Interview with Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard

Def Leppard, in many ways, was the definitive hard rock band of the '80s. There were many bands that rocked harder and were more dangerous than the Sheffield quintet, but few others captured the spirit of the times quite as well. During their recent Euphoria tour, the group made a mid winter trek up to Atlantic Canada, where I got to chat with guitarists' Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell.

GB - How is the new material from Euphoria going over live?

PC - Great!, When we do Promises cause it's the first one that went out, it goes down like anything we have done in the past as you will see tonight. That's one thing we have noticed about this record. It's the same kind of reaction with some of the songs we that had on our first headline tour. The pyromania tour.

GB - You once said you were very proud of your last album Slang. Are you just as proud of this album?

PC - Yes absolutely. We wouldn't release an album unless we thought it was great and that's sometimes why we take so long, as we don't want to release something if we're not happy with it.

GB - Were you disappointed with the sales of Slang?

PC - Ya, not great sales on that one. This one is up on that, so that's cool.

GB - What made you change your sound for Slang and what made you return to your original sound?

PC - Just the changing music. I think you always got to be aware of what's going on in music and right now there's a swing to more positive kind of songs. Just the acts and everything you see, Ricky Martin and Britney Spears and it's very up, where in the mid 90's it was very miserable. It's just a reflection of what's happening all the way around really.

GB - How have you managed to survive the 80's fallout while a lot of other bands have not?

PC - Because a lot of them bands were really crappy (laughs) and we had a lot more substance as we're still trying to prove. A lot of them bands, I don't really want to name anyone, but they were purely image based and there was no substance. There was nothing real there. It was just copying something else. What we did was always original and we always done our own thing and if there was an image on the way fine and dandy but that wasn't the primary target really. It was the songs and the music.

GB - Vivian I once read where you have done some work outside the band?

VC - I have little project bands. I live in LA and when I'm not working with Def Leppard we go out and we do a few club shows and stuff but no ones takes it very seriously.

GB - Do you plan on working with producer Mutt Lang again?

PC - If he can get time, he is very busy. We just managed four days out of him for this album and between doing a Backstreet Boys song and something else, he managed to come to Ireland where we recorded the album. We worked on three songs, actually two of them was kind of on the phone. It was like sending each other tapes and stuff. He's the best so if we can sure.

GB - I heard rumors that Joe is going to record a duet with Mutt's wife Shania Twain?

VC - Ya I heard that rumor too. I don't know where it came from.

PC - Probably the internet or something or some other reliable source.(laughs)

VC - I'm sure Joe would like to. I don't know how Shania would feel about that. (laughs)

GB - Last summer you did a lot of outdoor festival shows. Any plans on that this year as well?

VC - Sure thing ya. We're going to go back out in July, August, September and maybe into October doing a bunch of shed shows and some of the state fairs.

GB - Any plans on releasing more b-sides, a box set or even a live album?

PC - Maybe, we got a bunch of stuff. We got some material building up there. We may do a retroactive two or box set. We got enough live material for ten albums as well. I don't know whether we'll do that yet. No plans for it at the moment. Live albums are a bit weird because your missing the visual. Your just getting audio and it's so important if you don't see a show like this, that you see it as well as hear it. I think a lot gets lost when your just listing to a tape. You can't see the energy from that. You can hear it but your still missing a part of it.

GB - The band has certainly seen a lot of tragedy such as Rick's car accident and the loss of Steve Clark. What gives you the strength to go on?

PC - You know when someone dies in a family you don't go, oh that's it, I'm gonna quit, You just carry on and that's what we do. You take any person in here and in a fifteen or twenty year period, your gonna have tragedy. It's just part of life, so we don't really look at it as like a curse or something. It just happens.

GB - I understand someone broke into the tour bus in BC?

PC - Someone stole my bag ya. They got on the bus and took my computer, my drum machine, camera, everything. That was a drag.

GB - I hear Rick is about to become a father is that so?

PC- Rick Savage is about to be a father for the first time ya. Rick Allen already has a three year old. We're all becoming parents. (laughs) I got a 10 year old and Vin's got a eight month old. Only Joe, who hasn't got a kid yet.

GB - What's coming up in the future for the band?

VC - More of the same. After the summer jaunt we'll go back in to doing another record. That'll take a year a least. We'll just keep going as long as there's an integrity and some quality to the work. I think people will respond to it through the years.

Interview conducted February 10th, 2000

Click here to see my friend Jody's meeting with drummer Rick Allen
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