DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell has admitted many long-term fans of the band want them to record a straight-ahead rock album like “High ‘N’ Dry” from 1981. But he told the “White Line Fever” podcast: “That’s never gonna happen.”
Speaking on the most recent episode of the show, Campbell said: “DEF LEPPARD is a band that has evolved over the years, over the decades. DEF LEPPARD covers a lot of different genres of music, particularly on the last album. In fact, there’s some styles on that record that we’ve never done before. The album closer is a psychedelic track. We’ve never done anything remotely like that before.
“Through the years, we’ve grown and developed.”
Critics have said the British band’s late-’80s success spoiled them and they’ve been trying to recapture the sound of multi-platinum 1987 album “Hysteria” ever since rather than countenance a return to their roots.
Campbell, who has just relaunched his RIVERDOGS side project, offered: “I think when DEF LEPPARD started, you know, the first record, ‘On Through The Night’, it was a very, very interesting debut. But it was the second record that really started to bring notoriety to the band. That was ‘High ‘N’ Dry’ and it was very in the mold of AC/DC, who the band had toured with at the time.
“I think a lot of hardcore, longtime DEF LEPPARD fans long for that sort of thing again but I’ve got to tell you, that’s never gonna happen. We’re never going to make an album that’s solely like that. There’s too much diversity within DEF LEPPARD now, there’s too many miles under the wheels, too many different genres have been sampled.
“The band couldn’t really go back to making an album just like that. We can do tracks like that by all means but there’ll never be an album that’s so rock focused as that.”
Campbell reasoned that DEF LEPPARD moved away from the more straight-ahead rock focus as long ago as 1983.
“You know, I think by the time LEPPARD was doing ‘Pyromania’, that’s where the true diversity started and then ‘Hysteria’ was the zenith of that.
“When we play live, there is much more of a rock element to the band for sure but the real strength in LEPPARD is not just the diversity of songwriting, but in the live performances, it’s the vocal. We all sing pretty strongly and we’re pretty proud of the fact that we can replicate, for the most part, what it is we do on record which is very production-heavy — many, many tracks of vocals. We can actually do a very, very decent live representation of that because we can all sing.
“That’s the muscle I exercise in DEF LEPPARD. There’s two guitarists in LEPPARD so I don’t have to do all the heavy lifting.
“Anything that Steve Clark played a riff or solo in, I play that part.
“You won’t see us playing a lot of guitar before a LEPPARD show, but you’ll hear us doing vocal warm-ups.”
Fresh off winning the fan-voted Classic Rock magazine “Album of the Year” award, DEF LEPPARD returned to the road on April 8 for a three-month run across North America. The Live Nation-promoted outing will storm through cities across parts of the U.S. and Canada, wrapping on June 25 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Joining DEF LEPPARD on select dates are POISON and TESLA.
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