Well, this reviewer has been to a few concerts over the years whether it’s been a stadium with thousands of people or a pub with just a few fellow gig-goers but I can honestly say I’ve never been in a church for a night of rock’n’roll antics.

When it was announced that one of my favourite artists a certain troubadour by the name of Ginger Wildheart was appearing in St. John’s church in Cardiff not only was I enticed with the thought of a night with his glorious melodies but also would i not go up in flames in such a holy setting, luckily I came out intact and not in ashes.

Ginger was also airing his new solo band the “sinners” so overall I was more excited than a kid on Christmas eve.

Ginger and his band arrived on stage to a packed St. Johns church and launched into the stunning track “The Pendine Incident” and the sound of a full electric band who were on fire with Ginger was spine-tingling. This new band the sinners didn’t sound like they were gelling on the road it sounded like they were seasoned vets having played hundreds of shows, not just one!  it was vibrant and there was definitely chemistry and tightness to suggest the band had been playing together for years, “WOW”.

“Toxins And Tea” was up next and this beauty of a “G.A.S.S” track saw Ginger in fine voice and it was great to hear it live in this setting.

Ginger announced the sad news that rock’n’roll legend Dan Baird was retiring from the live circuit and in tribute Ginger and his sinners played a fitting version of Georgia Satellites “Six Years Gone” which to be fair was glorious.

Next up was “Do You” and this track has a deep meaning for this reviewer as the song talks about the serious nature of suicide and as I struggle with depression Ginger’s music has always been such a comfort and guide and has helped me through the hard often dark times. One of the things that is so great about Ginger’s music is that he wraps often dark lyrics in a joyous uplifting melody.  so that while it is a serious subject matter it can also be uplifting to you and makes you feel better, (if that makes any sense?) The power of Ginger’s music can be such a great thing.

Moving through his repertoire we reached the Hey Hello earworm of ‘Swimwear’ and by God (excuse the pun) this was stunning with all us gig-goers singing along.

‘The Pessimist’s Companion’ was up next off the roots/country albums and is written about his dog “Maggie”. I truly feel sorry for someone who has never had a furry companion as they are indeed mans best friend. I recently lost my furry best friend “Alfie” and even though I have been feeling down and sad recently the power of music (and particularly Gingers) shines a light through the darkness.

‘(Wye aye) Oh, You’ another gem off ‘The pessimist’s Companion’ album was played and it went down a storm in this live moment atmosphere.

“Petite Mort” saw Givvi Flynn take lead vocal duties on the Yolanda Quartey vocals (who originally sang this track) Obviously I had heard of Givvi but had never had the pleasure of hearing her live and all I can say is “Wow” her voice soared as high as the church ceiling and was amazing in these truly celestial surroundings. simply stunning.

We were treated to the double whammy of ‘The Daylight Hotel’ and ‘Paying It Forward’ off Ginger’s other roots/country album ‘Ghost In The Tanglewood’ and these songs were glorious in the church surroundings.

‘Honour’ another “G.A.S.S.” gem was played next which originally had “Courtney Love” on vocals but yet again “Givvi” stepped up to the plate and smashed it out of the park with her and Ginger’s voice harmonising together beautifully.

Ginger informed us that ‘The Words Are Gonna Have To Wait’ was written about “David Bowie” and this track was a fitting tribute to such a legendary artist and being in a church who’s not to say that the legend wasn’t looking down and tapping his foot accordingly.

‘No One Smiled At Me Today’ is another one of this reviewers favs and to get to hear it in a live setting was truly magical.

Ginger recently released another excellent solo album titled ‘Headzapoppin’ and I was hoping for a track to be played off it and I was not left disappointed as “Zap” was aired and it sounded as great live as it is on record.

Next up who’d have seen the band cover the Quo classic ‘Dirty Water’. I am ashamed to say that I didn’t know this track but I really enjoyed it (my homework will be to delve into the Que catalogue).

‘Caer Urfa’ was better live than on the record may be the surroundings had it elevated.  Us Ginger fans know what a genius songwriter and musician he is but what is often overlooked is what a great singer he is and his vocals were epic on this track no doubt helped by the epic acoustics of such a high ceiling.

With that Ginger said thank you but with the crowd wanting more he said he would be back in five minutes much to the crowds and this reviewers relief and exited the stage with St. John’s church clapping and shouting for more.

Upon their return, Ginger and his Sinners played the familiar chords of ‘Geordie in Wonderland’ and bang the crowd were all singing along.

Up next would be the last song of the evening and yes, sadly all great things have to come to an end. the way the evening had panned out it was always going to go out with a bang so, What else was he going to play in a church to bring an end to a mega evening? The glorious ‘Loveshit’ (sorry God) and with that this awesome show comes to an end.

