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|Labels||East West, Round, Mushroom, Snapper, Gut, Backstage Alliance|
The Wildhearts are an English rock band, formed in 1989 in Newcastle upon Tyne. The band's sound is a mixture of hard rock and melodic pop music, often described in the music press as combining influences as diverse as the Beatles and 1980s-era Metallica. The Wildhearts achieved several top 20 singles and two top 10 albums in Britain, though they also faced difficulties with record companies and many internal problems often relating to drugs and depression. Much of the band's early career was affected by bitter feuds with their record company, East West.
Throughout the band's history, members have regularly been replaced, with the only constant member being the band's founder, singer and guitarist Ginger. Several band members have appeared in the line-up more than once. The band has also been split up or placed on hiatus by Ginger multiple times. In the 2010s, the band convened occasionally for various anniversary tours. A 2018 anniversary tour by the band's 1995 lineup led to a return to the studio. They released a new album in 2019 after a ten-year hiatus. Their most recent album, 21st Century Love Songs, was released in September 2021.
Initially called the Wild Hearts, the band originally included singers Snake (ex-Tobruk) and Dunken F. Mullett (ex-Mournblade), who both joined for short periods. Nine demos were recorded in 1989 and 1990 with Snake singing on four and Dunken on five. These demos remain unreleased and displayed a sound resembling Guns N' Roses and a heavier Quireboys with the Wildhearts unique sound still in development.
After many early personnel changes, the line-up solidified around Ginger on guitar and vocals, CJ (Christopher Jagdhar) on guitar and vocals, Danny McCormack on bass and vocals, and Dogs D'Amour drummer Bam. This line-up released two EPs in 1992, Mondo Akimbo a-Go-Go and Don’t Be Happy…Just Worry.
In 1992, drummer Bam returned to Dogs D'Amour and was replaced by Stidi (Andrew Stidolph). To follow up their first two EPs, the Wildhearts recorded demos for their first full-length album, which were released as Earth vs the Wildhearts without re-recording. The singles "Greetings From Shitsville" and "TV Tan" were underground hits in 1993. Stidi left the band shortly afterwards to be replaced by Ritch Battersby, just in time for the recording of the single "Caffeine Bomb", a UK chart hit at the beginning of 1994, helped by a memorable video in which Ginger appeared to vomit into CJ's face. The band appeared on Top of the Pops with Ginger wearing green welding goggles. The debut album was reissued in late 1994 with "Caffeine Bomb" tacked on as an extra track.
The Wildhearts next planned a double album, but East West vetoed this plan during the recording sessions. Instead the band released a collection of six of the more eclectic tracks on a fan club-only release entitled Fishing for Luckies in early 1995. This EP, which would be re-released in 1996 with more studio outtakes as Fishing for More Luckies, included the notable track "Geordie In Wonderland". Ginger offered this track to Kevin Keegan and Newcastle United F.C. as a potential team anthem, but was graciously turned down. The track was performed on Top of the Pops with Wolfsbane's Jeff Hateley, painted in Toon Army colours, on mandolin. Other noteworthy tracks included "If Life Is Like A Lovebank, I Want An Overdraft", also released as a single, and the 11:24 epic "Sky Babies."
The second album proper was to be known as P.H.U.Q.. Midway through the recording sessions, Ginger fired guitarist CJ, and some of the album's tracks were recorded without a second guitarist. P.H.U.Q. was released in May 1995 and reached number 6 in the UK Albums Chart, making it the band's most successful album. Shortly after the album's release, Mark Keds of Senseless Things was drafted as second guitarist, but lasted just one recording session, in which he appeared on the B-sides for the single "Just in Lust". Within a few weeks Keds was sacked after disappearing to Japan for a farewell tour with his old band. The Wildhearts were again down to a three-piece (Ginger, McCormack, and Battersby) for a few months, and performed a few gigs in this incarnation. The band resolved to return to a two-guitar formation, and after requesting demos and holding auditions, hired the previously unknown Jef Streatfield.
