The Mutation interview: where do we start? Boredom, mental health, the end of the world and the Monk vs. Minstrel debate, or Country music, melody and the meaning of life – you choose…
In all the years I’ve listened to the music of Ginger in its various forms, I’ve never had the chance to chat to the man himself. I remember years ago reading the column he used to do on The Wildhearts website where he fearlessly tackled any subject so I knew he was witty, erudite and opinionated but honestly I didn’t know what to expect especially when we were talking due to the release of his Mutation project’s third release – III Dark Black. It ended up being one of the most memorable interviews I’ve ever done. In fact I’m not sure it was an interview – it was like one huge feedback charged riff. It made me laugh, it made me think and here it is pretty much as it happened.
But before we start – go buy Mutation III – Dark Black, it’s an album of extremes and even more so coming as it does so soon after ‘Ghost In the Tanglewood’ Ginger’s first foray into Country music. But he explains that later better than I can here…
I get a message: it reads ‘ready?’ I push record on the microphone and dial. There’s music in the background, it sounds strangely like the new Mutation album…
Mark: (there’s loud music in the background as the call connects) Hi there mate, how are you?
Ginger: Hello there can you hear me? (pause) Sorry about that I was just educating my eight year old boy Taylor, giving him a listen to Mutation.
Mark: He was listening to the new album with you?
Ginger: Well a few choice cuts… He’s getting an education musically, he’s a big fan of rap, a big fan of Punk and I’m getting him into Extreme Metal.
Mark: He’s moving ever upwards then!
Ginger: It’s his birthday next week and I’m already booked into the studio to do a mini album for his birthday. That’s what he wants to do, and some of that’s my fault but I’m not writing the songs for him, and he has got a talent.
Mark: Great to see it runs in the family.
Ginger: It doesn’t run in my family, I’m the first musical person in my entire family tree. My family are purely grafters. And then I came along and I don’t know where I got it from but it seems to be in my genes so my eldest boy and my youngest boy very much want to play music for a living, but they’re writing their own songs and that’s not just something that comes to any old kid so somethings going on, I think I’ve changed the genes in my DNA. Actually I think The Sweet changed he genes in my DNA, I think seeing The Sweet on Top of the Pops actually did affect my DNA so now my kids are affected… by it. (Ginger pauses to ponder)
Mark: I can’t think of a better or more qualified band to have messing about with your DNA…
Ginger: Oh man, The Sweet was the one, they were playing Blockbuster and ‘e ‘ad his 335 guitar and he has a sticker on it, and on the sticker was an inverted smiley face and at one point the camera zoomed in on the sticker and it just had the word ‘shit’ on the bottom in little letters, and that was it for me. And my parents hated it, that was another important factor. But that was a massive changing point in my life.
Mark: It was an amazing part of my childhood too to see bands like that on one of the few outlets for music in those days, when you still had things like ‘anticipation’ and still eagerly waited for new thing to discover rather than be bombarded by things we’d never want to even see these days. What ever happened to Top of the Pops?
Ginger: Money. Rich record companies thinking they had a better way to do it and now where are they?
Mark: They’re still employing a lot of accountants…
Mark: Not a bad couple of discussion points for an interview that I’m sure we’ll get back to, ‘The Sweet’ as a subversive force of nature and the decline of the music ‘business’. At this point I’d just like to extend a belated welcome to you from a rather crisp 4a.m. Perth morning!
Ginger: How is it? Is it still nice and balmy and warm?
Mark: It’s pretty cold this morning before sun-up, not by impressive UK standards but reasonably crisp for the natives.
Ginger: I love it there, I love it, and if I could be anywhere else it would be in Australia.
Mark: It’s been a while, I think the last time you graced our golden shores was with Courtney Love back in August 2014 getting on for three years ago now?
Ginger: Yeah, yeah, last time I was over there was with Courtney and that’s always eventful, that nearly killed me! But I’ve always loved Australia and Australians, I’ve always got on with them, they’re like Glaswegians, there’s nothing bollocks about them. You make a friend with an Aussie and they’re a friend and I’ve always loved it. My uncles went to Australia and it’s been in my family that connection a long time, I’ve always loved Australian bands like Hoodoo Gurus, even Australian movies, some of my favourite movies are Australian, you guys just make incredible movies. Like The Castle – what an incredible film and it couldn’t have been made anywhere else.