All this reviewer can say is what a memorable night this has been weather being in the stunning surroundings of St.John’s church or hearing a truly on fire band (not Due to being in church) what a magical night this has been and what a setlist we were treated too with Ginger digging deep into his classic catalogue of tunes that we rarely here live.

Please get out and see Ginger Wildheart as whatever problems you’re going through and in these tough trying times we all need some happiness and trust me, going to a Ginger show will leave you with a joker sized grin on your face and a warmth in your heart that money cannot buy.  It would be a shame if this wasn’t repeated in the future so with a quick prayer I legged it before I burst into flames. The devil on tonight’s evidence doesn’t have all the best tunes Ginger and the Sinners have them.

Author: Gareth ‘Hotshot’ Hooper

With a bunch of great live shows charging around the UK and the never-ending list of great albums being released RPM has a top 20 for you pop pickers and this list includes Michael Monroe and his ‘One Man Gang’ and one off the brand new More Kicks album the awesome ‘Blame It On The Satellite’. Giuda guitarist Lorenzo has an album ready to go entitled Zac and we have ‘Count On Me’.

There are some old-timers still kicking up a shitstorm like Necromantix who have a new DVD / CD out and Sonny Vincent has a Testors tribute album that’s available with all proceeds going to a great cause that we fully support and will be reviewing this coming month so we have a Testors original in our playlist.

Rocker Pete Way hits the road this month for some live shows and has a vinyl issue of his ‘Amphetamine’ album. After finishing another round of superb dates with The Wildhearts Ginger gets back on the saddle and begins an acoustic band run of shows entitled Ginger and The Sinners. Also on tour is Wayne Hussy whos doing the rounds with his guitar and passages from his autobiography.

Recently released was the awesome and intriguing 40th-anniversary demos and sessions of Tubeway Army’s ‘Replicas’ so we’ve added the classic ‘Down In The Park’ to our list. Recently Rebellion Festivals announced some cracking additions to 2020’s line up and that included some RPM favourites so how could we not include the likes of The Hip Priests who also have some shows this month so have an earful of ‘I Hate The City’ ponder the lyrics and remember it when you go to vote UK peeps.

A new album and some live dates on the way see a welcome return to the awesome Urban Voodoo Machine with their brilliant ‘Johnny Foreigner’.  Announcing tour dates for 2020 Redd Kross are a shoo-in for our playlist. Finally, with an official release and stock, The Brothers Steve make our playlist with ‘Angeline’ from the fantastic ‘#1’ CD.

This month also sees the New Model Army play every corner of the United Kingdom with a proper tour to back up their excellent new album so ‘Where I Am’ makes our playlist.

To finish off this November playlist and to highlight our diversity we have a hattrick of rock from South Wales to show the hills are indeed alive with the sound of music as Buck and Evans ‘Sunrise’ is up and there is the return of Forever Vendetta with ‘Come Alive’ and to close off the November RPM playlist we include Deathtraps who are busy putting the finishing touches to their new album so we’ve included ‘Get Loose’ so take their advice and ours and get loose and we’ll see you in December when we’ll have a splash of new tunes to rock the year out!

Bath Komedia was a new venue for the intrepid travellers from South Wales but we love an adventure and tonight we had to get there on time to catch the support of Janus Stark seeing as we’ve heard the new album and loved what we heard and wanted to see if Gizz Butt could knock it out live. After negotiating the Bath one-way system and eventually finding a place to park by the time we reached the venue the band had already taken the stage and were knocking out songs old and new.  they reminded me of a punkier Eureka Machines and Gizz is something of a guitar players guitarist with a great sound in the venue they were entertaining and engaging and the catchy power pop/rock sounded great. these were the perfect opener for The Wildhearts and ending the set with the best track off ‘Great Adventure Cigar’ was a bonus because ‘Every Little Thing Counts’ is just about spot on.  I can look forward to hearing a lot more of the band when the album is released hopefully in December.

When it was announced that The Wildhearts were adding another string of dates and that there would be the Renaissance Men tour part 2 I couldn’t wait to get another slice of loud rock’n’roll live-action after catching the boys in Cardiff on the first leg of the tour earlier in the year.

The nearest venue to me was the Komedia in Bath with a couple of hundred miles round trip (on a school night) I planned my latest Wildhearts action. Around 9:15 pm I heard the opening guitar riff to the lead-off track to the bands latest great ep the title track ‘Diagnosis’ and bam the band were on stage and away we go. 

The band are tight and as the glorious noize of ‘Diagnosis’ comes to an end the band launch into another Renaissance men soon to be live classic ‘let em go’ and this anthem gets the Bath crowd jumping and singing along with Cj taking lead vocals on the bridge doing the Frank Turner vocals.  Next up we have that all-time classic hearts tune ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’ and Ginger is on top form with some blistering guitar work and those rough yet melodic vocals of his soaring loud and proud. Some familiar favourites such as ‘Sick Of Drugs’ is welcomed and this night is turning out to be a show and a half as both band and crowd are right up for it in the confines of a really nice tight venue tucked away in the narrow streets of Bath.

‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ sees the white album being represented and this leads us into ‘My Kinda Movie’.  Ginger announces that each band member is taking his turn in picking a track to play live and tonight’s choice is by Danny and what has mister McCormack picked, well he’s treated us to a P.H.U.Q. b-side the stunning “Mindslide” and that throbbing bass of his leads us into a rare treat and what seeing The Wildhearts on form is all about. ‘Caffeine Bomb’ is up next and this fast as lightning track showcases what a machine of a drummer Ritch Battersby is and why he is one of my favourite drummers and boy does he hit those skins hard.

‘Dislocated’ is greeted by this reviewer with a huge smile on my chops as this is my favourite track off ‘The Renaissance Men’ album and the guys blast it out with some real punk rock fury.  Great also to hear “Jackson Whites” being blasted through again at a furious pace. A real fan favourite is “Red light green light” and already this set is proving to be an excellent reason to venture out on a School night for a shot of Rock and Roll – could this night get any better?

‘Vanilla Radio’ has the Bath crowd singing “where’s my Elvis” in unison and that leads us into the 5th ‘Renaissance Men’ track of the night ‘The Fine Art Of Deception’ which is another Ginger penned classic. Tonight seems like the night for the lesser-known rare track getting a good airing as we are treated to ‘Action Panzer’ Nestled in with all the classics you’d expect to hear at a Wildhearts show.

The lights come up and with that the band walk off to a thunderous roar of appreciation from the crowd  – you’d think there was a couple of thousand in tonight by the sounds of them and shouts of “more, more, more” and as if by magic the boys walk back onstage and launch into the mighty riff of ‘Greetings From Shitsville’ and this crowd goes nuts.  Part two of the encore we are treated to the icing on this particular party cake as the band unleash the stunning earth vs b-side ‘Beautifull Thing You’ and indeed it is a glorious racket of loud harmonic beauty. It’s not quite done yet as there is one last song of the night and the fan fav ’29 X The Pain’ and with both band and fans singing their hearts out it is truly a great end to a special night.

All that is left for this reviewer to say is if you can get to a Wildhearts show please do as the band are on top form and are tight and clearly enjoying themselves and you will not be disappointed. Bring on round three and the doubleheader of the Backyard Babies slugging it out with the in-form and on fire Wildhearts Bring it on! 2020 is shaping up nicely if tonight was anything to go by.

 

Author: Gareth ‘Hotshot’ Hooper

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‘Diagnosis’ Review Here

Tour Dates for 2020 Here 

‘Renaissance Men’ Review Here

 

Hey Wildhearts fans, are you feeling lucky right now?  With a critically acclaimed album in the bag, half their discography remastered and available on vinyl, and more live action than a Pornhub subscription can give you, The Wildhearts are giving their fans everything they desire and more. Did I mention the excellent solo album Ginger just dropped in the middle of all this action? It’s called ‘Headzapoppin’, you should buy it right now.

Well, if your bank account has recovered, even just a little bit, do you think you can handle splashing out a bit more? Because Ginger and co seem to think you can!  How about a six track mini album with 5 brand new songs to back up lead track ‘Diagnosis’, one of the most well received songs from the recent ‘Renaissance Men’ long player. You can even purchase this beast on 10” splatter vinyl if you are that way inclined. Are you salivating yet?

 

If you are reading this then you have probably heard ‘Diagnosis’ more times than you’ve had hot dinners already, it’s a keeper! The building AC/DC riffage that blasts into a gargantuan diatribe, aimed at a system that has fucked so many over. Totally relatable to those who struggle, from the heart of a writer who is struggling more than most of us can imagine. With the anthemic “You’re not an animal” refrain, it has already become a live favourite and it just had to be a single.

 

But let’s concentrate on the new songs shall we.

 

‘God Damn’ sees CJ take lead vocals for a power pop-tastic three and a half minute earworm that wouldn’t sound out of place on one of his own solo albums. Chugging guitars and sneering vocals lead the way. With a signature slow/fast  rifforama section, and enough time signature changes than most metal bands manage on a whole album, it’s an epic burst of sleazy noise, something The Wildhearts do so well. Guaranteed to hit the spot, is there a song more aptly titled right now?

With magnificent, urgent drums from Rich Battersby and killer hooks aplenty, ‘A Song About Drinking’ is a 2 minute incendiary burst of noise. Anthemic gang vocalisin’, fist pumping “woah-woahs” and punky melodies aplenty, all the boxes are ticked. What’s not to like here?

‘Could It Be Just Like The First Time’ starts with the chorus refrain. I feel like I’ve heard it before, and you will too, but Ginger always has that knack right? This is the one out of the five that will imbed itself in your subconscious, grab on tight and refuse to leave.

