Sunday evening saw Ginger from The Wildhearts get to #1 in the UK Rock Charts with his new band, Hey! Hello!. That’s a pretty big deal but instead of celebrating his success, the ever-outspoken Ginger chose to take to Twitter to berate Kerrang! for not featuring his band, even going so far as to call for James McMahon’s resignation as editor of the magazine.
It stems from an apparent rejection from the magazine but descends into trolling at best; bullying at worst. At the heart of the issue is a man who loves a brand but hates what he thinks they’ve become. Kerrang!, whether it likes or believes it, covers music for a younger demographic than it used to and youth is always sneered at and looked down upon. Without that, teenage angst wouldn’t exist and neither, probably, would Kerrang!. Hey! Hello! (who are now added to the list of annoying names when writing a Word document that automatically capitalises the first letter after a punctuation mark) feel that the magazine should change to fit them in.
So how on earth did the band reach the top of the rock charts without the so coveted support of Kerrang!, you may ask yourself, but Ginger has been incredibly savvy in building up his online profile. With the use of various crowd-funding projects the cash now comes directly from his long-time and loyal fanbase. With the use of a mailing list and a thousand fans prepared to pay for every single piece of Ginger’s creative output, he’s potentially set himself up for long-term financial security – something more and more established artists are doing these days. It’s important, though, for us to not ignore the press the band has had in Classic Rock, BBC, The Sun and numerous independent online publications, even if Ginger places Kerrang! on a pedestal high above any other. Ginger places himself amongst the “independent” and “underground”. He’s certainly independent, but underground? He hasn’t been that for a long time.
I am personally asking every person who supports underground, independent music (including mine) to stop buying @KerrangMagazine. Please RT
— Ginger Wildheart (@GingerWildheart) July 26, 2013
Do Hey! Hello! need Kerrang!? Judging by the success of this album, clearly the other press that they received was enough. So why does he care so much? Ginger and Kerrang! have a long history of animosity, going back to 1995 when the magazine reported that The Wildhearts were suffering from in-fighting – something the band objected to, so they visited the magazine offices and trashed the place. There is a case that the animosity spills over into an over-reaction from Ginger. If it could be suggested that the long history of animosity might be the cause of the band’s omission from the magazine, it’s very unlikely that the current incarnation of the Kerrang! editorial team bears the grudges of the team from 18 years ago.
Does Ginger have the right to criticise or try to dictate the content of any magazine? Yes and no. Ginger isn’t a journalist, but in the same way that it is the job of a music critic to pass judgement on a band’s output – something they may be unable or unqualified to do themselves – it’s fair for Ginger to have an opinion on the content of any magazine. Some would say that calling for the editor to lose his job, however, is too far. Some would be kind in describing that as playground tactics. Some would call it bullying. Some would just call it desperate. It’s most certainly a personal vendetta.
And the crux of the matter, editorially speaking: are Hey! Hello! even a relevant enough band for Kerrang!? Probably not. As vulgar as it is to judge relevance on the number of likes on Facebook, Hey! Hello! have c.2,500 and that’s not a big deal relative to many of the bands featured in the magazine. Musically, there are some bands with a similar pop-rock sound that get into the pages of Kerrang! even though the majority of bands have more of a punk or mosh edge to them than Hey! Hello!. Musically, they’re more suited to Classic Rock or the NME, but with repeated references to how “buzzy” they are or are perceived to be, Ginger feels that it’s nothing to do with how the band sounds and everything to do with how much music industry chitter chatter there is about Hey! Hello!.
Also, this is, after all, just one of Ginger’s myriad projects and as such, is it really worth it for Kerrang! to commit to one solitary album review? If the magazine is to use its limited space to truly get behind a band, they’d usually like to do an introductory interview, and then an album review and a live review and a full feature around the album release to maximise exposure. However, the band has but two shows to their name – both in Japan – so it’s actually the band that stinks of the kind of short-termism and folly that Kerrang! is being accused of. It wouldn’t be fair, for instance, if the only reason to cover this band was because of Ginger’s involvement. If the band’s got legs and it can be a going concern that Kerrang! can help develop over time, then it’s absolutely something they should get behind. That doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment.
I don’t hate Kerrang!, and believe it could be an important magazine again with a new editor who believes in the future of UK rock. — Ginger Wildheart (@GingerWildheart) July 26, 2013
Ginger’s smart enough to know that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, however, and the fact that this article has been written at all just proves that. Ultimately, Hey! Hello! are functioning just fine on their own. He rightly points out that the chart placing is a victory for his fans and following on from Ginger’s online crusade for independence, at which he’s succeeding so well, his Kerrang!-oriented cries seem uneccessary, but if it’s attention that he wanted, that’s what he’s got. Hopefully, one day he’ll be able to take a moment to appreciate his success and acknowledge those who do appreciate his band without requiring the validation of a single institution.
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