Round Records era
In early 1996, the Wildhearts claimed to have recorded two new studio albums, which would be released via East West on the band's own record label, Round Records. Only some of the songs saw the light of day, in a revamped version of the previously fan club-only EP Fishing for Luckies with eight new tracks bringing it to full album length. An additional album of new material was never quite finished, although leaked copies were distributed as the Shitty Fuckin' Stupid Tracks bootleg. These rare tracks were officially released by East West in 1998 as part of the Landmines and Pantomimes rarities compilation.
Endless, Nameless era
In 1997 the band signed to Mushroom Records, and set about making another album. This album abandoned the band's former pop rock leanings in favor of a more distorted and less commercial sound.
In November 1997, shortly before the release of Endless, Nameless, Ginger decided to split the band. The band toured Japan but cancelled a scheduled British tour.
Multi-formatting and singles
Starting in 1997 the Wildhearts began to release multiple formats of singles.The band released the two singles from the album Endless, Nameless in multiple formats, including two CD singles with two B-sides on each, and a 7" single with one B-side, with all the songs from the "Anthem" single being cover versions.
The band have continued to multi-format since 1997, in particular with "Top of the World" in 2003, consisting of three CD singles, two with two B-sides and one with one B-side and the video for the song. The band have also continued to specifically re-enter the studio to record brand new songs for B-sides. During the band's reformation in the 2001–2004 period, they amassed enough B-sides for Gut Records to release a full-length album consisting only of B-sides, Coupled With.
During the 1997–2001 period the band members concentrated on their respective side projects, although the most recent line-up of Ginger, McCormack, Ritch Battersby, and Jef Streatfield reformed a few times for one-off gigs.
In early 2001 Ginger announced that he was reforming the Earth vs the Wildhearts lineup of the band for a tour later that year. This lineup (consisting of Ginger and CJ on guitars and vocals, Danny McCormack on bass and vocals, and Stidi on drums) soon ran into difficulty due to McCormack's battle against heroin addiction, and on several dates of the comeback tour Toshi (from support band AntiProduct) stood in as bassist. By 2002 McCormack was once again clean and the band started recording a new mini-album and also toured the UK. The tracks intended for the album were released in the UK in late 2002 across three formats of the "Vanilla Radio" single, and as the mini-album Riff After Riff After Motherfucking Riff in Japan. "Vanilla Radio" reached the top 30 in the UK singles chart, and in early 2003 work began on a full-length album. However, during recording, McCormack checked himself into a rehabilitation center to deal with an alcohol problem, leaving Ginger to play the bass parts on the songs that were newly recorded for the album. McCormack's place in the live band was filled by "Random" Jon Poole, who had already worked with Ginger on his Silver Ginger 5 side project.
The album The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed, released in 2003, had a very commercial sound, full of short simple pop songs with little of the heavier rock style which often featured on previous albums. The band signed a US record deal with Gearhead Records, which released Riff After Riff in 2004, a compilation of songs from the UK post-reformation singles (all of the songs from this release are also found on the Gut Records compilation Coupled With). Riff After Riff was the Wildhearts' first US release since Earth vs the Wildhearts in 1994. The release was also promoted by a tour, mostly as the support band for their ex-support band, the Darkness.
Then in early 2005, Ginger dissolved the Wildhearts again, citing a mixture of his own personal problems and a lack of commitment within the band. He briefly joined the Brides of Destruction before setting out on his own as a full-time solo artist. Ginger then reformed the Wildhearts once again for a one-off gig at Scarborough Castle (Rock in the Castle) in September 2005. The 1994–1995 line-up of Ginger, C.J., McCormack, and Ritch Battersby played at this gig.
Once again, the Wildhearts reformed in December 2006 and played a single live show at the Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton. This line-up saw Ginger joined again by C.J., Ritch Battersby and a new bassist, Scott Sorry (ex-Amen). This line-up soon became official, with plans made for a new album in 2007.