I wonder if bassist Danny McCormack had a hand in ‘That’s My Girl’? It sure has a rumbling Yo-Yo’s feel to it. Distorted power chords rule with a catchy chorus to boot. It’s all leather jackets, greased back hair and attitude.

Uneasy on the ears and not for the fainthearted, closing song ‘LOCAC’ is a wall of distortion and disjointed riffage that would not sound out of place on ‘Endless Nameless’ or even a Mutation album come to think of it. Brutal heaviness that could possibly make your ears bleed at the right sound level.

 

It’s well known in certain circles that The Wildhearts are the kings of the b sides. How many bands have (or even could) release an album of non-album tracks that can stand tall against their best albums? Oasis have one, anyone else? Well, The Wildhearts could release 3, that is the quality I’m talking about.

And that same quality overflows on this mini album that clocks in at just over 20 minutes. Short, sharp and no fucking about. That seems to be Ginger’s outlook for The Wildhearts in 2019 and who are we to argue? As he has just released the perfect companion to ‘Renaissance Men’ and given his fan base yet another essential release before the year draws to a close.

Buy Diagnosis Here 

Author: Ben Hughes

 

The Wildhearts and the Backyard Babies announce a 7 date co-headline UK tour, with The Wildhearts closing and CKY opening. The UK tour starts at the O2 Academy in Newcastle on Tuesday 28th  January and concludes at O2 Institute in Birmingham on Tuesday  4th February. Tickets go on sale on Friday 13th. Preceding the UK dates, The Wildhearts are also playing 4 shows in Germany with the Backyard Babies & The Bones.

 

I’m surprised we haven’t done this already but it’s finally happening a tour with The Backyard Babies. Its gonna be full-on and we are sharing a bus, what could possibly go wrong? Come out and see us, dance, drink, sing and have your faces torn off… ROCK! ” – CJ Wildheart.

 

This will be a badass tour. We’ve been talking about touring with The Wildhearts since the early 2000s. Finally, it happens! If you don’t like loud guitars, great songs, amazing riffs, and High energy Rock N’ Roll music….  Well, just don’t buy a ticket.” – Dregen / Backyard Babies.
CKY is beyond stoked to return to the UK with the legendary Backyard Babies and The Wildhearts! The rock and roll runs deep on this batch of shows. Don’t miss it!” – Jess Margera / CKY.
The Wildhearts & Backyard Babies tour dates
January 2020
Thu 23th Tante Ju,  Dresden  DE
Fri 24th Wizemann Stuttgart  DE
Sat 25th Live Music Hall Cologne  DE
Sun  26th Batschkapp Frankfurt  DE
Tue 28th O2 Academy Newcastle
Wed 29th Limelight Belfast
Thu 30th  QMU Glasgow
Fri 31st O2 Ritz Manchester
February 2020
Sat 1st  O2 Forum Kentish Town London
Mon 3rd  Tramshed Cardiff
Tue 4th  O2 Institute Birmingham
The Wildhearts are also proud to announce the release of the Diagnosis mini album on October 4th through Graphite Records. This six track mini album, features five brand new songs and is released as a limited edition special white vinyl with pale blue powder splatter 10’’ (to look like a pill) and as a regular black vinyl 10” and CD.  All 3 physical formats will also include an exclusive bespoke inner gatefold comic strip illustrated by the award winning Hunt Emerson, who last worked with the band on the Earth Vs’ cover and their classic logo.
The Diagnosis mini album follows the success of Renaissance Men, their first full-length studio album in 10 years, which gave the band’s classic line up of Ginger, CJ, Ritchie and Danny, their highest chart entry since 1994’s P.H.U.Q, when it debuted at number 11.
Well fuck me we dropped our first new album in 10 years back in May and blow me down if we didn’t drop a humdinger of an album full of monster riffs and razor sweet melodies. Well, we’ve not only gone back in to the studio to record 5 new songs that will be released as the Diagnosis mini album in October, we’re hitting the road too. We have some great supports confirmed already, The Professionals and Janus Stark and I know there are some other amazing bands to be added to the rest of the tour.  
You’re going to love the new mini album and the surprises we have on there and the tour is going to be one you should not miss. You can’t keep a good band down.” – C.J Wildheart.
The lead track Diagnosis is about “mental health institutions and the medical health profession in this country, and about how it’s letting people down. How the system is broken, and how the suicide rate is not getting any less. 
Depression and mental illness isn’t an issue that attacks any one type of person. Whether you’re homeless or if you’re rich,  this illness is taking people out on a regular basis. The government has pulled most of the funding into mental health research, and as a result people are still ignorant about it.
Education is everything. And the more people talk about depression, the more need there’ll be for education, and the more people will want educating about an issue that doesn’t just affect the people suffering from it, but it affects everyone around them. 
And when someone is in a desperate position and their hope is taken away, then they’re at the mercy of an illness that wants them dead. There’s nothing more important in the world than education on mental health issues.” – Ginger Wildheart
To coincide with the release of Diagnosis, The Wildhearts’ play a10 date UK tour. This tour will start in Brighton at the Concorde 2 on Saturday 5th October and concludes at Booking Hall in Dover on Tuesday 22nd October.
Can’t wait to get back out on tour. I’m one of those people that could live in a tour bus” – Ginger Wildheart

