The Wildhearts

The Wildhearts

Infobox musical artist
Name =

Img_capt = The 'Smileybones' mascot
Img_size = 250
Landscape =
Background = group_or_band
Alias =
Origin = Newcastle upon Tyne
Genre = Hard rock
Punk rock
Years_active = 1989 - present
Label = East West
Round Records
Mushroom Records
Snapper Records
Gut Records
Associated_acts =
URL = [ Official site]
[ Myspace page]
[ Second Myspace]
Current_members = Ginger
Scott Sorry
Ritch Battersby
Past_members = Danny McCormack
Jef Streatfield
Jon Poole
Notable_instruments =

The Wildhearts are a rock group from Newcastle upon Tyne, England. The band's sound is a mixture of hard rock and melodic pop music. When the band released their first EP Mondo Akimbo a-Go-Go they were touted in the music press as combining influences as diverse as The Beatles and 1980s-era Metallica although this was refuted by the band who saw their influences as being far broader, as shown in the song "29 X The Pain" which lists many of singer Ginger's influences. The Wildhearts were hugely influential in the British rock music scene in the mid-1990s, although they didn't achieve major commercial success, owing in part to the indifference of radio stations and the mainstream music press, and also many internal problems often relating to recreational drugs and depression. In the band's turbulent and unpredictable history, band-members have regularly been replaced, excepting founding member Ginger (real name David Walls), the singer, guitarist and predominant songwriter. The band has achieved several top 20 entries in the British singles charts and has remained at the forefront of the British Rock Scene since 1993. They are definitely the greatest band in the UK, indeed the world, and have never so much as written a bad song.

The band split up several times and replaced band-members regularly, their career blighted by drug and alcohol related problems throughout. Much of the band's early career was affected by bitter feuds with their record company, East West.


Early years

The Wildhearts formed in late 1989, after Ginger was sacked from the Quireboys.

The following myth is often told about Ginger's decision to form the band. 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 called The Wild Hearts (two words), Snake (ex-Tobruk) was the frontman of the band followed by a brief stint from Duncan F. Mullet (ex-Mourneblade). Snake returned briefly to the band for a few months following the departure of Duncan. Nine demos were recorded in 1989 and 1990 with Snake singing on 4 and Duncan on 5. These demos remain unreleased and find the band sounding more like Guns N Roses than the sound that would later evolve. Some of the demos were produced by famed producer Ric Browde and intended for an EP release that never materialized. These demos can be found from time to time. In March 1991, Ginger reluctantly took over on lead vocals despite his reservations. He has never thought himself a good singer.

The first album

In 1993, to follow up The Wildhearts' first two EPs, "Mondo Akimbo a-Go-Go" & "Don’t Be Happy…Just Worry", the band recorded demos for its 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. 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, guitarist and backing vocalist, C.J's face. The band appeared on "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 'almost' hit.

The follow-up

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 entitled "Fishing For Luckies" in early 1995. An instant classic, "Fishing For Luckies" included "Geordie In Wonderland" (offered to Kevin Keegan and Newcastle United F.C. as their anthem, but graciously turned down, and played on "Top of the Pops" with Wolfsbane's Jeff Hateley, painted in Toon Army colours, on Mandolin), "If Life Is Like A Lovebank (I Want An Overdraft)" and the legendary tracks "Schitzophonic" and "Sky Babies", an 11.24 minute epic that fans screamed for at every subsequent gig, but was rarely played, reputedly because of Danny McCormack's inability to remember his bass parts throughout the whole song (the band did eventually play the song on every night of a post-reformation tour with John Poole on bass).

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 on guitars, but lasted just one recording session for three 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 performed a few gigs like this. This arrangement was not perfect, however, and the band felt that 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 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.

Round Records era

In early 1996 the Wildhearts were in an upbeat mood, claiming to have recorded two 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 eight new tracks bringing 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 tracks from this album were never officially acknowledged as part of the band's corpus of material, although one song, "Tom Take the Money", has since been performed a number of times by Ginger at his solo acoustic appearances.

Endless Nameless era

In 1997 the band signed to Mushroom Records, and set about making another album. This album, recorded during a traumatic time for the band, abandoned the band's former pop rock leanings in favour of a more distorted and less commercial, "everything louder than everything else" 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 bassist Danny McCormack, 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 canceled.

