INTERVJU: Phil Campbell

Phil Campbell, den gamle rockräven, släpper soloalbum och visar att han fortfarande har en del kraft i sig och hans gamle boss var en av alla runt honom som pushade för ett soloalbum.

Lemmy really encouraged me a lot about my solo record. He said “It´s about time!” But just like everything else, you keep putting things off sometimes and when you start it goes slow but then it sort of builds in momentum, so the more you see the album growing, you try to keep up the pace then.


So, a soloalbum?

Yeah, I´m really pleased with it. It took quite a while to do it all, but I think I´ve got some good songs on there. I´m looking forward to the release at the end of October.

A great track, and which is also something I´d like to see you do more of, is “Rocking chair”

It´s just a little chord sequence I got together a couple of years ago and I wrote it on an old 1946 Gibson acoustic. I got a great singer for it, Leon Stanford, and he´s the singer in my son´s band. He said “What do you want me to sing about?” and then he said “How about if I wrote stuff about your history?”, so he asked me a lot of questions and I told him, so it´s quite factual. I think it´s good and a bit of a surprise because I think everyone´s gonna probably be expecting a bit harder song for the first track. They have to wait for track two. (laughs) It´s about the songs at the end of the day. It turned out great. I like a lot of the quieter and laidback stuff. It´s a part of me, really. Lemmy really encouraged me a lot about my solo record. He said “It´s about time!” But just like everything else, you keep putting things off sometimes and when you start it goes slow but then it sort of builds in momentum, so the more you see the album growing, you try to keep up the pace then. It´s like making a meal, I think.

The last track, “Tears from a glass eye”, an instrumental, is another great track. You´ve got Joe Satriani on it. How much did he bring to the song?

I´ve had the melody and everything, the piano, for many years and I´ve always liked it. I asked Joe years ago if I do a solo record and if he would like to do something on it and he said “Yeah, sure!” I recorded that piano bit and decided that it was the one and asked Joe if he wanted to do it. I sent it off to him and he was so busy so I had to keep reminding him for about two years. When he finally sent it back and I had just said “Contribute what you´re feeling!”, I was quite pleased that he had put acoustic on it. He thought it was more of the heart and soul of the song and he put keyboard harp and keyboard strings on it. That´s all Joe. He put a lot of stuff on it and some of it we stripped down. He gave me a load of stuff. Sometimes it´s best to have a lot to choose from. It´s a good relief at the end of the album, I think. People go out and make a cup of tea then (laughs) and go “What the fuck was that?”

Then you have “These old boots with Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Mick Mars (Mötley Crüe) and Chris Fehn (ex Slipknot). Quite a collection of people.

Yeah, Chris actually came down and drummed in our studio on that one. He came down from London. Slipknot had a day off before the Cardiff show about two years ago and stayed at the studio for five or six hours. He had a curfew and had to get back to London by 1 am. He was great! He said “This is the first time I´ve been behind a kit for a long time! The others don´t let me sit behind a real drum kit” He´s always up in the air hitting the steel drums.

How long have you known Chris?

I don´t know. 10 years, or something like that. We did a few tours with Slipknot and he was a big Motörhead fan.

Mick Mars then?

Mick´s a very underrated player. He´s so cool as well and a very quiet guy these days. It took a while because everyone´s so busy and I had to keep reminding him, “Have you done this thing for me yet? Have you sent it?” It´s a fine line between reminding someone and being a pain in the ass. It all came together in the end. And there´s only one Dee Snider. He´s an archetype of a rock singer. Larger than life. I call him Bette Midler. (laughs) He´s great and he´s voice is better than ever.

I´m guessing a lot of it, besides Chris, was done through file sharing?

Not most of it, but about a third of it. Ben Ward (Orange Goblin) came down to the studio and my kids played on some different tracks. My son drummed on four tracks and my other son Todd produced the album and played additional guitar on one or two songs and my other son Tyla played bass on one track and a little bit of acoustic and some additional electric guitar. Benji (Webbe, Skindred) came down to sing as well. There was a lot done in the studio, but a lot of it had to be done through file sharing or it wasn´t going to get done.

How long have you known Rob Halford? You must go way back?

First tour I did with Judas Priest was in 1988 or 1990, around there. He´s a really cool guy and a brilliant singer. Rob nailed it and he came up with some fantastic stuff.

Then there´s Nick Oliveri (ex QOTSA) on the track “Walk the talk”, a guy you don´t hear that much about?

