Phil Campbell Looks to Return of Shows: I Hope There’s Free Beer for Everyone
Motorhead icon Phil Campbell was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The guitarist touched on two of his latest albums — one with Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons (PCATBS) and the other a solo record — as well as how he's dealing with his downtime amid the pandemic.
We're the Bastards, the 2020 release from PCATBS, was the second record from the group which also features three of the rocker's sons, and is a result of the newly afforded time in lockdown. Without any deadlines to work with, Campbell attested to the relaxed songwriting environment and praised the bevy of influences the band possesses as a multi-generational act.
Without touring on the table for the foreseeable future, Campbell didn't seem to mind such a long gap in time between tours. He professed he's an optimist and has been taking everything in stride.
Read the full interview below.
What was easier about the process of making an album together the second time around?
We did it in our studio this time, during the lockdown, so it was fairly relaxed. We didn’t have to finish up in a few days or whatever as we did on the first album. We just took our time and made the record we wanted to make. We went in different days, in different rooms — socially distanced and everything — it was all pretty safe and luckily we came out with 13 brand new songs at the end.
The lockdown period hasn’t been a total disaster for us, because we made a hell of an album. I’m just really over the moon with it.
When they were younger, musically, you most likely influenced your sons. Now that they're your bandmates, how do they influence you?
They’ve all been playing various instruments from a very early age, probably from when they were four or five, and they’ve just evolved over the years into fantastic players. I’m always learning something new from them and probably more than they’ve been learning off me. They always used to come to see me with Motörhead and stuff, it’s just all music has been around.
With my generation and with their generation now, and having Neil [Starr] as our vocalist — Neil couldn't tell you the title of a Black Sabbath album or a Deep Purple album; I don’t know what he was listening to when he was in his day — but he's influential. That’s another strange element to the band as well with all the different influences coming in — this makes for something quite interesting.
They’re all fine players and Neil’s one hell of a singer.
Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons, "Born to Roam" Music Video
Your solo album Old Lions Still Roar gave us a bigger picture of your musical taste. What do you enjoy about playing styles of music that normally aren't associated with you?
I enjoy the beauty of some of it — it just all comes from within.
Some of the slower songs on Old Lions Still Roar, I wrote on the piano in hotels with Motörhead and kept tweaking them. I didn’t want to prove anything really, it’s just nice to be myself, to get it out and prove to myself I was capable of making some decent recordings of other genres of music.
It was a long time coming. I had ideas for the album for about 20 odd years, but I never thought I’d end up having all of the big artists out along the way with it. I don't think anyone could ask for more than that and I’m very humbled.
The album is really good. So I’m glad it came out and this year it’s time for another Bastard Sons album we thought. We planned on getting an album out at the end of 2020, last year, anyway. Apart from no live gigs, recording-wise we’ve just been okay this year. The live gig situation, of course, as with everyone, has gone to hell at the moment, but we’re hoping for better things, better luck, I’m sure everyone is.
Phil Campbell, "Swing It" Feat. Alice Cooper
Motörhead was a significant part of your life for so many years. What was the most difficult adjustment to no longer living that life?
It's been about five years now since we finished with Motörhead and obviously it's been really difficult not having Lem around — all the characters from the past — but especially Lem. I spent nearly all my adult life with him. In the new band, there are different people in the band so it's a different dynamic. I try and think of the good times with Motörhead and what we achieved and all the great fun we had — the ridiculousness of it all. We took everything to the extremely, basically, all the time.
I try to keep smiling that way, but we've got a great band together now with the kids. We're coming up with some serious music, so that's also something I'm very very proud of as well. It's another act in my life and my career, so we'll see where it takes us.
When someone has spent nearly all their adult life on the road, a global shutdown must be a jolt to the system. For you, what's been the saving grace in not being able to tour during the pandemic?
It's just nice with the no touring. It's out of my control, out of everyone's control, so I just sit back and smell the roses. Appreciate what you've got, what you've got at home — appreciate your wife more and walking the dogs. Just the simple things. You can chill out a bit, you can direct it and put on some things you haven't seen for ages on the TV and stuff. Kind of recharge your batteries, I guess. That's what it is.
When everything starts back, hopefully, to more or less, normal, I think there's going to be some ecstatic crowds around. Everyone is going to go nuts, especially the initial period when gigs start up again. Hopefully, there will be free beer for everyone for a while.
[laughs] That would be nice.
Yeah, we just gotta look forward to it. Everyone can get through this, you've just got to show some patience. I'm an optimist. I'm sure if we dig in a bit longer, we'll come out fine on the other side because our souls are too strong to let it get to us. Especially in our rock 'n' roll fraternity — we want to hear live rock again — everyone does. We just have to bide our time for a little bit longer, I think. But next year could be amazing after a while!
Thanks to Phil Campbell for the interview. Get your copy of 'We're the Bastards' here (as Amazon affiliates we earn on qualifying purchases) and follow Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.