Multi-Formatting and Singles

It was during the 1997 era that The Wildhearts began to release multiple formats of singles. The band had, up until this point, always been strenuously against multi-formatting seeing the practice as a rip-off to fans. The Wildhearts pre-1997 would release one version of a single which would contain 3 b-sides. The b-sides themselves were never covers or album off-cuts but always brand new songs recorded specifically for that single. As such the quality of Wildhearts b-sides has always been high, and indeed fan favourite "29 X The Pain" was a b-side from the "Suckerpunch" single.

However, during the "Endless, Nameless" run the band released the two singles from the album as multi-format consisting of two CD singles with two b-sides on each and a 7" single with one b-side, with all the songs from the "Anthem" being covers of other songs. Many of the band's fan base were angry at this change and even went so far as handing out flyers against the practice outside Wildhearts shows. Ginger reacted with frustration, saying that they were simply trying to bring more music to the fans. A change in chart eligibility for singles was probably also responsible , as a 4 track single would no longer be allowed to qualify , but multiple formats were allowed with a maximum of 3 tracks or unlimited remixes so long as the running time was under 20 minutes . The label may have insisted on these changes as the only way to compete in the singles market of that time .

The band have continued to multi-format since 1997, in particular with the single for 'Top Of The World' consisting of 3 CD singles, two with two b-sides and one with one b-side and the video for the song. However, the band have also continued to specifically re-enter the studio to record brand new songs for b-sides. This means that since the Wildhearts reformation(s) they have amassed enough b-sides for Gut Records to release a b-side only album, Coupled With.

Hiatus 1997-2001

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 battle against 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 three 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 30 in the UK, and in early 2003 work began on a full-length album. However, 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 with Gearhead Records, 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 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 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 17 September 2005. The 1994-1995 line-up of Ginger, Danny McCormack, CJ and Ritch Battersby played at this gig.

In December 2005 / January 2006, Ginger released the "Valor Del Corazon" double album on Cargo / Round records to the great acclaim of critics and fans alike. The first single from Valor Del Corazon, "Yeah Yeah Yeah", was released in November. The split single featured Round Records artist Howling Willie Cunt - who performed a country and western version of the Wildhearts song "Caffeine Bomb". Ginger's next solo effort "Yoni", was released in January 2007 on Round Records.

Danny McCormack reformed his band The Yo-Yos, although they split up mid-way through a tour shortly after releasing a new E.P on Undergroove. He recently finished recording 4 songs for a new solo E.P. C.J also just finished recording the album for his solo project, C.J & The Satellites. It is due for release on Cargo Records summer 2007.

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 (ex Amen).

In mid-January 2007, Ginger revealed on BBC 6music during an interview that original Wildhearts lead singer Snake (ex-Tobruk, real name Stuart) had drunk himself to death. He passed away on 20th December of congestive heart failureVerify source|date=July 2007. His funeral was attended by hundreds of mourners, there were so many that they could have filled the place 5 times overVerify source|date=July 2007.

The New Era 2007

In January 2007, The Wildhearts spent a week in Tutbury Castle recording vocals and finishing their new self titled album.

The band were to play a handful of shows across America, but due to delays in their Visa application they were forced to cancel the US tour, the band then announced that they would play the shows in the US at a later dates, which ended up as sold out dates in New York, one of which was onboard a ferry. The Band made up to their American fans for the postponement of the gigs by playing a very long set each night, of approximately 2 hours, managing to fit in a lot of their well known songs. This left more than a few people in the UK hoping that this was a sign that the often all too short a set list of Wildhearts gigs was a thing of the past (after all, with such a large back catalogue of music to call upon, a paltry 1 hour set can hardly begin to do it justice).

On April 9th the band released new single, The Sweetest Song, as a download only release.

On April 23rd the band released their long awaited self-titled album. Critical acclaim followed, with an array of glowing reviews including 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).

An extensive UK tour followed from 23rd April to the 17th May, including a sold out show at London's KOKO's.

At the last show of the tour (Thursday 17th May 2007 - The Charlotte - Leicester) Ginger said on stage that it would be the last time The Wildhearts would play intimate venues. The Charlotte, while having a lot of history as part of the alternative circuit, is a very small venue. Ginger continued to say goodbye to such places, indicating that he intends for the next bunch of Wildhearts shows to be on a much bigger scale.Verify source|date=October 2007

The New Flesh was released as single on October 1, 2007 and became the first proper release from the band's eponymous album. The video for the song was shot in black and white and featured a number of children, including Ginger's own son Jake, dancing around to the track. The single didn't chart very well.

