Thrash Hits

July 30th, 2013

Why does Ginger Wildheart care so much about Kerrang!?

hey hello Victoria Liedtke Ginger Wildheart promo photo wildhearts 2013 kerrang

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.

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.

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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Comments

  • Calum McMillan

    Top notch work yet again gents. I always love how well thought out, balanced, wityy and focused your editorial stuff is.

  • Julie

    Ginger is forever showing an attitude of gratitude to his fans, fellow musicians and team. Do your research.

    • Tom

      I don’t think this article does suggest his is ungrateful to his fans?

      • Gaz

        ‘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.’

        Erm…

      • Tom

        Yea, what you’ve done there is read the first clause of the sentence and not take into account the last part.

        E.g He is acknowledging those who support his band now but hopefully in the future will be able to do so without an additional need to seek the validation of another source.

        Hope that clears that up.

      • Gaz

        No it didn’t. Could you spell it out, perhaps syllable by syllable so that I can fully digest it over the coming weeks?

        Should have used i.e. and not eg, too, but let’s not be too finicky.

        But anyway, yeah – what Julie is getting at is that the sentence itself isn’t really true. Even if it is true in this particular instance, the assumption and tacit implication there is that *every* time he has a good record, he baits Kerrang! or begs them for a thumbs-up. He doesn’t.

      • Tom

        As I said, I’m just pointing out that the article isn’t suggesting that Ginger is ever ungrateful to his fans. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • James Southard

    Whether he’s right or wrong, there’s no argument that home grown, non corporate music is dying in the U.K and has been for years.

    Any band who get to number one in the rock charts with no promotion and off the back of their fans, deserve at least some recognition from all major “rock” magazines.

  • P_C

    While I agree this is sort of an unnecessary diversion from the actual music (which is absolutely brilliant), given Ginger’s history it’s hardly surprising that he’s gonna speak up against the press.

    And as he and others have said, the crux of the matter is that ANY artist with a UK no.1 rock album should be featured in all major music press. Has Ginger gone to far with his rallying of the troops and supposed ‘bullying’… probably. Has he got a point? Yes.

    • http://www.thrashhits.com/ Raz

      You wouldn’t call it bullying if I got a bunch of my mates together and ganged up on you? INTERESTING, BUDDY.

      • dazza

        The fact that Kerrang! put purile crap like Black Veil Brides on its front covers regulary justified Ginger’s comments. Kerrang! is the smash hits of rock music nowadays – shame

      • P_C

        I think Kerrang! is pretty used to passionate/offensive remarks on a regular basis by a LOT of people, but I agree it’s too far for Ginger to take it.

        Don’t agree so much with the sarcasm tho’.

  • Reason Above All

    Kerrang is a mag for teenagers. I’d understand if he was upset he didn’t get into Classic Rock

  • Joe

    The point is, Kerrang! used to be a legitimate rock magazine, with fine journalistic quality, now it’s all lists and photos and very little actual journalism. Kerrang! should be supporting UK rock and metal as a whole, not just the flavour of the week. It’s gone downhill in much the same way NME has in terms of indie music, and it’s sad that the only rock weekly is more of a fashion statement than a music magazine nowadays.

  • CalaveraBlues

    I’ve had scissors and paper that are more rock than that Swimwear song.

  • Nick

    Hmmm, I think Ginger’s main beef is with Kerrang! bestowing coverage on bands depending on how ‘buzzy’ or trendy they’re perceived to be.

    Surely he has a point when he says that it’s magazines like Kerrang! that should create the buzz, not just follow the trends. They certainly used to when I was a regular reader back in the nineties (yes, I’m a mid-30s old fart).

    Maybe some would say it’s a bit naive, but Ginger obviously thinks it’s incumbent on Kerrang! to scout and support new acts, rather than just follow a superficial buzz. As he says in ‘How I Won the Punk Wars’, “no one’s an expert on what’s coming next.”

    I doubt he has a personal vendetta against James McMahon, it’s probably a case of his passion for great-but-ignored music getting the better of him.

    Perhaps once he’s cooled off a bit he’d agree that calling for someone to lose their job isn’t necessary (not that I know the guy, I’m just a long term fan).

