After a whole twelve months, The Wildhearts are back and ready to destroy Wolverhampton. Here we chat to CJ Wildheart about everything from late soundchecks to stupidly hot chilli sauce, oh, and the gig of course.
Indulge Sound: Welcome back, once again, to Wolverhampton. You’ve played our hometown a fair few times over the last twenty years and it’s always been a top night? What is it about Wildhearts gigs, more importantly, the fans, that make it all so special?
CJ Wildheart: Well, we’re a little bit under-rehearsed. Ginger and Scott turned up four hours late because there was an accident so they couldn’t sound check but we go on stage and it’s always the audience that makes it special because it’s like, even if we’re not playing at the top of our game, we still walk on stage and feel like Kings.
IS: What’s nice to see, after twenty years of seeing you live, is that the kids that saw you the first time round are now bringing their kids to see you. There are quite a few youngsters waiting to see you tonight and that’s really refreshing.
CJW: There’s actually one of our fans called Bridget who comes from Queensland in Australia. She happened to be over here visiting her parents and family and she’s here tonight with her daughter who is also a big fan of the band because of her Mum. We have been around a while now. Me and Ginger started the band in 1989, so that’s like twenty five years ago, so if people were there from the early days then it kind of goes without saying that their kids will end up being fans. Kids like what their parents like.
IS: Tonight is pretty special as we have Scott Sorry back in the fold after leaving in 2012 for personal/family reasons. How good does it feel to be back on the road with him again?
CJW: It’s great! I mean, with the bass position in this band, it’s not a permanent one; it’s kind of a revolving door so when Scott can’t work with the band, John (Poole) will step in. Scott’s a Chef now, he has a career in the USA and it’s just kind of nice. John couldn’t do this tour because he’s on tour with his own band; he’s in some pro-rock super group and on this prog-rock cruise ship in the Caribbean right about now. It worked out that Scott could fortunately do this tour.
IS: It’s actually really great to see him back.
CJW: Yes, it’s nice. I wouldn’t be surprised if John’s on the next tour but who knows. It’s so nice having two really good bass players. We always pick up where we left off.
[CJ pauses the interview momentarily to check his phone for a message from his wife.]
CJW: Sorry, I have to check this; my wife’s pregnant and she’s text me about a pram. I mean how rock and roll can you get.
IS: Awww. My Sister’s pregnant and she’s due next Monday although I have a feeling my little nephew may be here sooner.
CJW: Really? Wow. My wife’s due to give birth in August. It’s a little boy and I can’t wait. It’s my first child and I actually feel really ready to be a father after all these years. God, I’m forty six; if I’m not ready now, I’ll never be ready.
IS: So, as well as touring/playing with The Wildhearts, you’ve been busy recording, producing and demoing your new album Mable through Pledge and if that wasn’t enough, a hot chilli sauce called Devil’s Spit. How has the experience been for you (of Pledge, I mean, of course) and do you think it’s something you would do again, given the opportunity?
CJW: Ah, my chilli sauce, Devil’s Spit. People who know me know that I love food and cooking and stuff. My mother’s from the Seychelles and the food is quite spicy there and my Mum’s always made her own chilli sauces so it’s a big part of my life. I had an opportunity to make this sauce and it was too good to turn down and I’m so glad I made it because I love my sauces and it’s just gorgeous. This one’s a mid-heat. It’ll be hot for some people but it’s so tasty; it’s a combination of barbecue, beer and chilli in one bottle so it’s three of my favourite things in one hit. I’m going to bring out an even spicier version of Devil’s Spit called Devil’s Spit Extreme and it will absolutely floor people. That comes out in September and then I’m going to bring out Devil’s Spit Mojo which is the mild one which will be a sauce for lovers. Actually, I might bring it out on Valentine’s Day.
In regards to Pledge, it’s great for bands that can’t get signed anymore, you know. I mean, my attitude to music is that it has to be really professional and it doesn’t matter how you’re doing it, if you can’t afford to do a proper package, you know, make it look professional, you shouldn’t be doing it. I have to make money; I have to pay my bills so if I wasn’t doing this, I would go out and get a day job but fortunately enough, Pledge enables me to carry on making music and also enables me to do my sauces. I’ve done a video for one of the tracks and it also enables me to give value for money to the fans who are actually buying my stuff and getting involved.
I was quite overwhelmed at how quickly I reached my target and it’s still going up even now. I think it’s great. I think it’s a really ‘real’ approach to music. I’m giving ten percent to Prostrate Cancer and that gives me a good feeling. What’s great is that the lion’s share of it goes to the artist because that’s who does most of the work. I’m already on my next project and I’ll be doing that between the baby crying and everything else I have on my plate.
IS: You’ve got Hey! Hello! (Ginger’s side project) and the incredible Von Hertzen Brothers supporting you this evening. Is this going to be one hell of a shindig or what?
CJW: I didn’t know who the Von Hertzen Brothers were but they’re very prog and they’re very good musicians and of course, everyone knows Hey! Hello! so I think it’s really good having the contrast on the bill. It’s going to be a really entertaining night. I think Ginger has done the Von Hertzen Brothers a favour by putting Hey! Hello! first because it should be quite packed for their set. Our set’s really diverse tonight actually; you’ll be quite surprised by some of the songs in there. There’s a lot of stuff in there that we haven’t played in a very long time.
IS: Great news; last month we found out you’re playing Download this year. I remember my very first time seeing you there, what 20 years ago now and that’s where I fell in love with you guys. Putting aside a few grey hairs (?) and aches and pains (?), The Wildhearts are still as fresh and exciting as way back when. How do you keep the momentum going?
CJW: We’re not kids anymore but there’s a youthful exuberance about us, a strut, if you will. We’re still in touch with our young side and that’s really important. We’re very cheeky guys and that keeps us energised. I mean, I look back at stuff online from years ago where I’m going nuts and shaking my hair and I don’t want to be that person anymore, you know. I’m very mellow and relaxed now and that’s my thing.
IS: Thank you so much for chatting to me CJ. I wish you all the very best with Pledge and Mabel and Devil’s Spit.
CJW: No, thank you. Thank you very much. We’ll be awesome tonight, I promise you.