DEF LEP­PARD

Def Lep­pard re­turn to Oz this Novem­ber to cel­e­brate their mega-smash Hys­te­ria al­bum. We get the low­down on that tour, plus Phil Collen’s new ar­se­nal of gear.

Australian Guitar - - Contents - WORDS BY PETER HODG­SON.

Def Lep­pard’s fourth al­bum, Hys­te­ria, has gone through an in­ter­est­ing life. Sell­ing about a ba­jil­lion copies in the ‘80s, it was a slick, state-of-the-art record that blended pop melodies with a heavy rock sen­si­bil­ity. Over time, it started to sound quite dated – es­pe­cially as bands went back to ba­sics in the ‘90s.

Then, some­thing strange hap­pened: ad­vances in record­ing tech­nol­ogy meant it was eas­ier to get that pris­tine, pro­duced, or­ches­trated sound, and now, Hys­te­ria sounds in­cred­i­bly cur­rent again. Put aside the fact that you’ve heard “Pour Some Sugar On Me” a mil­lion times and lis­ten to a track like “Gods Of War” in­stead, and you’ll no­tice that Def Lep­pard were em­ploy­ing pro­duc­tion tricks in 1987 that pro­duc­ers use as a mat­ter of rou­tine now – ex­cept that Lep­pard were do­ing it all one track at a time. On tape.

“Credit for that should go to [pro­ducer] Mutt Lange,” gui­tarist Phil Collen says. “He was so ahead of the curve, and he still is! I last worked with him prob­a­bly about five years ago, and he just gets bet­ter all the time. It’s crazy. He’s so tal­ented, and I’ve never known any­one to work so hard. He’s great to be around, too, which makes all the dif­fer­ence in the world. He pushes you to be a bet­ter player, singer... Ev­ery­thing.”

Aus­tralian au­di­ences will soon have the rare op­por­tu­nity to hear this clas­sic al­bum per­formed in full, along with a se­lec­tion of other choice cuts.

“You have to please most of the peo­ple,” Collen notes. “You have to do the songs ev­ery­one ex­pects or they’ll be re­ally up­set. So you play the hits, and then you have a lit­tle bit of space for maybe one song for you. It’s a great prob­lem to have; ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’, ‘Pho­to­graph’, ‘Hys­te­ria’, ‘Love Bites’ – you have to do those songs oth­er­wise you re­ally piss off a lot of peo­ple! But then we’ll put in a new song or throw a deep cut in. The fact that we’re do­ing all of Hys­te­ria means we’re do­ing a bunch of songs we don’t nor­mally do, like ‘Gods Of War’ and ‘Ex­citable’.”

In other ma­jor news, Def Lep­pard’s en­tire discog­ra­phy has fi­nally made its way onto streaming ser­vices, open­ing up some deeper gems to fans who may have missed cer­tain al­bums. And al­ready, Collen is notic­ing how fans’ re­la­tion­ships to the cat­a­logue are chang­ing.

“You can ac­tu­ally see what coun­tries – and even what towns – peo­ple are streaming from and what they’re lis­ten­ing to,” he beams. “One song that’s be­come re­ally pop­u­lar in the States re­cently is ‘When Love And Hate Col­lides’, which we never re­ally re­leased as a sin­gle over there. It got to #1 in Eng­land and #2 in Ire­land and it was a big hit in other places, but not the States. But now it’s be­com­ing a re­ally pop­u­lar song, so we’re go­ing to play it this year on the Amer­i­can tour.

“You can lit­er­ally look at the towns and say, ‘In this town, this song is re­ally pop­u­lar.’ I re­mem­ber ‘Run Riot’ be­ing re­ally pop­u­lar in Aus­tralia while it wasn’t in the States – we’d play it in Oz and ev­ery­one would go wild!”

Be­ing an avowed gui­tar nut, Collen al­ways has fun new pieces to talk about. “I’ve al­ways got cool new gui­tars,” he laughs. “I use the Jackson PC-1. Me and Larry DiMarzio are re­ally good friends, and he’s been work­ing on a sig­na­ture pickup for me that I’ve got in one of my PC-1s. I tried it on a Strat on the G3 tour, and we’ve been tweak­ing it and tweak­ing it, so I’m ex­cited about that.

“But what I’m re­ally ex­cited about is the fact I’ve just changed my back­line. I’ve used the same amps for pretty much 20 years – a Mar­shall JMP-1 with an old Ran­dall power amp, through a Frac­tal Axe-Fx for the ef­fects. On the G3 tour, the com­pany Black­star made this re­ally lovely amp based on an ID:60 amp – a 300-watt ver­sion in stereo – and I had four two-by-12 cab­i­nets. But for the new Def Lep­pard tour, there’s a third gen Frac­tal and I’m not us­ing any amps or power amps – I’m just us­ing the Frac­tal, and th­ese two lit­tle pow­ered speak­ers by a com­pany called Atomic, which both put out about 1,000 watts. You could put all of that in a back­pack, al­most! I’m so ex­cited about that.

“Vi­vian Camp­bell came down last week; he plugged into my thing and went, ‘Oh my god!’ so I think he’s go­ing to go over to it, and so is Ric Sav­age, and it’s a whole new for­mat for us. John Petrucci got one to try out on the G3 tour and I heard this sound com­ing out of his dress­ing room. I walked past and said, ‘Oh my god, what’s that?’ And he said, ‘It’s this new Frac­tal. Grab your gui­tar!’ I plugged in, and it was the best sound I’ve ever had. So he sent me over his pre­sets and my tech mod­i­fied them for Def Lep­pard, and that’s the sound I’m gonna be us­ing out on tour. It’s crazy!”

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