C.J. Jagdhar - The Wildhearts

April 12, 2004

You guys have been around for about 11 years. What led to the decision to reform?

Me, Ginger, and Stidi our drummer formed the band and I got kicked out of the band in '94. The band split up in '97. The band was very dysfunctional purely because of the drug abuse. We grew up on punkcore bands and after we started having success, then came money and we started to emulate our heroes but we took it a step further which ended up with all of us feeling our band be very dysfunctional. Which resulted in me being booted out and the band splitting up in '97. I bumped into Ginger and he said why don't we get back together and do some shows. It's taken us until now to get our shit together. I wish we had our bass player Danny who is in very bad trouble and we tried to help which just didn't happen. He was sent to rehab and kicked out. It wasn't really giving the band the right sort of image so we changed bass players. We've got Jon Pool who's our new bass player. Everything's changed for us.

So it's the original guys with a new bassist. You guys are really popular in the UK. Do you have a large following in the U.S. as well?

No. We've got a following in the UK and we've got a very big following in Japan. The last couple of years we've just been doing the UK and doing Japan. We took The Darkness out on tour with us and gave them a break. They got a deal and became huge. We were on the verge of splitting up last December after our Japanese tour because we weren't getting any breaks anywhere else and we can't just keep doing these two countries because we're overplaying them and getting smaller. Then The Darkness had come out to Europe with us and we picked up licensing deals all over Europe. Got a big buzz over there. Then they said come out to America. We came out to America and had a record deal. We just signed a deal with Sanctuary Records. We're coming back again in June with The Darkness. Back again in September when we do the arenas. Then we come back in January to do a headlining tour which is about three months long. Everything has just broken in the last two months. It's mental. We love it here. We talk to people and we don't believe what's happening.

I don't know what the music scene is like in the UK. Over here it's dominated by hardcore and stuff. I was listening to some clips on your site and I noticed the music is very guitar riff oriented and melodic rock and roll.

Yeah, Ginger's the main singer and I do the second harmonies. A lot of the songs we're singing constantly and both Jon and Stidi sing as well so we have a lot of harmonies and a lot of big guitar riffs. We mix it up. Just when you think we're a poppy rock and roll band, we're going to hit you in the face with the heaviest riffs you've ever heard. We're just coming to have a storm over here. Everyone's saying they've never seen the band live before. It's a good bill. Two really good British rock and roll bands. They've been fed Coldplay, Travis, Oasis, and Radiohead and they're very downbeat and not very rock and roll. Now all of a sudden there are these two rock and roll bands from Britain and it's refreshing for the American audiences to see a band who's on this road.

Someone told me that when the world is politically dark then dark music is popular. Maybe it's time for something more upbeat.

Nah, I think it's the British weather which makes the British bands sound so dreary. We grew up on American music and we all like rock and roll. We like the sun.

Unfortunately you won't be getting any of that today.

We brought the British weather with us.

That's what it is. I should beat you boys for that. How long have you been on tour with The Darkness?

We did Europe for a month and we've been out here now for about three weeks. We have about a week to go. Then we go straight back to the UK to do our own headlining tour which is about 10 days off and then back out here for another six weeks.

You're doing a month at a time and then flying back home in between.

Yeah and then we come back in September again with The Darkness for another six weeks and then we do Australia with The Darkness. Then there's talk about us doing a UK tour with them in December and again across Europe. Basically we're on a world tour with The Darkness. They've given us exposure which money can't buy. Our label will handle it.

You guys released Riff After Riff last month and that's your first U.S. release in 10 years. Why was there such a long period of time in between releases?

No one trusted bringing the band over here and to be honest with you it's a good thing that the band didn't come over here sooner. If we had come over here it would have just messed it up and we probably wouldn't have been allowed back into the country. Now the band is ready to take on America. We're going to break into America and it's taken us 15 years to get here. This lineup is ready.

A little wildness and craziness do people good. Were you trying to emulate The Who back in the day?

We were just bad like The Sex Pistols, The New York Dolls, and Aerosmith all rolled up into one. And to break into America you've got to be good and you have to do the meet and greet thing. It's kind of important that the band has a united front. We just were too dysfunctional and this the tightest and together the band's ever been. This lineup isn't going to change. We've had so many different people in and out of this band.

