The Wildhearts, Cambridge Junction, 19.12.07

When the Manics went on their first national tour, The Wildhearts went with them. When Rosey got his first ever photopass (and was nearly scared out of his skin by the pyros at the Corn Exchange) in 1995, it was for the Wildhearts. And so how fitting it was that the Wildhearts, that perfect yet filthy combination of everything that makes rock music mad, bad and dangerous to know with the sweetest 3 part harmonies known to humanity, were part of R*E*P*E*A*T's first ever 'big band' gigs at the Junction.

After soundcheck Rosey went to reminisce with CJ, to talk about the future, and to have the piss taken.


* (Rosey, being shown into the rather nice tour bus and feeling a bit overawed by the occasion) Do you remember playing in Cambridge in, I think, 1995? We interviewed Danny, when he had long hair. I asked Ginger if he remembered the gig, and he said that he didn't remember 1995, full stop!
- Yes, I remember that!
* And then later in the 90s I put you on with The Jellys at The Portland, and then before that I interviewed you with Honeycrack at Bedford Esquires, what a lot of great bands you've been in. What do you know now about rock'n'roll that you wish you'd known back in the early days?
- Nothing at all. Do you know what rock'n'roll is? It's called growing up by making hundreds and hundreds of repeated mistakes. That is what rock'n'roll is. Some people get to an age where they stop making these mistakes, and some people don't. You do reach a cut off period when you've got to stop acting like an adolescent arsehole. And that is what rock'n'roll is about. Think about what rock'n'roll is; it's belligerent behaviour, stupidity to the max, killing yourself with alcohol and drugs. That is rock'n'roll. Now these are things you can get away with when you're young - some people don't - they die - while others have a fucking amazing time, a great time, most of the time they're quite depressed, but they kid themselves they're having a good time. Then you get to an age when you stop drinking and you stop acting like a tit, and you look back at what you've done and your reputation, and see that it's cool and realise what you've achieved. And I hope that's me; I've stopped drinking and taking drugs and I look my age, I'm 56! So I've got away with it!
* You and Keith Richards both!
- I haven't got a map of the world on my face, although I do have one on my arse!

* What about in terms of record companies and the biz, did you not get screwed over by labels and so on?
- We were never screwed over by record labels, we just took so many drugs and drunk too much, so that we believed that was happening. Running our own label now, doing it ourselves, we realise that; we had a bank giving us money and all these people doing these horrible mundane jobs for us, and we didn't appreciate it, we took their money and wasted it, we stuck it up our noses and drunk it. Of course they took a huge percentage, and it was a kind of slave work, but there's reasons for that. There's reasons your album is in the shops and in magazines, and you have people doing your press, and you have nice T shirts and videos, big studios and expensive producers. And that reason is called a record company.
* Do you not prefer being on your own label?
- Yes, and there are things we learnt from being on major labels. We'd like to sell as many albums now as we did before, as there would be a lot of money coming in so we could do things at a bigger level, and then we'd be extremely happy being on our own label, but we're fortunate enough to have a fan base that is loyal enough that means we can do things at this level, still put on biggish shows and do an album a year. So we always feel lucky.

* How did you manage to get this [the vinyl version of current single 'The New Flesh'] on the display racks at HMV?
- Ummm…Errr… What's that? The new album on 7 inch? That's the first time I've ever seen that single, I didn't know it was available like that…
* Ahhh, cos I was going to ask you about it. Look, it's on lovely white vinyl… I was going to ask you why you chose white?
- Umm, because it has a white sleeve? Back in the day it would have been white so we could skin up on it, but now that we're sensible older gentlemen it's because white is a sensible colour!
* I think coloured vinyl is lovely, do you think there's a resurgence in it?
- It would be wonderful if I had a record player, will this go on my I-Pod?!
* I was going to ask you about the lyrics for 'The New Flesh'…
- It's about when you burn yourself, and you get new skin…
* Oh…
- No actually it's quite political, it's about the younger generation and the world they're coming into, and they are the new tomorrow, basically.

* This gig is actually in aid of Love Music Hate Racism, I wondered if you had any opinions on that issue?
- I don't even know what it is, I only heard about it today…Can you tell me about it?
* Well in the 70s there was Rock Against Racism with The Clash, Steel Pulse, The Specials and so on, playing gigs against the National Front…
- Yes I remember that, I'm not that young remember!
* Well, sadly with the growth of the British National Party there's a need to do it all again, and only the other week the NME run a huge issue on it and gave out a CD with lots of trendy NME bands on it, with the likes of Baby Shambles, The Enemy, Estelle and so on supporting it.
- But are any good bands behind it?