Mark: You’re right it couldn’t and it’s good that it translates.
Ginger: It translates because it’s a story of justice, it’s a story of someone being passionate about something and that passion transcending the social barriers that traps every other country in being slaves to the media. There’s that beautiful scene where the Dad’s there and he’s losing the case and he’s sitting next to one of the judges and he just starts cracking on saying “yeah my son’s doing this and that” and because he’s a good guy it works out for him. It doesn’t always work out for good guys but you now that’s what’s supposed to happen…. (There’s a brief pause called by the time lag on the call, but as Ginger says “we’ll persevere” and during the pause I try to get some logistics out of the way…)
Mark: How long have we got Ginger?
Ginger: What’s that mate?
Mark: How long have we got?
Ginger: About another 40 or 30 years, I don’t know about you!
Ginger: I plan on being here for a long time!
Mark: (still laughing) I meant how long have we got for this conversation?
Ginger: I don’t know it depends if it starts getting boring or not!
Mark: (laughs) That could happen really quickly with me so I better start getting some questions out! (laughing) The third Mutation album ‘Dark Black’…
Ginger: What’s that mate Dark Black? Yeah it’s great isn’t it? Do you like it?
Mark: I like it, I’ve been playing it all week, it’s hard to get into at first but once it sucks you in there you can’t get it out of your head.
Ginger: Aye, it’s not for everyone though! It’s not for everyone, there’s got to be a disclosure – keep the receipt boys and girls. But I think if like a bit of, and the Aussies do, if you like a bit of ‘In Yer Face’ you know, but you could do a lot worse with your 20 bucks you know! I mean there’s a lot of crap out there so shop wisely guys. I mean Mutation’s out there, while you’re buying the best of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers buy Mutation too so you don’t have to take both of them back to the shop!
Mark: It’s a bit of a rapid change of pace after the Country album?
Ginger: Yes, but both from different sides of the same ‘coin of honesty’ if you like, without sounding like someone like Paul Stanley from Kiss. Um, there’s a lot to be said for honesty and I think the best music comes from that honesty, whether you want the honesty of Poison or, I was gonna say Nickelback, but that doesn’t really count… and I’m not a Poison fan either but at least it’s honesty if some guy wants to wear make-up great good luck to him, I’m way to ugly. But my idea of honesty is to be really open and almost vulnerable with the lyrics and when you’re playing something like Country music or Folk music you can do that because the music isn’t getting in the way. And then with Mutation I want people to figure out their own interpretation of what the lyrics men because music is getting in the way. Very much in the way, barging into the party and it’s taking over. But yeah they’re very much both sides of the same thing for me, I just find myself being a few years older than some of these young whipper-snappers but with every inch the cheekbones and I find myself needing honesty in everything, and music’s no different.
Mark: So is that what inspires you then? That pursuit of real honesty? Bearing your soul through the music?
Ginger: Nah… what I would say inspires me is how much I hate human beings for the most part. I like the good ones, I like the Australian ones, or at least the ones I’ve met, I like a lot of people from America and a lot of people from the UK, but look at what we’re doing tour countries, look at the game we’re playing! First of all we’ve got X-Factor, now we’re playing X-Factor with Politics, we’re getting Britain to leave Europe and there was only 26% of the Country even bothered to vote. And I’m sorry I went into completely a different thing there, but my frustrations are my inspiration. And I can’t believe how fucking stupid people are and how they keep making these ridiculous choices based on being stubborn. Based on having habits. And the fact that we don’t want to look after each other drives me fucking nuts, so yeah my main inspiration is how much I dislike the human race.
Mark: Do you think there is gullibility that has crept up on us in the last ten or fifteen years largely attributable to digital media and it’s something that’s snowballed out of laziness and the fear to hold a real opinion that others might not agree with? I remember that being sceptical used to be a good thing – reading an opinion and then using your logic and experience, or god forbid checking facts to inform your own thinking. These days people seem to read something in the media or on Facebook and think it’s a kind of unquestionable truth.
