Interview: Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons
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For famed Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell, the evening of Thursday, 11th August 2016 must have been a duplicitous and bittersweet affair.
(Marianne Harris)It began at exactly 5pm, when the rock n’ roll veteran officially got Derbyshire’s Bloodstock Festival underway by cutting the ribbon to open the Lemmy Bar. Named after the late front-man of legendary rock trio Motörhead – and a friend that had been at Campbell’s side in the band for almost 32 years – the moment was one of solemn reflection for everyone in attendance, fans and musicians alike. “It’s difficult. There’s been nothing enjoyable about it since Lem passed away, basically,” Phil recalls less than two hours later, sat at a table with son Tyla by his side. “It’s got to be done though, the guy needs to be recognised. Not that he wasn’t recognised, but it’s just nice to pay tribute to the man. It’s difficult for me, it’s still sinking in. “With Motörhead, it was the three of us [Phil, Lemmy and drummer Mikkey Dee]; we used to argue like hell. “Lem was the main guy in Motörhead, but we all had total artistic freedom. I wrote 70% of the music since I joined Motörhead. It was just a different dynamic. Motörhead was fantastic; we used to argue because we cared about the music. If we didn’t care about it, we’d just say ‘Yeah, OK, I’ll play that,’ but we actually cared. That’s why all our albums are good; there’s very few filler songs. And that’s why I’m sitting here now with the respect of a couple thousand rock fans.” The professional relationship of Phil Campbell and Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister began in 1984, when the former first joined Motörhead as their new guitarist. But the two first met years before this: back when the band was yet to exist and Lemmy was still playing bass for ‘70s psychedelic rockers Hawkwind. “I was twelve,” Phil says. “He gave me his autograph on a programme, I’ve still got it at home. He was the only member of Hawkwind that came out of the Cardiff Capital Theatre to sign autographs, so I thought ‘This guy’s pretty cool.’” While it began as an evening of solemn reflection and loving tributes, a party atmosphere would soon descend upon Bloodstock’s home of Catton Park. Phil’s new band, the Bastard Sons, hit the festival’s Sophie Lancaster Stage at 9pm and partied into the night with a mix of original songs and covers of classics by Motörhead, ZZ Top and Black Sabbath. The group is a family affair for Phil, who is joined in the band by his sons Tyla, Dane and Todd. They’ve been performing together on and off for three years and, until very recently, were referred to as “Phil Campbell’s All-Starr Band”. According to Tyla, they changed their name “just because a lot of people were genuinely expecting an ‘all-star band’ and [Phil] playing with actual famous people, when that isn’t the case. “So we tried to think of funny names, and then Neil [Starr, vocalist] came up with ‘The Bastard Sons’. It was initially a joke, and my mother wasn’t too happy about the name change,” he laughs. “But I think it’ll be good for the party, rock n’ roll vibe. It suits us better.” After years of playing shows, the Bastard Sons will soon be making their studio debut, as they are preparing to unleash their first EP.
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