
1 July 1998 Kerrang! magazine publish a brief chat with Ginger in which he talks about Super Shit 666 and his plans for the future. Contradicting the Backyard Babies' press office, Ginger says that If I Were You, I'd Kiss Me is in fact part of the SS666 project. He also reveals that Yo-Yo's drummer Bladder is part of the band. Ginger stresses that the project may just be a one-off collaboration, as he says he's hard at work with three different bands at the moment: as well as being part of Super Shit 666, he's rehearsing with Jay from the now defunct RealTV. The third band? No mention is made of it, but it's almost certainly Eureka.
7 July 1998 Recordings made by Little Gods, the band that Danny was briefly in with Tyla in April, are played in public at a Tyla gig in Stockholm. Tyla tells a fan that the songs will eventually be released, although a date hasn't yet been set.
26 July 1998 Ginger flies off to Vancouver in Canada to work with Devin Townsend. He co-writes a song called Christeen with Devin. The song appears late in the year on Devin's album, Infinity.
29 July 1998 Kerrang! announce that Ginger will be playing his first ever acoustic solo gig at the 12-Bar Club in London next month. His reason for a solo gig? He can guarantee that the rest of the band will turn up! The magazine also quotes Ginger as saying that Jef may not be joining The Wildhearts for their October Japanese tour. No explanation is given, but Ginger says that as long as Ritch, Danny and himself are playing, he isn't too worried about who the second guitarist is. Fans start to wonder what Jef's up to. In fact, he's recently been spotted gigging around the London area in a band called Sack Trick. The band also features ex-Atom Seed/Bruce Dickinson bassist Chris Dale and Rachel Stamp drummer Robin Guy. It's not known how permanent this line-up is, although Jef is also reportedly hard at work with a band called Plan B, having decided against using the name Gristle Garage, his original idea.
Summer 1998 Sack Trick release their debut album, (Music From) The Mystery Rabbits. The record is a low-key, self-financed release. Black Velvet fanzine describes Sack Trick's music as "funky and punky... (with) a splatter of tongue in cheek death metal or girlie pop here and an orchestral serenade there." The band's lyrics tackle some serious subjects, including blue ice cream, the dangers of having long shoe laces when there's dog excrement around, and the perils of unwanted tomatoes in sandwiches.
2 August 1998 Ginger leaves Vancouver for Stockholm, Sweden, where he records some Super Shit 666 tracks with Backyard Babies' Dregen and Nicke Anderson from The Hellacopters. Ginger also records a version of Faster Pussyact's Babylon with the 'Babies. The track will be used as the B-side for (Is It) Still Alright To Smile?, a limited edition 7" single that the Danish label, Bad Affro, will be releasing later in the year.
10 August 1998 Ginger and Chris McCormack join Backyard Babies on stage at the Waterfestival in Stockholm, Sweden, lending their guitar and vocal talents to versions of the Ramones' Blitzkreig Bop and Faster Pussycat's Babylon.
17 August 1998 The Yo-Yo's (the name Danny seems to have finally settled on, despite his initial worries about it), are supposed to be making their live debut at the Barfly in Camden, north London, supporting UK rockers The Crocketts. The gig is advertised in the Barfly's ad in the UK weekly music magazine, NME. Posters outside the venue on the night also list The Yo-Yos as the opening band. However, when fans start arriving around 7 pm, they are told that the band haven't turned up. A month later, I ask Danny what happened. He tells me: "We were supposed to be recording an EP. We were supposed to be getting some studio time. And I said to them (The Crocketts), if we're not in the studio, I'll definitely play. If we're all in the studio, I'll see you. I can't be in two places at once. I'm schizophrenic but I'm not that fuckin' clever (laughs). And obviously we were recording so we couldn't do it. But the Barfly went ahead and made flyers, didn't they? So we looked like cunts, not the venue."
