CJ WILDHEART | April 2019 | Talking about Renaissance Men, UK tour and more | INTERVIEW

CJ WILDHEART | April 2019 | Talking about Renaissance Men, UK tour and more | INTERVIEW

CJ Wildheart from The Wildhearts talks to us about the new album ‘Renaissance Men’, their UK tour and more!

The Wildhearts - 20th May 2018 - Newcastle O2 Academy
The Wildhearts – 20th May 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy (Photo by Kevin Burdon for Blank Slate UK)

Graeme had a chat with CJ while he rehearses for the upcoming tour. If you follow Blank Slate you’ll know that a good proportion of the staff are Wildhearts fanatics, so it’s always fantastic to have a band you look up to taking time to speak to us. And, as is becoming a tradition with The Wildhearts we’ve asked the fans to help out with some questions too! Huge thank you to everyone that sent questions in. We didn’t have time to ask them all as the standard was really high! Hope you enjoy…

Hi CJ what are you up to today and how are things going? 

Just running through stuff for the tour because I hardly ever play the guitar if I’m not working so I do a bit of prep, it’s kinda like getting back on a bicycle I suppose, I’m not one of those annoying guitar players that just play all the time, I have other things to do. Well, any musician that does it professionally you get into it because of the lifestyle and I’d be lying if I said I became a musician just because I wanted to play the guitar, there are other things as well that enticed me into the profession. As I’ve got older there’s other things, I need to look after my parents as they’re elderly and I’ve got a 4-year-old son and there’s other things I like doing, I don’t wake up every morning and wanna rock, I save that for when I’m on tour.

Playing live shows is what it’s all about ultimately, any musician that makes music wants to be able to replicate the recorded sound on stage. So yeah playing live is the goal. But I don’t drink to excess anymore, I don’t do drugs anymore or party like a headless chicken but you know I enjoyed my times as a complete and utter fool (laughs).

The Wildhearts - Newcastle O2 Academy Sept 2015
The Wildhearts – Newcastle O2 Academy Sept 2015

The reaction to the new material is rather positive thus far. How are you finding the reaction?

How could anyone not like that sort of reaction and I haven’t read a bad review yet and there is a bunch of other reviews that haven’t come out yet and I’ve been privileged to see already and they’re stacking up, we haven’t had a bad review and you can’t complain. It’s been a while since our last album Chutzpah came out in 2009 and the fact that it’s been that long you do get nervous, you don’t know how people are gonna receive a new album after a decade.

To be honest, as we’ve haven’t actually made an album in ten years when we approached this album we spent a bit of time in the rehearsal studio and we did demos too and we deliberately stripped down the sound as well and kind of approached it like a band doing their first album again. We didn’t double track any of the vocals or rhythm guitars, it’s got a bit of a stripped down punk rock ethic about it and a band that has been around for as long as us, we could have spent months layering up stuff and big harmonies but we wanted people to hear the band as we are live and that’s two guitars, bass, drums and some nice harmonies and some screamy shouty bits!

Where was the album recorded? 

It was recorded in a place called The Treehouse in Chesterfield out in the countryside. What happened is we were approached by one of the engineers there to do some demos and we loved the sound we got, so we just carried on and did the album there.

Where are you based at the moment?

Well our management are based in Saltaire just outside Bradford and I live in Harrogate, Ginger and Ritchie live in York, so kind of Yorkshire but Danny still lives up in Newcastle.

Does that make practising releasing difficult?

Well, I live 18 miles away from Ginger and Ritchie then Danny is like an hour away by train, so we’re all kind of in the Northeast again. I’ve been here for about 6 years now and Ritchie’s been here for about 15. I dunno how we all ended up so close together. Flat caps and pork pies all round!

Was it a full band effort for songwriting?

Well, I’ve got a song on the album, which I wrote at home. What we do is; Ginger comes up with acoustic ideas, brings them on his dictaphone sends them over to me and Ritch, we have a listen, go to the rehearsal studio and build up from those parts where it’s just him and an acoustic and his voice and we build up a song and dissect it. Then we record the rehearsal and then we go home, learn the rehearsal and we end up demoing the song and from the demo, we have an idea of how an album is going to turn out. But we don’t all sit in a room and write songs together, we bring a strong idea to the table and we all work on it as a band.

