Phil Collen, Joe Elliot, Rick Savage, Rick Allen and Vivian Campbell are names that have held a special place in music history, all thanks to a little band some may know as Def Leppard, and if you don’t know who these guys are already, I’m thoroughly confused as to why you’re on a hard rock music website. But, despite being one of the oldest and most revered bands in the business, they show no signs of slowing down. Currently on a massive North American tour with Journey, I had a chat to guitarist Vivian about how touring across the states is going, and about the bands upcoming Australian tour with support from the legendary Scorpions, and how all of that came to be.
“It’s been great; We’ve been on the road now for a while, 52 shows, tonight we’re in Portland, Oregon and last night we were in Seattle. As far as the Australian tours go, that was put together by promoters. I don’t know the guys from Scorpions. I know Def Leppard played with them before I joined the band.”
It’s a great fit, either way, a lineup expected to draw huge crowds, young and old as multiple generations of Australian fanatics come together at long last.
Def Leppard have faced a lot of adversity over the years too, with illness and accidents of no small proportions plaguing the band over the last decade, most famously, the fact Rick Allen overcame the loss of an arm, and there have been cancer and laryngitis scares, so the fact this band are still going to this day is a testament to their determination and passion. This tour they’ll be performing in full their ‘87 album “Hysteria”, on which Vivian comments:
“We’ll be playing songs from the Hysteria album that have always featured in every show because there were so many big hits off the album. Personally, I am looking forward to playing the ones that we very very rarely play. You know we don’t always play Gods Of War. You know as a guitarist I enjoy that. Don’t Shoot Shotgun, Run Riot and Love and Affection, those are the ones that we would normally play in a Def Leppard show but it’s always fun to do something a little bit different. And I’m sure the other guys feel the same. It’s nice to break out of the routine”
Speaking of breaking routine, since most bands would listen to Def Leppard, Scorpions, Whitesnake, Dio and all of that on tour, I asked Vivian what they like to get into musically on tour, to shake things up a bit.
“Phil is a total audiophile and recently bought a turntable, so he’s been DJ’ing for us, and on our days off we go to record stores. He just had a bit of a vinyl fixation several months ago and went and bought a turntable. So pretty much every year we go to Europe we have a day off so we go to and find a local record store, and every show he’s been playing records for us in the dressing room for the past several months, and it’s everything from the Police to Sly and the Family Stone, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, anything that’s classic and on vinyl. Individually, I’d say we all are very different in our personal time as to what we listen to. Joe is perhaps the biggest audiophile I know.
Joe is just constantly listening to music you can always tell when you’re in a hotel, if you’re close to Joe’s room, because he’s got music blaring 24/7 so you know. Personally, I don’t listen to a lot of music. I always thought it a bit strange given my chosen profession, but I actually I really appreciate silence. I mean I love performing music. When I when I listen to music personally I want it to be an immersive experience. I prefer to listen in headphones. I prefer not to be distracted. I don’t like music as background noise and I really want to experience it.”
Vivian continues; “I also like to listen the albums in sequence, so I’m a little bit strange that way, but to be honest I don’t listen to a lot of music, when I do I very very rarely listen to rock music. I do appreciate the classic Ella Fitzgerald and the likes of Ray Charles. I love music like that. I love classical baroque music too, but not all the time. I love to start my day with classical. I love to end the evening with Ella, and I might listen to a little bit of rock in between. I don’t listen to a lot of guitar music anymore. I did in my youth. Nowadays if I’m going to listen to a guitar player is probably going to be Jeff Beck you know, and not many others.”
But despite not drawing direct inspiration from rock music as much as in their younger days, their creative output for producing stellar rock records never ceases, both in and out of Def Leppard.
“Phil has a band called Delta Deep, I have a band called Last In Line which is remnants of the original Dio band, and when I’m not working at Def Leppard, I am off doing shows like Last In Line, and I find that that’s really cathartic, because when I come back with the Leppard I come back with a whole different attitude. But yeah you know, regardless of whether you’re a musician or an athlete or an actor or a lawyer or whatever, you know, I mean as you grow your career grows. Some things change in your habits. None of us are the same people that we worked 30 or 40 years ago”
One would think, that with all of these side projects, and with how much the band have evolved over the years, that it would be constant, but sometimes, Vivian admits even he needs to put the guitar down and reset.
“I find that even listening to music or even not playing for a while, as a guitarist, I find that sometimes I play better if I don’t touch the instrument for a week. If I just have a week off and I just step away from it completely. But it’s a bit of a balancing act sometimes, if I step away for too long then I lose my callouses.
As to whether having these individual side projects over the years has strengthened the bands writing style as a unit, when they all come together, Vivian had this to say on the topic of passion and growing into himself as a performer:
“Well yes absolutely it has yeah. We come back with a sort of a renewed passion for Def Leppard. That’s absolutely true. I think we get to exercise different muscles with these other projects, they’re all passion project for us. I mean, we don’t only need to do it. There is no financial reward that any of us are getting from doing it. You know, it gets very very much just a labour of love. But you are what you do, and I’ve always been a musician and I’ve always been very grateful that I’ve been able to do that, and I genuinely 100 percent still enjoy it. In fact I probably enjoy it more than ever now, because I feel more comfortable as a guitarist now than I guess when I was in my 20’s. I feel like I’ve kind of grown into to who I am and how I play guitar, and you know I’m much more comfortable as a singer, and consequently much more comfortable as a performer. It’s a win when we step outside and do these other projects.”
DEF LEPPARD + SPECIAL GUESTS SCORPIONS AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2018
- 11/2/18 Perth, Australia – Perth Arena
- 11/4/18 Adelaide, Australia – Adelaide Entertainment Centre
- 11/6/18 Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Entertainment Centre
- 11/8/18 Melbourne, Australia – Rod Laver Arena
- 11/10/18 Sydney, Australia – ICC Sydney Theatre
- 11/12/18 Auckland, New Zealand – Spark Arena
Tickets and more information HERE