Scott and Ginger in front of Love Music Hate Racism banner

* The Wildhearts? From today at least, I hope. The Gallows, Lethal Bizzle…
- Some of the others sound like an advert for smack, bands that have been ruined by it and others that should be doing it! There are genuinely talented musicians out there who'd die for a fraction of attention these bands are getting. I see buskers on the underground who have more talent in their little fingers than Pete Doherty has in his whole body, and I'll stand by those words. I don't like his music and I don't like what he stands for - if he lived in my country, the fucker would be banged up! It frustrates me that there's people out there that don't get breaks; I believe he wouldn't be famous if it wasn't for his girlfriend. Most musicians want to be known for their music not for injecting themselves with poison, painting shitty pictures with their own blood and abusing their own fans. Smack has caused me a lot of problems; people have choices - he had a lot of choices - he had a decent, fortunate upbringing and I don't know what pain he's running from - but he has a lack of spirit and a lack of soul. I hope the guy's getting better…
* To go back to Love Music Hate Racism, I think it's trying to reinforce the idea that multiculturalism is a positive thing worth defending…
- It's funny; as I was saying to Sophie that rock music is predominantly a white form, being a brown musician in rock'n'roll bands, I've always been in a minority, there's very few black or brown people in rock bands or in rock audiences. Despite its origins. It's a great form, but it hasn't really crossed over.
* Have you heard Lethal Bizzle? He seems to have been able to woo white indie kids, his version of 'Staring at the Rude Boys' with Gallows for instance, and completely converting the indie kids on the NME tour. But as you say, it is unusual. There was Dub War…
- Have you heard Dag Nasty's version of 'Staring at the Rude Boys'? It's brilliant! And bands like Bad Brains and Fishbone, they just totally mixed things up, Ginger and I loved what they were trying to do! Everyone one who knows me knows that I've lived with racism, I've tried not let it bother me, it's something you get used to. In fact I have a great idea for a black metal band, they'd be 5 really black Rastas and they'd be called Nigger-Mortis and the album would be called 'True Black Metal', how fucking cool would that be? And then I'd have an Indian version of the Ramones called Sikh Heil, with an album 'Sikh and Destroy'… (CJ and friends collapse laughing, RR doesn't know what to think)

* Um… What do you listen to when hoovering?
- Vivaldi, he helps with suction. But I'm allergic to dust.

* What's best. Chips or cream buns?
- Cream buns, cos you can squirt the cream all over your girl's body… Chips off a girl is probably not a good idea.

* You toured with the Manics back in 1992…
- Yeah we went on their first ever tour…
* Yes I saw you so many times on that tour…
- I exposed Richey, that he wasn't playing and had a teach yourself rock guitar book with him! Although it said '4 Real' on his arm, I was never sure which bits of him were genuine and which weren't. James is a lovely bloke. They really liked us, the fact that we were '4 Real'; we did this gig at the Marquee with them, but they were so shy they didn't dare talk to us, it took them 7 gigs or so before they dared come and say anything to us. And then they asked how come every night we managed to get so fucked up but every morning there we were fresh and ready to go, leaving the hotel with our bags, looking as right as rain. When they asked how we did it, I just said 'Years of Practice'!
* I remember a piece in Select from that tour, which was meant to be about the Manics and their destructive rock'n'roll lifestyle, and it ended up being about you! Do you think that there was some sort of lyrical affinity between Ginger and Richey?
- I don't know, I don't really look that deep into music personally, and Ginger only mimes every other gig!

* Do you feel that you've got a happy combination of solo and band stuff now?
- Yes, I need the Wildhearts to support the solo stuff. I've been in bands since I was 17 and I'm 40 now, and I still love it! And I feel really fortunate to be able to release albums, to play to big crowds and so on. I don't regret the passing of bands like The Jellys or Honeycrack, although they were both really good bands to be in that I learnt a lot from, and I believe that whatever band you are in, it doesn't matter as long as your hearts in it. We've got two albums coming out next year, including a covers album and a Kiss type album - not one where we sound or dress up like Kiss but where we all get to take turns to do the different parts, including lead vocals, which we can all do - after a fashion!
* So you're happy in your musical life?

- Very happy, but not as happy as I am in my private life… we get to stay in really nice tour buses, we get to play to big crowds, who really appreciate it, and after all these years we are all around to tell the tale. And we all get on, we are all friends, which is really, really nice. And there's lots to look forward to with the new albums and DVD. So we never grumble or moan now. It's our twentieth anniversary next year, yet we still have lots of new fresh ideas, trying things we've never done before, which rejuvenates the spirit. And the fans like the new stuff as well; we're not doing 'The New Flesh' tonight but we're doing a lot of new stuff; we always have to mix old and new, we have a good 200 or so songs and we learnt 35 for this tour, but we can only fit in about fifteen per gig so we change the set each night, so no one will know what we're going to play each night. Not even us!

* Well I think that's it, thanks a lot.
- You're welcome, I enjoyed it. Don't forget to print those band names I mentioned and to let me know, I'll win 50 quid on a bet if you print them, and you can have half!

Thanks to CJ for his time and to the band for playing the gig. Thanks also to Gav for fixing everything up and all at The Junction especially Rob Tinkler and Gary Brown. Can I have my 25 quid now please CJ?!

Words and pix by Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T, more pix on our myspace here


* Well, sadly with the growth of the British National Party there's a need to do it all again, and only the other week the NME run a huge issue on it and gave out a CD with lots o