Ginger: No it goes way back, it’s been rife since the first newspaper had a rival and one of them was Socialist and one of them was self-interested and they started to gather fan clubs. Then in the 70’s politicians stopped being as important as banking systems, and in the 80’s, Christ almighty you couldn’t have hoped for a worse decade people started to get rich on crap music and now we’re at this point where we don’t really have politicians making choices. We all know we’re being lied to, we all know banking systems are in charge of the world and the only hope we’ve got is being a decent bloke or a decent girl. And you just see all these people voting for these ridiculous things and you wonder ‘what are you thinking?’ I know what you’re thinking about, I know you’re not thinking about anything, what part of your body are you actually thinking with? Because it ain’t your fucking heart because there’s no empathy in those decisions, and it ain’t your brain because you don’t even know that you’re gonna be the first one that gets fucked. They’re thinking with the pocket in their fucking jeans, that’s what they’re thinking with. There’s so many greedy selfish people in the world right now it’s as much as you can do to just cling on tight and stay close to your values. And as a musician I can’t even understand how someone could even make something that’s supposed to be so commercially accessible as Pop right now because the world is a disgusting place. Surely there must be something in you that says ‘I just want to scream’. I just want to go onstage and scream. And if you don’t then… you ain’t like me buddy.
Mark: Well you’re certainly letting out that scream on this album! Is there any hope then do you think? Any hope for a decent honest bloke? Can we change?
Ginger: Spiritually I think we’re fucked. I think we had the chance of making a choice of a spiritual life or a material life and we’ve made that choice and everyone’s followed since. So the chances of us really developing or evolving spiritually are probably over, apart from a very small minority of what I consider awesome people. But there’s such a lot of greedy stupid people who think that they’re gonna be happy because they have these goals that elevate their social status, and when they get in reach of these goals they realise that they didn’t really exist anyway and they’re just stuck there at 40 or 50 years old saying ‘I’m unhappy and I’ve wasted my whole life.’ So I don’t think it’s gonna get any better, I think it’s all going to go to hell in a hand basket, and we should all just get together and party?
Mark: We’re all just along for the ride then…
Ginger: The end of the world will be the end of the world for everyone so let’s just make sure that we have the right parties because we’re wasting time.
Mark: Well I think we’ve got the right people in place now to maybe hasten the end and call last orders?
Ginger: Well I’m not sure. I’m not sure how much North Korea actually do scare anyone. A lot of people go to American wrestling and don’t know it’s fixed. I think those people probably voted for Bush, since then it’s not really been a proper political race, it’s a comedy show. Is it dangerous or is it just a bit of light entertainment? ‘Come on you’ve had your fun’ Let’s start getting this together. The juries out right now. I don’t know if these people are dangerous or they’re really just good effective comedy characters? No idea mate…
Mark: I think a lot of us have almost stopped caring out of a sense of frustration. Maybe that was the idea? It’s got to the point where we all feel helpless to a certain degree, I hear that frustration in you and I guess a lot of that frustration you got to put on the album.
Ginger: Ahhh, some of it. I mean the album’s born of frustration from yourself it’s not really aiming outwards, it’s taken from the inside and getting it out of your system. Maybe the next Mutation album will be aiming outwards? But we haven’t got all of our frustration out on this album, nowhere near mate, nowhere near.
Mark: As one of the most prolific writers of his generation what drives you? Can you ever turn off the tap and do you find yourself getting bored easily?
Ginger: Oh yeah I get bored really easily. I think most people do it’s just that I’m really good at doing something about it. I’m really good at finding things to do. I feel those pangs of boredom like anybody else but I don’t get debilitated by boredom because I’ve usually got one of a number of things I could be doing. I don’t always do them and sometimes they don’t even make any sense to me at the end of the day, but I’ve got to get these things out of my system. I’ve got a lot of imperfections as a human being, I’ve got a lot of problems mental health-wise but maybe they’re the saving graces. Maybe the lucky people are those with Mental Health issues? We’ve got something to take our minds of some of the crap that’s going on in the world. Who knows? As long as you’ve got something to get you through the day, whether it’s going to church, sucking on a bottle or whatever it is. Boredom breeds motivation and motivation breeds hopefully, action. You’re not just doing this for yourself you know, you’re doing this for other people, you should be trying to inspire other people and doing whatever it is on your mind, the only people who get bored and stay bored are the ones who have got no imagination or no balls, and thankfully I’m neither.
Mark: Have you already got your next project in mind?