Dislocated is easily the heaviest thing you’ve released in a long time. Is that a deliberate statement of intent for the record?

I think with The Wildhearts we can go either way, we can go really poppy or go really heavy and on this album, we found a middle ground. I’ve heard people compare elements of the album to Endless Nameless but I think the band has always had that kind of sound in them, a really dirty sound. Endless Nameless kind of pushed it too far because for me that album has some beautiful songs on it but they’re buried a bit too much under noise. We had elements of that noise on this album but we’ve always had a bit of punk, a bit of rock ’n’ roll, a bit of metal, I think we all make a noisier sounding album but it’s really important that those melodies shine through and they do! You know they’re not buried under dirt or layers and layers of distortion. When we need to be melodic we’re ridiculously melodic and when we need to be heavy we’ll take your face off!  We’re doing what we do best and that is confuse people.

The UK tour is imminent. What can we expect on the setlist for the tour?

Well, that’s what I’m rehearsing at the moment. We’re not gonna go out and do all brand new songs and stuff. Fans might wanna hear the whole new album back to back but you’ve gotta create a vibe, you’ve got to balance a set-out. Obviously, we’re moving away from the set we did last year which was heavy on the Earth Vs stuff. We’ve been around a long time so we’ve got a lot of songs but you know we’re still gonna do Everlone and Suckerpunch we’d be crazy not to do those songs but we’re gonna pad it out with old stuff and some brand new stuff too but we’re not gonna kill the vibe. I’ve seen a lot of bands fall on their swords by going out there and just playing terrible new stuff and fans although they look and listen you want them to go crazy as well as sing along so you know we’ve put together a really good well-paced set. If you don’t like it fuck ya! (laughs).

Recorded with the original Earth Vs lineup. How did the lineup reunion come about?

With Danny back in the band he has such a distinctive bass sound, it’s almost like having two bass players in the band. For what he lacks in legs he makes up in sound. Well, Danny was kind of out in the wilderness for some time, he’s healthy now, well everyone knows the reason why Danny wasn’t in the band, if old habits hadn’t died then he wouldn’t be back in the band. So the timing was right and we’ve been threatening to make an album for a long time but it just didn’t happen. It just felt right, after we did that Brit Rock tour last year and we didn’t know how it was gonna go down and we didn’t know how we were gonna get on but it just seemed to click, we just kind of fallen on our feet again and the result is this new album. It’s great hearing me Danny, Ginger and Ritch together we seem to have a chemistry, the minute we fire up we make that really good tuneful racket.

The Wildhearts, Reef, Terrorvision and Dodgy – Britrock Must Be Destroyed – 20th May 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy
The Wildhearts – Britrock Must Be Destroyed – 20th May 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy (Photo by Gordon Armstrong for Blank Slate UK)

If you had one word to describe how you feel about your musical career what would it be?

Urm! Disappointed? No… Chaotic! Yeah, there’s been far too much chaos really. If I could change things I would but I’m thankful I can still bring home a little bit of bacon from making music.

On that note what would you see yourself doing if you hadn’t chosen a life in music?

When I hit 40 I gave up music for three years, it was the end of the Chutzpah tour and we had really shit management at the time and at the end of the tour I got paid and was like “is this it?!” And I went “fuck this!”. So when I hit 40 I stopped smoking, stopped drinking, stopped doing drugs and I ran a little cleaning crew in London for a couple of years, we ended up cleaning like really big mansions and cleaning after suicides and stuff like that. So for a couple of years I completely forgot about music and did this really strange other job and it really helped me appreciate how lucky I was to be able to make money from playing and then what brought me back was Mable. When I recorded Mable that was me, I moved up to Yorkshire and I thought right I either start another business or I go back into music. So Mable was the outcome of me going back into music which led to me becoming a professional musician again and just thanking my lucky stars that I can still do this. I’ve been a musician all my life, I had a job when I was about 18 but I signed my first record deal when I was 18, so I always consider myself a musician. My Dad, he has dementia and Parkinsons now but he always used to say to me “you’ve chosen this path and you really need to stick to it” and “I know you’ve had ups and downs with your health and money”. Being a musician isn’t plain sailing, I think you’ve got have something seriously wrong with you to want to live that sort of lifestyle but I’ve stuck to my guns and I’m still doing it so I feel lucky.

