Zealot in Wonderland
Email interview with Gary Davidson, super fan and author of a rather good book about the one and only
Questions from Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T
September 2020

Read more about the book and order it here

The Wildhearts Zealot in Wonderland – who, what and why?

Gary: I’m the zealot, The Wildhearts/Ginger are my wonderland (they have a song called ‘Geordie in Wonderland’ so it was a play on words). The subtitle One Love, One Life, One Band is in reference to the their song, ‘One Love, One Life, One Girl. Why? See answer to what inspired me.

Tell us about some of your formative Wildhearts experiences

Gary: Crikey, there are many! I guess the three which had the most profound effect and took my life into directions it wouldn’t have gone otherwise, is my first Wildhearts gig (supporting Love/Hate in ’92) then subsequently the first time I heard them on record, with the needle hitting the vinyl of ‘Mondo Akimbo A-Go-Go'. The last but by no means least would be the Scarborough gig. Saying the first time I saw The ‘Hearts had a profound effect isn’t strictly true; in fact they made no effect whatsoever. Wish I could transport back in time and watch again – hindsight is a wonderful thing eh?

The band inspire many of us but what inspired you to write a book, which is a massive labour of love?

The simple answer I guess is the music, passion and awesomeness of The ‘Hearts. The detailed answer is within the pages of Zealot. Also, in my life when I get into something I tend to obsess over it – this is me writing about that obsession. The writing process, interviewing band members, friendships made, relationships forged, life experiences and a myriad of other occurrences coming off the back of writing Zealot are some of the best things that have happened to me over the past 28 years.

Was there a music book that you admire and used as a bit of a template?

Not as such, however I’ve been reading music publications and music autobiographies/biographies for as long as I can remember. Subconsciously that must have bleed into my words and thought process when writing Zealot. I’ve also written for various music magazines over the years so that would put me in good stead to put my own words to paper.

Words or pictures?

Do you mean in my book? If so, there are a lot of words and many pictures (photos). My fav photo being the Maasai warrior listening to The ’Hearts through my headphones while I was on a trip to Africa in ’96. I sometimes wonder if he was/is the only Maasai warrior to ever hear the boys – can’t see there being another. Hope he’s still with us.

Football fanzines usually steer clear of talking to players etc while music zines like to talk to bands. What attitude did you take to involving the band with the book?

I didn’t involve the band as such but from the off I did want to interview members past and present regarding getting into music in their younger years, being a zealot of that music, and also their time within The Wildhearts etc.

How did you get it published (ie by who, physical or digital etc)?

I went down the self publishing route simply because I couldn’t be arsed to go through the rigmarole of finding suitable publishers or be even sure if any would be interested. I’m happy with how it all went.

Danny at Cambridge Corn Exchange 1995 with our own self published 'zine. Pic Rosey

What was the reaction to the book like, from fans and band?

The reaction has been amazing, I’ve had nothing but positive feedback. So many people have said how they related to my exploits and that certain events had brought back memories or made them discover songs maybe they weren’t aware of. The thing that I’m most proud of though is how the mental health side (depression) connected with certain people. I’ve had some touching private messages which made writing the book worthwhile. I really did go deep into my low points and laid bare my inner turmoil, describing where my head was at though those dark times for months on end in my private prison called home.

If you could change one bit of it, what would it be?

Many of my opinions have changed since I started writing it in 2005. I could have changed a lot before publishing but those were my views at the time of writing so I kept them in. My writing has improved since completing the book too. There are bits where it reads a little clunky to me now or perhaps I could have wrote differently but that’s the nature of a creative mind I guess, it never stops. Who’ll always be critical of your own work but at some point you have to say that’s it, I’m done.

Tell us about your most memorable Wildhearts gigs?

The Scarborough gig in 2005 was where I had the lightbulb moment to write a book about my favourite band – hence the story starting there then bouncing back to ’92 when I first saw them live. I guess that would have to be my most memorable/meaningful ’Hearts gig. All the Wildhearts/Ginger gigs I’ve been to over the years are in the book, save for one or two which hit the cutting room floor along with another eighty thousand words or so. The reason for this mass culling came about after someone who was going to edit inquired what the word count was. One hundred and ninety five thousand as it happens. That’s a very very very long book was their response. It would have worked out at around six hundred pages, obviously way too long for a novel. Like a melon I’d been counting the pages on my PC document which contained double the words that would be on the page of a book.

I then had to begin the process of severely editing it down. Talk about killing your darlings, this was murder on a grand scale. It was hard going at first working out what to chop and what to keep, but soon enough I began enjoying peppering my killing spree throughout Zealot, knocking off victims with cunning regularity. Every time I cut something I had to make sure I hadn’t referenced it somewhere else. Making the story seamless and linear was a bit of a challenge during this editing process. It’s been a few years since I’ve read it, so now I have trouble remembering what’s not in the final book. So much good was discarded but that’s my own bloody fault I guess. I had another setback around 2010 when my computer crashed and I lost the whole book – luckily I’d previously printed the whole document but with the edits still to be made. It took what seemed like forever to type the whole thing out again while editing along the way. My good lady Kiki typed and edited to start with then I took over half way though, as the monumental task sent my head into a tailspin and subsequently two months of depression. I now (sensibly) back up onto two external hard drives.

Originally the full band member interviews were in the back of the book but were taken out due to the word count being too high. I then decided to place small segments in relevant places throughout the text. The whole interviews are up on the Zealot in Wonderland website.

Are you planning an updated edition, or another book about a different band?

There are two editions of Zealot. The first runs up to Ginger’s 555% album campaign in 2012 and ends on a personal note with a theme that features sporadically throughout the book. However something happened in 2017 (no spoilers here) concerning that theme that blew me away and rounded off the book so much better. Even in my wildest dreams I couldn’t have dreamt it up, it turns out I didn’t have to. This of course prompted me to publish a second edition with added epilogue. However everyone that bought the first edition got sent an e-mail with the epilogue attached as I didn’t feel comfortable with folks maybe buying it a second time round for eight extra pages – damn fine pages that they are.

Any other bands you'd like to plug?

Fucking ‘ell where to start! The one that came straight to mind is Sparks. Breathtakingly good, releasing amazing albums to this day after 50 years of doing so – and Ginger got me into them. The UK band Young Knives are worth checking out and have just put out a new album. I’m currently being blown away by the debut album ‘Deep Down Happy’ from indie oddballs Sports Team. ‘The Goat’ by Puppy kicks serious ass and... I could go on and on. So much good stuff is out there...

How can people get hold of your book, and why should they bother?!

They can purchase a PDF e-book (the physical is out of print) over at: http://www.wildhearts-book.co.uk/product/the-wildhearts-zealot-in-wonderland-pdf-ebook/

Why should they bother? Anyone who loves the music of The Wildhearts and Ginger knows what it’s like to be a zealot in wonderland. Here they can go on my journey and reminisce about theirs along the way.

What's best, chips or cream buns?

Chips in cream buns...

Thanks so much to Gary for his time,both in completing this interview but also in producing such a detailed, definitive and life affirming book...

We have several Wildhearts interviews on this website
Cambridge Corn Exchange 1995 interview with Danny - not currently online
Cambridge Junction CJ interview 2007 here
Ginger email interview 2009 here
Ginger and CJ video interview 2020 here
CJ Interview 2020 here

We also have quite a lot of live photos on the site, if you can track them down...


wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?