In January 2007, the band spent a week in Tutbury Castle recording vocals and finishing their new self-titled album The Wildhearts. The album was released on 23 April, preceded two weeks earlier by the download-only single "The Sweetest Song". The album received favorable reviews in the British rock press, with the Sun newspaper giving it 5 out of 5 ("probably the rock album of the year") and Rocksound magazine also giving it full marks (10 out of 10). The band performed in New York, and toured the UK in April and May.
"The New Flesh" was released as a single on 1 October 2007 and became the first proper release from the self-titled album. The video for the song was shot in black and white and featured a number of children, including Ginger's own son Jake. The band released "Destroy All Monsters" as their next single. The video had a heavy theme of violence and horror.
On 19 May 2008 the Wildhearts released the all-covers album Stop Us If You've Heard This One Before, Vol 1.. Artists covered include Icicle Works, Fugazi, Helmet, Lee Harvey Oswald Band, The Distillers, The Descendents, and The Georgia Satellites. The first version of the album was a download-only collection of 12 tracks, followed by a full release with 15 tracks. In mid-2008, Rhino Records also released the three-CD compilation The Works. Described by the band as "licensed but unofficial," the compilation consists of album tracks and B-sides from the 1992–1996 era at East West Records.
The band traveled to Denmark to record their ninth studio album, ¡Chutzpah!, which was released on 31 August 2009, followed by a tour of the United Kingdom in September and October. At these shows, the band played the new record in its entirety, followed by an encore of older songs. Around the same time as the release of Chutzpah!, they won the award for Spirit of Independence at the 2009 Kerrang! Awards, as well as playing on the Bohemia stage during the very first UK Sonisphere Festival; a four-day music festival designed by those formerly behind Download Festival.
On 25 November 2009 the Wildhearts announced the release of ¡Chutzpah! Jnr., a mini-album composed of tracks recorded during the Chutzpah sessions that were either unreleased or only appeared as bonus tracks on the Japanese version of ¡Chutzpah!. The eight-track CD was publicized as only being available at concerts during the coming "Merry Xmess 2009" tour.
In 2010, Ginger joined as the guitarist for former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe, who played the Download Festival on 12 June 2010. Ginger also performed as a solo act at the festival. Only Wildhearts songs were performed, as was the case for the Ginger & Friends December 2010 tour of the UK. The Michael Monroe album Sensory Overdrive, featuring Ginger, was released in 2011.
In December 2010, Ginger stated that he was unsure if the Wildhearts would ever reform. It would appear that the departure of Scott Sorry and retirement of Ritch Battersby led to the hiatus. Following this particularly with his renewed solo career, Ginger publicly stated a number of times on Formspring that he had absolutely no desire to revisit the Wildhearts and considered that period of his life over. Despite this, Ginger announced in August 2012 that the most recent Wildhearts line-up will reform for a one-off appearance in December. The Wildhearts' songs "Geordie in Wonderland" and "Dreaming in A" appeared in the 2012 UK feature film Life Just Is.
On 10 December 2012, it was announced that Scott Sorry had left the Wildhearts due to family commitments. He was replaced by former bassist Jon Poole for the December 2012 reunion show. The band went on to play a number of shows in early 2013 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of Earth vs the Wildhearts. Such was the anniversary tour's success that a second leg took place in June of the same year. The Nottingham Rock City performance would subsequently be released as the 2014 live album Rock City vs The Wildhearts. Another UK tour took place in April 2014, this time with Scott Sorry back on bass. 2015 saw the 20th Anniversary of the release of P.H.U.Q. and another tour, this time with Jon Poole on bass duties.
Prior to their Christmas tour in 2016 (supported by Dirt Box Disco, Danny's new band the Main Grains and JAW$ featuring Ginger's son) Ginger stated in an interview that the band would be recording a new album in 2017. Proceeds from the album went towards assisting Danny's recuperation after the amputation of his lower right leg.
