AS Phil Campbell mopped the floor of the Offshore Coffee Shop in Glasgow’s West End listening to Sticky Fingers, he was unaware that a year and a half later he would be sharing a stage with the Rolling Stones as they celebrated that very album with a tour around some of the biggest stages in Europe. Born and bred in Glasgow, the Temperance Movement frontman knows exactly what it takes to make it to the top. From playing the city’s dingiest basement venues to performing in front of huge crowds all over the world, Campbell is undoubtedly one the many brilliant success stories to stem from Glasgow’s infamously fertile music scene.
Driven by relentless ambition, a tireless work ethic and an all-consuming passion for gritty rock & roll, it was with the Temperance Movement that the frontman finally got his big break. Channelling the likes of Rod Stewart and Steve Marriott in his whisky-soaked snarl and truly distinctive drawl, he emerged as the powerful figurehead of the band; and as the only member from Glasgow, it was inevitable that the four-piece would become synonymous with the city and its strong musical culture.
The very embodiment of true rock & roll spirit, it’s therefore hard to think of a group more appropriate to headline this year’s Tenement Trail. A band we’ve followed closely since the very beginning of their existence, they return to Glasgow this weekend to top our most star-studded line-up to date at the O2 ABC on Sauchiehall Street; a gig that will mark their highly anticipated live comeback following months hidden away in the studio. Set to receive another rapturous response from their passionate Scottish fans, TTV caught up with the band’s frontman ahead of the big occasion to hear about everything from new material to Glasgow’s music scene to his favourite haunts; from the Offshore Coffee Shop, where he worked when The Temperance Movement first got together, to Nice N Sleazy, the first venue the band played in Glasgow, to the ABC, where they will play this Saturday as headliners of Tenement Trail 2017.
“It feels a great honour to be headlining Tenement Trail and the ABC is a very special venue. It’s been here forever… The Temperance Movement played it one time a couple of years ago at the end of a European tour. It was the last gig so everyone could relax afterwards. We’d never ended in Glasgow before so it was a fantastic evening”
This time around though, the show will hold even greater significance as it may be the first opportunity for fans to hear some new material from the band as they prepare for the release of their third album; their first since 2016’s White Bear. Campbell said: “We’ll play the most instant of the songs we have now for our third album… there’s a lot of great stuff. There’s some stuff we’ve already played and we’ve been playing but we’ll probably mix it up a bit with the other two and keep it very slick. It’s amazing to have new material and to get out and play it. We’ve not focused on the UK for a long time. Mainly because we’ve not had anything new to say…”
With the Glasgow music scene etched into the band’s very DNA, the band have an enduring connection with the city’s infamous crowds; it goes without saying that Saturday night’s show will be a special one for Campbell: “I’m the only member from Glasgow. Whenever The Temperance Movement play here it’s always the best night of my life. It’s always been that way. I get a lot of love in Glasgow and I’ve played all the venues here that I’d never played before until this band. We’ve just been in the studio and we’ve got all this new material. We’re going to be playing it and we’re all really excited because we know Glasgow is always a good show”
Tenement Trail will mark the band’s first live performance in the city since last year’s legendary Barrowlands performance. A night that stands out in Campbell’s memory more than any other, it was a triumphant homecoming for the frontman that secured the band’s position among the upper echelons of the city’s rich musical heritage.
“Barrowlands is a classic venue. It was a total homecoming and I felt like a king for the night. Friends, family, all the fans of the band were there. I absolutely relished every moment of it. I got a star off the wall…I didn’t know it was tradition… someone grabbed it and gave it to me and I’ve got it in a frame at home”
Another venue that stands out in more ways than one is Sauchiehall Street’s infamous pub Nice N Sleazys. A place that holds a special place in the frontman’s heart, it has seen thousands of bands come through over the years on the road to stardom, including The Temperance Movement; like many of the musicians that have come after him, it is interesting to know that he too took his very first tentative steps as an aspiring musician in the underbelly of one of the city’s most popular haunts.