24 August 1998 Ginger plays his debut 'solo' gig at London's tiny 12-Bar Club (now released as Grievous Acoustic Behaviour - Ed). He's helped out by one-time Wildheart Willie Dowling on keyboards and guitar. Two sets are played. CJ, Danny and Ritch put in guest appearances towards the end of the second set. At one point during the gig, Willie's mobile phone rings and he stops playing mid-song to answer it. The evening is a very relaxed and intimate affair, with Ginger taking questions from the audience and laughing and joking around. The set lists run as follows:
Inside Out (new song)
Re-Inventing The Wheel (new song)
If I Had You (Korgis cover)
Church of the Broken Hearted (early Wildhearts song)
Hard Luck Woman (Kiss cover, originally written for Rod Stewart)
Tom Take The Money (an as yet unreleased Wildhearts song, though it will soon surface on the Landmines And Pantomimes CD)
In Lilly's Garden
Happy Birthday Dear Cheryl (Ginger gets the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to a friend)
Enter Sandman (a couple of bars of a country version - an improvisation, inspired by someone in the crowd accusing Metallica of being a country band)
Bad Time To Be Having a Bad Time
Jonesing for Jones
Sky Chaser High
29 x The Pain
Dreaming In A
Where Did Everyone Go (an unreleased Wildhearts song, originally recorded for Earth Vs...)
Theme tune from Steptoe And Son (an ancient UK comedy programme - another improvisation)
Geordie In Wonderland
Theme tune from Postman Pat (a UK animated kids programme - the crowd start singing the words when they hear the Don't Worry 'Bout Me tune and mistake it for Postman Pat!)
Don't Worry 'Bout Me (Ginger tries again...)
Caffeine Bomb (sounding a lot like Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues)
20 September 1998 The Yo-Yo's play a brief six song support set at the Rock Garden in London's Covent Garden. Up until 4 pm, the venue deny all knowledge of the gig. The Yo-Yo's finally take to the stage later than planned, after problems with one of the amps. The band's line up now appears to be stable: Danny McCormack (bass/vocals), Tom Spencer (ex-Sugarsnatch; guitar/vocals), Neil Phillips (ex-B-Movie Heroes; guitar/vocals) and Bladder (also known as Blads; ex-Sugarsnatch; drums/vocals). Norwegian guitarist Akke never got to become a full-time member of The Yo-Yo's, due to problems in Danny's personal life at the time of his recruitment.
22 September - 2 October 1998 The Yo-Yo's play their first ever major support tour, opening for Backyard Babies on nine dates around the UK, beginning in Bristol and ending in Birmingham. The Yo-Yo's go down incredibly well with Backyard Babies' fans. Ironically, the (second) support act for the tour is Radiator, the band for whom Danny and Tyla's Little Gods were supposed to have opened in May. I interview Danny and Neil at the London date (Highbury Garage) and they tell me about the band's genesis: Danny: "I remember the last time The Wildhearts were flying back from Japan, and the last time we were there we were splitting up again. And I wrote four of the songs that we're actually doing on the plane on the way home. I thought, 'shit, I'm not gonna be in a band, I'd better write some fuckin' songs!' So I wrote four of them on the plane on the way back. And I was telling Ginger, and he goes, 'so what's it gonna sound like then?' I was sitting there fuckin' humming it in my head, and he goes, 'so what you gonna call it?' And I said, 'oh, The Yo-Yo's', and that was like a year ago... The reason The Yo-Yo's exist is because me and Tom met on the Toy Dolls' new album. And you know how stupid I am about them, I really am fuckin'... I love them. And we met because we both did backing vocals on the Toy Dolls' album. A good enough way to meet, isn't it?!" Neil: "When I was 17 I had an audition for The Wildhearts, just before Jef joined. I obviously didn't get in. I was too young... And I just came down to London with my old band and was giving out tapes, and I bumped into his brother in Camden market. Just a weird coincidence. I gave him a tape and about two weeks later Danny rang me up." Danny: "Neil was in a band called B-Movie Heroes. And they were getting record company interest and stuff like that. So I basically robbed 'im! [laughs]" Neil: "None of my mates are talking to me now! Danny phoned up the bass player from my band to ask for my number, so he could steal me for The Yo-Yo's!"