    I don’t agree with the comments that Kerrang! would get behind them if they proved they had ‘legs’. I’m sure they’d be right on a side project by messrs Grohl, Homme or Way for example.

    If that was their modus operandi, then fair enough, but it’s clearly not.

    As for Ginger not being ‘underground’, well he’s not mainstream, so what else do you call it? He’s not signed to a major, the Carling festival won’t book him, you never see him on Jools Holland or (gulp) the X Factor/Strictly (unlike MSP).

    I’d say that’s pretty underground, he just has a large and loyal fanbase due to releasing acres of quality music over the last two decades.

    • diggerdan

      You know what, try selling a magazine based on what ‘should’ (entirely subjective) sell magazines (in a dwindling media format).

      I’m sorry, but reality bites hard. If putting Ginger on the cover of Kerrang might satisfy you and him, it might not satisfy the the increasing few who do, who pay for the magazine and pay for the overheads to run such a magazine. I’m sure those providing electricity, printing, distribution and other costs will understand yours and Gingers penchant for 90′s rock as much as anyone. But the enthusiasm of a few doesn’t pay for the bills of the few in this day an age.

      And lets face it – this isn’t a magazine of complete noobs to the gauntlet of magazine and content production for the music industry. *SPOILER* PERHAPS THEY KNOW WHAT SELLS AND PAYS THE BILLS, AND IT ISN’T 90′S ROCK! It’s almost as if music had moved on since since the 90′s (you mid 30′s fart).

      Sorry to burst the bubble here fellas, but old rockers who want to put out yet ANOTHER side project which sounds (surprisingly) like the majority of their other output isn’t huge news, especially to the youth of today (who arguably, are the paying demographic of a magazine with bills to pay – not to mention the dwindling circulation figures of ALL music magazines, with little digital turnout to make up for the loss).
      To list;
      The Quireboys
      The Wildhearts
      Supershit 666
      Clam Abuse
      Silver Ginger 5
      Brides of Destruction
      Ginger & The Sonic Circus
      Howling Willy Cunt
      Michael Monroe Band

      Not to mention the very numerous solo releases, guest appearances, blah blah blah blah.

      Perhaps this is a case of an act watering their beer too much? Perhaps a break in releasing/projects/touring might generate enough interest for a quality act to justify an article on whatever fan-laden-praise-worthy project they decide to put out?

      Let’s be honest here – it’s hardly news that Ginger has a new project out, as much as I do love him. Perhaps a bitter old sod should get used to Rolling Stone or do something more current, or else be stuck in a pastiche of 80′s’/90′s rock style side projects forever.

      Innovate or Stagnate.

      • Nick

        I take your (rather patronising) point about the commercial reality of selling a music magazine.

        But a couple of other points:

        Hey!Hello! isn’t ’90s rock’. It sounds fresh and relevant.

        Ginger hasn’t objected to not being on the cover, but K!’s decision not to run a feature on them due to allegedly not being ‘buzzy’ enough.

        Ginger is only 50% of Hey!Hello! The other half is a rather photogenic, charismatic female. She’s got ‘boys want to be with her/ girls want to be her’ written all over her. And if we’re getting down to base commerciality, what sells better than that?

        I think your ‘innovate or stagnate’ flies in the face of Ginger releasing both his most experimental and heavy music under the Mutation banner, and most direct, poppy music under Hey!Hello.Not to mention his use of Pledge music, and the interactive incentives that go along with it.

  • Scott Walker

    Kerrang ceased to be relevant or objective yrs ago, when it became Marilyn Manson weekly. Ginger is a gifted songwriter & crusader for the diversity of rock, who has found a way to circumvent the short term plans of the recording industry that increasingly rely on classic rock compilations to keep making profit. Hooray for Ginger.

