Motörhead

author TL date 09/12/07

If you know the words rock'n'roll you pretty well should know the name "Motörhead". Lemmy Kilmister and his crew has been rockin' and rollin' relentlessly since 1975 and their music and imagery is an institution within the world of rock. Hence it was only natural for us to grab a hold of them when they hit Vega in Copenhagen this week. At first I was told that I'd be talking to the drummer Mikkey Dee, but when I arrived I found out that I would rather be chatting with guitarist Phil Campbell, along with a fellow reporter from the danish Metalzone.dk. Here's what came out of it: (picture taken by Mads from Metalzone.dk)

MZ.dk: How long have you been touring with the new album, and how is it going this far?
Phil: Well the "new" album was out the year before last year so it's basically just one tour rolling into another. We finish on the 13th and that's going to be the last touring we do with this album. Then next year there'll be a new album and then well - It just all rolls into one really, what we're touring for isn't that relevant, as, in the big picture, we've been touring for 24 years really.

RF.net: Vega seems like a rather small venue (~950 people) for the legendary Motörhead to be playing. Is it very unusual for you guys to be playing in a small place like this?
Phil: Actually we've played here about 4 times. It's the promotors who put us here because they think it's better for us to pack out a smaller venue than to have an only half filled bigger one. But yeah it is a bit small, thinking about how some places we play football stadiums and places like that, but it doesn't matter as long as there's a good crowd.

MZ.dk: I'd like to ask about the last album's title "Kiss Of Death". Why is it called that?
Phil: Well we just came up with it because it sounded good. You know it just sounded right even though there was no song called Kiss Of Death. We looked through all the sontitles and kept thinking that they were no good, and I just blurted it out and then it sounded right.

MZ.dk: You entered the band with Würzel in 84, and I'd like to know how it was to enter Motörhead at that time, seeing as they've just released some of their most legendary material?
Phil: It was great. First of all it was my first totally professional gig and every musicians dream is to be able to do it professionally. You know they were a big band and Lem' said "just play whatever you want musically, I trust you, as long as you don't wear shorts on stage", because Brian 'Robbo' used to wear shorts. So it was great and a good opportunity for me.

RF.net: How about pressure? Did you feel pressured to live up to the reputation that Motörhead had already gained at the time?

Phil: No we built our own reputation up since. We've done a lot of things and I've just enjoyed it all.

MZ.dk: After eleven years Würzel left the band and you became a three-piece. How did this change come along?
Phil: I said to Mik' and Lem' that "I'm sure we can do this as a three-piece if we try it, and if it doesn't work then I'll be the first to say that we need one more guy." So we tried it and after half an hour of rehearsal it was obvious that it was going to work, so we just stuck to it ever since.

RF.net: What do you think about todays music scene? Compared to the good old days maybe?
Phil: Well it's changed isn't it? - With podcasts and downloading and stuff like that I mean. I don't know about the 'scene' really, to me it's like.. I have three sons and they're all good musicians and everything that comes out, all new stuff, sort of comes through my house one way or the other. Sometimes when my manager mentions a support band and goes "Do you want to have these guys on tour with you?" like "Clutch" for instance, I call up the boys and go "Hey boys these Clutch guys are they good? Are they cool?" and they say that yeah, Clutch are cool, and then I say "Oh yeah we can take them on tour with us". There's good and bad in today I guess but I don't know because I tend to listen to stuff that I know I'm going to like. I don't listen to the radio, it's all crap anyway.

MZ.dk: So you've been in the band for 24 years. How is it different from back when you started?
Phil: Well I wear different clothes now, 'cause when I joined the band I had a waist like Paris Hilton.. And..... Well I don't know really.. It's still exciting to go on stage and all, but I guess we've probably calmed down a little bit.

RF.net: It's natural for most artists to like their most recent material the best, but you've been around for sooooo long and recorded soooo much, and we'd like to know which album is your favourite and which so-....
Phil: "Bastards"! And I speak for Lem' and Mik' as well. That's definetely my favourite Motörhead album!

RF.net: Oka, and which song then?

Phil: I like the acoustic one "Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me". That's probably my favourite Motörhead song.

