The Wildhearts formed in the early 1990s, after Ginger was sacked from
the Throbs and the Quireboys. The bottom had fallen out of his world, and all that he had left, all that he cared about was
the bottle of Jack Daniel's he was swigging from. Walking down some steps to the London Underground, he fell. As he lay on
the floor, he decided that if the bottle was smashed, he would kill himself. If the bottle remained intact, he would start
a band. The bottle was intact.
Ginger wanted to form a band where he could apply himself as a songwriter,
rather than merely a guitarist as in his previous bands, inspired by the likes of Elvis Costello & The Attractions, and
throughout the band's early career he wrote nearly all the songs himself. Initially a singer (Snake) was recruited but this
proved unsuccessful and Ginger himself reluctantly took on the lead vocals, despite his reservations. He has never thought
himself a good singer.
The band have had a fairly chaotic history, splitting up several times,
adding and subtracting various members, and their career has been blighted by drug and alcohol related problems throughout.
Much of the band's career was affected by sometimes bitter feuds with their record company, East West.
In 1993, to follow up their debut mini album Don't Be Happy... Just Worry... the
band recorded demos for their first full length album. These were deemed so good that they were released as Earth Vs The Wildhearts
without re-recording. Singles 'Greetings From Shitsville' and 'TV Tan' were underground hits in 1993. The single 'Caffeine
Bomb' was a UK chart hit in 1994, helped by a memorable video in which Ginger appeared to vomit into CJ's face. The band appeared
in Top of the Pops wearing green welding goggles. The debut album was reissued in late 1994 with 'Caffeine Bomb' tacked on
and 'Suckerpunch' was another hit. Non-album double A-side 'If Love is Like a Love Bank... I Want an Overdraft' and 'Geordie
in Wonderland' appeared at the start of 1995 helped by another banned video.
The Wildhearts had grand plans for a double album, but East West vetoed
this plan during the recording sessions, forcing the band to release a collection of 6 of the more eclectic tracks on a fan
club only release Fishing For Luckies in early 1995. The second album proper was to be known as 'P.H.U.Q.'. After the departure
of CJ, midway through the recording sessions, the album was completed without a second guitarist. P.H.U.Q. was released in
May 1995 and reached number 6 in the British charts, making it the band's most successful record. Shortly after the album's
release, Mark Keds of Senseless Things was drafted in, but lasted just one recording session for 4 songs, one of which was
called 'Friend For 5 Minutes' which turned out to be ironic as 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 for a few months, and even did a few
gigs like this. This arrangement was not perfect however and the band felt a second guitarist was required - after requesting
demos and holding auditions the job went to the previously unknown Jef Streatfield.
By late 1995 the band were finally fed up with their record label and set out
to tour the Japan and the UK, determined that they
would split up the band unless East West would release them from their contract. The tours were a resounding success and eventually
the band managed to escape their record contract.
In early 1996 the Wildhearts were in an upbeat mood, claiming to have
recorded 2 new studio albums, which would be released via East West on the band's own record label Round Records. Only one
of these records saw the light of day, a revamped version of the previously fan club only 'Fishing For Luckies' with 8 new
tracks making it up to full album length. The other album was never quite finished, although leaked copies were distributed
as the Shitty Fuckin' Stupid Tracks bootleg, and finally received an official release in 1998 as part of the Landmines and
Pantomimes rarities compilation, although the band urged fans to boycott this record which they had not approved.
The only Wildhearts song not to feature Ginger was an early version of
The Song Formally Known As, featuring Ritch on lead vocals, which was recorded in Ginger's absence. The song was later re-recorded
by the full band and released as a b-side to the Anthem single.
In 1997 the band signed to Mushroom Records, and set about making another
album. This album, recorded during a traumatic time for the band was a significant departure from their previous pop rock
sound, with a very distorted sound. Fans were initially confused by the first single Anthem, released in July 1997, and by
the time the album itself, Endless Nameless was released the opinion of fans was totally divided, some calling it a masterpiece,
others an aberration. All was not harmonious inside the band either and drug problems, particularly affecting Danny, were
putting a strain on the band in late 1997. Things came to a head in November of that year when Ginger decided to split the
band, shortly before the release of Endless nameless, and before a scheduled British tour, which was then cancelled.
For several years the band members concentrated on their respective side projects,
although the lineup of Ginger, Danny, Ritch and Jef reformed a few times for one off gigs and tours of Japan, where the band had always had a strong following.
In early 2001 Ginger shocked and delighted fans of the band by announcing that
he was reforming the 'Earth Vs The Wildhearts'- era lineup of the band for a tour later that year. This lineup of the band
ran into difficulties at first due to Danny's resumed heroin addiction, and on several dates of the comeback tour Toshi from
support band AntiProduct stood in as bassist. By 2002 Danny 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 late 2002 across 3 formats
of the Vanilla Radio single in the UK, and as the mini-album Riff After Riff After Motherfucking Riff in Japan. The Vanilla Radio single reached the Top 20 in the UK, and in early 2003 work
began on a full-length album. During recording Danny checked himself into a rehabilitation centre to deal with an alcohol
problem, leaving Ginger himself to play the bass parts on the album. Danny'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' had a very commercial sound, full
of short simple pop songs with little of the heavier rock style which often featured on previous albums. It seemed that things
were finally looking up for the band when they managed to get a US record deal, and arranged to tour the US and release 'Riff
After Riff', a compilation of songs from the UK post-reformation singles. This was The Wildhearts first US release since Earth Vs in 1994.
In early 2005, Ginger dissolved The Wildhearts and briefly joined The Brides of
Destruction (featuring Tracii Guns on guitar) before setting out on his own as a full-time solo artist. In typically unpredictable
Wildhearts style Ginger then reformed The Wildhearts again for a one-off gig at Scarborough Castle on 17th September
2005. The 1994-1995 line up of Ginger, Danny McCormack,
CJ and Ritch Battersby played at this gig. The future, as ever, is never certain, but the separate members currently appear
to be concentrating on other projects. A new Ginger solo release is expected later in the year, and Danny McCormack is back
with his band The Yo-Yos.
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 CJ, Rich Battersby and a new bassist, Scott Sorry.
In mid-January 2007, Ginger revealed on BBC 6music during an interview that original Wildhearts lead singer Snake had
drunk himself to death. He passed away on 20th December of congestive heart failure. His funeral was attended by hundreds
of mourners, there were so many that they could have filled the place 5 times over.
A new album, titled The Wildhearts, is due for release on 23 April 2007
and there will be a tour to support the album.