You guys are a little more older and more mature now.

This is a break. We're not going to fuck up. This is too good to be true. We're telling ourselves we are going to succeed here.

You guys used to wreck offices and do drugs and fight and drive vehicles into pools. Did anyone ever get seriously injured from all that?

Yes, our bass player. He got very sick because he was a heroin addict. There have been a lot of casualties along the way and there's been a lot of fighting and stuff like that.

What were the worst injuries you endured from all that havoc?

It's a typical rock and roll thing. You take too much and you almost die.

Ginger was saying there's never been a better time to be in a rock and roll band. Do you feel the musical climate is a bit more receptive now than maybe it was a few years back?

Much more receptive. Up until about three months ago, no one would touch us in America. We've got an album just coming out in May which came out in England last year and Japan last year. Our management over here was just basically touting it around and no one was interested. All of a sudden we get this Darkness tour and we come over here with The Darkness and everyone just jumped on us. They hadn't seen the band live. They knew about us purely by reputation and our reputation's a bad one but they know our songs are good. They needed to come see the band play live first. The minute they saw the band that was it. Everyone jumped on us and it's just all changed real quickly so everybody is loving it. It feels like it's overnight.

The album that's going to be released in May is The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed.

Yes and there's a single coming out in June as well.

That's going to coincide with you guys coming back.

Yes, and then one in September and then one in January.

Every time you guys come back, "here's something new."

The Gearhead thing was an introduction done on a small but very good punk rock label. It didn't have the finances to do a proper release. With Sanctuary it's a big, big label and they have a lot of money and they can do it proper with videos. You will know our albums are out. There will be adverts everywhere and posters.

Are they releasing both albums?

Riff After Riff is out already. That isn't going to come out again. That's just kind of low key.

That's the Gut Records one.

Yes and it's on Gearhead Records as well. The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed is through a Sanctuary release and that will be the one which will have the big advertising campaign. To break into this country you have to spend money. You don't want to spend your own money.

Tell me about Riff After Riff.

Riff After Riff was originally a Japanese mini album. Riff After Riff After Motherfucking Riff. That came out about two years ago in Japan. Gearhead wanted to release that with some B-sides from our English singles so that's basically how the American version came along. There's a British version as well called Coupled With which is the same as the Gearhead release but a little bit more songs. It's quite complex because we have many record deals around the world. We're not just signed to one company. We're signed to about 12.

All three releases are basically similar but with some differences.

Yeah, the original one was just a seven track Japanese mini album. It was just to reintroduce us to Japan. We used to do very well out there.

Has the tour been going well so far?

Amazingly. I think it's the best tour I've ever done. I think it's safe to say for the rest of the band as well. The way we get treated by everyone. Everyone's just so friendly. The country's built for touring especially for rock and roll bands. We toured all over the world. I've never been in a country that's set out so well presented. Everything is good. The food is good, the facilities are good, PAs are good, the clubs are great, and the women are wonderful.

You guys did SXSW in Austin.

It was really good but the place was very small. We did a number of five headlining shows just on our own. We have a very small following over here and these are people who have been into the band for about 10 or 12 years. It was kind of a big shock to see how old they were and how few of them there were but they're very enthusiastic and enjoyed the little headlining shows we did. I don't want to play those little clubs again. I want to play with The Darkness. This is one of the smallest places we've played on the tour. All the gigs are sold out everywhere. All over the world we're sold out. It's great. We get to play in front of thousands of people every night and most of them don't even know who we are. We're converting them. We're picking up thousands of fans and it's a lot better than doing 10 club tours. This is an easier way of doing it and it's a way a lot of people said we wouldn't be able to do it. Trying to convince us that we had to do these little toilet tours. That's the way you're going to break into America. We knew there had to be another way.

The SXSW is a big deal they have every March. That's when all the heavy industry types come out.

It was good. We had the deal before we even did it so it was good for a lot of people to see us and by all accounts, apparently our show was one of the highlights of the whole thing. We had one of the best sounds but we do have really good sound. It helps.

Any other thoughts or comments?

We love America and we're coming back.

Again and again and a motherfucking again.

The Wildhearts