28 September 1998 Yet another unofficial, though entirely legal, Wildhearts album is released through the Kuro Neko label. Landmines And Pantomimes is an album of B-sides, bonus tracks and and previously unreleased material, including songs that the band recorded in June 1996. These six tracks - Abhoria, Velvet Presley, Stupid Things, Tom Take The Money, State Of Nondependence and Ride The Wave - have previously only been available as a highly prized bootleg CD called Shitty Fuckin' Stupid Tracks. Though Landmines And Pantomimes makes these songs legally available to fans for the first time, the band urge people not to buy the record. Ginger claims that the songs are unfinished and aren't up to the usual high Wildhearts standard. Most fans disgree!
late September 1998 Ginger goes into the studio to record some tracks with Backyard Babies guitarist Dregen and Harry, the vocalist from London-based band Dirty Harry.
October 1998 Backyard Babies release a single through the Danish Bad Affro label. (Is It) Still Alright To Smile? is backed with the Ginger collaboration, Babylon, a Faster Pussycat cover.
1 October - 2 October 1998 Ginger joins Backyard Babies on stage for the final two nights of their UK tour (Dudley JB's and the Xposure Rock Cafe in Birmingham), playing guitar and singing on Babylon. Support band The Yo-Yo's also squeeze on to the stage to help out on a version of the Ramones' Blitzekreig Bop. A fan who sees both gigs asks Ginger about his future plans and is told that Eureka are no more. However, Ginger says that he's planning to release his first post-Wildhearts record in February 1999.
12 October 1998 The Yo-Yo's play their first ever headlining gig at the Monarch in Camden, north London. The gig isn't announced in the press, and even comes as a surprise to the band's press officer, who only learns of the gig after a phone call from a fan. The band play their punk cover of The La's There She Goes after a fan requests it. Danny vomits a lot during the gig. Fans clear a patch in front of the stage for the bassist to throw up in.
14 October 1998 The Yo-Yo's play a support gig at the Borderline in London's West End. After the band's set, some fans head over to the Astoria to see 'A', where one fan stumbles upon Ginger. He gets talking to him and discovers that The Wildhearts have booked the Forum in London's Kentish Town for a gig in December. The gig never happens.
19 October 1998 The Wildhearts play Nagoya's Club Quattro, the first date of a Japanese tour and the first gigs the band have played together in over a year. The guitarist? It's Jef.
20 October 1998 The band play the Bayside Jenny, Osaka. The set includes a Yo-Yo's song, 1000 Miles From Me. Touchingly, during 29 x The Pain, Ginger sings the lyrics: "I'm gonna miss you all, Japan."
21 October 1998 The band continue their Japanese tour at the Umeda Heatbeat, Osaka. The band play for over two hours (including three encores), and even manage to open for themselves! Forsaking the usual support band route, The Wildhearts decide to put on their own variety show to warm up the crowd. First, Ginger walks on stage in a Kimono and throws M&Ms and several pieces of fruit into the audience. Next, Ritch and one of the band's roadies walk out and proceed to race each other across the stage, riding on office chairs (Ritch wins). A roadie then anounces the "Great Jef", who walks on stage juggling three cans of beer, which he throws into the audience. Finally, Danny does his party piece: drinking a glass of milk, choking on it and vomiting it back up. Tonight's set runs: My Baby Is A Headfuck, Nita Nitro, Nite Songs, I Wanna Go Where The People Go, Sick Of Drugs, Anthem, Everlone, Suckerpunch, Red Light - Green Light, Love U Til I Don't, Mindslide, The Miles Away Girl (part of), Caffeine Bomb, Weekend (5 Long Days), 29 x The Pain, Don't Worry 'Bout Me, 20th Century Boy (T-Rex cover), White Lies (which Ginger announces as "a nice slow song called In Lilly's Garden"), Geordie In Wonderland (just the intro), Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes.
22 October 1998 The Wildhearts play the Akasaka Blitz, Tokyo. Support comes from Devin Townsend's metal band, Strapping Young Lad. During The Wildhearts' set, Ginger seems agitated, throwing equipment around and kicking his mic stand. He's apparently unhappy with the sound. The band only play about ten songs, including three in the encore, during which Devin joins the band for Suckerpunch. The gig ends with Ginger uttering the words: "Bollocks, bollocks, what a lot of bollocks, what a lot of shit!"