The band released Destroy All Monsters as their next single. The video had a heavy theme of violence and horror. It contained certain amounts of S & M.

On December 17th the band started a large venue tour of the UK, the first gig being that of Gingers birthday. The band played several Endless Nameless era songs, to great crowd reaction. The venues included a sold out show at London Astoria (which was given a 2 page 5K review in Kerrang! in January).

In early 2008 The Wildhearts announced that they would be releasing "Stop Us If You've Heard This One Before, Vol. 1" on May 19th - an all-covers album. Artists to be covered include The Icicle Works, Fugazi, Helmet, Lee Harvey Oswald Band, The Distillers, Descendents and The Georgia Satellites. Said frontman Ginger: "We've tried to stay as true to their songs as possible, obviously some of these songs are over 15 years old and have to be sped up a bit, or sound a bit different because obviously I'm not a girl in the case of The Distillers for instance! But we haven't tried to do a reggae version of a punk song or anything, we're keeping it fairly faithful to the music that inspired us."

Also, in a Teletext interview in February 2008, Ginger has stated that the album will first be available as a twelve-song download and then be made available as a physical fifteen-track album later, in the summer of 2008.

The band previewed tracks from this release on their myspace page

The Wildhearts announced their busiest festival season in over a decade including a long awaited return to Donington Park. The band were confirmed for the Download Festival by Live Nation on April 29th, which would be only the second time the band have played Donington (the first a second stage headline performance in 1994). Other festivals confirmed include a Headline performance at the Bulldog Bash on August 9th, Summerbreeze festival in Germany (August 14th), Metal Rock Fest in Norway (August 15th) & Hard Rock Hell II on December 6th.

Ginger also announced during a solo tour in February that The Wildhearts would be doing a special one off show in London to celebrate the 15 year anniversary of the classic 'Earth vs' album. The event took place at London's Shepherd Bush Empire on 20th September 2008 and was a resounding success, with the venue completely sold-out and the entire show filmed for a (possible) DVD release sometime in the future.

The band are schedule to commence a UK tour in December, following a small number of European dates in October and a gig in Japan in November.


Most recent members:
*Ginger - vocals and guitar (1990-present)
*Scott Sorry - Bass and vocals (2006-present).
*C.J - guitar and vocals (1990-1994, 2001-present)
*Ritch Battersby - drums (1994-1998, 2005-present)

Former members:
*Danny McCormack - Bass and vocals (1991-2003, 2005-2006).
*Stidi (Andrew Stidolph) - drums (1992-1993, 2001-2004)
*"Random" Jon Poole - Bass (2003-2004)
*Toshi - Bass (2001)
*Simon Gonk - Drums (One gig 2001)
*Jef Streatfield - guitar and vocals (1995-1998)
*Mark Keds - guitar and vocals (1995)
*Devin Townsend - guitar and vocals (1994).
*Willie Dowling - keyboards and piano (1994)
*Snake - vocals (1990)
*Duncan F. Mullet - vocals (1990)
*Bam - drums (1991)
*Jools - Bass (1990-1991)
*Pat Walters - Drums (1990-1991)

Formations (since 1990)


