THE WILDHEARTS | MASSIVE WAGONS | TOWERS OF LONDON | 12.05.2019 | Newcastle Riverside | REVIEW and PHOTOS

The Wildhearts | Massive Wagons | Towers Of London – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

The Wildhearts - 12th May 2019 - Newcastle Riverside
The Wildhearts – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

Review and photos by Graeme J. Baty from Blank Slate Creative

Well what can I say about this gig? The final night of The Wildhearts triumphant tour for the launch of their 2019 album Renaissance Men and some might say (not us at Blank Slate we’ve always been massive fans!) unexpected return to the big time.

Towers of London – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

There was tremendous showmanship on display from the support acts. In fact, both Towers of London and Massive Wagons proved an absolute hoot to photo. So rather than just share a couple of pics from their sets I will add full photo galleries of each band’s set in separate features 🙂

Towers of London have also reformed and are enjoying themselves immensely by the looks of things. They ended their set with members of Massive Wagons joining them onstage for underpants dances and backing vocals on Fuck It Up. MW followed with their own set of high kicking rock anthems to a packed Riverside crowd, fans clearly here in numbers nice and early to see all of the bands.

Massive Wagons – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

It’s my first time seeing The Wildhearts live in about 3 and a half years, although I’ve interviewed and covered solo shows during this gap, this is the first time I’ve been able to get to one of their gigs due to gig clashes, ill health or general bad luck!

The Wildhearts – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

It’s a privilege to get the chance to photo and review a band that I’ve followed since I was about 14 years old when I heard Suckerpunch for the first time. They will always have a little spot in my heart with their catchy and timeless back catalogue of classics and barrage of riffs that send shivers down my spine each time I hear them.

The outro of Everlone is a great example of that, one of the finest pieces of rock riffage I’ve ever encountered. Which is no mean feat when you break down that song riff by riff, it’s shear quota of classic riffs eclipses many bands entire careers in just one song. It appears tonight second song in, nice and early. There was the expectation that they might not play some of the Earth Vs Material prior to the tour since they’ve played that material very heavily for its 25th-anniversary last year.

The Wildhearts know how to deliver a setlist with a selection that is sure to keep the diehards happy and entertain the casual fans. I haven’t bee able to get Dislocated out of my head for nearly a week now. It’s a pure slice of 2019 perfection, ‘I feel dislocated from your world’ is a sentiment I can relate to far too much. The world needs The Wildhearts. It’s a brutal barrage of a song that slides effortlessly into singalong choruses that only The Wildhearts can pull off. The more I hear it the more I adore it.

The Wildhearts – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

It’s an ecstatic night and the whole band appear to be having the time of their lives. It was great to see Danny back there and grinning away. It truly is a remarkable sound that this gang of four chaps can make, the love for them is on clear display from the sold-out Newcastle crowd. Singing and dancing away for the entire set. Including the new numbers which gain a rapturous reaction.

The Wildhearts – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

Renaissance Men will feature on many rock albums of the year list and quite rightly so. The Wildhearts were always super popular in Newcastle but now there’s an air of excitement and maybe some ‘I told you so’ smugness from the fans who have followed them religiously for years since they’re now getting more attention from media and a wider audience.

The Wildhearts – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

The Wildhearts in whatever shape or form have always been brilliant and will always be one of Britains best rock bands. They deserve every ounce of praise they’ve earned from this tour and album. What a gig!

PHOTO GALLERY

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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!

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 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.

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.

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!

On the spot with CJ Wildheart – INTERVIEW

I caught up with CJ Wildheart for a quick on the spot interview ahead of his upcoming February UK tour. He plays Newcastle at Think Tank on the 19th Feb.

Here’s the infectiously catchy lead track from his brand new album.

“Nearly all of ‘Robot’ was recorded in my home studio. I play most of the parts and sing all the vocals apart from gang vocals. I basically recorded the whole album on my own with a drum machine and then got Jason Bowld to add real drums and got in a bunch of voices to beef up the gang parts. The album was mixed by Dave Draper and me with some assistance from Lee Wray who worked with me on ‘Mable’ my last solo album.”

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

What can we expect from the new album?

Well first off it’s a lot heavier than my normal solo stuff. It’s been a natural progression and the album is full of riffs but I always pull it back in with a chorus. Being in The Wildhearts means I can mix it up a bit and folks will not be surprised.

Robot was a crowd funded album and has surpassed its target. The crowd funding approach seems to work well for you; do you think this is the future of releasing music?

Yes it works in the sense that I can get my music direct to my small fan base but I’m not really breaking new ground here. It takes a lot of money to promote any artist whether young or old and there is only so much you can do with the crowd funding approach especially with an artist at my level. I have to make a living from this so there is only so much I can give up in the name of PR. You know things change so quickly these days that it’s quite hard to predict where industry is heading. The whole business has changed so much in the last 20 years. It’s an exciting time to be making music.

You hit the road in February for a UK tour. What’s in store for these shows? Full band? New material? Any old gold from other music projects?

Yes I’m taking a full band with me and I have Chris Catalyst (Eureka Machines / Sisters of Mercy) on guitar and vocals, Lee Wray on bass and a young drummer from Birmingham Elliot Vaughn who is standing in for Jason, as Jase is out with Bullet For My Valentine so he could not do my tour. We’re going to play a whole bunch of songs from various bands I’ve been in and it should be a lot of fun. I am really looking forward to playing songs off the new album especially the heavier numbers.

cj-wildheart-uk-tour

The tour features a lot of local talent as support acts (including the fantastic new band Drama Club Rejects ft. Stidi at the Think Tank show, Newcastle). How did you pick those supports and are there any bands that you’re really looking forward to playing with?

I’m really looking forward to seeing Stidi’s new band and it’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other so it will be really cool to catch up. We’re taking out VHYes who are opening all the shows. They are a new band put together by my producer Dave Draper and they have some serious tunes. All the local bands contacted myself or my manager via Facebook/Twitter and through talking with us and local promoters where added to the bill. There are so many good bands out there and it’s great that some of them want to play with my solo band.

We’re big fans of spicy shit at Blank Slate. I hear you have your own range of hot sauces, which is awesome! How did this come about? And what is your recommended sauce?

I’ve always loved spicy food and my mum has always made her own chilli sauce…it’s hot!!! I became addicted to hot sauce from a very young age and I had the perfect opportunity with my last album to hook up with a Yorkshire based chilli sauce company and make my own hot sauce called ‘Devilspit’. It’s a combination of beer, BBQ and chilli and it’s damn tasty. I now have seven different varieties and it’s still really just a hobby at the moment but it’s really good having my own hot sauce and it’s something I would love to see grow. Well there is only one sauce I can recommend and that’s my Original Devilspit Hot Sauce hang on a sec I have a garlic version of it called Robot Hot Sauce and that is just beautiful…garlic and chilli behave!

devilspit_square