The Lantern, Halifax, March 3
Former Quireboys guitarist Ginger Wildheart plays Halifax’s newest live music venue The Lantern promoting his new country album Ghost In The Tanglewood.
Here he chats to Isabel Ewen about his new album and his “sacred” relationship with fans.
Q) You look pretty busy between now and April with your UK Tour. Could you tell me about what’s at the heart of “Ghost In The Tanglewood” your new country album released on 2nd March?
A)I wanted it to be the sound of honesty. Mainly honesty in relation to the subject of mental health and its affect on everyone it touches. The album was written at a very turbulent time for me where relationships were breaking down and the future was redesigning itself in a very unexpected way. And to get through it all I just needed complete honesty in everything, very much including music.
Q) For you is there anything as cathartic as expressing your feelings through lyrics and how easy does it come to then share what you’re going through?
A)Nothing beats the comfort of creative expression for me, especially in lyrics. Writing lyrics is definitely my favourite part of the creative process. This is why I wanted the music to be gentler on this album than I usually record, to allow the words to be heard. When people are touched by my lyrics it really means the world to me.
Q) If a person can’t play or write to express themselves they can listen to something that resonates so which artists really hit a nerve for you?
A) There are hundreds. I currently have a Spotify playlist on the go, just of Country and Folk artists that inspired Ghost In The Tanglewood, and I’m up to about 40 bands and artists. I have very eclectic tastes too, so there must be at least the same amount of rock artists that inspire my more rock-based stuff, then there’s punk, extreme music, pop music. I couldn’t put a number of the amount of musicians that resonate with me. I’m finding new inspiration every day from artists that enter my radar. Basically, music resonates with me, and anything honest hits some kind of nerve for me.
Q) Through all the bands you’ve been a part of and all the talented musicians you’ve collaborated with, has there
been a moment when you felt complete euphoria, like it couldn’t get any better than this?
A)Yes, many many times. I’m lucky that I have worked with most of my favourite musicians, old and new. I’ve had so many euphoric moments of musical perfection that trying to pick one would be like choosing your favourite hair on your dog.
Q) I’ve always wondered about the pressure on an artist to produce album after album - to keep up with the record label demands as well as the public’s. Is there a fear for an artist that taking too much time out to ‘live’ and gain inspiration might get them dropped?
A)Speaking only for myself, I’m always writing. Whatever I’m doing, walking the dog, making lunch, there are ideas popping into my head, so when it comes time to write a new album I’m already feeling what shape it will be. Therefore, for me there is no pressure, it’s just what I do. I’m very fortunate to have carved out a life for myself doing my favourite thing, which is what I’m best at. I also have my own record label, so the chances of me getting dropped are very slim.
Q) You’ve got some dates on your own and some supporting The Levellers throughout February and March. How much does the night and occasion differ when you play as support?
A) Playing support, especially to a band like The Levellers, who have a very discerning audience, is as exciting as it gets in this business. Going onstage cold and making the crowd like you, in 40 minutes, it’s a skill that musicians should force themselves to sharpen. This is how we learned in the first place, how we crafted our style and approach. Obviously, it’s great to play to your own crowd and have them sing back every word to you, but I really enjoy the tickle of fear in playing to an unknown audience.
Q) Your blog posts have been an insight into life on the road. Do you feel more compelled to engage with fans over social media these days, perhaps because it is more interactive?
A) I’ve always interacted with the fans, and when I first started engaging with them online, back in 1997 or something, it proved to be a great way of further breaking down the pointless barriers between musician and fan. For me, the most sacred thing in this line of work is my relationship with my supporters. They’re a community that look after themselves, and they even look after me from time to time. They’re a barometer for my honesty and the quality of my output, and they deserve everything I can possibly give them.
Q) Can I ask how much you agree it is important to play your own part in the world and not to simply copy but inject your own spirit into anything you create?
A) I don’t understand why anyone would want to be a copy. Surely expressing yourself is the whole point of doing this? Be inspired, obviously, even down to your style of playing, singing or writing, but inject yourself in there. Otherwise, surely you’re just an actor and not a musician?
Q) Behind music is an artist who isn’t afraid of being themselves. But would you say that this comes at a price?
A) You have to sacrifice something for a life in music. I’ve seen a lot of people disappear from the music scene because they wanted their cake and eat it too, but it just doesn’t work like that. Not for the regular musician anyway. If you want to make music your life you have to make sacrifices.
Q) What helps you stay grounded when you may easily be lost in music?
A) Family. Being of service to my family is everything. It keeps me focused and productive. Without them Idon’t think I’d even care about making money at all.