Buzz Campbell, Hotrod Lincolns, interview, music interview, Neo Rockabilly, Psychobilly, rockabilly, stray cats

Buzz Campbell

Buzz Campbell is modern Rockabilly great and future legend of the genre. Buzz plays a wicked guitar and smooth vocals for Hotrod Lincoln and his self-titled band. In the past, he has also played guitar for Shanana and the legendary Stray Cats. Another project you may know him from is his guitar playing with Lee Rocker for the last 8 years.  Buzz Campbell released “Shiver’s and Shakes” and is one of my favorite albums of 2012. In my opinion it’s one of the best kept secrets of Rockabilly and hasn’t got the publicity it deserves. Buzz and Lee are also having a contest for a sweet, sweet Gretsch 6120! All you have to do is enter your email on his or Lee’s site; what more could you ask for?! I had a chance to speak with Buzz Campbell and here’s the man himself…

To enter in the Gretsch contest go to http://www.buzzcampbell.com



BBM: What was your first major experience with music and how did you know Rockabilly was for you?
I come from a music family and when I was 5 I would play songs on the piano by ear. I first was really moved by some old cassette tapes my father gave me. There was these old doo wop tapes and it really struck a chord for me.  After that I really started to gravitate to 50’s rock n’ roll and Rockabilly.

BBM: Let’s talk about your last record Shivers and Shakes.  How would you say the sound of the band has evolved since earlier recordings?
I released quite a few records with Hotrod Lincoln since forming in 1991. We’ve always had a cleaner traditional Rockabilly sound.  With Shivers and Shakes I was really trying to add an edge to it. I used some distortion, Overdrive on my vocals, Hoped up a little more. I wanted to give it almost a 50’s vibe with a modern twist. The guitars scream a little Johnny Bowler joined me he’s the upright bass player of the Guano Batz. He’s definitely coming from a Psychobilly and neo-billy background. Our drummer stinky is almost a punk, buddy rich player. It brings a lot more energy and edge. I think the song writing was a lot better.

BBM: Definitely a killer album, I love the beautiful guitar licks! Let’s talk about you playing with all the original members of Stray Cats that kind of major…
It’s major, idk how much of my history you know but I’ll give your readers a brief history. I was hugely influenced by 50’s Rock n Roll, like I said from my father’s cassettes. Later I picked up a guitar and in high school I was really into Chuck Berry and the Beetles. Eventually I got into Carl Perkins, you know bands the Beetles liked. I started playing all that stuff at an early age and a girlfriend of mine said “Hey, I’m going to take you to see this band I think you’ll like them”.  There were maybe 300 people there and I walked in with one expectation and walked out like wow. I dropped out of college and I was; I’m going to be that, it was that much of an impact. I met Lee Rocker shortly after my bands going got (Hotrod Lincoln) he produced my first record, which was mind blowing! Years ago Brian Setzer wrote (Blue Café) on my 3rd record, which was a pretty major moment in my life also.

BBM: Really I didn’t know that?
The short story is I was in San Diego and he was with the orchestra in the early 90’s. We had met up a lot of times over the years and one night I was at a club and he was next door at another club. My friend told me he was there and I went to go see him. He was like “Hey bud, how you doing?” and he came next door and we got loaded. He stayed at my crappy apartment and slept on the couch. Shortly after that he called me and said I wrote you a track (Blue Café). Slim Jim Phantom was the last one I got to know he called me and I did a sub for him when he was in a trio. It’s amazing, the coolest thing in 08, I was support for the Stray Cats on a European tour. The last night they invited me to play and I played on the encore and it was such a trip to me. You got to understand, I was that kid in the front row and all of a sudden I’m playing beside Brian Setzer on stage. It was like what just happened, it’s unbelievable.

BBM: That’s amazing,  so great…
It’s kind of like that movie Rock Star with Mark Walberg. He was a fan of a band and then he’s in the band. I’ve been with them for 8 years now. It’s kind of how I feel some times; I’ve been with Lee Rocker, in his band 8 years now and we’ve been friends for 20. Sometimes it’s like holy shit; I’m playing with the Stray Cats. I guess it’s good, it keeps the energy high.

BBM: I saw Lee Rocker’s latest animated video, are you still doing guitar?
Yeah anything he’s doing or goes for the last 8 years I’m on. I’m like his right hand man; for instance where going to England for a duet thing in a month or two.  There’s supposed to be a cartoon version of me.

BBM: On both or your sites you have a contest going on?
Of course I’m a big Gretsch guy and they are always good to me. Email is kind of what’s happens now so to get a good collection going. We got them to donate a guitar and there’s no trick to it. It’s on the US cause there’s some crazy stipulation about shipping guitars overseas.  It’s going on till the end of the year and you get entered for the free contest and we ship it to a lucky winner!

BBM: Three words that describe your music?
Roots influenced with a modern twist. Some country, heavy blues, and rock n roll and I would also like to think there’s originality I bring to it that’s just Buzz. I’ve never been one to try to copy a style, I’m a huge fan of Roots music. I always felt I have to be myself for it to be entertaining for myself and real. Whatever I’m into at the time is what I like to write about.

