Hopeful Def Leppard Already at a ‘Starting Point’ for Next Album
Def Leppard has hardly been a stranger to its fans in the live arena, but this year's Diamond Star Halos was a welcome return. It was the group's first studio release in seven years, following a self-titled effort in 2015.
The presence of 15 new tracks served the purpose of whetting fans' appetite for more – especially after the excitement generated by the summer's Stadium Tour with Motley Crue. They can rest assured the band is thinking that way, too – albeit with no firm plans they're willing to discuss just yet.
"There's definitely always gonna be the thought of future Def Leppard music," guitarist Vivian Campbell tells UCR. "There's always more songs for sure. I mean, everyone in this band writes songs, so there's always [material] around. So it won't be long, I hope."
Just before the tour, fellow guitarist Phil Collen revealed that there may even be a head start to whatever Def Leppard decides to do next: "We had four [additional] songs going," Collen said. "We actually finished one but didn't have enough time to record it. Me and Joe [Elliott] had done our parts but the rest of the guys have still got to play on it, so we didn't finish. And there's, like, three more, so we definitely have a starting point. It's gonna be interesting to see the way the next one goes."
Both guitarists feel that some of the circumstances around Diamond Star Halos, which debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the Top Rock Albums chart, may help hasten the arrival of future music.
One is the fact that the band is back with a major label (Mercury/Universal Music, as well as its Bludgeon Riffola imprint) for the first time since 2008's Songs From the Sparkle Lounge. "There's a genuine enthusiasm with the label," Campbell reports. "They absolutely love the record and they really believed in it, and that's encouraging for us. That makes us feel good about continuing that relationship and continuing to make new music."
Def Leppard also recorded Diamond Star Halos virtually, with members creating parts separately and sending them in to be knitted together by engineer Ronan McHugh. Before the LP's release, Collen said that “it was the best experience ever. I never want to go back to doing it like we used to.” He subsequently predicted that the freedom of that method would provide more opportunities for Def Leppard to create.
Watch Def Leppard Perform 'Take What You Want' Live
"It was all about energy conservation," Collen said during the pre-tour Zoom chat. "I did all of my guitars and all of my vocals on this laptop I'm talking to you on. It was great because this was my companion. It follows me everywhere, which means I have my studio with me all the time. That inspires you in lots of different ways to be able to take your studio, if you like, anywhere you want and just get inspired anywhere you got. It just makes it easy ... instead of sitting around waiting for your turn in an actual studio."
Campbell, meanwhile, hopes to contribute more to whatever happens next. "I missed the boat on the new record 'cause I'm not a technical guy, and my time was spent just catching up and trying to learn the technology curve, the software and whatnot," said Campbell, who's now back on the road with his band Last in Line. "I definitely feel bad about that. So I want to contribute a lot to the next Def Leppard record, whenever that is. I'll try to be a bit more prepared and develop my technical skills, as well as my playing and writing."
In the end, Def Leppard's next move may well be back on the road. After grossing $173 million in 36 North American dates this summer, the Stadium Tour is rumored to be headed elsewhere during 2013 – most likely to Europe, with South America and Asia also being mentioned. No details have been confirmed.
Campbell co-founded Last in Line 10 years ago with fellow original Dio band members Vinny Appice and the late Jimmy Bain. The quartet took its name from Dio's second album in 1984 and also includes singer Andy Freeman (Lynch Mob, Great White) and bassist Phil Soussan (Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, Vince Neil, Beggars & Thieves).
Their next set of fall dates are in support of a pending four-song EP, A Day in the Life, due out Nov. 11. The title track is, in fact, a cover of the Beatles' classic from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. That's not the first song you'd expect a onetime Dio tribute band to tackle, but Campbell says that's the point.
"We've talked for the last couple of years about doing something that was outside of the [hard-rock] genre," Campbell explains. "We kicked around ideas: Maybe we should cover a Sting song or a Peter Gabriel song. Then we thought of ('A Day in the Life').
"It gave us an opportunity to say, 'Well, hey, we're a hard-rock band. It's a very pretty song. How do you pay homage and pay respect to the original song but yet incorporate what it is we do?'" he added. "I like to think that we did something. I'm not saying it's the greatest cover ever, but it's interesting. It has all the points of the original but goes somewhere different and into territory we're more well-known for."
Watch Last in Line's Video for 'Day in the Life'
Last in Line has also finished recording its third studio album of original material, the follow-up to 2019's II and the first under a new deal with Germany's earMUSIC/Edel. The band produced this album themselves (Jeff Pilson of Foreigner and Dokken produced the other two) with engineer Chris Collier, who also worked on the "II" and 2016's Heavy Crown.
As for their process, Campbell says "it's the usual – you know, four guys in a room kicking around ideas and trying to make them into songs. That's how we've always worked. It's a very spontaneous and organic way we write songs. We have a softly spoken rule that you don't bring song ideas into Last in Line writing sessions. We can bring ideas for riffs and grooves and whatnot, and titles for songs, but you don't come in with, 'Hey guys, I've got this song I just finished.'
"We honestly just kick ideas around with each other and try to capture the flavor of the band," he added. "There's definitely growth from our first to second album, and again to this third album, which is what we want to do each time out."
Campbell confirms that the album has a title, but won't reveal any further details other than to say it's not III. Fans should expect an early 2023 release, with more Last in Line dates to follow as members' schedules allow. Campbell is particularly looking forward to having another batch of new material that will help distance Last in Line a bit more from its Dio roots.
"Naming the band Last in Line was a good idea at the time, 'cause we were just gonna go out and play some of the [Dio] songs from the early albums, and we didn't have any ambitions to take this beyond that," says Campbell, who had a falling out with the late Ronnie James Dio in 1986 and is still on bad terms with his estate. "Now that we're on the eve of releasing album number three, having that association is both a blessing and a curse.
"We'll always have that element – we're named after a Dio song, after all – and I think it's perfectly legitimate for Vinny and I to play those songs. We're the only surviving members of the original band. But it's inevitable that we'll play slightly less of the classic Dio catalog and ... find a balance to where we can incorporate enough of the new music and represent that and enough of the Dio catalog from those first three records."
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