 

Creatively brilliant, The Wildhearts play a distinctive fusion of hard rock, perfectly complimented by contemporary melodies. With a career spanning 30 years The Wildhearts helped change the landscape of British rock through the 90’s, and to this day they haven’t shown any sign of slowing down. Miss these shows at your peril.
The Wildhearts Renaissance Men tour part 2
with special guests The Professionals+, Ferocious Dog^ and Janus Stark* on selected shows
October 2019
Sat     5th         Concorde 2 Brighton +*
Sun    6th         Sub 89 Reading +*
Mon   7th         Live Rooms           Chester +*
Tue    8th         Welly Hull +*
Thur   10th      Picturedrome Holmfirth
Tue    15th      Junction Cambridge ^*
Wed   16th      Komedia Bath *
Thur   17th      Engine Room Southampton
Mon   21st    KK’s Steel Mill Wolverhampton
Tue    22nd     Booking Hall Dover
November 2019
Fri 29th TivoliBuckley
European shows 
October 2019
Fri 11th      Helsinki             Virgin Oil and Co. Finland
Sat  12th     Stockholm        Fryhuset              Sweden
Sun  13th  Oslo  Pa Bryn Norway   Sold Out
Thu 24th      Amsterdam        Q Factory          Netherlands
Fri  25th      Essen                Turock Germany
Sat 26th      Paris                 Backstage France
Sun 27th      Ooestende         Manuscript Belgium
November 2019
Sat 30th      Madrid Sala Spain
Tickets and ticket bundles with new album pre-orders are available Here 

With summer fading fast its time to cwtch u to your stereo or however you currently listen to your music and check out the RPM Spotify Playlist to hear who are the movers and shakers at RPM Towers.  From the albums, we’ve reviewed and are reviewing and the shows we’re attending to the interviews we have coming up.  Here is a playlist to accompany your reading.

 

This month we feature the following bands who have new albums or are playing live shows.

Hollywood Brats, Andy McCoy, The Bar Stool Preachers, Cock Sparrer, Jim Jones and the Righteous Minds, Duff McKagan, Jesse Malin, Queen Zee, Subhumans, Black Star Riders, Strung Out, Dead Shed Jokers, Pardon Us, Paradise Alley, Dead Furies, The Chuck Norris Experiment, TSAR, New Model Army, Ginger Wildheart

Ginger Wildheart is a man every music fan should know as he writes songs of quality and quantity in equal measure and by right should be headlining stadiums around the world but alas this sadly isn’t so.

Anyway, back to the task in hand, my ears pricked up as soon as I read that on Friday the 16th of august at exactly 5:55 pm there would be a new Ginger Wildheart album to pre-order with an immediate download on Ginger’s very own Round Records label.

As soon as 5:55 pm kicked in I duly pre-ordered the album and got my download of Ginger’s new album titled “Headzapoppin” to wrap my excited ears around.

“Headzapoppin” kicks off with the glorious track titled “Meet my killer” and is an earworm straight out of the gate with a great riff and an infectious chorus with great lyrics.

Up next is the track “Catch that stranger” which starts off with a dreamy intro sequence before the listener is slapped in the face with some killer guitar work and that then leads us into a nice bit of pounding drums with loud guitars before leading us back into the gorgeous chorus segment.

“Saturday Matinee” then starts off with a lovely keyboard intro with some stunning jangly guitar work through the song and we also get some acoustically strum guitar thrown in to add even more texture to this wonderful track.

Then we get the track “Yorvik (my hood)” with an outstanding bass intro and some great crashing drums with yet again a terrific trademark Ginger chorus.

“Love is” is a beautifully crafted ballad with some beautiful heartfelt lyrics with genuine honesty. Another great piece of music.

“As theodos spoke” is what I love about Ginger’s music you never know what you are going to get and this track has an experimental feel to these ears with Ginger singing in a more gruff vocal with some great bass and drums and a great riff thrown in for some good measure.

This leads us into the track “Boxes” and the quality does not let up and is an instant foot-tapper with a great guitar break and is a short straight to the point song clocking in at under 3 minutes.

“The answer is yes” is the next song up and is a fantastic power-pop nugget of a tune with great harmony and is an all-round winner of a track.

“Pound coins + kitchen roll” is a tune with some great lyrics on Ginger making his way through life and is another instant melody that gets straight into the listener’s skull and buries itself there with a great harmony.

