Guitarist Phil Campbell, the famous Motörhead guitarist and a member of the band’s final lineup, recently sat down with Ultimate Guitar for an interview. Among other things, Campbell discussed his somewhat rare use of Fender Stratocasters.
During the chat, Phil was asked about Fender Stratocaster seen in the video for “Bullet in Your Brain.” The song in question was released in 2023 as part of the reissue of Motörhead’s final album “Bad Magic.” This particular piece was one of three tracks that were added to the new version of the record.
When asked whether he used the seen Strat in the song’s solo, Phil replied:
“Yeah, I bought a white Strat in the UK a few months previously, and I took it over to the studio and everything. I normally take about a dozen guitars in the studio. But yeah, I did use a Strat on a couple of things, I’m not sure what, but it’s definitely on the album somewhere, even if it’s just in a rhythm track, or something that’s mixed down low. It was nice to play one for a while.“
However, as Phil explained, a Strat isn’t exactly a guitar to be used in a band like Motörhead. Obviously, one needed to have a powerful tone with Lemmy Kilmister handling all the distorted bass. And, in addition, there was another problem that he had with Strats in general. Phil continued:
“My problem with Strats problem is that I keep knocking the volume down with my little finger when I’m playing, so I definitely need to practice a lot more with Strats if I want to perform a lot with Strats. With Motörhead, a Strat would sound a bit thin against Lemmy’s bass in my opinion, you know, even a Strat with humbuckers on it. But I love Stratocasters, I think they’re fantastic.”
When asked whether this was the first time he used a Strat on a Motörhead album, he responded:
“Well, Eddie Clark used a Strat, didn’t he, mostly, I think that was his main guitar. We did so many albums that I couldn’t say for certain… Würzel used a Strat. He had an old Strat and he used to use that a lot. So no, it wouldn’t be the first time a Strat was used on a Motörhead record. But to my knowledge, to my memory, it was the first time that I had used one on a Motörhead album.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Phil was asked whether his Marshall amps are modified. He replied:
“No, I don’t think so. No, I’ve been using the Satriani model for a good few years now and I’ve kind of really enjoy playing them. I’ve got dozens of Marshall amps but for the last number of years I’ve been enjoying the Satriani one, this was perfect for what I’m playing at the moment.“
“I never really modified them. I check them out and if they didn’t sound good, obviously, I wouldn’t take them, I wouldn’t buy them, or play them. You know, I know lots of people do modify stuff. As you’ve said I’m not I’m not exactly the most technical person in the world in fact, far from it. I just kind of plug in and dial it in quickly and go for it.”
Of course, with someone like Phil Campbell, it’s only expected to see a massive guitar and gear collection. But is there one instrument that he’s the fondest of? Asked about it, Phil replied:
“I like my original Lag, the one I played in Motörhead for years. Obviously, that’s got a special place. I’ve got a ’57 Les Paul — it’s a fretless wonder and action is really low and it’s got a Bigsby. I love that guitar as well. I’ve got about 100 guitars altogether.“
“So I try and get them all out you know now and again and give them a play, but some of them are a bit too expensive to take on the road. You know, I’ve had guitars stolen in the past, you know, and it’s not a good feeling. In fact, it makes me sick to the stomach these days thinking about it.
“Fortunately, non-vintage guitars sound great as well, so I take them on the road. But I think I’m most associated with a Lag for most of my Motörhead work. That was simple, there wasn’t even a tone control on that, it’s just a volume control.”
In another interview published earlier this year, Phil Campbell spoke up on how he and drummer Mikkey Dee didn’t really get the chance to say a proper goodbye to Lemmy Kilmister before his passing. Asked whether they knew things weren’t looking that well for Lemmy in the months that led up to his passing, Campbell responded:
“Yeah, we knew, but Lem wanted to just carry on then. I know the last tour in Germany, I think one or two shows were canceled ’cause I ended up in hospital. And I came back out and we finished the tour. And that was the last tour then; the last show was in Berlin.”
“So the last week of Motörhead, actually I was the one in bloody hospital. But we never thought — when we parted at the end of the tour, we never thought that would be the last time we’d see each other. We didn’t have a chance to say goodbye, me or Mikkey [Dee], or nothing. I couldn’t even go over to the funeral, ’cause my doctor advised me not to, ’cause I was pretty ill myself in them days.”
Photos: Stefan Brending (2015 RiP Motoerhead – Lemmy Kilmister by 2eight – 8SC9909), Pensierarte (Fender Stratocaster Olimpic White)