Phil Campbell has spoken to Classic Rock about his departure from The Temperance Movement and the launch of a relatively new group he’s in, the Byson Family, who are set to release a debut album in the coming months.
From the outside, the singer’s resignation, in January 2020, came out of the blue, but for Campbell the writing had been on the wall for more than a year.
“In fact it went back further than that, to the point when [Luke] Potashnick left,” Campbell explains, referring to The Temperance Movement’s co-founding guitarist who quit in 2015. “That gutted me and the rest of the band, because Potashnick was the spiritual father of the whole thing. As our taste maker he had spent a couple of years luring me into joining, and I did so to be in a band with him.”
Following The Temperance Movement’s first trip to the United States, Potashnick was replaced by Matt White, a friend of the band. Campbell cites that same US tour, during which they supported the Rolling Stones, as another signpost to his own departure.
“I had just become a father, and while there I turned forty, and the minute we got back Luke said he was leaving,” he explains. “That was horrible.” Exactly a year later, following TTM’s second album White Bear and a second North American tour, drummer Damon Wilson, another co-founder, departed.
“Maybe those guys decided that they didn’t want to be in a band with me because I’m a bit wayward, I don’t know,” Campbell says. “But my attitude is: we’re in a fucking rock band – it’s not the same as an office job. You’re allowed certain freedoms, that’s why I went into it.”
Though TTM released a third album, 2018’s A Deeper Cut, Damon Wilson’s exit marked “the beginning of the end” for Campbell in the band. “For me, the best things about the band were Luke and Damon,” he reasons.
In terms of TTM’s music, things were changing. As the band became heavier, their singer started to drift away. “After seven years with the band I didn’t enjoy screaming at the top of my lungs,” he explains. “It was difficult for me to leave, because I was the focal point of a band that a lot of people had loved and believed in. I’m not proud of the way it ended, but I had to get out.”
Did the rest of the band understand your reasons?
“I think they will, as the Byson Family progresses,” he responds after moment of thought. “I want to make music in my home town [Glasgow] and with people that I love. I don’t want to sound like AC/DC. It’s time to be rootsy again.”
Joining Campbell – who now prefers to be known as Philip Seth Campbell – in the Byson Family are a bunch of friends.
Bassist Mike McDaid and drummer Allan James played in the backing bands of Paulo Nutini and Jon Fratelli, while guitarist Christian Fleetwood and keyboard player Chris Russell were both part of a group called 68s.
When Classic Rock suggests to Campbell that the Byson Family song Angel Of The Reckless isn’t too far removed from early Temperance Movement, he doesn’t argue.
“With this band you’ll get rock’n’roll, but you’ll also get beautiful harmonies,” he says, smiling. “We’ve got a piano player, which really adds to the dynamics.”
The Byson Family’s debut album, Kick The Traces, is out now. And if you’re wondering about the moniker: “It’s very much a tip of the hat to Americana,” Campbell says. “It’s just a lovely, hippie-sounding name.”