Motorhead – Phil Campbell

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Motorhead – Phil Campbell

Written by Simon Lukic
Transcription by Mike “fucking hostile” Holmes
Live pics Arto Lehtinen

What can one say about Motorhead that hasn’t already been said? Not much really. Either way it’s always a pleasure to chat to the band and this time I had the opportunity to talk to guitarist Phil Campbell a few months ago. I was allocated a limited amount of time – 10 minutes to be exact, so I did my up most to cram in as many questions as I could. I hope you enjoy the chat and learn something new.


You’re making a return trip to Australia, what were the shows with Motley Crue like a few years back?

They were a lot of fun, I enjoyed the shows and it was great coming back to Australia because we had not been there in quite a few years. We are looking forward to coming over and this time we can do our full show. I think last time we only played for 45 minutes, but this time we will be able to do more songs for everyone.

What can fans look forward to?

We have quite a few surprises lined up, stuff that you would never dream of in a million years. We are going to do some stuff from the latest albums, some classics and stuff from obscure albums. But we do have a couple surprises.

Motorhead seems to have a great balance between the new younger fans and the older more established ones. You must feel fortunate?

Yeah, we are lucky because we seem to be getting a fan base that is younger as we are getting older. Some shows we will have kids there that are 6, 8 and 10 year olds with their parents and grandparent. Occasionally you will see a great grandparent there bringing and 18 month old baby named ‘Lemmy’ It’s good for our band to have a young fan base.

One of the great things about Motorhead is that you haven’t morphed into a nostalgia act. Has releasing new music on a consistent basis helped prevent that?

Oh yes, definitely. We never want to be a Vegas act. Hopefully we have a few more albums left in us and we are going to keep doing it. We write songs just for the three of us, not for the fans or a record company. We write songs that we enjoy and that’s a good way to keep it fresh I believe.

In regards to the songwriting, what do you each look for when composing?

We just want to do a good Motorhead song – something Motorhead worthy. It doesn’t have to be anything in particular. If it’s an acoustic song, we will do what we think is an acoustic piece. We just do what we think is cool and hopefully other people will like it as well.

Do you guys wait for inspiration to take a hold, or do you approach it in a workman like manner?

It’s a bit of both actually. I am lucky enough to have a studio here at home, so I am able to work on some stuff before we get together in Los Angeles. It usually has a lot to do with pre-preparation as well. Some days you contrive all day, for days, and come up with absolutely nothing. The next morning you may have a bunch of ideas, so there’s no rules to it really.


Motorhead is obviously your job as well as something that you enjoy. How do you keep it balanced so it doesn’t grind like a job can?

Well, it’s not a normal job. We are very privileged to be able to keep doing this for such a long time. We don’t get an awful lot of time off, but we do enjoy the time off that we get. That really keeps it balanced – to just go back to doing normal things.

A lot of musicians complain about the road and how they only enjoy their time on stage. They also soon pack it in. What has kept you guys rolling on for so long and so consistently?

If we pack it in, what will we do then? After 3 weeks we would want to get back out on the road. We take books on the road to read, play scrabble and things, and watch good movies, but it does get boring. Not so much as boring for the crew, because they are working all day, but for the band….with that said, it’s better to be bored in Australia isn’t it?

Very true.  I read somewhere that you got Lemmy’s autograph at a ‘Hawkwind’ show?

Yeah, that’s true. I still have the program upstairs.

Can you remember the details?

He was the only one who came out to sign autographs after the show. I’ve got it on the program, yeah.

And then 10 or so years later you end up joining him in Motorhead.

Yeah, I was 12 when I got the autograph, and I was 22 when I joined Motorhead.

That’s a bit or a fairytale when you look at it like that?

I know, if somebody would have told me that night that I would be in a band with him, I would have called for him to be locked up. It’s a good story, but it just shows anything can happen really. 

You joined the band alongside Wurzel. Do you miss working with another guitarist?

I think it’s a bit more defined now with just the three of us. When there were 4 of us, we would just blast away on the same frequencies and it occasionally got a bit messy. Wurzel is a fine guy and a good guitar player, but it’s just made me a better performer, working with a 3 piece. But I do miss having a laugh with him and…

The 3 piece line up is classic Motorhead, so I guess it’s worked out in the end.

Yeah, everything comes around I guess, what was meant to be, was meant to be.

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