About to celebrate his twenty-eighth anniversary with the band, I chatted with Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell last week. From Montréal, Québec, Campbell checked in in advance of the band's upcoming Chicago appearance with Megadeth, Volbeat and Lacuna Coil as part of the 2012 Gigantour this Friday, February 10th at the Aragon Ballroom.
Despite many lineup changes since forming in 1975, Motörhead has experienced its most stable period with the current lineup of Lemmy Kilmister (bass and vocals since the band's 1975 inception), Phil Campbell (guitar since February of 1984) and Mikkey Dee (drums since 1991) having played together for over twenty years.
"We kind of know what everyone is capable of. We just go on and you know Lemmy has his job and Mikkey has his job and I have mine and it’s good because we don’t feel like we’ve rested on our laurels... You’ve got to be on the ball. I mean, there’s no room for slackers in Motörhead." says Campbell.
While Motörhead is known for their groundbreaking fusion of punk and metal, Campbell was influenced early on by Jimi Hendrix. "When I was about eight, I bought an album called Hendrix in the West. It was a live album which has been [out of print] but I found the vinyl a couple of weeks ago. I was jumping for joy about that."
Campbell went on to cite Jimmy Page as well as Australian acoustic guitarist Tommy Emmanuel but it's liable to be his inclusion of Tool's Adam Jones that could surprise longtime Motörhead fans. "They’ve got their own sound. They're amazing. I love Tool. They’re really good."
Motörhead released the live DVD The Wörld Is Ours - Vol 1 - Everywhere Further Than Everyplace Else to document their 2011 world tour. While the live set features moments that span the globe, one of the highlights is a full performance from Santiago de Chile's Teatro Caupolicán. "There’s a slightly different vibe down in South America. The fans get pretty excited down there... It’s just a representation of us last year. To be pretty honest about ourselves, what you see is what you get." says Campbell about the project.
With iconic metal songs like "Ace of Spades" and "Overkill," Motörhead has been influential on countless bands. But in the past few years, something strange happened. While some of the once "up and coming" bands they clearly influenced began to make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Metallica in 2009 and Guns N' Roses in 2012), Motörhead found themselves nevertheless on the outside looking in.
I asked Campbell if that kind of recognition (or snub) is something the band cares about. "Personally, and I’m speaking for myself, I’m not all that bothered about it. I could take it or leave it. I’ve got a Grammy on my mantelpiece which certainly is something I never thought I’d achieve in my life so that’s enough for me basically. I’m not knocking it really but I don’t crave to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’d rather play. I’m quite happy having people show up at our shows enjoying the music. That’s more important to me."
And soon one of those shows will take place here in Chicago as the 2012 Gigantour makes its way back to Uptown this Friday (February 10, 2012). "We’re going back to one of my favorite places: The Aragon Ballroom. I’ve got some really good memories of playing there years ago... I don’t think we’ve played there for like ten or twelve or fifteen years or something like that so I’m really looking forward to going back there. I hope it’s a good time. It’s just the right size I think. I think it’s a good size for our music." says Campbell.
As far as I can tell, the last time that Motörhead hit the Aragon was on February 25, 1994. But that all changes as the rejuvenated Gigantour returns to Chicago for the festival's fifth incarnation (after running from 2005 to 2008, it went on hiatus returning this year) this Friday.
Friday, February 10th, 2012
Doors open at 5:30PM, Show starts at 6:30PM
Tickets = $42.25, All Ages
Megadeth, Motörhead, Volbeat, Lacuna Coil
Click HERE for tickets
Check out my interview with Megadeth's David Ellefson (a Gigantour postscript) HERE
Check out my full concert review of Megadeth, Motörhead, Volbeat & Lacuna Coil at Gigantour 2012 at the Aragon on Friday, 2/10/12 HERE