Finishing of this album is the track “Zap” with lyrics which deal with Ginger’s mental health problems but as someone who struggles with depression on a daily basis this reviewer can instantly relate to but as Ginger often does we have a serious subject matter wrapped up in an uplifting euphoric melody that makes the listener feel there is hope with this ongoing condition.

 

Overall what we have with “Headzapoppin” is a stunningly crafted album with great lyrics and music going hand in hand to make this a much purchase release that with multiple plays will reward the listener time after time, now I’m off to play the album again while I suggest you go out and buy it.

Buy Headzapoppin’ Here

Author: Gareth ‘Hotshot’ Hooper

Gone but not forgotten – Steve Rodriguez, the bassist from the Dragons, died four years ago today. Rodriguez was only 48.

The Dragons were an awesome punk rock band who regularly played the U.S. and Japan He toured with Sami Yaffa playing the bass in Mad Juana and he also toured with The Dragons supporting The Wildhearts even giving Ginger a pair of his boots when Ginger’s shoes fell apart.

The Dragons Formed back in 1991 in San Diago by frontman Mario Escovedo, lead guitarist Ken Horne, drummer Jarrod Lucas, and Rodriguez. They did release seven albums, including 2000’s ‘Live at the Casbah’ and finally called it a day in 2005 after releasing their final album ‘Sin Salvation’ on Gearhead Records in 2003.  It wasn’t the end for the band who sporadically reformed for several shows, including in 2014 for the iconic Casbah club’s 25th anniversary.

Frontman Escovedo did post a touching tribute video to Rodriguez, sharing, among other things, that Rodriguez “always made an impression; beautiful, sexy, fashionable, loud, dangerous, funny, hilarious, a hugger, and compassionate. He was all that and more… He was the 4th of July all year long.”

The bassist also had stints in The Zeros, Mad Juana as mentioned above and MEX. Before he passed Rodriguez was playing with Saint Shameless but they didn’t last after Steves passing. Put on a Dragons record and raise a toast to Steve Rodriguez – May he rest in peace

 

Thanks for checking out my little corner of the Internet again. There really are no rules or expectations of what I am going to do here. Immediately after completing my first one though, this piece started writing itself in my head. It’s also shifted back and forth a bit during that time. The Wildhearts recently released their latest studio album ‘Renaissance Men,’ and it is quite simply a monster of an album. It is a serious album of the year contender with its 10 mostly compact songs reminding us of those albums of yesterday that did not waste time and placed an emphasis on all killer, no filler. That album served as the inspiration for the topic here- the stigma of mental illness.

 

Completing the first half of the album, ‘Diagnosis’ finds the band making a powerful statement that cannot be heard enough. The album has been on constant rotation, and that song kept nudging me to emphasize it for anyone that carries a mental health diagnosis with them. Coincidentally, I also saw a study by Record Union which indicated 73% of independent musicians suffered from some form of mental illness (https://www.the73percent.com/). I do not believe this is by any means a new phenomenon, but there has thankfully been much more awareness raised now. Unfortunately, there continues to be a stigma attached to mental illness that needs to be destroyed. People are NEVER a diagnosis. I do not care if it is a physical health condition or a medical health condition. Labels have genuine consequences.

 

‘You are not your diagnosís
You’re not that prescription in your hand
You are not your diagnosís
Simplified for them to understand’

(Ginger Wildheart, The Wildhearts, ‘Diagnosis’ from their latest album ‘Renaissance Men’)

 

I have worked in behavioral health for many years and have seen remarkable changes taking place within the field which are innovative and produce remarkable results. I remember the first time the clinic I where I worked brought a Peer Support Specialist (PSS) on board. We only had one, and there was some definite ignorance among the clinical team as for the first few days there was an unsaid belief that the PSS probably should not work with someone in crisis because it could cause the PSS to also go into crisis. I am very happy to report this belief was eradicated within about a week because we experienced the power of peer support. Clinically, we had failed to connect with the person, but this approach was remarkably powerful. In the not too distant past, I introduced a Peer Support Specialist to an inpatient psychiatric unit where the concept was entirely new.

 

“The stigma I experienced working in that facility has permeated through my recovery story. Before I reached wellness, people were telling me that my reality wasn’t true. Throughout my journey, having friends and loved one’s back away. Now in my profession as a Peer Specialist, being denied opportunities to help someone because it would “trigger a crisis” in myself according to their opinion. I am not my diagnosis. I am not my past. I am a person. My name is Jessi.”  Jessi Davis, MHPS RSPS Transition Age Youth Coordinator Via Hope

 

I have been fortunate that I worked in a system that celebrated strengths and meeting people where they are. It inspired a passion for me in my career to always try to do everything I can to make this world a better place. Some days are more successful than others. I have heard and seen horrific stories. I have heard and seen beautiful acts of love, empathy, support, resilience, and recovery.

