Phil Campbell Talks Bastard Sons EP, Lemmy Kilmister + Epic Testament Prank
Phil Campbell, famed Motorhead guitarist, was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The musician spoke about his new band, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, which features his sons as part of the lineup. The guitarsit also spoke about their forthcoming EP, what he misses most about Lemmy Kilmister and revealed an unbelievable prank he played on Testament. Check out the chat below.
How are you, Phil?
I'm very good. Great to be speaking with you, Jackie. And, I don’t know about the legendary bit, but you've got Phil Campbell right. I'm good!
We're here to talk about Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, the debut self-titled EP is out now. Your band, The Bastard Sons, is literally your kids. How does the father/son bond change when you're in a band together?
We've always played music together. I have to behave myself on tour a bit more now, to be a good guy on tour more. I can't get as crazy. They're the ones that get crazy, I know — I just gotta watch them getting drunk and everything. It's good, just really good to play great music onstage.
I'm really blessed with three of my kids, all the bastard sons are my children except for Mr. Neil Star, who is the singer. To my knowledge, he's not my offspring. But the two boys are. My wife didn't like the change of name from the all-star band to The Bastard Sons. She didn't speak to me for three days. It actually wasn't my idea, my kids came up with the idea. My wife wasn't too pleased with the change of name. She's getting used to it now, I think.
Phil, Motorhead had a very distinct style. Even though The Bastard Sons is a little different, what will Motorhead fans like about it?
I think Motorhead fans, hopefully they'll like the honesty and just balls out rock and roll sound. Some stuff is going to sound like Motorhead a little bit, because obviously I wrote nearly all the riffs in Motorhead. Just gotta write good songs, good rock songs. Heavy rock songs, heavy metal, heavy rock, whatever. Do some bits and pieces, surprising ones.
There's a different track on the EP. One that's called "Life in Space," which is a little bit different. Track five, which is a beautiful song. Motorhead fans have been amazing, amazing to myself and to the band for years. You don't need to put out any s--t. I never have done intentionally, and I never will. We'll try it anyway.
You've been working on a solo album. How much will the music that you grew up with, like the Allman Brothers and Pink Floyd, influence the album?
My early influences will be well — I should think — well-documented on my solo record. It's not all written yet. I've written about seven tracks for it and all them tracks are going to be messed with. Early influences, they stick with you for a lifetime. They shape, speaking for myself, they shape what I do today more than modern influences. A certain smell or a certain moment in time when you listen to stuff. I'm sure you feel the same.
They influenced the solo record a lot, I think. Yeah, my early heroes and songs and musicians, I looked up to them. I'm looking forward to getting the album out, finishing it, I don't know what it's gonna sound like yet. I got a bunch of stuff recorded, I've got a couple of guests recorded. I'm not quite sure — it's gonna take another 10-12 months but I'm gonna enjoy doing it. Hopefully people will enjoy it, if not, tough s--t. As long as I think it's good, I'll do me. As long as I'm pleased with it, it would be a worthwhile project.
That seems to be how you guys in Motorhead had always treated your records and how it seems -- the attitude. You wrote for yourselves and you never tired to do anything that didn't represent what Motorhead always was.
The three of us had a vision of what we wanted with no disrespect with anyone else. We didn't write for fans. We didn't write for a record company or managers or families. Then you lose the purity. I'll give you an example. Years ago, I'd play a guitar solo and say, "What did you think of that, guys?" Someone will say, "Oh, that sounds great, Phil." Somebody would say, "Ah I don’t like that." Then somebody would say, "Oh, sounds like some pretty crap." You're left wondering, "What did it — is it good?"
Many years ago I decided to just go with what's in the heart and bollocks to everyone else, basically. That's what we always did and it's impossible trying to change. It was Lem's point of view as well. It was good. It was a good mix. We did have arguments writing the songs, that's only because we cared. We didn't have so many fights or arguments. We had a few debates, you can put it that way. But no more than most bands.
It's only because we gave a s--t about the music. If we didn't care about the music, sure do whatever. That's why the band lasted as long as it did because people appreciate that, or the fans out there appreciated the honesty and purity and untampered with rock 'n' roll songs.
People like Rob Halford, Chris Fehn from Slipknot have already been mentioned as likely guests on your solo album. Who else would you like to be on it?
Jimi Hendrix, but I can't see that happening. There are too many to say, really. I couldn't really answer that, we'd be here all night. Luckily a few of my friends and heroes from — people I looked up to, which some people now will know. Friends or close friends, they've agreed to play on it and I've given them some tracks.
I don't want to say too much at the moment in case things change, I don’t want to get people too excited. I'm excited about the record. [It would] have to be a six album set to get everyone I'd like to have play on it. I don't think I should be doing that for a first solo album. So many great musicians out there, I'm just happy to be able to record with them.
Phil, after so many years with Motorhead, what's been the hardest adjustment now that Lemmy is gone?
Just the day-to-day stuff. Going to his room in the hotel or just saying, "Hey Lemmy are you coming out the club tonight?" Just hanging out with him, basically. Calling him up while we're on tour asking him how he's doing. Just a mate; I've lost a great mate. Also, playing onstage with him every night, shouting at each other for playing too loud. It's a lot, really. I was with him for 32 years. I spent more time with him than I did with my wife and family. We made good music and I have many many fond memories. That's what happens and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. He's here with me every day. I pray he's telling me to turn it down or whatever he does.
Phil, your book of anecdotes and funny stories is in the works. What's the funniest thing that you ever did here in Los Angeles?
I'll tell you what I did in California, if you're interested. We were playing in the Shoreline Amphitheater which is somewhere outside of San Francisco, I'm sure you know. There was Testament, Motorhead, Heaven and Hell, Judas Priest. The night before the last gig we were in Irvine Meadows and Chuck Billy said to me, "We're going to f--k you up tomorrow Campbell because it's the last gig tomorrow. We've got surprises for you. We're gonna make fun of you onstage." I said, "Oh Chuck, just go away. I'm in a different league than everybody, you have no idea who you're dealing with here."
So I rented a full size horse when they were onstage and I rode it onstage in an orange dress that Ronnie Dio had bought me and a shocking blue wig right in the middle of their set. He bowed down to me then. He worships me now, Chuck. Then, Heaven and Hell were on after and I already ordered from the runner, 25 USA Today newspapers. So after the Testament prank I got changed into Motorhead set and I ran straight out into the crowd at The Shoreline, and distributed a page each to the first 20 rows. I said, as soon as Heaven and Hell come on stage, it's the last gig, just start reading the newspapers. So Heaven and Hell came on and Tony was there, Ronnie and all 25 rows are reading the newspapers. They looked across at me and I just gave them a thumbs up and a smile. They knew it was me straight away. I don’t think Judas Priest — it was rumored they wanted to cancel. He was terrified of me, but they did the gig anyway. Campbell comedy corporation.
I'm sure there'll be a lot of those in your book, looking forward. Any timeline for that?
No, the comedy cam is on all the time. Otherwise there's no point, if you can't have fun there's no point in doing anything.
Can you tell us anything about what your plans are for 2017?
I think we're going to do North American shows. I'm not sure where yet, but hopefully there will be one in the L.A. area. We've got a lot of European stuff, Wacken Cruise in Europe. It's all being sorted out now, we will be out and about. Watch the space kind of thing. We'll be out there playing as loud as we can.
Thanks to Phil Campbell for the interview. For updates about Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, follow the band's Facebook page and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
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