“I didn’t think it would take this long, but it’s finally done now…” - Former Motörhead man Phil Campbell talks his long-awaited debut solo album
Motörhead’s work ethic was fearsome. During their 40-year-career, they produced 22 studio albums, 13 live albums, 13 compilation albums, five EPs and 10 video albums. That was alongside a touring schedule that regularly included over 150 shows a year.
No wonder when guitarist Phil Campbell started talking about making a solo album in 1996, it took him 23 years to get it done!
The album, Old Lions Still Roar, arrives in stores today and it comes with a stellar line-up of guests. Among them are Alice Cooper, Judas Priest legend Rob Halford, Twisted Sister man Dee Snider, Skindred frontman Benji Webbe and guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani.
We spoke to him about making the record, getting the seal of approval from legendary Motörhead frontman Lemmy and his plans for The B***ard Sons, the band that features Campbell's three sons Todd, Dane and Tyla as well as former Attack! Attack! vocalist Neil Starr...
A debut solo album at this point in your career must be a strange thing to have, when did you start wanting to do one?
“A few years I found in my magazine in my home studio and it’s dated 1996. In there I’m talking about starting my solo record soon, so it has been a long time coming. We were just so busy with Motörhead.”
When did you start taking the idea seriously?
“About four or five years ago. I told Lemmy I was going to do it at some point and he was full of encouragement. I didn’t think it would take this long, but it’s finally done now. At last.”
Did you always know how you wanted it to sound?
“I knew I wanted some great singers on there, because I know I’m not the greatest singer in the world. I just wanted to make a good and interesting album with a lot of great songs. I had no sound I wanted, but I did go a bit over the top with the guests. I’ve been asking people for so long and they’ve all said yes over the years.”
Did you know everybody who you reached out to? Or were some people you admired?
“I knew everyone to varying degrees. Some are good friends, some are acquaintances and some I’ve just met on the road a few times. But nothing was out of the blue.”
Were they all able to come to the studio or did you end up working remotely?
“Both. It was impossible to get Alice Cooper to my studio in Wales and a lot of them are very busy. I’d say we had about 60/70% in the studio, the rest was files back and forth. Chris Fehn came down to his drums, Ben from Orange Goblin and Benji from Skindred, they both came in, and my boys all recorded in there with me. It was a very satisfying process for me, I just loved doing something new.”
Are the words yours or did you leave that up to the guests?
“I gave them some ideas and titles, but I left it up to them, I couldn’t generalise and put a theme on it, it’s all over the place.”
When did you decide on Old Lions Still Roar for the title? Was it always going to be?
“One of my sons suggested it to me as a song title about five years ago and I said back then I’d keep it for my solo album. Now everyone thinks it’s because I’ve got an album full of old buggers on there! I didn’t mean it that way, but no one believes me!”
How are you going to be bringing the album to life in the live arena?
“I’m out with the B***ard Sons until Christmas and we’re doing two or three songs from it. Trying to get the people together to do an album tour would just be impossible. If we’re doing a festival next year and one of the singers happens to be there, I hope they’ll get up and do it.”
Are you working on new material with the B***ard Sons?
“I want to do a new B***ard Sons album and to get that out by next year. That’s as far as I'm thinking at the moment, I’m just so relieved to get thing finally out.”
How’s the new material coming along?
“We’ve got a few ideas already and we’re working. We’ll knuckle down before Christmas and start working seriously on it.”