 

I know that I never liked the task in school when I was asked to identify 3 strengths or things I liked about myself. I think it has become much easier with time, but I honestly do not know if it is because of the experiences I collected on my way to adulthood or some other reason. Parts of my adolescence were awful, and it didn’t change until I was well into my 20’s. I also know though I was extremely lucky and fortunate in many ways, especially in that I found coping mechanisms that worked for me. Music spoke to me and was my escape from the challenges I experienced. I also began writing in a journal, and, while they were initially song lyrics, my limitations in musical talent (having none) meant that these would become essentially poetry, even if that wasn’t what I wanted to call it due to preconceived stereotypes about my role in this world as a man and how we are trained to guard our feelings. My darkness I felt when I was younger had outlets-  healthy outlets.

 

Along the way in my career, I was presented with an exciting opportunity. Despite having no behavioral health diagnosis, I had the opportunity to attend a two week Peer Support Training class as part of my orientation for a job. Part of the training is the Peer Support Specialist being able to share their story in a way that inspires hope and resiliency. It was scheduled for about the middle of the training, and I felt uncomfortable with the idea of being in the class that day. I felt like I was an outsider and was betraying my classmates trust in some way. On the second or third day, I said something to one of my classmates during a break. This came out later that day in class, and our instructor told me he was sure I would have a story to share. Sure enough, I was annoyed that we only had 10 minutes to share as I felt it was not nearly enough time. While I have never experienced some of the things my classmates had, I had experienced similar emotions, similar moments in my life, and was moved by the stories I heard. Those two weeks have been extremely inspirational in my career. I have worked with others who have also received that training, and the power and energy these individuals radiate with afterward are contagious.

 

Turning this back to the song ‘Diagnosis’ and what inspired this, people are never just one thing. If you take 60 seconds and write down everything you are, I am sure you will have quite a list. It might start with father, son, husband, supervisor and then it gets really interesting as we drill down even deeper into what makes us who we are. To label someone as a disease takes away everything else they are. I have been fortunate to work with a CEO who frequently serves to remind others of this and has inspired significant changes in organizations across multiple States on this side of the pond with his approach. He also plays to people’s strengths and understands that you meet the person where they are in their reality, which can be quite challenging for some staff. Whatever the person is experiencing is what is real to them, if that is not validated, what reason does the person have to trust you?

 

If you watch the evening news, scroll Facebook or Twitter, pick up a newspaper after a horrific event, you will be hit hard with the power of stigma as people are quickly labeled or assumed to be (fill in the derogatory word that comes to your mind). What word was it for you? How did that become your conditioned response? Statistics over the years have demonstrated that individuals diagnosed with a serious mental illness are more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator.

 

“Using longitudinal data of more than two million individuals and multiple independent variables, the Danish study found that individuals with mental illness are at 2.5 times higher risk of being subjected to any crime compared to the general population, and at even higher risk of being subjected to violent crimes.” Jeffrey Swanson PhD (https://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/fixing-the-system/features-and-news/4007-research-weekly-violence-victimization-and-serious-mental-illness-)

 

While I am not writing this to dig out all of those reasons why that might happen, I believe addressing the stigma of mental illness can help serve as a catalyst for change. If people felt like they could discuss what they were feeling and experiencing without the negative responses and shame, I believe it would begin to make differences, even if the ripple of change is small. Several of them become larger and a wave can form with enough of them. It starts with each of us though. We interact with people on a constant basis in our lives. We do not know what most of them are experiencing or have gone through in the moments before we see them, earlier that day, earlier in their lives. We often get one snapshot of that person. In my worst moments, I would not want someone to take that as being all I am.

 

When I look at the artists whose lyrics have hit me in the heart and soul the hardest, it is the likes of Frank Turner, Ginger Wildheart, Tyla, and others who articulate so clearly many of the thoughts that have passed through my brain over the years. Many of their songs have become personal anthems that inspire me when I need them. They inspire resiliency and let me know my brain is not really that strange in those weak moments. Turner’s ‘Get Better’  Being a powerful anthem for many and a reminder that we can always get better as people as long as we are still breathing.

Thinking about this topic has also given me a reason to really take a look across several parts of my collection with various albums immediately coming to mind that has connections to this blog. If we travel back in time to 1978 when I was just a boy, Alice Cooper unleashed ‘From the Inside’ which was conceptually based around his stay in a psychiatric hospital of the time.

The ballad ‘How You Gonna See Me Now’ has always been one of my favorite Alice ballads, and I have really enjoyed the lyrical depth to it that became apparent as I got older. Titus Andronicus released ‘The Most Lamentable Tragedy’ in 2015 and shared the story of someone dealing with symptoms related to bipolar disorder over the course of a rock-opera with the band releasing one segment of the story as a music video  that portrays someone receiving services in an institution.

