Maintaining the Madness
An interview with Motorhead
by: Gino Filicetti
"Fuck man, I can't even change strings on a guitar. I've been playing 26 years, and I can not even change strings on a guitar. I can't change an electric plug at home, I can't do nothing at all. I don't want to be bothered with outside things like that."

-- Phil Campbell (guitarist)

What exactly comes to mind when someone mentions Motorhead? To some, they are one of the noisiest, ugliest, most disgusting bands ever to rear its repulsive face; but to the multitudes of fans that worship Motorhead worldwide, they are seen as the immortal gods of the heavy metal universe. Not only have Motorhead been around for the past 20 years, but they have consistently delivered the goods during their entire career, and still have many years left in them.

Chronicles of Chaos caught up with guitarist Phil Campbell (now the band's sole axeman since the departure of former lead guitarist Wurzel) during the Toronto leg of their last tour in support of _Sacrifice_, their debut album for CMC International. Phil had this to say when asked what keeps Motorhead going; "Speed. It's just that none of us can do anything else. We're all totally fucking useless. What would we do if we weren't doing this? Work in a bank and go to work every day at nine o'clock and clock out at five? We play music that we're proud of. At the time, we make the fucking best music we can and we're proud of that. I'm so fucking proud of it, I got a tattoo here. <lifting his sleeve> It'd be nice to get a couple of hits, and a bit more respect. But we have respect from the people who know us, our fans. I guess the media doesn't know what the fuck to make of us."

It's a well known fact that Motorhead have gotten the respect they deserve, but then again, they have never cried about it, or been bitter. Phil couldn't care less what the 'outsiders' think of his band, "I got a fucking big house and a fucking yacht, it doesn't mean a fuck to me. It would be nice, I mean, we've done the Letterman show, we done the Tonight Show as the first rock band to ever appear. Me and Lem did the Letterman show with Elle MacPherson and Dana Carvey. We've done all sorts, and we just ain't gonna give up. We enjoy boogie-ing down and touring. It's great."

Perhaps one of the biggest shocks in Motorhead's career came when they were nominated for a Grammy in 1991 for _1916_. Despite this fact, the band's record label at the time, Sony, decided that Motorhead just wasn't right for them. "We did _1916_ and that did really good but I don't know how many we sold. Then we did _March or Die_. We had Slash on it, and Ozzy, and to give you an example of what they were like [the label], when we wanted to do a video for "Ain't No Nice Guy", which featured Ozzy and Slash, they wouldn't pay for the video. Two of the major fucking rock stars in the world and they would not pay for a video. So we paid for it ourselves and we thought, fucking hell, what's going on here? What are they trying to do? So it got to a point, and I still don't know, to this day if we were a tax loss to them or not."

Corruption in the music business is definitely not a new thing, especially when it comes to major labels. In the real world, everything is viewed in dollars and cents, and unfortunately a lot of music gets caught up in the wave of the current trend and then bottoms out and is never heard from again. Phil gives us an example of the bullshit that goes on at these so called 'record labels'; "Oh man, half these record company people, they don't know nothing about records. Somebody at Sony that I met, he had a fairly top job, like half way up in Sony, and three weeks before that he was a carpet salesman!! He'd never been in the music business in his life! It's all got to do with cocksucking and bribery and shit like that."

Being in a rock n' roll band has probably been the dream of every kid in the world since the very beginnings of the genre. Phil Campbell knows the feeling. "It was my dream too! I asked Lemmy for his autograph when I was twelve. He came to my town when he was in Hawkwind. It was at a big theatre like the Odeon and he was the only one that came out to the foyer to meet the kids. He was probably looking for women, you know. And I still got the program at home, it's signed and it says, 'Arrrrrgggghhhhhhh' all the way down the middle and 'Lemmy' at the bottom. If someone said to me that night that you're gonna be in a fucking band with this fucking guy and tour around the world for years, I would've said, 'Fuck Off! You're dreaming!' But that's the truth. I tell people that story because I think it may give people inspiration never to give up." He continues, talking about what he wants people to get out of their music, "There's no great message with our music, we want people to come in, forget their problems, and just basically feel better leaving the show than they did coming in. And just have a good time, and come back the next time and see us. Just forget it all for two hours.

Even though it hasn't even been a year since the release of the band's latest album, _Sacrifice_, Phil is already raring to start work on their next opus, which would bring the Motorhead album count up to an astonishing 19. "After this tour finishes in March I'm going to Mikkey's house. He just bought a new house in Gothamburg and he just had a studio put in, so I'm going there with him. Basically we hope to have a new album out by early summer." But why does the band insist on releasing album so close to each other, the new album would be the fifth album in five years; "We do one sort of every year, I don't know, because we like spending the money they give us. What are you going to do when they give you loads of money? 'Yeah we'll do another one!'" About the next album, Phil comments, "It's going to be different on the next album. It'll be the first one we've done with only the three piece. It's going to be so fucking.... I don't know how to describe it, it's going to be BIG TIME. It's going to be something the world's never heard before."

Since the departure of Wurzel just after the completion of _Sacrifice_, Motorhead has been a power trio. It has all come back to the basics of Lemmy's original vision of a band consisting of three men who ate, slept and shit rock n' roll. Phil doesn't really mind the change. "It's better for me. Wurzel basically only duplicated what I did, he didn't do any extra. See, it was powerful before, but now it's sort of clear, controlled power with the three piece. You got three instruments there in your face. It's a lot better I think and a lot of the people I've spoke to think it's much better. But I can't speak for the entire world, a lot of people might think I'm fucking crap, but I don't give a shit. They are entitled to their opinion, right?"

Mentioning the name Motorhead will always bring to mind images of Lemmy, huge in his stance, with his mole-encrusted face turned skyward to his microphone, but rarely does anyone consider that there are two other people in this band that are just as much a part of the whole as the Lemster himself. Phil has this to say about being in the shadow of Lemmy; "Well, Lem is the essence of Motorhead. He formed the band, but no, he never tries to cast a shadow. Like when people call for interviews and ask to speak to Lem, that's fair enough, but over the years, people have gotten to know me, and Mikkey and Wurzel and whoever. We just want what's right for the band. Lem's never once said anything like you have to play this part, you have to play like this and that. It's a very democratic thing, he's never controlled us. If me and Mikkey vote not to do something, he'll go along with that." He continues, "I got to give a lot of credit to Lem for that, he's good as gold man, he's fucking brilliant. He's a lot happier now that he moved to Los Angeles in 1990. Lem is so content now, he's happy with his band, he's happy with his life, and we all are. It's just a pleasure to play, and we write the best fucking songs we can. We know we're fucking good, and we're proud of our achievements and hopefully people will like what we do, and if not, they go away. Sorry, but that's tough shit."

A salute to Motorhead, the grand-daddies of heavy metal, and a band without whom the world would be a much more boring place.

(article submitted 14/3/1996)

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