BBM: I definitely love it I’m really big into Psychobilly and Rockabilly. Even my wife and my little girl where jamming out to your music earlier. In 2012, it’s great to see great Rockabilly out there!  Favorite place to tour and why?
That’s a good one, I’ve had some wonderful tours all over the place. In the states, idk California has always been good. There’s a great solid south California Rockabilly/ Psychobilly/ Punk scene that is very supportive of us. Especially the Social Distortion fans and it’s just fun in the East coast. The food, the people, everything is different but nothing compares to the tour’s I’ve done in Europe. Some of my fondest memories are riding a train in Europe with a beer in one hand and a sandwich in another. Riding the train’s from country to country and the people are so into it. There’s so much culture over there and they make me feel so appreciated. To pin point one country is hard to do. Too many great countries over there.

BBM: Where do you find inspiration in life?
All the early Hotrod Lincoln stuff you hear are great drinking songs! As I get older I want to write about more meaningful things. I have kids two, a 6 and 8 year old. You know you get older and aren’t drinking and chicks all the time. It’s funny, back then it was easy; I just wrote about what I was doing every weekend. I try to come up with a clever, interesting idea like with Shivers and Shakes song Time, was a song I wrote a long time ago. No pun intended kind of a happy up beat song we didn’t use. It was too tongue and cheek and not what I was going for. All of a sudden it went dark, from I want to spend time with you to creepy. A stalker love song that’s what I would call it and that’s where I like to take music. Still have an old vibe but put something modern to it.

BBM: I love that are you currently recording new material?
Shivers and Shakes was my first solo record, but I haven’t set a date to get back in the studio. It definitely is in the back of my head, I’m just so busy. Shivers and Shakes hasn’t  got a lot of exposure. Or I would like to do touring for it. It’s just what it is for me right now I’m just trying to put out good music and I’m definitely doing staying to do some writing.

BBM: Yeah it’s a great album I love it! What are some words of wisdom you would give a youth wanting to be a professional guitar player?
Don’t do it stay in school!  I remember me and Lee Rocker where talking one time and I asked him if his son would pursue a music carrier he was really talented. Lee told me “you know as well as I do Buzz you don’t choose to do music. Music chooses you” and that’s so true for me. You don’t make a plan your obsessed with it and the only way to be a professional is to be obsessed. Just do everything you can to develop your craft. For me I took a lot of lessons and took music theory. Gig, gig, gig, put in the hours it’s the best you can do same for singing. I was a decent singer and it was pure passion, I just wanted to be good at it.  Don’t let it go to your head. Everyone is going to tell you your great in the beginning. Everyone has something they can improve?

BBM: What are some hobbies?
I do a lot of eating (laughs). On tour, we love to try the food ever where we go. I like the entire tour experience and to see everything I can. I enjoy cultural different weather east, west coast, French, German’s. I love to get a vibe of new cities from 2004-2007 I worked for Shanana and I remember being at an after party in Crocket, Tx., in the mayors house. It was mind blowing, this is how people live. Then the next week, your in Chicago, such an interesting way to live…

BBM: Where can fans find the latest news?
The website is the best place to go www.Buzzcampbell.comand www.Leerocker.com I’m involved in everything he’s doing. 

BBM: It’s amazing to play with a legend like Lee Rocker all the time and you’ve had such a great carrier. Here’s to many more years and I hope you come out to San Antonio some time!
Year’s ago with Hotrod Lincoln we played at the Roaring 50’s in San Antonio is was fun. Lee Rocker doesn’t go through Texas that much it, just seems like the offers aren’t there. Of course we’ve done Austin and I’d love to come back. I was also born in Dallas and left when I was 3, I consider myself a Texan. There’s also a lot of great music out of Texas…

BBM: Any Last words anything you want to add on to this interview?
I just want to thank people for checking it out and keep in touch. I like to talk with people on Facebook, it’s great; I love talking to people from so many places. I’m very open and receptive and I love when people come to a show. I should say I hate when people come to a show and say I wanted to say hey but didn’t want to bother. No! Come talk to me, it’s what we do. It’s such a labor of love and I’m glad to hear what you said about the record and glad you like it. I want to get out there and do more shows. I think what has hurt us the most is the economy crashing. Right after the Shakers tour I thought I would be in Europe and I haven’t been back since. Were returning shortly just Lee and I.

BBM: Tell us about that duo with Lee Rocker?
It’s not something we do all the time there’s situations where he’s asked to perform, but he can’t bring an entire band. Last year he was doing the Million Dollar quartet show and he did a cameo for that for two weeks. After two weeks, they introduced him being in the Stray Cats and he did a tune and he said Buzz string me out and we did the morning news as a Duo. There’s a good video on his website just the two of us and it’s him clipping bass and singing and I play the guitar. People are always blown away about it. People are like, you sound great just the two of you. You’re a little more exposed that way.

BBM: Man that’s awesome. I heard about the Million Dollar Quartet but Lee Rocker and Buzz Campbell on Broadway! That’s so awesome!!
Isn’t it crazy. I was like it’s on my resume, I did Broadway…
   

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