CJ Wildheart - February 2016 Newcastle Think Tank
CJ Wildheart – February 2016 Newcastle Think Tank

FAN QUESTIONS

I’ve asked some Wildhearts fans to contribute some questions. I’ve never known a band have such a dedicated fanbase. How do you find the fans and their devotion to the music?

A lot of people say that yeah, I mean they are kind of like family as much as some of them scare us (laughs) we appreciate having such a loyal fanbase!

Andrew Holmes asks… Is there a long term plan for The Wildhearts (more albums after Renaissance Men maybe?) Or is it a case of one small step at a time and see how things go?

Well we’re celebrating our 30th anniversary so I mean you don’t get much more long term than that and the fact that we can still talk and get on stage together and you  know as much as people I the band and the people around us “well you’re never gonna have another album again” but we’ve managed to make another album. Me and Ginger formed the band in 1989 so if that isn’t an indication of how long term this band is then nothing is. You never know with this band people come and go but I’d like to see this as the lineup that carries us on to our late 50s and early 60s, who knows!

Gary Davidson asks… have you read Gary Davidson’s Wildhearts book Zealot in Wonderland yet? If so what did you think of it?

I skirted through it, yes. I read it although I’m not a book reader anymore. When he gave it to me I did have a leaf through it. Personally, I never read books about other musicians or bands and stuff, all bands kind of have the same story… started out young, got a record deal, got into the charts, toured a lot, took too many drugs, fucked too many women, hated each other and then reluctantly reformed the band again and they only do it for the money, that’s what all bands are like, us included (laughs).

Adam Hayes asks… When are we going to get a Jellys tour?

I almost reformed the band but really honestly I don’t have the time to do the Jellys. If I had the time to do something else I’d have to do another solo album, it’s really important to me because I have another solo album in me that I just haven’t recorded yet. With my Wildheart commitments and the fact that I have to frail parents and a four-year-old, it’s like I just don’t have that much free time to do the Jellys stuff but if I had the time to do something else it’d defiantly be a solo album.

Tim Croydon asks… Any chance of a solo tour soon?

Definitely. I wanted to put out a solo album this year but it’s not gonna happen it’ll probably be next year and then I will put a band together and tour again.

Neil Vary asks… Any plans to relaunch Devil Spit hot sauce? My food just ain’t the same without it.

Yes! The other thing I had to stop because of the time thing, I just couldn’t commit to it, so I wound down everything on the solo side. But the minute the next solo album is out I’m relaunching the sauce. It all goes in cahoots it all goes as a package so as soon as I get that solo album record then the hot sauce is coming back! I love it, I actually love the sauce and I haven’t got any of the bottles anymore, I do miss it. There is a demand out there but I’ll have to wait a bit longer.

Which leads nicely into Maree Thompson’s question… Madame Jeannette, Wiri Wiri or Carolina Reaper?

Oh Carolina Reaper all the way! It’s my favourite chilli the Carolina Reaper. I’m a sadist when it comes to chilli, I like to be hurt!

Austin William Hale asks… what is your favourite cheese?

Cheese?! Good question I like that! God, there’s so many cheeses. Erm. I am gonna have to go for a cave-aged cheddar. There’s a really really good one that has truffles running through it.  The only place I used to get it in is Selfridges when I was in London. I do like a really good vintage cheddar cheese, I really do! Not Dairylea!

Paul Radford asks… what is your favourite Red Dwarf episode?

Oh brilliant. I think it is either Polymorph II or Quarantine with Mr Flibble! And I like Dwayne Dibbly the Duke of Dork!

Peter Harding asks what do you think of the current state of the UK rock scene and are there any bands who he would recommend listening to?

To be honest I don’t really follow the UK rock scene. I have tinnitus so I try not to listen to loud music when I don’t have to, so I don’t go to gigs. When I’m I the car I listen to a lot of classical music as it kind of calms me, if I listen to rock I have road rage. So I don’t really follow the UK rock scene. But the two bands that are out touring with us. The Towers of London are good, it’s great that they’re back together and Massive Wagons are really good and I love the singer Baz, he’s such a great frontman. That’s when I normally get to see bands when they’re opening up for us but I don’t really follow the rock press. I tend to hear bands from Ginger’s recommendations as he really has his finger on the pulse of all new music, so does Ritch as well but he’s like me, he likes a lot more dancier stuff and dub and I like melodic hip-hop, I mean the whole band we have quite eclectic tastes when it comes to music.

Catch The Wildhearts in May around the country, including a stop at Newcastle Riverside on the 12th May 2019!

CJ Wildheart - February 2016 Newcastle Think Tank
CJ Wildheart – February 2016 Newcastle Think Tank
TEN EIGHTY TREES | Casual Habits | VIDEO INTERVIEW and ONLINE PREMIER

TEN EIGHTY TREES | Casual Habits | VIDEO INTERVIEW and ONLINE PREMIER

Ten Eighty Trees – Interview

Ten Eighty Trees talk to us about their new release and more! As they prepare for their new single Casual Habits and first headline show at Think Tank on the 20th April 2019

Interview video – tap to play if viewing on a mobile device

Here’s an exclusive play of the brand new single Casual Habits

THE PINEAPPLE THIEF | Bruce Soord talks about 2019 UK tour and more | INTERVIEW

THE PINEAPPLE THIEF | Bruce Soord talks about 2019 UK tour and more | INTERVIEW

The Pineapple Thief – Interview

Graeme J. Baty had a quick chat with Bruce Soord about the 2019 UK tour ahead of their appearance at Newcastle O2 Academy on the 20th March 2019.

UK and European tour is imminent. What kind of setlist can we what can we expect? Mostly new material or will you explore the back catalogue too?

It’s mainly songs from our last two albums since Gavin Harrison joined on drums. But we’ve thrown in 4 or 5 old tunes too, which have been great fun to spruce up.

Latest album Dissolution came out last year. How’ve you found the reaction to it?

We are all really pleased! Although I’ve learned not to trawl the web to check out comments as it’s can really mess with your head and put a downer on your day.

It feels like a very densely layered album, I keep hearing new things with each play, which is amazing! Are the songs crafted in the studio or is it more organic?

Thanks. Come to think of it, the way we craft our songs is pretty organic even though there is a massive contradiction in how we go about it. We are all working remotely in our own studios, but we connect daily using the internet so it’s not as sterile as it sounds. Gavin and I work together closely in the early stages of songwriting. It’s basically like having a jam together in a sweaty rehearsal studio but without the pressure of coming up with something killer instantly. I am sure many bands will relate to the ‘30 minute jam in E’ syndrome when trying to write together on the spot.

2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the band, is this correct? Will there be any special event to celebrate? What has been the highlight of the 20 years?

It’s a bit weird because this all started as a very small solo project, and remained so for many years before things started to get going (including getting a band together to play live). I never focussed on ‘making it’, I was just obsessed with making music. Signing to Kscope in 2007 was a massive moment for us, as was Gavin Harrison coming on board in 2015 when we recorded ‘Your Wilderness’.  Gav has a lot of fans and a lot of them seemed to relate to what we were doing together.

Although the band has been going for some time the time feels perfect for The Pineapple Thief. Do you feel that you’re gaining a wider audience?

Absolutely – we can see it when we tour. More and more people are turning up. I was chatting with the guys about it the other day. How many bands do you know that finally break through after 12 albums and 20 years? We certainly played the long game.

There’s a very depressing political world in the UK at the moment and the material sounds stronger than ever. Dissolution seems to have evolved in this in this environment. To me, it feels like there’s a lot of escapism in the music and the lyrics. Is this something that influenced the record writing process?

Absolutely. Everything that has happened in the world over the past 2 years and how it has played out over social media and online blogs and news sites has been really disheartening. I am still hopeful we will look back on this era and realise it was a disaster but thank god we all saw sense eventually. It can’t carry on like this surely?

Gavin Harrison seems to have injected some creative magic has his input influenced the material and your own songwriting?

It’s great having someone like Gavin as a writing partner. He comes up with creative ideas I would never have considered, which is a songwriter’s dream (when you are all on the same page).  And having one of the best drummers in the world in your band is certainly a positive!

Any shows on the tour that you are really looking forward to?

Bristol is the last show of this run and it’s as close to a local show I am going to get for me.  There will be quite a few familiar faces in the audience. Come to think of it, that will freak me out. So maybe it’s the one dreading the most!

What got you started as a band? And what was the pivotal thing that got you into music?

When I was 13 or 14, I went to my mates house. His dad had a massive record collection. Mainly 70s rock and prog rock. We spent the day playing records on his fancy turntable. That got me absolutely hooked on music.

How would you describe your music to people? And how has the sound evolved over the years?

I just say ‘rock’. Over the years it’s become more defined and musically we’ve all got a lot better at our art. Apart from Gav maybe as he’s been at the top for a long time…

Name the first record you ever bought?

‘Eye of the Tiger’ 7 inch.

Name the album that you’ve played to death

‘Sea Change’ by Beck

Name the first gig you attended

I used to love going to local gigs in my hometown of Yeovil. It had a very vibrant scene in the 90s. I think my first ‘proper’ gig was INXS!

If you could be in any band, past or present who would it be?

Supertramp I reckon… Or maybe Duran Duran when they were superstars.

FUN LOVIN’ CRIMINALS | Fast talks about 2019 plans | INTERVIEW

FUN LOVIN’ CRIMINALS | Fast talks about 2019 plans | INTERVIEW

Fun Loving Criminals – Interview

Fast from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals talks to us about their upcoming UK tour and new album!

You are back with a new release ‘Another Mimosa’. Can you tell us about it, the concept behind the release and what kind of sound/genres to expect?

We were in Gibson studios in London working on new material. The music was coming together nicely but we were lacking lyrical inspiration so we talked about doing another album similar to Mimosa. We each chose 3 songs we’d like to cover that summed up the sounds that influenced us with FLC.

Where and when was Another Mimosa recorded?

We recorded the album at various studios in the UK over the past 3 years when we could all get together. We mixed the album in May in NYC with our longtime engineer/4th member of FLC, Tim Latham ISP.

What’s your favourite track from Another Mimosa?

My personal favourites are Daylight and Warning.

Where are you based these days? Do you find the location you record to have an effect on the material?

We all live in the UK. I think where we live definitely affects how we are inspired when writing lyrics for our songs. Musically we are influenced by all the music we have been into since we were young, mostly older music from the 60’s through the 80’s.

Fun Lovin' Criminals - Newcastle Academy 2016 - Fast
Fun Lovin’ Criminals – NEwcastle Academy 2016

You tour the UK pretty regularly. Would you say you have a bigger following here or back in the States?

The UK has always been so supportive of FLC and for that, we are grateful and blessed. I regret that we don’t tour more in North America where we still have many fans who want to see us live. Unfortunately, it costs so much for us to tour it is not feasible to do so outside of Europe.

How would you describe the FLC live experience? Feel good party band springs to mind for me, I always find I walk away from the shows with a huge smile, grinning ear to ear!

We feel the same. We are very lucky to be able to tour different places and perform our music. We always try to make the most of it and have a party with the peoples. Laughter is the best medicine. We rarely take ourselves too seriously.

Every time the FLC rolls into town I’m reminded of just how good the material is and how long it’s been a part of my life, it feels like 5 minutes ago when the debut Come Find Yourself came out. What’s your highlight of the long career and what’s the secret to longevity?

Thank you. CFY came out at the right time, saving us in the process. If we are inspired to write original music we will do so. We are older now and have different priorities in our lives.  I think the highlight is that we still enjoy performing live. Part of the secret is not caving in to the excesses that many bands fall into, like drug abuse!

It’s been nearly 9 years since your last proper originals album Classic Fantastic, any plans to record a follow-up?

Again, it all depends on finding lyrical inspiration. Musically, I have written so many tunes that could be great FLC songs, enough for a triple album!

