No Sleep til' October
12 September 2007
Words by Aedan Siebert and live images by Simon Milburn
Throughout their impressive thirty year tenure, hard rockers Motörhead have earned the respect and admiration from bands, fans and press alike for being a band that has constantly stayed true to not only their style and sound but also to themselves. Where other rockers from the same era have fallen by the wayside or wasted away into nothingness, Motörhead remains strong and unyielding. And in just a few short weeks, this heavy hitting road crew will one again descend on our shores; their amps cranked all the way to eleven.
I caught up with longstanding Motörhead axeman Phil Campbell to discuss the bands longevity, possible retirement plans and important strategies for keeping your ears protected and safe during the bands infamous live shows.
“Oh, it’s great! It’s my job now – it’s a big part of my life and everything. We feel really honoured and privileged to be able to of kept going all this time you know? It’s good, very good!”
Says Phil, as I ask him what it means to be a major part of one of the most influential and long standing rock acts around today. You would think that with such status, expectations among not only the fans, but the band members themselves would be quite high. Campbell however, takes a very sensible and down to earth approach on the matter.
“We work as hard as we can – we don’t really have that many expectations, we just put our heads down and do the best we can – you can’t do any more!”
While this work ethic and down to earth approach act as the mortar for the band’s remarkable lifespan, it is Motörhead’s friendships, support base, resilience and ability to stick to their guns no matter what, that really keep things going.
“We’ve just never given up. If you don’t stop, if you don’t give up, you’re definitely going to keep going regardless, you know? Which is correct! We enjoy our company, we have a great crew, most of them have been with us a long time so that they’re just friends – like second family you know? And we write the music for ourselves. We don’t write it for the record companies and we don’t write for the fans, we just write for the three of us and it keeps the music honest and pure. I think that probably has a lot to do with it. There’s life in the old dog – well old dogs - yet as they say!”
For many out there, being in a band like Motörhead would be a dream come true! After all this time I wondered what Phil imagined his life might’ve been like, had he chosen a completely different career path altogether...
“It’s a pretty scary thought that is actually. I know what I’d like to do though, when I retire – I decided the other day – I want to rent out sand lounges on a beach somewhere with a little hut! I was on a beach in the Greek Islands the other week and there was a fella renting chairs out there, and he had his little hut and his bottle of Uzo – I could quite happily do that!”
Exciting retirement prospects aside, as mentioned above Motörhead have garnered much respect over the years for sticking to their guns and dishing out similar sounds to those that made them the band they are today. Though for the band this seems to stem less from conscious decision and more from an innate drive to follow their hearts – or ears as it were.
“We just do what we feel like at the time. You can tell when you do something if it sounds right or if it doesn’t sound right. We like to keep everything as hard as we can and stuff, but we like do the odd things of diversity you know? If we did an album of party songs or Christmas songs it would still be cool because it was what we wanted to do you know? We know what we sound best at doing, which is the Motörhead style and sound, that’s what we do best. And we kinda stick along them lines, but we do like to do other stuff occasionally.”
It’s been a little over a year since Motörhead’s previous album, Kiss Of Death hit the shelves and by my reckoning fans are about due for another screaming hot slab of the band’s trademark Rock n’ Roll.
“Yeah we’re going to get together in January in Los Angeles and put some new stuff down, but we have a studio here at home so hopefully in my little bit of spare time I’m going to start working on some ideas ready for the next album and I’ll take it over to the boys in January. And if all goes well, we might have an album out by the end of next summer. That’s the sort of plan we’ve got.”
Not surprisingly – while Phil certainly throws plenty of ideas into the mix – creating a new piece of music is a team effort.
“Yeah, yeah! It does help if I get together as much material as I can before I take it to the boys and then we all tear it apart, and they say ‘oh this is good and that’s crap’ or ‘this bit will go with that bit’ so it’s just best to get as much done before hand. Otherwise you just find yourself in the rehearsal room blasting away for days and days – you can imagine what it’s like!”
It’s been almost two years (December 05) since Motörhead made their way to Australia supporting old-school rockers Mötley Crüe – and while the band well and truly made their presence heard on tour, I’m sure many fans out there would’ve loved to have seen Motörhead dish out a few headline shows of their own. And now, as most fans are aware, that very time has come – the band seemingly just as excited at the prospect as the rabid fans themselves!
“Yeah definitely! I mean we there a couple of years back with Mötley Crüe, and we had a great time then but we were only the support act so we couldn’t do our full set or anything. So we’ll be playing a lot more songs this time. It’s a great country down there – I have relatives in Perth, so I’ll get to seem them again. Yeah, we’re looking forward to it! It won’t be long now, only a couple of weeks!”
And from what Phil says, it sounds as though the fans might be in for quite a treat in regards to the set list...
“We’re going to do some stuff from the last couple of albums, some old classics and some obscure songs that people wouldn’t normally hear – you know it’s going to be a mixture of stuff it should be fine. Hopefully!”
Not to mention the support act!
“Yeah! Originally we were going to come over with Heaven And Hell, but they changed their schedule and we kept to ours. It’ll be great to watch Rose Tattoo every night you know? I’ve never seen them live but I’m sure they’re going to sound really good! They were at a festival with us once, but they were on a different stage so I didn’t get to see them!”
Before he left me, Phil passed on a little bit of information that will no doubt be integral to the health and safety of all those that attend the upcoming gigs.
“We’re looking forward to coming down over to your shores! Make sure everyone has at least a couple of dozen sets of ear plugs each – because they’ll be falling out - the ear plugs will be bouncing out so you’ll have to tape them in! Because we’re getting older and losing our hearing we have to over-compensate with the volume a bit more. Be very afraid!
Motörhead's latest album, Better Motörhead Than Dead - Live At Hammersmith, is out now on SPV through Riot! Entertainment. Motörhead begin their headline tour in Brisbane on the 3rd of October, before moving through Sydney on the 5th and 7th, Newcastle on the 6th, Melbourne on the 9th and 10th, Adelaide on the 13th and finishing up in Perth on the 16th. For more information on Motörhead, check out the www.imotorhead.com.