Ginger: Nah, I just want to really start promoting Mutation and when the next Country album comes out next year get into really promoting that. And I want to do both of them, and they’re gonna be such extremes of each other. It’s just gonna be such fun. You know get your animal head on get covered in blood and do Mutation and then just get back to yourself and sharing something with people and do the more melodic stuff, and that’s all I really want to do for the… for the rest of the world as far as I’m concerned. As far as I know this could be the last conversation anyone has, we could all be gone tomorrow.
Mark: It could be… At least it’s not football season.
Ginger: Well it’s been good to talk to you anyway…
Mark: So what will it be? Nuclear War? Zombie Apocalypse? Skies full of drones when you’re bringing the milk in?
Ginger: It won’t be anything that’s gonna effect rich people so you can guarantee it’s going to be shock and awe, there’s going to be lots of video game bombings going on, and there’s going to be a lot of cannon fodder, so there’ll be lots of kids going and fighting. And there’s going to be a lot of rich people that need to get out of this unscathed so I can’t see the nuclear thing working out for them. We’re all slaves to some kind of system, we’ve all got bosses and their bosses have got bosses so no, I can’t see the nuclear thing panning out at all. The Zombie thing… what’s the fucking difference? How would we even know?
Mark: (laughs) good point, well made. As far as music is concerned what’s the best part of the process for you? Is it the execution of ideas or the playing it all live after the work is done?
Ginger: Writing it. Getting an idea and getting that idea from your head to the world. Not even for anyone to listen to, just to get it out so it’s not inside of you, that’s the first stage of a birth. That’s my favourite part, it’s a bit like, you know, finding out your pregnant.
Mark: (laughs) that’s a brilliant description…
Ginger: …and then the rest of it’s all a process and at the end of it… It’s all good really, you can’t complain about any of it, I mean my uncles worked in a mine, that’s a different world. But the best bit you know is (shouts) ‘Incoming!’ And then you run through it on guitar and it’s like ‘there is something here, oh my God, we’re going to get a baby out of this’… and in Mutation’s case, a very ugly baby.
Mark: (laughing) are we likely to see you Downunder again soon? Maybe with this project or the Country album?
Ginger: I hope so mate, I hope so. At some point my fortune is going to change as far as Australia is concerned because every time I go there I think, why am I not here a lot more of the time? I like the people, they like me, we get on. You’ve got everything I like, I like drinking, I like eating, I like pretty girls and you seem to have those, so why don’t we see each other more often? I don’t know why I’ve not been more but I do intend to change that because I like Australia, I feel part of it and I’ll be fucked if I’ll be sat here and not be a part of it! People like Nickelback and Linkin Park and fucking Red Hot Chilli Peppers are going there and taking your money!
Mark: Well not my money…
Mark: It’s approaching 30 years of the Wildhearts and you’ve put out far more albums than most during that time. Does it feel like that long and do you ever see yourself ever slowing down?
Ginger: No, no, no (laughing) it feels more like 45!
Mark: You talked a while back about maybe recording another album with that band, is that somewhere off in the distance now or even in the rear-view mirror now?
Ginger: I don’t know, I mean I’d like to do something. Danny our bass player lost half his leg so I’d like to do something so we can earn some money for a fallen brother. But as a long-term commitment, nahh, I mean it was fun and it’s nice that we’re all still alive but I’m not ‘there’ anymore.
Mark: Sometimes you know the answer before you ask the question but you still feel strangely compelled to ask. I think you let this one out in the first minute but just to be sure… Taking it all the way back what was it that made you pick up the guitar in the first place?
Ginger: Sweet! The Sweet on Top of the Pops.
Mark: And that was the life changing moment?
Ginger: Yeah, when I saw that sticker with ‘shit’ written on it that was it! I thought – I’ll play the guitar I’ll play music it’s not going to be a million miles away from that and it really is, I’m never really a million miles away from The Sweet, whatever I do it’s still got an element of The Sweet in it even if it’s noisy. There’s something about them, they came out in what was effectively still The Beatles landscape and they just said we’re gonna make this kind of obnoxious. They opened the door for so many bands and they don’t get the kudos that they deserve so I’m always in their debt.
Mark: They wrote so many great songs themselves in-between that ‘Chinnichap’ stuff, a lot of what they wrote is just as good if not better.
Ginger: ‘Fox on the Run’ – they never had a better song than Fox on the Run and they wrote that themselves.