24 October - 25 October 1998 The Wildhearts play their last two Japanese dates, both at the Akasaka Blitz, Tokyo. A surprise addition to the set on the 24th is Jilted John, a UK New Wave tune from 1978 (originally by a band called, um, Jilted John). The final night of the tour sees the band being joined during the first encore by Willie Dowling. For the second encore, they're joined by support band The Hellacopters for a spirited romp through the Ramones' Blitzkreig Bop. 'Copters frontman Nicke plays drums, while the others sing. Jef doesn't know the song too well and plays plenty of wrong chords! When it's all over, Ginger brings the show - and tour - to a close with the words: "We're really going to miss you!". The audience sings Don't Worry 'Bout Me for five minutes after the band have left the stage.
26 October 1998 Ginger, Willie and Danny play two acoustic sets at the tiny Heaven's Door Club in Shibuya. The first starts at 7 pm; the second begins at 9:30pm. The set consists of most of the songs from the August acoustic show at the London 12-Bar Club, with the added bonus of Badfinger's Come And Get It, plus T-Rex's 20th Century Boy and the Rolling Stones' Honky Tonk Women (both featuring various members of Swedish rock 'n' rollers The Hellacopters).
early November 1998 Japanese rock magazine In Rock publish an interview with Ginger and Danny. Ginger says that he is unlikely to work with Devin Townsend again because Devin likes to work alone while Ginger prefers team work. He also speaks about Super Shit 666, revealing that Nicke Anderson from The Hellacopters was involved and a six-track mini-album has been recorded. Ginger says that when he returns to the UK, he wants to start recording a hard pop album (kind of 70s glam rock), then begin touring. He explains that he doesn't want to be part of a full-time band any more, as the closeness causes too many personal problems. Ginger's ties with Backyard Babies seem to be growing stronger by the hour. He cites Dregen as a "soul mate" (along with Danny) and reveals that he is engaged to Peder after the bassist accepted Ginger's marriage proposal!
early November 1998 Rumours that an official live Wildhearts album (recorded on the recent Japanese tour) will be released in Japan next year start to surface on the Internet.
4 November 1998 A letter from a Wildhearts fan, explaining how she had been dissuaded from committing suicide thanks to a letter from Danny, is printed in Kerrang!.
5 November 1998 The Yo-Yo's play a special Kerrang!-sponsored gig at the Barfly club in Camden, north London. Support comes from CJ's band, The Jellys, and a Canadian punk trio called Knuckles.
15 November 1998 Ginger joins Backyard Babies on stage at Shibuya's Club Quattro in Tokyo for their version of Babylon (with the amended lyrics: "Living in Tokyo is so much fun!").
17 November 1998 The Yo-Yo's play the Camden Palace in north London.
23 November 1998 Ginger goes to see Iron Maiden play Tokyo. He meets up with Blaze Bayley and Janick Gers.
26 November - 7 December 1998 The Yo-Yo's play their first ever headlining tour of the UK, beginning at the Monarch in Camden, north London, and finishing 12 days later at the Pressure Point, Brighton.
early December 1998 The UK's premier national radio station, Radio One, play Stoopid Ass, a brand new recording by Ritch's new band, The Infidels. The band's three-track demo tape is apparently generating a lot of music industry interest. The line-up now includes a female vocalist called Zeitia, who Ginger has also reportedly been working with.
6 December 1998 Ginger plays a five-song acoustic set with Mr Big guitarist Paul Gilbert for Sound House at Japan's Club Citta. The set list runs: I Wanna Go Where The People Go, Sick Of Drugs, Jonesing For Jones, Down To Mexico (a track from Paul Gilbert's second solo album, Flying Dog), Gonna Send You Back To Walker (an old Sixties cover, once performed by The Animals), and Voices (the classic Cheap Trick song). After Ginger and Paul leave the stage, they spend four hours playing together on acoustic guitars backstage.
6 December 1998 Danny Deen is found hanged at his mother's house in South Shields. He was 39. Danny (whose real name was Paul) created the original artwork for The Wildhearts' p.h.u.q. album, as well as the Landmines And Pantomimes cover (the use of which he claimed had not been authorized). He was due to start work on a TV series (possibly for broadcast in the UK on Channel 4) called Shit Street, based on characters from South Shields that he'd invented. Friend Scott Ellison says: "Danny was not a happy man and had been talking about this for a while. But he had so many positive things to look forward to in his life we never thought he'd do it." Scott's band, Stuffed, will feature the last piece of artwork that Danny created on the cover of their forthcoming single, the Top Dog EP. The record will be dedicated to Danny's memory. Danny is succeeded by his wife, Deborah, and four children.