  • frank

    kerrang is crap now, once the name stood for everything metal. thats what the name meant the striking of a power chord,unfortunately me thinks commerce and money dictated the shift to what bis almost like smash hits

  • peace

    A well written article, however, kerrang is meant to be for rock/metal fans, if it dosnt cover the number 1 song in the rock charts then i think that’s fair complaint. In addition, i would say music sales are more important than Facebook likes, after all, is it not about the music :) :)

  • jeremy

    He’s always had a love/hate thing with Kerrang and whilst you’re right that they’re aiming for a younger demographic, young people do like lots of music, not just music meant for young people, who are you (or Kerrang) to decide this – When I was younger I liked Saxon, Kerrang featured them and younger bands simultaneously – why is this not possible now? Have kids suddenly implemented a date whereby any music released before it they instantly ignore? Also, I think we can all agree that the quality of the writing and coverage of Kerrang has been on a steady decline since the wondrous Paul B stopped editing it – their owners don’t invest properly in the magazine, due to the drop in fee, their best writers went to metal hammer and other publications – Now it’s no better than a fanzine, and it’s tone of sucking up to all the bands and trying to be all mates-y with their audience personally makes me feel sick – it’s no better than the quality of smash hits in places…

  • Dan Halen

    Interesting one this. Ginger’s got previous for inciting things via twitter. He encouraged people to tear into a Canadian kid for having the audacity to call his band ‘Wildheart’.

    On the whole though he’s an amazing creative, driven, passionate guy hugely supportive of UK rock music at all levels. Best of all he doesn’t sit on the fence playing it safe, so every so often he’s bound to put a few noses out of joint.

    As for Kerrang, there’s a PDF floating around the interwebs somewhere from the early 00s from the publishers that talks about corporate strategy and attempting to creating effectively a Smash Hits for teenagers. It worked clearly.

    Under Brannigan it seemed to open it’s doors to all genres again and was all the better for it. Since McMahon’s appointment he’s come across a few times on the Kerrang! twitter feed as a bit of self-publicist.

    Suggestion Hey! Hello! or any rock act should be happy to be pushed into a further niche publication seems kinda backward. If you’re the UK’s biggest home-grown rock act in a particular week, you should be getting coverage in the nation’s most iconic rock magazine. The trouble with chasing trends is you’ll never catch them.

  • Ben Janet

    This is not a tirade at the author in any way, however; ‘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.’

    I hardly think that the one day of the year Ginger decides to have a rant at Kerrang amounts to him putting the magazine on some sort of pedestal as suggested in the article.

    I’d be pissed off too if a magazine that seems to have narrowed its horizons to the point where it now deliberately features only the genres within rock that are THE most popular and refuses to give decent coverage to anything otherwise, when given the opportunity to feature a band at number fucking 1 in the rock album charts no less, snubs them because they don’t fit into whatever category of band Kerrang has stuck like superglue to covering for the last few years.
    As the article says Kerrang now has younger readers and for a band like Hey! Hello! it would have been a great chance to be introduced to a younger fanbase, and why not right now when there’s a ‘buzz’ around them. As for Hey! Hello! not having proved themselves as a new band, what are you expecting? It’s a Ginger Wildheart album, that’s no secret just because it’s under a different name, what’s to prove? The music’s obviously got the legs to go the distance if given the chance. It doesn’t matter which of Ginger’s several projects goes out on tour next, it’s all good music by the same bloke.
    The guy probably just thought that the magazine might still have had some sense of adventure and has finally been forced to admit that it really is a shadow of what it used to be.

    The reason Kerrang is so fucking annoying is because it’s not providing younger rock fans with the full picture when it could be introducing them to all sorts of gems.

  • Danthrax

    K! could of at least put something in about 555% and the way Ginger used Pledge music to show that the artist can do it for themself and not need all the middle men to make a record, afterall he did win an award from doing it.

  • Dan ThePilot Wallis

    One thing this article misses out on is surely a main reason to review the album – it’s No1 in the rock charts. Regardless of gigs, opinions on if it’s suitable for kerrang or not, and the ginger connection -surely kerrang should review the number 1 rock album, even if just to say it’s a bit too pop to be in the rock sharts and thereforwe comment on how rock is perceived these days

  • Jon Mitchell

    I can get why he wants to get into Kerrang!. Getting into young culture circuits helps cement the social growth of your band’s fan base. But isn’t it a little desperate to slag them off because they went for their typical music scene. He raises a valid point that perhaps Kerrang! perhaps should talk about rock success stories to help spread the wealth of rock music in this country. But it all comes out through a pointless rage and as you said some rather harsh comments about their editor.

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