Mark: ‘Love is Like Oxygen’, that great comeback song too, and so many more. Great band and still going in two formats. We get the Andy Scott version Downunder regularly. If you could have been a ‘fly on the wall’ for the creation of any great album just to see how the magic happened would it have been a Sweet album?
Ginger: No it would have been ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac.
Mark: Just to see all the dramas and conflict that was going down?
Ginger: Yeah, and to see the amount of drugs that were going down. You know – Stevie Nicks – do I have to spell it out! (sighs) There would have been some happy flies in that place, just contact buzz alone! I mean I know flies are only here for 24 hours but that would have been a happy 24 hours hanging around with Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks, god…
Mark: And not a bad album either as it turned out, of course they might have died if they’d tried to recreate it!
Mark: So what’s next for you then? When do we see you next onstage?
Ginger: The day after tomorrow. I say I’m not gonna play live and I make a conscious effort to never play live again but I always end up doing it. And then when I get up on stage I realise that it is the place that I feel most comfortable being. As much as I like to think I could just be a normal person and just do gardening as something… I fucking hate gardening (laughs) I like being in front of people. I’m doing a gig with Jase Edwards from Wolfsbane, my acoustic partner and it’s always different it’s always special and it’s always very, very emotional because you get direct contact with the people in the crowd. There’s no security between you, they’re there in your face and nine times out of ten there ain’t no stage and it’s that thing that people talk about getting back to your roots, I’m not getting back to any root, that’s still me there’s no roots and that’s the difference between being a musician and being a Pop Star I guess. Musicians need to go out and do that ‘trade’ that musicians have always done – going to a town and telling stories then fucking off and going to another town. And in the time that you’re in that town you get fed and watered and entertained and then the whole thing moves on. And I feel that I’m still continuing that tradition of minstrels going around. The Monks get way too much credit for the history of places, you know who spread the history of Britain? Not travelling Monks, travelling musicians. They were the ones who went to the next town told you who you should be scared of and who was really nice not the monks. The Monks were in it for themselves, it was the musicians that had nothing to lose: ‘get me a nice play to stay, a nice girl for the night and I’ll tell you what was going on at the last place I was at’. And that’s what we’re still doing – going there for a night and making something happen for that one night, till we’re back again, and then it should just be a constant circuit where we’re gonna come back. What I’ve found in my career it’s been so fragmented so I don’t have that circuit, I don’t have that constant movement, I’ve darted around all over the place, I’m like the fucking firework that won’t stop burning. And I’d like to just have a nice circuit where I see Perth every now and again, maybe once a year, every couple of years and then I’d be able to say ‘hey I’ve missed you, but boy you’ve put on some weight, your daughter’s looking really good!’ that sort of thing you know. I need something that’s a bit more like that minstrel life and I’m finding I’m cheating myself by not doing that ‘cos I’m not normal, I’m a musician and there’s something wrong with all of us otherwise we’d quit at 40. I think 40 years old is as much as you can get from pretending to play music. After 40 you obviously mean it. You do and I just want to get out there and play more music to more people and that’s all I really want to do. And I’ve got no intention of doing anything else.
Mark: Do you think you’ll change further then as you get older? For someone who has got such a catalogue of styles and a real diversity especially in the music you’re putting out at the moment do you think that will increase and you’ll experiment even more over time?
Ginger: Of course, of course, I mean I don’t know what it’s going to be but of course it will change. Any man who thinks the same at 20 as they do at 50 has wasted 30 years of their life. I mean you change as an organic being every 7 years, every cell regenerates, or at least dies and another comes in its place so you’re effectively a different person every 7 years which is where the 7-year Itch thing comes from. But I’ve been doing music for so long now that I pretty much know I’m not going to do anything else and I’ve changed so much as a human being that I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll change. I come across people in music that say ‘I don’t trust change’ I mean there’s some pretty weird people in music but everything changes it’s nature’s way isn’t it, you’ve got to accept change, it’s not always good –I mean I’ve got to wear glasses to read now, that wasn’t a good change. But I’ve got a lot of wisdom over the years I mean if you’ve got to wear glasses to read and take a blue pill to have a shag you better get something in return! I’m a lot smarter than I was before.
Mark: I get the feeling that you don’t see yourself out there on the porch one day playing the blues; that would be far too dull?
