From Ragnarok Radio, November 2010.

GingerGinger is one of those musicians who you can tell couldn’t be doing anything else with his life. Riffing his way onto the UK Britrock scene in the early ‘90s with The Wildhearts after earning his chops in glam outfit The Quireboys, he has since graced the world with musical projects almost too numerous to list, leaving behind a scorched trail of drugs, fights and broken Kerrang! office equipment. All of this rock ‘n’ roll decadence, however, is underlined with the insignia of one of the country’s most talented, uncompromising, unafraid and integral musicians.

Most recently, he found himself playing guitar for Michael Monroe (Hanoi Rocks) who, in November this year, opened for British metal institution Motörhead on their 35th anniversary UK tour. Even a broken, infected foot couldn’t stop Ginger (born David Walls in 1964) getting up every night, and it certainly hasn’t hampered his plans to take a new band on the road in December, performing sets of Wildhearts tracks. The lyrical tales across their albums have always been brutally (and sometimes embarrassingly) honest, and make for some of the finest, most heartfelt offerings in alternative music. From stories of vegetating in front of the television (1993’s ‘Earth vs. The Wildhearts’) through the first tastes of success and excess (1995’s ‘p.h.u.q’) to learned, sage views on life today (2009’s ‘Chutzpah!’), Ginger has cemented his reputation as a fully-conscious, worldly observer with a knack for turning experience into what Ragnarok writer Gordy Jeans calls ‘choruses so sugary they’ll rot your teeth faster than acid-flavoured sherbet’ and ‘fantastic, crushing riffage’ in equal measures.

The frontman was able to sit on his backside for five minutes to give us an insight into the life of such a passionate player (and fan) in today’s world of rock music.

Have you enjoyed the tour with Motörhead? What’s it like touring with Lemmy again?
Ginger: I love touring with Motörhead, they’re one of the last, true rock ‘n’ roll bands. Great guys and great crew. Lemmy? I fucking love the man. What can I say? He’s the real deal. 100% authentic.

Ginger (left) and Michael Monroe.

How does playing guitar and touring with Michael Monroe compare to fronting and touring your own band(s)?
I really love being a side man as it takes away so much of the pressure that comes with being the frontman. The main difference is that the band all want to go to the bar with me now. When you’re the singer you find that less people want to hang out with you. Michael doesn’t drink, so it works for him!

Were you always a Hanoi Rocks fan?
I loved them in the ‘80s. They were the best band around when I first heard them. No one was mixing rock ‘n’ roll with punk to such devastating effect and, live, they simply killed. I wasn’t a fan of the MK. II Hanoi with Conny Bloom [who worked with Ginger’s Silver Ginger 5 project]. I love Conny like a brother but to me Hanoi were a punk band and, with the second incarnation, they lost the punk element.

You had a highly successful acoustic set at Download Festival in Donington this year which consisted purely of Wildhearts material. Is this what sparked your decision to only play Wildhearts songs on this tour? Why aren’t you performing tracks from your solo career?
I try to listen to the fans as much as I can, and they’ve been asking to hear Wildhearts songs played live. The Wildhearts usually tour at least once a year but right now we’re taking a long break that might or might not be permanent; I don’t know that we’ll reform. The only way the fans are going to hear Wildhearts songs live is if I play them solo. Who am I to deny people the chance to sing along to songs they’ve grown with for most of their adult lives?

How did you end up with so many guitar players on-stage with you at Download?
Guitarmageddon was something that started as an idea and went on from there. Two guitarists, then four, then six, then ‘fuck it, let’s make it ten!’ We didn’t even know if everyone was going to show up at Download – most of these people hadn’t even met at that point! The whole thing was dreamlike, and that’s what I love about playing live: if it gets too tight or pre-planned it loses that spark for me. If it isn’t a little scary then chances are I’ll be bored.

Image: Mark Latham

How do you balance family life and children with so many tours and projects?
I’m lucky to have such an understanding family who know that this is what I do. I miss my kids, but I’m in a band with three fathers who have young children, so we act as a daddy support group for each other. Every musician who’s a dad feels the same longing for home and the same determination to make each show count – why be away otherwise? Fathers usually rock much harder than non-fathers, and for longer!

You routinely keep in touch with fans and friends through Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Do you feel social networking sites have become very significant as a touring musician?
I’ve always tried to keep in touch with fans through answering questions and stuff, and have been active on the Internet since about 1996. These days, with so many networking outlets, it simply makes it easier to reach more people. Communication between artist and fans is vital. I don’t consider this position I’m in to be 100% about music – I’m still popular because I work on staying in touch. It keeps you humble and grounded.

You’re known as a die-hard music nut – which new bands are you enjoying at the moment? Do you take influence from bands that came after you?
I’m loving Kvelertak and Chickenhawk with a passion. They both rock and are both insane, mixing hard rock, punk, hardcore and thrash with stunning results. I need new bands to love otherwise I’m over. I couldn’t be one of these guys who insists that music went downhill after the ‘70s. In my mind, that’s just not true. I love to educate people on music and turn people onto new bands. To me, that is the surest direction to take in order to stay informed. I get some out, I put some back. Music is a community not a charity, and if you aren’t contributing to its health then you aren’t part of any solution.

What can we expect from your own forthcoming shows?
The Christmas shows are going to be a full electric band made up of my favourite players in the UK rock ‘n’ roll and punk scenes. We’re currently working on the set list and, although I don’t know exactly what we’ll be playing, I can guarantee that Wildhearts fans will go away happy. We’re going to take away their voices and replace them with big smiles on their faces. We’re going to make every bill a special, unforgettable night out. It’s Christmas – bring a bottle, sing along and join the fun. There’s no place like a sweaty drunken crowd singing Wildhearts songs. Trust me.

17/12/10 London – Relentless Garage
18/12/10 Sheffield – Corporation
19/12/10 Manchester – Moho Live
20/12/10 Glasgow – Garage
21/12/10 Newcastle – Legends
22/12/10 Wolverhampton – Wulfrun Hall
23/12/10 Southampton – Talking Heads

The top five Wildhearts tracks you can hope to hear in December:

1. I Wanna Go Where The People Go
The band’s anthem with a chorus that could unite Jesus and Satan. As soon as those sly opening notes creep in, the party’s on.

2. 29 x The Pain
A simple ode to all of the band’s influences. Never before has someone been so openly nostalgic with what music means to them, but the point hits home every time.

3. My Baby Is A Headfuck
They channelled the spirit of Jerry Lee Lewis for this one (even though he’s still alive) with its frenzied guitar and piano solos. If you don’t grin at the chorus, you’re dead inside.

4. Vanilla Radio
This marked the band’s return to form in the early 2000s and introduced their new confident, polished sound that still retained the ideals and charisma of yesteryear.

5. The Jackson Whites
Who says they can’t be heavy? This down-tuned stormer was the jewel in the crown of the latest (but hopefully not last) album ‘Chutzpah!’ that deserves nothing but more recognition.

Follow Ginger on Twitter @Gingernyc and at gingerwildheart.net.

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