7 December 1998 The Yo-Yo's release their debut single, You Got Me Out Of My Mind, through the newly formed Rebound label. It's backed with 1000 Miles From Me (listed incorrectly on the CD packaging as 1000 Miles From Here) and Home From Home, and is available in two formats, CD and 7". The original plan was to release a four-track single called the Uppers And Downers EP, but Rock City was eventually omitted, possibly to navigate the UK's ever more bizarre rulings on chart eligibility (singles with more than three tracks are now discounted from the official music charts)... or maybe they just wanted to save it for later!
7 December 1998 Backyard Babies release Safety Pin and Leopard Skin, a nine-track mini-album which includes the Ginger collaboration, Babylon.
9 December 1998 Kerrang! magazine publish an interview with Danny McCormack. The bassist tells journalist Paul Brannigan that The Wildhearts toured Japan so that they could pay off some debts, and wouldn't be reforming again. He also speaks about his painful four-and-a-half year battle against heroin addiction, humbly citing his brother Chris as having saved his life. Chris has been paying Danny's medical bills and doing his best to make sure that he stays on a detoxification programme. Danny hints that his constant mood swings (ecstasy to depression) may have played a part in the naming of his new band.
13 December 1998 Ginger appears on Masa Ito's Power Rock Today show on Japanese radio station BayFm, playing his favourite records (including Rocket Ride by Kiss and the Ramones' Rockaway Beach) as well as one of his own brand new recordings (a demo of a track called Sonic Shake) and I Wanna Go Where The People Go from the forthcoming live Wildhearts album.
mid-December 1998 The Devin Townsend / Ginger collaboration, Christeen, is due to be released as a single. Promo copies are sent out to magazines, but the single never actually makes it into stores.
16 December 1998 Backyard Babies host their Christmas party at the tiny Water Rats club in London's King's Cross. Ginger attends. The evening kicks off with a live set from Vive Finito, a new band featuring ex-RealTV frontman Jay. The Yo-Yo's then play a half-hour set, which sees 'Babies bassist Johan Blomquist taking over four-string duties for the final song, Rock City. At one point during Backyard Babies' headlining set, frontman Nicke Borg gets the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to Ginger. It's his birthday tomorrow. He'll be 34.
19 December 1998 The Yo-Yo's support Kory Clarke's new band, Space Age Playboys, at the Garage in London.
26 December 1998 A band from South Shields called Shovelmouth play The Vic, a pub in their home town. Ginger, Danny and Stidi are all home for the Christmas holidays and watch the band's set. Before the encores, Shovelmouth singer Colin has a word with Ginger to see if he'd be willing to join them on stage for their version of Suckerpunch. Ginger says he'll do it if Danny will. Danny says that he'll only do it if Stidi will. Stidi will, so all of Shovelmouth, except for the guitarist Rod, leave the stage. Colin introduces the makeshift band as "The Moodswingers". Danny is playing bass, Ginger is playing guitar and singing, and Stidi is on drums. Stidi can't remember how to play the intro to Suckerpunch, so he starts off slowly and shouts "now!' when he gets up to the right speed! The band run through a rough and ready version of the song, before launching into a shambolic version of White Christmas, during which Ginger's friends start singing backing vocals. Ginger then asks for requests, ignoring shouts for Caffeine Bomb because Stidi didn't play on the original record! Scott, the guitarist from support band Stuffed, shouts for Love U Til I Don't. Ginger says that he'll only play it if he can play Scott's guitar. Ginger gets the guitar and the band play the song, though the only person who can remember how it goes all the way through is Danny. "The Moodswingers" leave the stage to a standing ovation.
29 December 1998 THE WiLDHEARTS MAiLiNG LiST returns home. Steph Taylor, wishing to move on, hands the keys to the Internet chat list back to the original list owner, Tara Stockford.