The long time serving guitarist in The Wildhearts and self-confessed food lover has a new solo album out called 'Mable'. The last time he committed himself to a solo album of sorts was the album '13' when he presented himself as CJ & The Satellites over seven years prior.
Not wishing to discuss food too much as it makes me hungry, with this opportunity to talk with the good man on behalf of MetalTalk.net I delved feet first in to music topics!
After brief introductions, I found myself instantly posing the question to CJ Wildheart that he might well be a workaholic?
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CJ: "I have to do lots and lots of different things. So like today I've started working on demos for my next album, I've cleaned the windows in my house, I've been doing stuff online with various websites, I've fed and tended to all my animals, I've cooked a meal for my wife and washed the car - there's always lots of things, you know, it keeps things interesting."
Making note that he had already begun work on another solo album with the paintwork still wet after the release of 'Mable', our laid back chat continues.
CJ: "There was a point in my life where I was just rabid about music and bands but as I got older I got passionate about other things. Like cooking has always been a massive thing for me. I come from a family where food is really important – my Mum being from the Seychelles and my Dad being Indian. It was something which was instilled in us at a young age. You are what you eat, so if you eat shit you become shit basically.
"You don't need to spend money on food; you should be able to cook, always strive to get the finest ingredients so that was instilled in me in a really young age."
Letting me in to his world further, CJ Wildheart continues with his explanation and thought on his interests and world around him.
CJ: "For me, my new album is getting a new spice or trying out a new meal or coming up with a new recipe. That's what floats my boat, but I'll always be a music fan. I think you're mugging yourself if you stay the same person all of your life. You should evolve, adapt and change to new sounds, tastes and sensations, it's really important."
Concerned that this talented individual may turn his back on music completely as his interest in food stems a long way in to his past, I share my observation.
CJ: "You know what; I prefer making music than listening to music as strange as that sounds. There's so much music out there and there are certain things I do where I have to listen to music. I cannot drive without music being on but when I'm at home – I live in the countryside. It so peaceful and quiet out here that all you hear are the birds chirping and the chickens clucking around the garden, and that's a soundtrack I don't want to be polluted by loud noises."
After a pause for thought, CJ pushes home his passion for making music.
CJ: "Making music and being a music fan I think are two completely different things. I love the science of music and how music is recorded and put together and it's something I've always been fascinated in. It's something I've really embraced. I recorded 'Mable' on my own and I still struggle with mixing, but it's something I'm learning all the time."
Pondering over the involvement of Lee Wray in the process of recording 'Mable' and how he was also involved with CJ & The Wildhearts for the '13' album, I asked whether he'd considered reaching out to the other members of The Satellites for this latest studio album.
CJ: "No, 'Mable' was always going to be me recording on my own. I can record music and I think a musician who has made as many albums as me and, I've been playing in bands since I was 16 – that's 30 years I've been playing in bands and I've been making albums since I was 18. If I don't know how to record an album on my own now, then I'm a true idiot! Musicians who have been around as long as me should know how to record music on their own."
If you check out the inlay card on 'Mable' you'll notice that very nearly every track was composed by CJ Wildheart with the exception of 'State Of Emergency' which was co-written with Lee Wray and 'Vitriol' which is a cover version.
CJ: "I really like Bluejuice. It's a really funky Australian band and when I was working in London, I used to use that song as my kind of get-me-up song when I was in my van heading to jobs. I hadn't recorded for three years, so the first thing I recorded was a cover of 'Vitriol' and also doing a cover eased myself into it. I didn't really have to work that hard, it was a kind of a nice way of starting the recording process."
Bringing the conversation back to his earlier comments about demo material for a new album, I quizzed the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist about any insight in to which direction he was going in. Would he use PledgeMusic.com again as a platform to get it made?
CJ: "Definitely. I'm going to work on my own. I like working on my own, I like being in a band but to be honest with you, being in bands there's so many egos and dramas involved. Every musician brings his own ego and drama to the table. I find working on my own it's almost like meditating to me; it's very peaceful and I work at my own pace and I have no one to answer to apart from myself.
"You are united when you're a band. I've always been quite an insular person and I've always been someone who relies on myself. I love the band thing, but I don't need anyone to hold my hand, I can get up and do something on my own. Part of me prefers working on my own, but I'll always be a part of a band, and that band is The Wildhearts. For me it's something I have to be, for me to be a good father and a good husband I have to have faith in myself as an individual, that's kind of where I come from."
I take CJ back in time as I rarely ever read about coverage of the 1988 studio album 'Bleeding Hearts And Needle Marks' by the Tattooed Love Boys. One song in particular is a real anthem packed full of attitude and a hook called 'Read My Lips'. The chorus goes something like this; "Read my lips, 'cos I'm talkin' to you, don't give me no shit, 'cos you know it ain't true – You stand there bullshitting, talkin' tough, kiss my arse I've had enough! Read my lips, 'cos I'm talkin' to you!"
CJ: "To be honest with you, I can't even remember the song! That band enabled one thing to happen, and that was for me and Ginger to meet and to form The Wildhearts and I'll always be thankful for that stepping stone. If I wasn't in that band, I wouldn't have come to Ginger's attention."
I tackled CJ about other ventures he'd been a part of during the years like The Jellys for example. He was proud of the material which surfaced and came across like each of these past chapters held something significant to him, but it's always down to record labels and music sources with sufficient financial clout to get these products re-issued or even re-mastered. In other words, it holds emotional sentimentality but regarding any insight in to these releases being reborn any time soon, keep checking in with your favourite record labels specialising in reissues.
With slight notions and a slim possibility that The Wildhearts will regroup to celebrate an anniversary for the 'P.H.U.Q.' album next year, nothing more seems forthcoming for now from that band. Ginger Wildheart complete with melancholy tones spoke on his July podcast within his G.A.S.S. online fan club/community about how there was little of the team spirit the band had captured in past glorious years. The brilliant and versatile song-writer has said things in this tone before about The Wildhearts and eventually they kiss and make up.
So we're left with interesting and instinctive projects for now like CJ Wildheart carving out another solo album, plus the psychedelic progressive pop of The Dowling Poole alongside recordings by Eureka Machines, Hey! Hello! and The Ginger Wildheart Band playing live shows, plus releasing new music via the G.A.S.S. project.
If this was inadequate for the fan-base and to be fair that would be an unfair reaction to the abundance of music leaking through in various outlets, then a fresh new band that Ginger Wildheart is championing at the moment called the Love Zombies might do the trick to fill a void.
Many thanks to CJ for his time and honesty. Looking forward to the new album when it is ready.