Metal Wani‘s Jesse David recently conducted an interview with DEF LEPPARD and LAST IN LINE guitarist Vivian Campbell. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On new LAST IN LINE bassist Phil Soussan (ex-OZZY OSBOURNE), who replaced the deceased Jimmy Bain in 2016:
Vivian: “He’s a really, really good musician. Great writer as well as a great player. You know, he and Jimmy, like I said before, are cut from the same cloth in a lot of ways. At the time when Jimmy, Vinny [Appice, drums] and I were playing with Ronnie [James Dio] back in the ’80s, Phil was playing with Ozzy Osbourne. He really understands the genre, I suppose, because we all came from the ex-BLACK SABBATH stuff. He gets the fundamental nature of it, but he’s also a very ambitious player, much more than Jimmy was. I’ve said in interviews before, perhaps it’s easier to explain, Phil probably plays a bit more like Geezer Butler does within SABBATH. He’s a bit more of a busy bass player and less fundamental. But he’s not just playing — I don’t mean to make it sound like he’s playing for the sake of it. He’s very thoughtful about what he plays and where he plays it. He carves out these spaces and it’s a very interesting musical band because we’re all intricate players. Vinny is a very ambitious drummer and never really plays the same thing twice. Vinny‘s constantly moving and the goalposts are moving so you really have to be on your toes when you play with a drummer like Vinny. Phil really kind of gets it. We can be very spontaneous when we play these live shows. We’re not afraid to go off and do stuff on a whim and that’s an exciting thing to do as a musician, to have that chemistry with the people you’re playing with.”
On his guitar playing in LAST IN LINE versus DEF LEPPARD:
Vivian: “They’re two entirely different bands. I’m the only melodic instrument in LAST IN LINE. In DEF LEPPARD, it’s myself and Phil and it’s a very, very different way of playing guitar. The LEPPARD thing, our vocals are really the main focus. We don’t have expanded guitar solos in DEF LEPPARD. The songs are concise, they’re constructed very melodic, very orchestrated, particularly in the vocals. DEF LEPPARD is kind of like a layer cake. There’s a lot going on there and it’s all there to serve a purpose. LAST IN LINE is a more organic, straightforward hard rock band. I don’t even sing in LAST IN LINE. I fundamentally look at it as exercising two different muscles. In LAST IN LINE, I’m the only guitar player, so I’m doing all the heavy lifting and that’s my focus and I put my head down and play guitar. In DEF LEPPARD, like I said, we’re there to serve the songs and the songs are very vocal intense and that’s kind of where my major emphasis is with DEF LEPPARD. We’re all singing in every song. The guitar parts are challenging by all means, but they’re a lot more focused. Phil [Collen] and I, in LEPPARD, it’s not just straightforward where one plays a rhythm and one plays a solo like most hard rock bands. It’s very orchestrated guitar parts in most of the songs. It’s a much more clinical approach to playing guitar than to LAST IN LINE, which is, like I said, is a bit more freeform and organic and wild, I suppose. Like I said, I really kind of look at it as two very different bands, but two spectacular bands. DEF LEPPARD just keeps getting better and better. Year after year, we keep finessing our craft and our show and everything about it becomes more refined and more spectacular. LAST IN LINE is a club band. [Laughs] I wasn’t kidding when I said ‘four guys in black t-shirts.’ That’s really all we have. It’s a very musical kind of thing and it’s a very organic and spontaneous thing. You don’t know what you’re going to get with a LAST IN LINE show. I don’t even know where we’re going to go. Sometimes we go off on these musical tangents at the end of a song. It’s, like, ‘What is this? 1960, 1969 all over again?’ We just go freeform. That’s without drugs. I can’t imagine if we’re all stoned.”
On finding out DEF LEPPARD will be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame this March:
Vivian: “It’s not something that we spent a lot of time thinking about beforehand. But after it’s happened, it’s, like, ‘That’s really cool.’ And the more time passes and the more you get to reflect upon it, the more it kind of sinks in. You think, ‘Oh, this is really cool.’ It feels very grown-up. I think that it’s something that we deserve, to be honest. The band has a legacy. The band has been together over 40 years and has created a tremendous body of work and sold multi-millions of records around the world. And we continue to refine our craft and our show. It’s a good feeling, to be honest. But, like I said, it’s not something that we would have spent a lot of time thinking about prior to it. I think one thing that really resonates with us is the fact that we got the largest-ever popular vote. That really kind of resonates with us. That means a lot to us, because our fanbase has always been very, very loyal with LEPPARD. And that’s always the award that we’ve always put our emphasis on — pleasing our fanbase and putting on as good a show as we can and making the music the best as it can be, writing the best songs, making the best records, doing the best live show, singing as good as we can, just really refining every aspect.
“In terms of industry recognition, I’ve always long felt that DEF LEPPARD kind of got sidelined and ignored, and this goes way back to before I was in the band. I was always a LEPPARD fan from day one. I remember the first LEPPARD record I bought was the ‘Wasted’ single. And I bought every record after that. I was a DEF LEPPARD fan prior to Joe [Elliott, vocals] calling asking if I wanted to join DEF LEPPARD. It’s interesting. So I had this perspective outside of the band before I joined. And I remember in 1987 when the ‘Hysteria’ record came out, I was completely dumbfounded as to why DEF LEPPARD not only didn’t win a Grammy, didn’t even get nominated for a Grammy, and now it’s one of the biggest-selling albums of all time and a landmark record in so many ways, and it just got completely ignored by the industry. That kind of cemented my views. I feel like industry awards, I don’t put a lot of stock in them on a personal level. It’s much, much more meaningful to have a fanbase than it is to have a bunch of Grammys or gold records on your wall. We’re musicians and we’re creative people and we write music and we record music and we put it out there, and sometimes it resonates with people, and other times, it withers on the vine. But the real reward is in the beauty of the music and creating something beautiful and playing it live night after night is to me, personally, the greatest reward of all and seeing the joy that it brings to people. But, having said that, every now and again, you get something like this and you can reflect and you think, ‘Oh, that’s cool. That’s something to brag to my kids about.’ [Laughs] When they get sloppy with me and talk back to me, I say ‘Hey, I’m in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, you can’t talk to me like that.'”
One of the top-selling rock acts of all time, DEF LEPPARD has been eligible for the Rock Hall since 2004.
The 34th annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony will be held March 29 at Brooklyn, New York’s Barclays Center. HBO will broadcast a truncated version of the ceremony later in the year.
LAST IN LINE‘s sophomore album, “II”, was released on February 22 via Frontiers Music Srl. As with 2016’s “Heavy Crown”, the new disc was produced by DOKKEN and FOREIGNER bassist Jeff Pilson.