I got to know Nick really well when he toured with Mondo Generator in Europe with Motörhead. Then I hung out with him in LA for a while when I was spending a lot of time over there. Then he asked me to play on one of his solo records and we´ve kept in touch. Danko Jones is on there as well, doing some singing. Sören Anderson (Glenn Hughes) mixed the album, a really sweet guy. And my son mixed the first and the last track. They were really personal. We let Sören do the eight other tracks and my son spent a lot of time on those tracks and I preferred just to have my son mix the two other ones, but Sören did an amazing job.

Did you think of having Mikkey Dee on the album, or are you just tired of playing with him?

No, I´m not tired but I knew he was busy and I´ve played and recorded with Mikkey so many times and I wanted it all to be pretty fresh. Mikkey´s an amazing drummer, but he´d be too busy with the Scorpions or auctioning lawnmowers. (laughs)

Things like that? I guess that anything that ends up with a Motörhead logo on it has to go through you guys?

Yeah, that´s right! They have to get a licence…

Motörhead business, is that like a weekly thing?

It goes on all the time, day to day, you know. If anything pops up we´re on it straight away and we have discussions about business ideas and everything.

Is there anything you wouldn´t put the logo on?

Not much! (laughs) I don´t know. A Manowar album.

Another thing I thought of is the Ronnie James Dio hologram. Will there ever be something like that with Lemmy or is that something you would just turn down?

I´ve said my piece about it and I wouldn´t want to be involved with anything like that. It would be too freaky for me. I know there are two ways with the Dio thing. There are some people that think it´s great and some people are horrified, and Ronnie was a really good friend of mine, but I´m afraid I´m in the horrified camp. It´s just too weird for me personally. I know people are trying to keep him stay alive, but it´s not for me. It freaks me out. I´ve got good memories and I don´t want to fuck it up.

When you joined Motörhead and then later on started making money, do you have any recollection of the most expensive thing you ever wasted money on?

I bought a neo classical car one time, because it was the only car I could fins with an ashtray in it. I´ve still got it. It´s a 1930´s car, like a Downton Abbey sort of thing. It has a Baccarat crystal ashtray. I don´t even smoke anymore, but at that time I was smoking and in all the rental cars out there in LA, there weren´t any ashtrays. Even in the limos! Me and Lemmy would get into limos and the ashtrays would be glued shut so there was no way to put your cigarette out. And in California, if you tap your cigarette out of the window, you can get busted for that, sp what are you supposed to do with a lit cigarette? I was coming out of a car show room and I saw this car.

And you had it shipped to England?

Yeah, I see it now. It´s in my driveway now. I bring it out every summer.

What was it like growing up in Pontypridd?

It´s quiet and close knit. I´m about three miles from where I was born now where I live. It was a close-knit mining community. All the houses were linked together and everything. Good spirit. The people are very proud. I was touring all the time and at one time I was spending more time in LA for about ten years, than I was over here. It´s always good to come back. Sometimes it gets a little crazy elsewhere, so I can chill out here.

The time you spent in LA, what was that like? It´s said to be a town you either love or hate?

Yeah! We did most of our albums there during a 15 year period. It´s all a bit over the top there, that´s all I can say really. Too much fun. I think the Americans are getting a bit paranoid about everything now. I could see that ten years now. Things are changing there. You´d only look at somebody the wrong way and be in trouble. Pretty scary. No longer the land of the free.

Back in the day, was there ever a time when you felt it got too much with everything?

Lots of times. We´d be making records and the stress would be too much and you just wouldn´t tell anyone and get into the car and drive out and leave the studio for a few days. Nobody would know where you were, but most of it was great times and good memories. We made some good music.

This solo album took some time to put together. Have you already now stuff that could end up on a second solo album?

Yeah, I have some stuff, but I want to do a Bastard Sons album next. I try to play guitar every day and there´s plenty of bits and pieces and Ideas that come up and I put them on tape. I review them every now and again to see what I´ve got. You just keep digging away.

As I said, I´d really like to see you do more stuff like “Rocking chair”

I´ll remember that.

Where did the album title “Old lions still roar” come from?

Well, people are going to think it´s because it´s got a lot of old motherfuckers on the album, but my son Tyla suggested it as a song title about four or five years ago. I said “Yeah, that´s a good title! We´ll keep it and I´ll use it for my album.” I still think it´s a great title for an album and it´s not because we ended up having a lot of old fuckers on it, but nobody´s going to believe me anyway.


Text: Niclas Müller-Hansen

Foto: Michaela Barkensjö, Josefin Wahlstedt