Catch the FLC and their party at the Northumbria Institute on the 1st Feb 2019. Another Mimosa is today (18th Jan 2019!) check it out here

65DAYSOFSTATIC – Decomposition Theory tour and Gateshead Sage gig  | INTERVIEW

65DAYSOFSTATIC – Decomposition Theory tour and Gateshead Sage gig | INTERVIEW

65daysofstatic talk to us about the Decomposition Theory tour and upcoming Gateshead Sage gig

We spoke to Paul Wolinski about their fascinating new show and the process behind the music.

65daysofstatic - Boiler Shop Newcastle - December 2017
65daysofstatic – Boiler Shop Newcastle – December 2017

65days shows are already well known for being intense audio/visual immersive experiences and you have set the bar pretty high judging by your last Newcastle show at the Boiler Shop in December 2017! Can you give an idea of what to expect at the Decomposition Theory shows?

Thanks. That show was a nice way to finish off the touring we had been doing for our last record, which was the soundtrack to No Man’s Sky. Although that project as a whole was a leap forward to us in terms of music-making (because we wrote an infinitely-long, interactive soundtrack for the game), in terms of the live show, all that algorithmic/generative material got turned into fixed forms to better fit with the regular 65daysofstatic live show. Because usually, our shows are like how other bands do it – a few new songs alongside a lot of material from our back catalogue.

Decomposition Theory is a sharp break from that approach. It’s a different live set-up, and it’s us putting these new techniques front and centre, meaning there’s no back catalogue, it’s all about the new stuff. This isn’t a permanent state of affairs, but something we felt we wanted to try. The shows also have a big visual element too, we’ve made visuals that are very directly tied to the generation of the music, with the intention of making the process a little more visible to the audience.

Can you give us an insight into the songwriting/algorithm creating process? Is it totally electronic or do you have human input too?

It’s entirely human. All algorithms are inherently biased by the human/s who designed them. Ours are only different in that we leaned into that bias rather than worked under the illusion that algorithms could ever be natural. I’d say lines of code have about equal weighting to guitar pedals within the band at this point. Plus we are not dogmatic about this. We have no interest in becoming ‘the algorithmic band’. It’s not a gimmick, it’s just another tool we wanted to get good at. When the algorithms produce rubbish, we step in and try to make it better.

Will the performances be unique musical pieces?

This was the intention although as we’ve now done a few more shows, we notice that a lot of the music is solidifying. It’s becoming more like each show has unique iterations or remixes of the same songs rather than producing entirely new material. This is partly by design and partly because we don’t want to accidentally turn into a more electronic Spinal Tap circa their free-jazz improv period, with us just smashing out insane generative beats in 17/8 time that nobody can dance to. We always try to remember that unique does not automatically equal good. Especially when it comes to music.

What inspired the Decomposition Theory project?

It was a long time coming and involved too many factors to go deep into here. Decomp is not really an endpoint for us and although it’s a loose name for this collection of shows, really it’s more of a methodology that we’re trying to apply to everything we do as a band. I guess we want to antagonise the form of what a band can be, to challenge those expectations a little. It’s not about redefining 65, it’s more about escaping definition altogether. To make ‘being a band’ a process rather than a fixed state. This shows, the algorithmic approach, that’s really just one manifestation of what we’re thinking about these days as a group.

Should we expect any of your recorded material on the tour?

No. In the (very) unlikely event that any old material surfaces, it’ll be in some new weird, liquid form.

What’s next for 65days, any recording plans?

Yeah, probably but do you think that anybody can really reliably say what they’re going to be doing next at this point in civilisation??

65daysofstatic - Boiler Shop Newcastle - December 2017
65daysofstatic – Boiler Shop Newcastle – December 2017

65daysofstatic bring their Decomposition Theory show to Gateshead Sage on 24th November 2018

LED ZEPPELIN | The Song Remains The Same re-issue Special Feature | INTERVIEW

LED ZEPPELIN | The Song Remains The Same re-issue Special Feature | INTERVIEW

Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains The Same Re-issue Special Feature

We have something very special for you today. A full feature length feature on the new reissue of the Led Zeppelin classic live album. The Song Remains The Same is out today 7th Sept 2018. Here’s an hour-long feature feating songs and interviews with the band

Special thank you to Oli at AC Promotions for permission to use this.