“If you’re in a band, you’ve played Sleazys. This is where my life started with the first band I was in with pals in Glasgow and after leaving and coming back, this is the first venue The Temperance Movement played in Glasgow. If I think of a small gig I think of Sleazys and King Tuts. I’ve played bigger stages and it’s a bonus but for all the venues I’ve played, this is always in my mind. The small venues are where it’s at…where you can see the attraction between the play. You can hear the song and you can’t hide anything”
And while the city is blessed with a number of excellent small venues, Nice N Sleazys holds even greater personal significance for Campbell who recalls The Temperance Movement’s very first show there:
“We were supporting a band from Edinburgh and the lead singer was the older cousin of my now wife who was there doing the tickets that night. It was the first time I met her.. at the end of our gig she was dancing on the tables at the back of the venue and that was the first time we met. A year after that, I plucked up the courage to ask her out and we went to Yoo Fung which is my favourite Chinese restaurant in Glasgow.”
With Nice N Sleazy one of the ten venues hosting live music this weekend, it’s fair to say that festival-goers will be spoiled for choice when it comes down to picking what artists to see. From the ABC to a variety of intimate pubs and clubs, Tenement Trail is set to host its biggest line-up to date; from established names to breakout stars from around the UK to young bands at the very start of their careers. When speaking to Campbell about the line-up, his passion for young Scottish talent comes is utterly infectious:
“I can’t wait for the day, I’m going to watch a lot of music. I love Emme Woods, we did a bit of work together earlier this summer and played a gig together at St Lukes. I’d heard about her through TTV and got hooked on her voice. It’s a raspy voice that reminds me of Maggie Bell. I’ve not heard a voice like hers in a good while… she has real guts. Her music is the sound of Glasgow, the sound of going out, getting wasted and getting a bag of chips on the way home and surviving and living to tell the tale. I’ll be looking out for her and watching her set”
“I like Catholic Action. I like that song Propaganda – it’s like Joy Division meets War on Drugs. They have a Glasgow attitude that is exciting to listen to. The line-up suggests there’s an absolute massive amount of bands getting started right now. When we were coming up we thought about how we could get out of here but now it’s about how we make this the place to be. This lot are going to be the ones to do it”
Brimming with optimism and hope for the future, Campbell is utterly compelling when he talks about his hometown. A rock star who has never forgotten his roots, he knows the city inside out and it’s clear that its vibrant spirit and tireless work ethic is ingrained in his own doggedly determined and strong-willed mentality. Keen to talk the city up at any given opportunity, he goes onto discuss its relationship with music and the budding sense of camaraderie it evokes.
“Glasgow is filled with brilliant, imaginative, creative people within the arts; visual arts, music…. It’s always been a big strong place for that, for getting things happening and for getting people together, getting songs rehearsed and getting a gig and starting something. Folk here need something to believe in and something to work towards and bands give that to people; traditionally young people feeling estranged from something. If you’re feeling a bit of an outcast for some reason, it’s about getting together with others and having a go at a band, making some noise. There’s lots of ways to make noise now, more than drums bass and guitar. You can make an entire venue shake and that’s just your first gig.”
With new bands now emerging on a near weekly basis, it’s fair to say that Scotland is awash with exciting talent. While London remains a hotspot for burgeoning musicians, Glasgow has become a certified breeding ground for exciting new bands in recent years; and Tenement Trail is right at the forefront of the exciting new movement. As the new generation of bands continue to make their mark, Campbell encourages them to stay exactly where they are:
“One of the things that’s different is that when I was younger I had an urgency to leave Glasgow, get out as soon as possible… I wanted to go to London and America. But it’s now a thriving place. Just from looking at the bands at Trail, it’s a city buzzing away and ready to explode and I wouldn’t want to leave if I was 18 or 19. I would remain here and make this the base, make this the city everyone is talking about”
“Take care of what you’ve got, take care of each other, and look out for each other. Remember it’s not a competition. A scene starts when bands like each other, support each other, love each other, promote each other; without hating each other and competing to try and be the best and biggest. That’s how a scene starts and that’s what I’ve always wanted to see. When I was young, we were just coming out of Simple Minds and big singers of the late eighties; then Madchester hit and it moved away from Glasgow and we’ve all been waiting for it to happen again and it’s taken its time. That’s how scenes happen – relationships form between bands. That what I would do now if I was 18 years old in a band in Glasgow. Keep my head here.”
The Temperance Movement return to Glasgow to headline this year’s Tenement Trail at the O2 ABC Glasgow. Get your tickets here.
Watch the band’s legendary TTV session below: