DEF LEPPARD's PHIL COLLEN Says Producer 'MUTT' LANGE 'Deserves All The Credit' For 'Hysteria'
May 20, 2019
Guitar Interactive magazine's Jonathan Graham conducted an interview with DEF LEPPARD guitarist Phil Collen during the band's 2018 "Hysteria" anniversary tour. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how the political themes DEF LEPPARD explored on "Hysteria" are still relevant today:
Phil: "Nothing changed 2,000 years before that. People like having a row, which is bizarre. How anyone could like war is beyond me. It's a constant kind of — it's always there. Human nature is pretty weird."
On whether the recording process for "Hysteria" was "positive" for him:
Phil: "It was positive. Giving up drinking, that's been 31 years now, so that's been cool. The trick is with all this experience and all this traveling is to know more today than you did yesterday. We were really lucky, we had great people around us, especially [producer] [Robert] Mutt Lange. He's an inspiration to be around. You'd try something and he'd always have great ideas and he'd go, 'Try this!' You go, 'I can't really play that.' He'd go, 'Yeah, just do it.' He would get you to sing stuff that was above your level. He'd go, 'Okay, just try it.' I'd go, 'I can't hit that note.' He'd say, 'Yeah, you can!' Just the vocal alone, he'd go, 'No, it sounds great. Just try it! Alright we got it. Now double-track it.' Before you know it, you're in there and your new bar has been raised. He was amazing like that. The same with the songwriting. That whole album, he really taught us how to sing and play. I think we'd been an okay band, we'd been a good band, but he made it something great. He deserves all the credit."
On when he knew "Hysteria" would be a "special" record:
Phil: "When Mutt got involved again, because we were all a bit doubtful. He had to go off and do THE CARS. We wrote the songs in Dublin. He said, 'We can't do 'Pyromania' part two because every other rock band is doing that.' We'll do something a bit special: THE POLICE, PRINCE, FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, different influences, guitar sounds, THE FIX, all these different kinds of elements. He had to do THE CARS. He went off. We got [MEATLOAF producer/songwriter] Jim Steinman. That didn't work. When he came back in, it was pretty obvious. He was fired up, inspired and these particular songs we'd written, we'd done them in a certain way and in a different way completely because there was this pop stuff that happened. It's all about grabbing different influences, especially if they're from a different genre because you're not going to step on anyone's toes."
On fellow guitarist Vivian Campbell (DIO, WHITESNAKE) joining DEF LEPPARD in 1992 for the deceased Steve Clark:
Phil: "It was kind of easy. When I joined, the band was still playing half-empty theaters and opening the same kind of stuff I was doing with GIRL. That album, there was some interest in it, but it wasn't like after 'Pyromania', 'Hysteria' and Steve and the whole story and everything. With Viv, he was a fan as well, we just thought, 'Yeah, you can never replace him. You can't replace your best friend or your brother anyway.' He brought something that was so amazing. The main thing, we knew Viv was a great guitar player. That goes without saying, but he could sing and he could do Mutt's parts that we couldn't actually do live. Me, Joe [Elliott, vocals] and Sav [Rick Savage, bass] … Steve wouldn't sing much. He was a bit shy with the vocals, so there would be a gap there. We always missed that stuff because Mutt sings on all the records with us, so he does the really high stuff. Viv could do that. He came in and all of the sudden, it's, like, 'Right. Okay, it's another piece of the jigsaw puzzle and we filled it.' We worked on that. In fact, we just finished a tour and at soundcheck, me and Joe are going, 'Fuck. It sounds amazing.'"
DEF LEPPARD's second Las Vegas residency will take place this summer. The band will take over Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino for 12 explosive nights between August 14 and September 7.
DEF LEPPARD played its first Las Vegas residency five years ago at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, a pioneering effort for a rock band.
DEF LEPPARD's brand new greatest-hits collection titled "The Story So Far - The Best Of", was released in November.