After riding high as the lead guitarist for legendary rockers Motörhead, how does one who has dedicated their life to rock n’ roll move on after the tragic passing of a dear friend and bandmate (RIP Lemmy Kilmister)? Well, if you’re Phil Campbell, you form a new band, crank out a new album, hit the road with a vengeance and honour the legacy of Motörhead by releasing a brand new beer! Arcadia Ales, out of Kalamazoo Michigan, will be releasing Road Crew brew on a limited run before giving it a wide release.
Campbell, who shredded stages and laid down Motörhead’s axe-work from 1984 to 2015, sat down with PureGrainAudio to dish out the dirt on a ton of stuff. He spills his guts about Motörhead Beer, staying in touch with drummer Mikkey Dee, and life after Lemmy. He also gives us the inside story about the future of his new band, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, which he formed with his three real sons Todd, Tyla and Dane, along with singer Neil Starr.
The Motörhead beer is here!
How did Motorhead Road Crew beer come about? Was it somebody else’s idea? Were you approached about it? Or is that something you guys had been talking about for years? Phil Campbell: We’ve been talking about it actually, for the last five or six years. Beer was a big part of the Motörhead way of life, as you can imagine. We used to drink it before stage, and on stage, and after stage. So, we thought we would try and put something together about five or six years ago. We did preliminary tastings and tried to get the ball rolling. It takes quite a while.
Yeah, I’m sure it’s something that didn’t happen overnight. Campbell: We didn’t want to get cut off from the goods. It’s an American Pale Ale we can get exported home and we’re trying to do craft beers now. It’s out of the Great Lakes area of America, it’s an India Pale Ale. It’s more popular over there and we’re happy with the taste and everything. So, Saturday the 23rd is our launch. Yeah, we’re quite excited about it.
Yeah, as you should be. Just looking back on your whole experience within the band for a moment, what were some of your favorite memories or favorite experiences being in Motörhead? If you had to sum it up in one answer, one sentence or even one word. Campbell: Yeah, just coming off stage and patting each other on the back and say, “Yeah, that was great fun. You know? We rocked out there!” We used to do it for ourselves and not just play for the audience. We used to do it to get off ourselves. And believe me, of us out of them all, then it was good. Which is most of the time, it was unbelievable. It wasn’t work, it wasn’t work with those sort of gigs. We sort of had a bad gig one in thirty gigs or something. A lot of bad gigs five out of ten times. We always kept a sense of humor and rocked out. That was great, and being a part of the music we recorded as well.
This is “Ace Of Spades” and if you didn’t know that then thank god you do now!
We were lucky enough to win a Grammy and play stadiums and play with some great artists. We covered a lot of stuff. It was mostly good gigs and drinking beer, so there was no cheating on this thing. So, it seems quite fitting. We’ve got some wines coming out as well and some rum. We’re excited now, it’s an India Pale Ale by Arcadia [Brewing company] in Kalamazoo, the home of Gibson guitars. So, that’s gonna be launched this Saturday coming on the 23rd [of June]. It’s just gonna be for the Great Lakes area initially and then we’re gonna for further and see what it’s like in North America. So, we can put the most effort into all the different areas so it’s not half-assed.
And do it full-throttle in true Motörhead spirit! Campbell: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I was just gonna ask quickly too, have you been in touch with Mikkey [Dee, the drummer of Motorhead from 1992 to 2015] since he joined the Scorpions? Campbell: Yeah, he called me last week. We keep in touch all the time. I’m in Barcelona in a couple of weeks for a rock festival and my band is two bands under the Scorpions so Mikkey asked me to go play “Overkill” [the title track from their ferocious album of the same name released in 1979] with the Scorpions. They’ve asked me before but I’ve never been able to make the gigs so… I’ve been on tour myself.
Yeah, exactly. Campbell: So we talk all the time. Everything’s good.
That’s fantastic. Campbell: Mikkey’s really happy with the Scorpions, so it’s been great.
Yeah, it’s a perfect gig for him. Campbell: Yeah, yeah, it is, yeah. Perfect for Mik.
And speaking of gigs, now that The Age of Absurdity from Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons is out, how is it starting that whole new chapter of your career and heading in a somewhat different direction? I’m sure the dynamic is separate than obviously being in Motorhead. Campbell: I’m really proud of that record we did. We did a great EP as well the year before as well. We just started from scratch again, me and my kids, and I’m glad we wrote good material and we recorded it great. I don’t think I’ve heard one bad thing about The Age of Absurdity, so I’m really pleased with that. The crowds we’ve played the new album for have been good on tour, we’ve done lots of big shows as well. We supported Guns N’ Roses a bunch of times in stadiums over here [the UK]. We’ve done some very big tours, no complaining on this end. Just been writing songs and doing gigs.
Yep, which must come as natural as breathing at this point in this phase of your life as a musician. Campbell: Kind of, yeah. Something like that.
Be sure to check out the exceptional cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes”.
Well, because I was not really surprised that you’d try to be part of a group, than do a solo act or be a session guy or a hired gun for tours or things like that, when you have such a distinct tone and style of your own. Campbell: Yeah, luckily I had my kids to ease me through the shock [of Lemmy dying], and my family when I’ve been Motorhead and more. It just seemed like a natural thing to try out and it’s going really good. So, I’m not going to complain, it’s great.
Yeah, and it must be amazing to have something like that to channel all of your focus, time, attention and creative energy as well as emotional drive into something instead of packing it in, retiring and calling it a day. After the ride of a lifetime that most musicians would probably kill to be a part of... Campbell: Yeah, yeah, it’s going really well, it’s going really good. We’ll see where this takes us in the next few years.
Yeah, and the last thing I was going to ask is when do you think we’ll be able to catch Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons on this side of the ocean in North America? Campbell: Definitely, I should say 2019, we’re definitely doing some stuff. We’re doing Chris Jericho’s rock cruise, but that’s not really in North America, that’s in unchartered waters they call it, en route to the Caribbean. We’re doing that at the end of October, but yeah, we should definitely doing some shows. Hopefully we can get on an established tour for the US so we’re looking forward to that.
Yeah, absolutely. Campbell: Yeah, that’d be good. It’s about time now!
Fuckin’ eh! That just about does it for me and I think that’s a perfect note to end it on.