By ANDREW McKAYSMITH
IF any band has more street cred with rock and metal fans than Motörhead then please spare me their name… they must be from an alternate dimension. (AC/DC divided fans with Axl’s recent appointment as front man for live shows… so hush down over there!)
Lemmy KIlmister, the bands only bassist and frontman very sadly departed the earthly plane in 2015 leaving two appreciative and philosophical band mates. Drummer Mikey Dee regrouped with German legends the Scorpions in time for their North American headline tour in 2016 and recently, guitarist Phil Campbell announced he was recording his debut album under the ‘Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons’ moniker for Nuclear Blast records.
Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons is a band that features Campbell’s three sons – Todd (guitar), Dane (drums), Tyla (bass) with vocalist Neil Starr completing the line-up.
Over the phone from his native Wales, we got talking about the process for recording the album and Campbell is justifiably enthusiastic.
“It’s produced by Romesh Dodangoda, The Bastard Son’s album. A Welsh producer, he is fantastic and he recorded all my guitars, on The World is Yours (twentieth studio album by Motörhead, 2010). Because my dad got sick and I was in Los Angeles, I had to fly home to be with my dad, so I recorded them all in Cardiff. He is a brilliant producer, he understood where we were at totally on this record. I can’t wait for it to come out actually. It’s massive.”
Given the album is the first album Campbell will be a part of since Lemmy’s passing, is there any resemblance to Motörhead?
“It’s classic heavy rock with my way of thinking through punk influences. Some great vocals, some melodic vocals. The songs speak for themselves. I think we have got about 12 songs on it, but a massive rock sound everywhere here.”
Fair enough! As if it would be anything other than a punk-inspired rock extravaganza.
Now as I have pointed out in previous features for this great web based publication, I am a musician who regularly performs on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. I do enjoy talking to musicians about gear and guitars and I was duly impressed with Campbell’s willingness to reciprocate.
“I took about six or seven (guitars) in to the studio. I used my Gibson 335, my Les Paul Silverburst and I used my blue PRS.”
What about the Gallien-Krueger guitar amps that were famously used by Campbell in the 80s?
“They were great, they were transistor things and they were really good. I think I had four (guitar) stacks and a bass stack… and a combo. Bob Gallien and Rich Krueger were really cool guys with me. I have still got a (guitar) stack and I still rate them to this day. They won’t make an appearance on the album. I went back to Marshall again. When you are a touring band worldwide you need backup and Marshalls are great…. but Gallien-Krueger did me proud and I’ve still got all the amps and everything. Now you have said it I might fire one up next rehearsal!”
Another contributing factor to Campbell’s switch to Marshall is that Gallien-Krueger has not produced guitar amps in decades; they are a bass amplifier manufacturer in 2017. Campbell signs off on our discussion about the brand by offering this gem about Gallien-Krueger and another well-known guitarist (continued below).
“Even the little combos used to be great, the 100-watt combo. I used to take it up to C.C. DeVille’s (Poison) house in LA on the top of the posh houses and he used to love it. Used to make me carry it up for him. In his crazy days, he would get all excited over a little combo. A great company though, a great amp”
Okay… so that’s enough about gear and guitars. I have felt for some time that Michael Burston AKA Würzel (RIP) is an overlooked key contributor to the Motörhead legacy. Würzel was a member of the band from 1984 to 1995 appearing on six studio albums. Campbell recalls his former comrade affectionately.
“He was great. We used to have the best time and he was always upbeat, he was never down. He was always enthusiastic. He was quite a lot older than me and we had jobs as a roof tiler and (he was) in the army. He really appreciated the opportunity he had to play music in a really cool band. For some reason for personal issues, not really to do with the band, he got disillusioned with the thing. I think people were feeding him some information that wasn’t correct and it’s a shame. It was a shame, but he was great. He contributed a lot. He came out with some great riffs over the years, some great solos. He was a great comrade, fantastic. He is sadly missed.”
Much like my chat with the members of Venom Inc. I couldn’t resist diving into the storied history of one of rock’n’roll’s true originals. Campbell is the real deal and if the chance to catch him and the ‘Sons is available then I strongly suggest you get along to a show.