Ginger: No. God I hope no, no that’s not ever been. No, I don’t want to sit on the porch and play anything, no. That’s horrible, that’s what happens in hell!
Mark: You’d prefer to be a Spinal Tap drummer?
Ginger: Oh yeah, I’d be happy to die tonight! The idea of getting old sat on a porch paying anything – I don’t want that I want to burn out bright. I’ve still got a lot of energy for a 52 year old. I don’t want to be so old I can’t do what I want to do, sit on a porch playing the Blues – no, I’d much rather get cancer. Seriously I would, I’d rather get cancer instead of someone else getting it. In fact there’s oftentimes I think it’s a noble way of bowing out, to get a terminal illness. Effectively you can say God did it, and you can go out in an inspirational way ad you still get to say goodbye to people. There’s people dying all the time that don’t want to – they want to live, I couldn’t give a fuck about living, or dying to be honest, I take every second as it comes and if I could get cancer instead of someone else you bet I’d want that. I’ve got no desire to be here for another fucking 90 years.
Mark: So what’s the answer to all our problems then? Can music do anything as we shuffle off this mortal coil? Can it do what we were told it could in the 60’s? Can it unite people? Save the world?
Ginger: No, nothing’s gonna solve our problems we’re fucked. We better all just find out what drink you really like drinking, what drugs you really like taking and then just party like it’s fucking… (laughs) I was gonna say 1999… If the world is fucked, if our leaders really are getting taken seriously by the global community of world leaders then yeah, party your brains out every day. If you’ve got a shitty job –leave it, if you’re in a shitty relationship leave it, if you’ve always wanted to travel the world do it – absolutely! When things are as politically chaotic as they are right now there is no long term answer – there’s just a short term answer – do exactly what you’ve always wanted to do and stop doing all those things that you don’t want to do. Because you know what? As long as you’re a good person you deserve a good life, whether it’s a million years, ten years or the next ten days.
Mark: We always end things by asking ‘what is the meaning of life’. I think I’m ready for the answer before it’s too late!
Ginger: We are the shittest life form on the planet and the number two shittest life for is wasps and we’re worse than wasps. The meaning of life – I don’t know – maybe you did something shit in a past life and you came back as a human. The meaning of life is don’t take this species too seriously, we’re fucked! We’re a bunch of morons…The meaning of life is probably lighten up and drink more!
Mark: (laughs) I think I could live by that last one.
Ginger: (laughs) and on that note my glass is empty and I’m gonna fill it back up with red wine.
Mark: I don’t blame you mate. I must say I really enjoyed that.
Ginger: You should do you should enjoy interviews, and musicians should be interesting! We’re supposed to be mavericks, we’re supposed to be outlaws and what do people talk about? What they’re trying to sell! It’s disgusting. But I’m glad it was interesting, it was interesting for me. Bon Scott was interesting, it didn’t matter how long he was around for, he didn’t give a shit. Say what you mean, mean what you say and just hope that you find some people that you agree with. And that’s it really, stop being such a puppet, stop being such a salesperson and play your fucking guitar!
Mark: Long may you continue to make music, raise a glass for us down-under and don’t forget to get back soon.
Ginger: You kidding, after this I’m coming back soon and it would be a pleasure to come back with Mutation. That would be so ironic if Mutation got some success and made it Downunder! Let’s get together, let’s get noisy and let’s get really drunk!
Mark: it’s been a pleasure to talk to you mate, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to The Rockpit.
Ginger: I’ll see you soon it’s a promise
If you liked that as much as we did and want to know more about Ginger’s attest project we’ve attached the press release for your delectation…
MUTATION – III DARK BLACK PRESS RELEASE
What do you do when everything goes to shit? Not normal, mundane, day-to-day shit, but AAAARRRGGGHHHH KILL EVERYBODY AND START WITH ME shit. Depression, anxiety, misery, torment, whatever you want to call it. It needs a name and it needs a soundtrack. Welcome to Mutation III: Dark Black.