Stand Atlantic released a music video for their song ‘Lavender Bones’  in 2018 which show their singer being treated the same as everyone else and being taught to think and act the same way. She breaks free from the authority in the video, and, to me, celebrates the character she is playing by showing all of the different sides to who she is as a person through all of the colors she uses in her painting (my interpretation).

Ginger Wildheart has been very open with the challenges he experiences and their impact on him. Between Twitter, his music, his charitable actions, and even negative incidents, he has let fans have a window into a world that would not have been seen decades earlier before the rise of social media. Ginger Wildheart has albums such as ‘Ghost in the Tanglewood’ and ‘The Pessimist’s Companion’ that really speak to the insecurities and dark emotions that we experience and provide catharsis. He has also addressed these experiences in specific songs over the years as well such as ‘The Order of the Dog’ and personal favorite ‘Drive.’ Ginger was recently on “Rock Talk with Mitch Lafon” with Alan Niven talking about their recent suicide attempts and mental health care. Here is a link to the show:

Wade Bowen is a red dirt singer/ songwriter based here in Texas who has a discography of amazing albums, and he has never backed away from singing about person topics that have affected both him and his family, such as his song about post-partum depression ‘Turn on the Lights.’ He recently released a piece on YouTube that addresses his own recent struggle with a physical illness as well as the suicide of his nephew who was also a member of their team. While Bowen and the team continue to process their grief, it serves as another reminder to eliminate the stigma that keeps this topic from being discussed. Here is a link to ‘Inconsistent Chaos.’

Another band that served me extremely well back in my late teens when I felt mentally exhausted and struggling was Suicidal Tendencies. I felt like Mike Muir was often tapping into my own brain with the likes of ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down,’  ‘Alone,’ ‘Can’t Stop,’ etc. His lyrics served as a kick in the butt while also tapping into human emotions that all of us feel at some point in time. They also helped provide another realization in that we need to like the person we are and be comfortable in our own skin. I feel like that goes back to my earlier example where I would struggle as a teen to identify my own strengths.

As the Wildhearts served as the inspiration behind this blog, it seems fitting to close it with Ginger Wildheart and Ryan Hamilton  ‘Fuck You Brain’

 

 

Author: Gerald Stansbury

 

 

I was overjoyed when through my letterbox popped the remastered double cd version of the classic Wildhearts self-titled album (otherwise known as the White album).

Before we get into this sonic beast of an album I want to point out how lovingly packaged this reissue is.

Round Records is Ginger’s own label and in fairness to us Wildhearts fans we would be happy with a newly remastered White album but in this day of digital downloads, Ginger and his team have gone out of their way to give us something special and boy do they deliver. This double cd book edition features great inside comments from the band on the making of the white album and also has stunning pictures which make this a must-have.

Right onto the music and kicking us off is the nearly 9 minute opener ‘Rooting For The Bad Guy’ which just blasts out of the speakers with a heavy riff, pounding drums and driving bass with ginger’s great gruff vocals shouting out and leading us into a gorgeous harmonic chorus with great backing vocals from Cj and Scott.

Next up is ‘The Sweetest Song’ which is a tale of a woman who has ruined a relationship and starts off with another ginger shouty vocals then goes into a stunning band sang “Na, na, na” chorus.

‘The New Flesh’ was a single off the album and is yet another earworm with some great call to arms lyrics of troubled times which sadly in the years since this album has been released are still as relevant as ever.

“Slaughtered Authors” starts off with the driving bass of Scott Sorry with the drums of Ritch Battersby joining the party before Ginger and Cj complete the line-up. This gem of a track starts off in a slightly more relaxed mode and then builds up to a great band sung chorus. This track is another over the eight-minute mark but with its great instrumental passages when it finishes leaves you still wanting more.

‘Bi-Polar Baby’ is another in a long line of classic Wildhearts tracks with it’s beautifully arranged pop melody wrapped up in bone-crunching guitars.

Ending this album is the other single off the album the pounding ‘Destroy all monsters’ which is a tale of a man spurned by a woman and brings the original White album to a fantastic end.

Now after this emotional rollercoaster of an album has come to an end if like this reviewer you want more (and you will) slip in disc 2.

Right out of the speakers is the awesome track titled ‘Borderline’ which was available as a download off the band’s website many moons ago and is a song worthy of being included on any Wildhearts album with it’s catchy melody which immediately gets in the listeners head and stays.

Other highlights on this bonus disc are ‘Oh Bonita’ and ‘Unbroken’ which were extras on the Japanese version of the white album and the ‘New Flesh’ single which will just show the quality of this bands music that even songs  that didn’t originally make the album are songs which are pure class in their own right.

With cd versions and vinyl versions available, this caters to every Wildhearts fans needs and is a must buy.

Author: Gareth ‘Hotshot’ Hooper

Buy The White Album on Vinyl Here