Hello, America! The Temperance Movement vocalist Phil Campbell talks about the new album and bringing the band to the States.
Phil Campbell loves America — and then some.
The Scotland-born singer of the blues-based rock band The Temperance Movement, Campbell — along with bassist Nick Fyffe, guitarists Paul Sayer and Matt White, and drummer Damon Wilson — is eager to get back on the road partake in all that is the good ol’ U.S. of A.
“We all love America,” Campbell said. “We love the burgers, we love the barbecue, we love the weather, the people, and the color and excitement, just like every band from the UK always has,” he said.
The band released its sophomore album, “White Bear,” on July 15, and hit the ground running in America on tour this summer and fall.
Cityview writer Jeff Pitts spoke with Campbell recently, discussing the origins of the band, its music and the kinship of its fans.
CV: Talk about the new album, “White Bear.”
PC: Yeah, we’ve released our second album, which is called “White Bear,” and it will be released on the 15th of July or something like that in America, but it’s been out here (Scotland) since January. It’s been out in Europe since January, we did a big UK tour in January to push it. We went to Europe as well, to Germany and France and Sweden, in support of it, and then we went to Canada and we did some TV shows there and we did a tour with Monster Truck, a Canadian rock ’n’ roll band, and we went from Vancouver all the way to Toronto, and we came away with our song playing on the radio. Yeah, it was very successful.
CV: Where are you right now?
PC: I’m in the south side of Glasgow where I live, and I’m at the most beautiful park called “Pollock’s Park,” and I’m with my little baby daughter and my wife, and we’ve just been to the garden maze, and there’s a little miniature houses for fairies that we’ve just been looking at.
CV: “Temperance Movement… ” What’s behind that name, and are you guys against the consumption of alcoholic beverages?
PC: The thing about the name, I imagined that nobody would really; it’s an ironic name. It’s the name of a rock band, so I thought it’d be funny, but I’ve had some problems with that so I don’t do it.
CV: You don’t do what?
PC: I don’t drink myself, so alcohol isn’t in my life. The name was there before the band was put together, and they liked it. I think it’s the right name. We’re a group of people here who have always been the best we can be. I know it sounds boring, but we really want to play rock ’n’ roll music .You know, a band that gets fucked up, and then they go out, they have great records, then they go to it, then they get fucked up, then they get back together. We don’t want to do that. We just want to get together and see if we could do something and get something together that works.
CV: What do people need to know about your album?
PC: If you like rock ’n’ roll music, go see the band play, because you’ll like the record after you see the band, you might like the record if you got it on its own. It depends, I don’t know, you might like it, you might not, but if you see us play, you’ll get what we’re about. We pride ourselves on being one of the best live acts around because we’re not particularly conceptual. We don’t take ourselves particularly seriously. We’re interested in who comes to see our shows because it’s a really good time, and to get their money’s worth from the ticket price and to be entertained — the way that I was when I saw the Black Crowes in London. When Chris (Robinson) was onstage, I thought, “Okay, he’s a lot of fun.” The band isn’t just going to stand there and play the music to you — they’re going to perform; it’s going to be fun. Everything’s going to be all right. That’s what we do. I’ve been at it for 15, 20 years, playing music, and I’m so grateful that that has largely been my living. I’ve made my living from that, on and off through right or wrong, that’s just how I have lived my life, with music, and that’s a luxury. I was born into a free world where people can go to concerts and forget their worries, and that’s all I want people to know about. People in Iowa, I want them to come out and fucking let it go for the night. If you’re fucking arguing with your wife, just let it go for the night. Come to see the show and just fucking rock out, chill to music and be entertained. Have a laugh, have a beer, and have a good time because we need that. When we were going around the Midwest of America, we got a lot of love from people, because the kind of people that were coming out to see the shows, they just love rock ’n’ roll and they love going out. They love going out with their friends, with their family together and having a great time. There are people who maybe don’t have an awful lot, but they’re so fucking happy just to have a ticket to your show. And it’s amazing to get to play a tour in America; it’s one of the best things anyone could ever do from the UK. It’s one of the dreams come true.
CV: What is it about seeing it live versus hearing it on the CD? Is there anything you can point to?
PC: I think what happens is you get to really understand the band, you meet the band. When I was growing up, when I saw bands on the stage, it was such a big thing because all we had was the music on the radio. So I didn’t know what (someone) looked like. He sounded like a different type of person. That voice sounded like a fucking metal dude with a beard, and he was just this dweeb, like a little guy. That made such a difference to me, and it made me feel as if I could do that. It made me feel like anybody could do that. You feel the power of it (live music), together with other people who like to go absolutely crazy, shoulder-to-shoulder. There are people standing there. It’s a very human experience that can really unite people, even if you’re just on the edge of violence. It’s still a completely cathartic experience to hear. And we have a lot of fans, I believe, and they still fucking want to let go and get into the gig and fucking jump up and down as well. They care about bands that play that type of rock ’n’ roll music like we do, and that feels nice to hear that, to play the stuff, to hear the voice, to hear the guitar, to play the guitar, to hear my voice, you can make up your mind what you think about that. Because I sound like an American, from the records, you’re going to think, “This is an American.” You’re going to think this is an American band, and they use steel guitars and like Crosby Stills and Nash. But that’s not the truth. You’re going to come to see it, you’re going to see that I’m Scottish, you’re going to get my sense of humor, you’re going to hear me talking in between the tracks, you’re going to see the band having a laugh, you’re going to see the band and hear the band just pissing themselves onstage because we’re having such a fucking good time. You’re going to just realize that it’s not at all serious and that everybody’s just getting away with it, and everything’s all right. It’s important to see the band because that’s what the band is — a group of people who play and live together, much more than the recording.
CV: When are you coming to America?
PC: I know that we’re coming from like the 7th of July to the end of July. We’re very accessible. We talk to people, we tell people what’s going on ourselves, and we’ve got the band members on Facebook and all of that as well. We all love America. We love the burgers, we love the barbecue, we love the weather, the people, and the color and excitement, just like every band from the UK always has. We come in the spirit of love, really, in what is quite ridiculously volatile, violent time in the world. We’re just going to go and try to build some bridges and make some friends and try to get people to forget about their worries for an hour-and-a-half.
CV: One last question. If you were writing a book about you and the band, what would you want people to know?
PC: I would start with telling you the end of the first part of my life, because the Temperance Movement came along, and it was out of nowhere. I thought my life was just about me getting somewhere as a solo act. I never really got anywhere and tried far too hard, I was completely self-absorbed to the point where I just gave up. And the minute I gave up, and that’s when I got a call from one of the guys. So I would tell you about the day that I arrived back in Glasgow with my tail between my legs and feeling like a loser. And I would tell you about how I tried to stand up again and get my life back together, start to try to walk it like a man, and how failure comes first before any success can come. The band basically taught me that I could sing pretty well, and I never knew that about myself. I mean, I thought I could sing OK. I thought I was Tom Waits. I thought I was this act that could do anything. I thought I was the Messiah, but I have a good voice and that was a lot easier than I thought it was, and sometimes you’ve got to listen to what other people say, and I’ve been lucky by meeting these guys. They’re the best guys you’ll ever meet. They’re my best friends. They’ve become my best friends, and we’ve learned to work together and write together and live together and love each other. It’s a great success story, and if this is where it ends, it’s a great success story for us all because we’ve all had so much fun.
Find out more about Phil Campbell and The Temperance Movement at www.thetemperancemovement.com. CV