The big interview: Phil Campbell - Showing his metal; He's a member of one of rock's wildest bands. But Motorhead's Phil Campbell is also a devoted family man, as Ali Stokes discovered.
IT'S 11am and Phil Campbell is already cracking open his second can of Strongbow. Before the interview's over he'll send out for another 12-pack.But then you wouldn't expect any less from Motorhead's meanest axeman and Lemmy's longest-serving musical partner. For almost two decades,Treforest-born Phil has been part of that thundering rock'n'roll machine that is Motorhead.This bandhas been rocking hard for 27 years and is responsible for hits like Ace of Spades and the StValentine's Day Massacre,and its whisky-soaked,speedfreak of a frontman Lemmy Kilmister is living proof of his iron constitution.
``We're not the most successful band in the world,but we can't complain,'' said Phil, who splits his time between harddrinking rock monster on the road with his Motorhead family and sensible family man at home in Tonteg with his wife, Gaynor, and three sonsTodd, 19, Dane, 15, and Tyler, 11.
``We could play a show somewhere on the planet every night of the year if we wanted to,'' said Phil, who has toured Argentina, Russia, Japan, Brazil, America and is about to launch the UK tour.
``It was all a bit of luck really,'' said Phil of his inclusion in metal's hardriffing trio in 1984.
Phil and Gaynor had been married for just over a year when Phil got the Motorhead call-up, taking over from sacked formerThin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson.The line-up has changed from the ``classic'' days of Lemmy on vocals,``Fast'' Eddie Clarke on guitar and ``Philthy'' Phil Taylor on drumsin1980 to the current Lemmy, Phil and drummer Mikkey Dee set-up.
``My wife wasn't concerned when I first joined Motorhead, she's more concerned now I'm still with Motorhead,'' said Phil, who started off playing in cabaret bands in the Valleys workingmen's clubs. He first met Lemmy when his band Persian Risk supported Motorhead in the early Eighties.
``I like being a family man.There's enough wild stuff goes on when you're on tour. But what I do, I do it all for my family.''
``There's no temptation on the road. I value my family.We get drunk but I don't want to catch any diseases and risk ruining what I've built up over the years,'' confessed Phil.
``My wife is pretty direct. She's marvellous to put up with me.''
Inevitably his sons, who've grown up surrounded by their father's collection of 50 guitars, are following in their father's rock tradition. His eldest son,Todd, is currently following the old man's advice and studying for a degree in music technology at the University of Glamorgan. He also fronts his own band,Psycho Squad,who are supporting Motorhead on the current live dates.
``Todd's standard of guitar playing and knowledge has far surpassed mine. It's great - I love to see it. He's got the ability now,but I've told him to get a degree to fall back on.''
``I remember takingTodd round a friend's mother's house when he was only three or four. She had a keyboard there andTodd started playing. Suddenly he came out with the words `If you squeeze my lizard I'll put my snake on you' (Lemmy's lyrics from a Motorhead classic Kill by Death).He even had the gruff voice.''
Psycho Squad supported Motorhead on their last UK tour, whenTodd had to fly back off tour dates to sit his A-levels.They'll be opening for theband at Newport Centre onThursday, October 17.
``I've played guitar with them a couple of times but they won't let me anymore because I played with them once when I was drunk and embarrassed them.''
Another embarrassment toTodd from his father's wilder days is his middle name - Rundgren.
``He hates his middle name,he calls himself Todd R Campbell,'' admitted Phil, who named his first son after his wife's musical hero,Todd Rundgren. ``We went to see him in concert when Gaynor was pregnant and decided to name him. It was either Rundgren or Zoot,so I reckon he got off lightly.''
``At home I'm normal-ish.I'm happy in my house. I go to see my son's band play and do a couple of local shows myself,'' said Phil, who is more likely to be blaring out Madonna than Motley Crue from hisTonteg home.
In May, when Phil and Gaynor celebrated their 20th anniversary, Phil flew the family out to LosAngeles for a family holiday, where Motorhead were ending their US tour and played a gig with Slash from Guns'n' Roses.
With Phil living in SouthWales, Lemmy in LosAngeles and drummer Mikkey (Corr) Dee in Sweden,the band never spend time together when they're not working.
But Phil reckons he and Lemmy, or ``The Fuhrer'' as he is known to his friends because of his massive collection ofWorldWarTwo memorabilia, are like an old married couple, the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the metal world. ``I spend more time with Lemmy than I do with my wife. Sometimes we'll be sitting together in the dressing room like an old married couple with nothing to say,'' said Phil, who once dressed up as a pantomime cow for an Italian interview and ``mooed'' all the way through the questions. And like any old married couple, Lemmy and Phil have had their share of rows.
``He's mad as a fish and he's getting more barking. But he wouldn't be Lemmy if he wasn't,'' said Phil of the rock monster who recently appeared in a KitKat commercial playing a violin in an old people's home.
``He's got his own set of rules. He's the sort of person who will walk through a door and say `what's that door doing there?' And then he'll have an argument over it.
``He's very astute, which is why it's hard to win a conversation with him.He knows he's in the wrong but he's so clever with the words.
Other members of Motorhead haven't come out of it so well, like PhilTaylor who was eventually kicked out because of his drug problems.
``Drugs were a major part of Motorhead in the early days. Eddie Clarke and PhilTaylor would fight before they went on stage and they'd resume as soon as they got off,'' said Phil.
``When Phil (Taylor) moved to America,drugs kicked in big time. One time he woke up drunk in his hotel room in the Park Sunset Hotel on Sunset Strip at 3am and tried to escape out of the mirror. Police were called and everything.The police asked Lemmy if he was dangerous and Lemmy replied `Only to himself.' '' ``There's another story that his apartment building was burning down. Philthy drove up in his car and he just drove straight into the garage and starting working on his engine while the building was burning down.
``He was a great guy but in the end he couldn't drum.He left the band for three years and when he came back,he was a bit ropey.We waited three years for him to get better, but he never did.'' ``We've got a few psychos who follow the band. I'm sure if you upset them they'd go and do a Dunblane.We were playing the other night and this guy came up to me and asked me to sign his album cover for his blind son. I couldn't find a pen so he said `Don't worry I'll tell him you signed it.' ``We don't encourage psychos,we just go out and play. Ninety per cent of the big fans are really good.But I've learned not to give fans my home phone number.There's one odd bloke who phones up every few months for no reason.''
With the revival of rock and metal, Motorhead are now enjoying a new generation of fans, partly thanks to their biggest hit, Ace of Spades,being used on the PlayStation gameTony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 and their collaboration with WWF superstarTriple H for his theme tune.
``We enjoy being together, we've no plans to knock it on the head.We don't care about musical trends, we just look after Motorhead.Our music is pretty basic but we like it and other people like it. Sometimes I think it's a life sentence but if I didn't enjoy it I wouldn't still be doing it.''
# Motorhead play Newport Centre,on Thursday, October 17.Tickets are pounds 18.50 and available from the box office on 01633 662666.
FAMILY MAN Motorhead's Phil Campbell at work and, below, with son Todd.
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|Publication:||South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Oct 12, 2002|
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