Mutation began as the deformed brainchild of Ginger Wildheart, one of British rock’s official living legends and the man behind The Wildhearts, Hey! Hello! and all manner of wildly tuneful and uplifting rock’n’roll shenanigans. This band is different, however. This band is the manifestation of all the horrible stuff that goes on in Ginger’s head. As a result, the first two Mutation albums were laborious in their creation but mind-blowing to all those who heard the: 2013’s ‘The Frankenstein Effect’ was like a Wildhearts album recorded by PCP-guzzling baboons, while ‘Error 500’ was a relentless barrage of squawking, screeching, glitched-to-fuck wrongness. Both featured an ignominious cast of characters that Ginger assembled to facilitate his sonic meltdown, with everyone from Napalm Death and Japanoise icon Merzbow to The Fall’s Mark E. Smith chipping in some wonky nuggets of aural sickness. But even the most extreme moments on the first two Mutation records sound like David Essex’s Hold Me Close compared to the foul, seething, mentally shattered insanity of ‘Mutation III: Dark Black’. A collaboration between Ginger and Scott Lee Andrews of Welsh bass-punk wretches Exit International, /this/ time the madness is very, very real.
“We’re professionally diagnosed sufferers of various mental health problems,” says Ginger. “Seriously. I think in this case it comes as a blessing, as we have no idea what responsible extremes are. The album almost didn’t happen. Scott came to write and demo with me in my caravan. I was going through a severe bout of depression, and told him that this writing session probably wouldn’t happen. He said ‘I’m feeling pretty fucked myself, let’s just see how the evening goes…’ We got drunk and started to come up with ideas. Scott used a brilliant phrase, during the inception of this album, when he mentioned ‘going method’. In Mutation, we are able to ‘go method’ and no-one can tell us that it’s too fucked up. They can only tell us that we’re too fucked up… which we already know, and have the prescriptions to prove it.” “We survived each other’s company by committing the ideas down and trying to then sonically sabotage anything that sounded too ‘safe’ as a perverse experiment in aural self-destruction,” adds Scott. “We spent the rest of the time cleaning up an invisible mess in the caravan that we’d made. It must’ve looked like a cross between One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Kim and Aggie from How Clean Is Your House?”
As messy, unpleasant and unhinged as the writing process for Mutation III: Dark Black was, the end results were manifestly worth the wait. Once again, the album boasts a dazzling array of guest contributions from a great number of similarly demented human beings, including prog metal superstar Devin Townsend, Phil Campbell from Motörhead, Arthur Shepherd of Primitive Weapons, ex-Cardiacs fruitloop Random Jon Poole, Jamie Oliver of UK Subs, Mauro Pawlowski (ex-dEUS) and the mighty Paul Catten (Barrabas, Bed Wetter, Stuntcock, The Sontaran Experiment, ex-Medulla Nocte etc etc). With backing vocals from long-time Ginger comrade Givvi Flynn and various other bug-eyed weirdos thrown in for good measure, the bewildering, mutoid riff carpet-bombing that erupts throughout the album’s deceptively hook-laden barrage is so dense, intense and extreme that it seems to an exerts an almost gravitational pull. From the sing-along hate-spew of Irritant and the synth-pissing jerk’n’roll of opener Authenticity to the balls-out death metal detonations of Toxins and the collapsed-lung descent-into-oblivion of the closing Deterioration is all wrong, all of the time.
“Generally speaking, the songs tackle issues that we’re still processing ourselves,” says Ginger. “Anger, disgust in people, frustration at the collapse of human conscience and hatred of the gullible element that makes up society. Basically, wanting to kill but being unable to, due to the strict penalties involved.” “Once it reached the mixing stage, it all made sense as it started to sound how the inside of my head gets sometimes,” says Scott. “Then there was the inevitable ‘Who the fuck is going to find any joy in listening to this?’ period, which is probably not a great way to celebrate the completion of an album. Without pretension, to me, this album genuinely bottled a part of us both. It could be seen to attempt an aural exorcism of two people’s combined life-threatening psychological disorders. That said, people have come forth with almost confessional messages of support in how the record has captured something for them.”
Therein lies the bleak magic of ‘Mutation III: Dark Black’. This is a ridiculously extreme, obnoxious and hostile piece of work. It’s an exorcism, a venting, an uproarious vomiting of malevolent spirits and mental exhaustion. But it’s also an extraordinary piece of art and one of the most obscenely exciting bursts of freewheeling, kamikaze noise that you will ever hear. Ultimately, Mutation III: Dark Black sends up a badly scrawled but brightly lit Bat Signal into the sky, to let everyone know that when everything goes to shit, we will never plunge into the abyss without making a lot of fucking noise. Now fuck off.