In August 2018, the band announced it would be touring to celebrate 25 years of the Earth vs the Wildhearts album, in which the album would be played in full at each shows. The lineup for this tour included Ginger, CJ, Danny McCormack, and Ritch Battersby. In early January 2019, the band announced the recording of a new album had been completed with mixing to follow. The album Renaissance Men was released on 3 May 2019. The album 21st Century Love Songs was released on 3 September 2021. Six months after the album's release on 11 March 2022, The Wildhearts announced via social media that they were taking another hiatus due to "ongoing issues within the band".
- Ginger - vocals, guitar (1989–1997, 1998, 1999, 2001–2004, 2005, 2006–2009, 2012–present)
- CJ - guitar, vocals (1989–1994, 2001–2004, 2005, 2006–2009, 2012–present)
- Ritch Battersby - drums (1993–1997, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2006–2009, 2012–present)
- Danny McCormack - bass, vocals (1991–1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002–2003, 2005, 2018–present)
- Andrew "Stidi" Stidolph - drums (1989–1990, 1992–1993, 2001–2004)
- Jools Dean - bass (1989–1991)
- Stuart "Snake" Neale - vocals (1989–1990, 1990–1991; died 2006)
- Pat Walters - drums (1990–1991)
- Dunken F. Mullett - vocals (1990)
- Bam - drums (1991–1992)
- Willie Dowling - keyboards, piano (1994)
- Devin Townsend - guitar, vocals (1994)
- Mark Keds - guitar, vocals (1995)
- Jef Streatfield - guitar, vocals (1995–1997, 1998, 1999)
- Toshi - bass (2001)
- Simon Gonk - drums (2001)
- Jon Poole - bass (2003–2004, 2012–2013, 2014–2017)
- Scott Sorry - bass (2006–2009, 2014)
1998 (one week)
1999 (one gig)
|2001 (one gig)||
|2005 (one gig)||
- Earth vs the Wildhearts (1993)
- P.H.U.Q. (1995)
- Fishing for Luckies (1996)
- Endless, Nameless (1997)
- The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed (2003)
- The Wildhearts (2007)
- Stop Us If You've Heard This One Before, Vol 1. (2008)
- ¡Chutzpah! (2009)
- Renaissance Men (2019)
- 21st Century Love Songs (2021)
- "Wildhearts U.S. Invasion 'Must Be Destroyed!' « Beermelodies". Beermelodies.com. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1995). The Guinness Who's Who of Heavy Metal (Second ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 388/90. ISBN 0-85112-656-1.
- "The Wildhearts Interview, 01/10/09 | 18 & Life". 24 July 2011. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
- "Tour News Update". The Wildhearts. 25 November 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- [dead link]
- The Dirty South. "Interview: Ginger Wildheart". Archived from the original on 2 February 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
- "Ginger's Birthday Gig, featuring". The Wildhearts. 28 August 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Scott Sorry Bids Farewell To The Wildhearts". The Wildhearts. 10 December 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- The Wildhearts Official Site (12 April 2013). "News: Wildhearts Tour". Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- "Strike Back – 2014 Tour". The Wildhearts. 7 April 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
- The Wildhearts Official Site (18 November 2013). "News: Wildhearts to tour, support by Ginger's Hey! Hello!". Retrieved 10 December 2013.
- The Wildhearts Official Site (5 May 2015). "News: The Wildhearts PHUQ tour". Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- "SInterview: Ginger Wildheart and Danny McCormack (Part 1)". Moshville Times. 18 December 2016. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "THE WILDHEARTS To Release First Full-Length Studio Album In 10 Years, 'Renaissance Men'". Blabbermouth. 18 January 2019. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
- April 2021, Classic Rock19 (19 April 2021). "The Wildhearts announce new album, 21st Century Love Songs, and UK tour". Classic Rock Magazine. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
- "We regret to announce that due to ongoing issues within the band we will be taking a hiatus". Twitter.com. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
- "Stuart 'Snake' Neale (1963 – 2006)". 7 May 2014.