Related bands/side projects

The band members have all been in other bands and projects,
*Prior to the Wildhearts, Ginger was in the backing band for UK punk singer Beki Bondage, UK band "The Quireboys" and the US band "The Throbs".
*During his time in the Wildhearts, Ginger formed the bands "Ginger And The Sonic Circus", "Silver Ginger 5" with Conny Bloom, "Clam Abuse" with Alex Kane from AntiProduct, and "Supershit 666" with Dregen (Backyard Babies) and Nicke Royale (Hellacopters), as well as releasing material and touring as a solo artist, often accompanied by Hot Steve, the Wildhearts' guitar tech, and "Random" Jon Poole (often billed a "Ginger and Friends").
*Danny McCormack formed The Yo-Yos and The Chasers. Confusingly an early (1998) form of the Yo-Yos was also known as The Chasers. The Yo-Yos were briefly resurrected in 2005. Prior to his Wildhearts days, he was a member of thrash-punk outfit Energetic Krusher.
*Bam was the drummer for the Dogs D'Amour before joining the Wildhearts, and after leaving the Wildhearts (reputedly after having come to blows with Ginger) he returned to the Dogs.
*CJ and Stidi were both members of The Jellys
*CJ and Willie Dowling were members of Honeycrack in the late '90s. CJ was a member of the Tattooed Love Boys before joining the Wildhearts, he recently recorded the debut album for his solo project, C.J & The Satellites.
*Willie Dowling was the founder member of The Grip, and is now recording and touring with Jackdaw4, previously known as The Celebrity Squares. He also founded the Sugar Plum Fairies, and released one album under this moniker. As well as these bands, he works frequently with Midge Ure from Ultravox and has written numerous TV themes and incidental music used in commercials and television programmes.
*Jef Streatfield is a member of [ Plan A] and [ Sack Trick]
*Ritch Battersby was in Grand Theft Audio (along side Danny McCormack's brother Chris of 3 Colours Red), and briefly joined Ginger in Silver Ginger 5, plus he joined Ginger, Random Jon Poole and Willie Dowling for Ginger's 40th Birthday Party (17/12/04). He also was in New Disease who released an E.P through Changes One in 2001.
*"Random" Jon Poole was a former member of Cardiacs and is now in a band called God Damn Whores, live line ups of the God Damn Whores have included members of Wildhearts, including Ginger on bass. In 2007 Random recorded a solo album (release date pending) of his own material, co-featuring vocalist Givvi Flynn (who also appears on Ginger's live acoustic album "Potatoes & You" performing "Unlucky In Love" from the Clam Abuse album "Stop Thinking" [co-written by Ginger & Alex Kane] ).
*Devin Townsend is a successful recording artist, being in two main projects currently, The Devin Townsend Band, and Strapping Young Lad.
*Pat and Jools became members of Guns n' Wankers, and pre-Wildhearts they were both members of London glam-punk act Soho Roses.
* Stidi was a member of Whatever and now plays with Finnish punk rockers 'No Direction'.
*Ginger has performed as stand in lead singer/guitarist for The Scorchers in place of Jason Ringenberg in mid-2007. No studio material is expected.

Cover versions

*Pump It Up by Elvis Costello. This song was performed live many times in the "Earth Vs" era. Two recorded versions exist: The first recording is from BBC Radio 1 Session, and can be found on the Anarchic Airwaves compilation. This recording is a "pumped up" version of Costello original. The second recorded version of the song was first released to radio stations as an unlabeled CD, and DJs were left to guess the identity of the band. Since the style of the recording was heavily distorted, very much like the album "Endless Nameless" recorded at the same sessions, few guessed the true identity of the band, with one DJ believing it to be Ministry The song was available on a free CD with Melody Maker magazine in 1997, and on the Japanese version of "Endless Nameless".
*The recorded version of the song My Baby Is A Headfuck on the Earth Vs album features an interlude with the guitar riff from the Beatles' "Day Tripper". When performing this song live the band often replace this interlude with a short excerpt from another cover versions, which have included...
*The theme from the 1980s sit-com "Cheers" - "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" features as a b-side to the single "Top Of The World". This was played repeatedly by Chris Moyles on the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show.
*"White Lies" by Jason and The Scorchers - played live at most gigs in 1997 and a studio version appeared as a b-side to the "Anthem" single.
*The Wildhearts played "1000 Miles From Me" by Danny McCormack's other band The Yo-Yos on their tour of Japan in 1998. Danny sang lead vocals.
*"Time to Let You Go" originally by Enuff Z'Nuff appeared as a b-side to the "Anthem" single.
*"Lost Highway" originally by Hank Williams appeared as a b-side to the "Anthem" single.
*"So Good To Be Back Home" originally by The Tourists appeared as a b-side to the "Anthem" single.
*"He's A Whore" originally by Cheap Trick appeared as a b-side to the "Urge" single - the Wildhearts version sounding more similar to that recorded by Big Black than to the original.
*"Heroin" on "Endless Nameless" is a cover of the Dogs D'Amour track "Heroine" with slightly altered lyrics.
*In 2001 the band recorded a version of Jimmie Rodgers' "Last Blue Yodel" with Jason Ringenberg. This has not yet been released.

External links

* [ The Wildhearts Official Site]
* [ The Wildhearts Mailing List]
* [ Official Myspace Page]
* [ FiveMilesHigh Rock n' Roll Resource Wildhearts Section]
* [ FiveMilesHigh Rock n' Roll Resource Ginger Section]
* [ Longhair's Wildhearts Pages]
* []
* [ Wildhearts Lyrics]
* [ Plan A Official Site]
* [ Ginger and the Sonic Circus Official Site]
* [ USA fan page for Ginger]
* [ Interview with CJ Wildheart]

Notes and references

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