RF.net: And why is that?

Phil: It's a beautiful song. Simple as that. I was asleep when I played the guitarsolo in it. I'd taken too many valiums or something and I nodded of asleep and someone touches me on the shoulder at the end of the solo part and wakes me up. There's two solos on the album that I played while being half asleep,

MZ.dk: Many people say that Lemmy is Motörhead, but he's also said that you are the heart and soul of the band. What do you think of this?
Phil: Well he is really, I mean he started the band. It's his band, he started it in 1975. Now we all have it split three ways. I write the majority of our stuff and then Mik' comes in and adds something and then Lem' comes and puts some words on it all, and that's how it works. People are always going to think this about Lemmy but it doesn't bother me at all.

MZ.dk: I can imagine that he is a big ego in the band?

Phil: No, not at all, no such thing. And you know I've got a grammy award on my table and loads of stuff like that so I don't care. It seems things work for me yeah?

RF.net: Still keeping your long career in mind, what keeps you going still? Keeps you recording new material and well just doing your thing? No offense meant but a lot of folk would probably say "at your age"?
Phil: Well age has got nothing to do with it. It gets a bit harder to come up with stuff every year that's still original and well, like I said, age has got nothing to do with it. You just keep trying because you don't want to put something out that you're not happy with. So many bands let out albums where there are two good songs and the rest are.. well not so good, and we want to do albums filled with songs that are the best we can write. It's hard, because while some days you might feel very good and write three songs and come up with great riffs without even trying, but then other times you walk around for 4 or 5 days going "ah shit, that was crap the other day, fuck it, I'll just go home". There's no rules. That's the funny thing about music.

RF.net: So you never had a point where you thought that it might have been time to settle down?

Phil: Settle down?

RF.net: Yeah most people associate rock'n'roll life with something you do when you're young?

Phil: Well I still have my family, and while I don't get home that much, I do have a normal home life. As normal as it can be really. If I did decide to stop then after five weeks I'd be dying to get back out there again. It's in your blood when you've done it for so long. It's normal - having breakfast at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

MZ.dk: A couple of years after you joined the band you pulled in Mikkey Dee who had been playing with "King Diamond". How did you convince him to join your band when your music was so different from what King Diamond was playing?
Phil: Well people are capable of doing all kinds of music, and Mikkey was doing some very complicated stuff for King Diamond and we asked him if he wanted to give it a go, to play with Motörhead and see what happened, and he's still here, 16 years later so I guess it was a smart thing.

RF.net: Most people would say that Motörhead are some of "the original rock stars". What do you think about that? How does it feel to be an "original rock star"?
Phil: I don't know. We're just regular guys who get to have fun for a living. We don't have to get up early in the morning. I guess sometimes it gets a bit embarrasing when people go "Oh you're home are you?" and you go "Well of course I'm fuckin' home". "Where've you been?" they say and I go "Well I don't know, I've just been away". It's all cool but I don't think of myself as a rock star, I'm just someone who plays the guitar.

MZ.dk: When it comes to writing material I think that most people believe that Lemmy writes almost it all, but how do you really share it?
Phil: I guess I write about 75% of it and then Mik' and Lem' come in with some good ideas and in the end Lem' does all the words. People can just read below the songs who wrote them. I mean my son wrote a song for one of the last albums and then Lem' did the words and it says on the cover Todd Campbell and Motörhead under the song. I don't give a fuck what people think, I get my money for it anyway so it doesn't matter to me.

MZ.dk: And the lyrics?

Phil: Lem' does all the lyrics. It's not like he says "Don't do any lyrics", we just can't write as well as him. He just does a good job with the lyrics.

RF.net: If you could pass down some words of wisdom and experience to aspiring bands of today, what would those be?
Phil: Have fun. Don't take yourself too seriously. Get good advice and don't believe everything you're told.

RF.net: Like what?

Phil: Well you know if some promoter says like "you come all this way and play here and I'll get you on this tour" and then you go all the way and you jump through the hoops and then he lets you down in the last minute. People are going to try to use you, and if it weren't for the bands, none of all the lawyers and executives would have a job, so it's the bands that keep music rolling and that's why it's important for them to stick up for themselves. Just go "Fuck you, it's our band and if you don't want to do things on our terms, then we'll go somewhere else". Like with a manager you should let him prove himself before you sign his contract. Tell him that you'd be happy to sign his contract AFTER he's shown you what he can do. You don't want to be stuck with a guy for five years if he turns out to be an idiot - a wanker. In fact he probably will be. Do something great for us, then we'll give you a chance you know.

MZ.dk: How about the music, do you think it's ever going to change in any other direction?
Phil: Well we just do whatever we feel like doing at the time.

MZ.dk: It'll always be rock'n'roll?

Phil: I don't know. I got some stuff on the solo album I'm working on that's nothing like Motörhead for instance..

MZ.dk: How is it then?

Phil: Well it still needs a lot of work but it's got pianos, synthesizers and acoustic guitars on it so it's quite different.

RF.net: What's next for Motörhead? You were saying there was going to be a new album next year?
Phil: Yeah we're starting in the beginning of next year and then we'll put the album out and in about May we do all the Festivals in Europe in the summer. Then we'll probably do a North American tour and then another European tour.

RF.net: All the European festivals? Roskilde? Do you know yet?

Phil: No I'm not sure yet, but I think we did 22 of them last year.

RF.net: How about the title for the next album is that ready yet?

Phil: No we haven't even talked about it. Though I want to tell you that at the last festival I went on stage with Tool for the third time. It was at the Lowlands Festival and they're one of my favourite bands Tool, very good friends of mine, and I've played with them three times now so I was quite happy about it. I played with Tool, I won a grammy and I'm going to appear on an episode of Neighbours so I'm happy now.

MZ.dk: Some fans think that the line-up the band had with "Fast" Eddie Clark and Phil Taylor was the 'classic' Motörhead line-up. Does this affect you in any way?
Phil: No, it doesn't bother me.

MZ.dk: But what do you think then?

Phil: I think it was great for the time but we've just gone on from there. These people who say this are onesided freaks. They listen to some of our songs but they don't even want to listen to it. If they're in love with this 'classic' line-up well then fuck them, they don't have to listen to our stuff. If they have a problem with it it's them who're missing out.

MZ.dk: Do you still have anything to do with the old guys?

Phil: Well Phil Taylor won't talk to me but I say Eddie the other week. Phil don't talk to me after we kicked him out of the group. He talks to Lem' but he won't talk to me. I see Würzel, like we talk to each other every now and again.

MZ.dk: Are they still in the music business?

Phil: Yeah "Philty" is drumming up in L.A. in a band with the singer from "Monster Magnet" and some other people.

RF.net: A lot of people say that Motörhead's music seem to be pretty much the same and sitting here doing interviews you must get a lot of these questions about what it means to be Motörhead or what it means to be a rock icon or whatever. Do you ever feel that the image of Motörhead overshadows the musical aspect of your band?
Phil: No, not really. Once we fire it up and start playing at loud volume the music speaks for itself. You know it is a fuckin' weird band. The music is like nothing else. It's not heavy metal it's just "Motörhead music" that's all. It's like some fuckin' strange monster thing you know. It's this unique thing that's both fucked up as well as really good.

MZ.dk: But Motörhead has been an inspiration to many Heavy Metal bands, and why do you think that is?
Phil: I don't know. It must've seemed like a good idea at the time. We do the music the best we can and we try to be honest with everything and well.. I don't know really.

MZ.dk: What is your own biggest influence as a guitar player?
Phil: Well there's too many guitar players that influence me for me to mention them all. Just music inspires me. There's this amazing guitar player from Australia called Tommy Emmanuel who just plays acoustic. He's just a scary guitar player, unbelievable, and I guess he inspires me somewhat. You don't always know where inspiration comes from it's just there. Just drugs or alcohol or friendship or music or things that happen you know. I can't even put a string on a guitar in fact. I've been playing guitar for nearly 40 years and I still can't put a string on it. I just know about the music. I don't know about a lot of other stuff.

As our time was running out we stopped here and Mads took a few pictures of Phil, before we thanked him for his time and let him be on his way.

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