Robert Cavuoto of Guitar International recently conducted an interview with DEF LEPPARD guitarist Phil Collen. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Guitar International: I have to tell you when I think of Vegas residency, I think of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. What made the band decide to do this residency?
Phil Collen: We have been playing many of the songs off “Hysteria” for 20-some-odd-years and always wanted to play it in its entirety. We’ve asked promoters and our management and they said it would be cool but it never happened. All of sudden the Vegas scene started to change, so when we got asked to do it. We said “absolutely.” It’s different from touring, because of the travel so take that part out of it. So it should be interesting.
Guitar International: There has to be a lot of personal advantages for the band to stay in one location and have the audience come to you. What’s the biggest advantage?
Phil Collen: I think the biggest thing is the travel aspect that we don’t have to deal with planes and transportation; it’s easy to get run down from that. The great thing about touring though is the audience. One day you can be in Kansas and it can be a very different audience than says the next night in Virginia Beach. This is brand new to us so we will just see how this works for us.
Guitar International: I image your audience will be a mix of diehards and people just visiting Vegas or who have received a complimentary ticket, how do you please everybody with your set list?
Phil Collen: We are going to do Hysteria as is, in order. We’re planning to do other songs say off “High ‘n’ Dry” where each night it could be completely different. We also are going to do some other songs based on what each band member wants to do. I’ll know more when we start rehearsing for it. A lot of stuff on “Hysteria” is really complicated to sing and play at the same time so it will be interesting.
Guitar International: Many of these songs were written when you were in a different place in your life and career, how has performing those songs changed for you over the years?
Phil Collen: We did a couple of re-records from “Hysteria” and play about seven songs live from it. When we did the re-records we sat down to listen to the guitar parts and vocal and said “Wow we’ve be doing this wrong”. We did it different for a concert so when we did the re-records we tried to make them sound exactly like the originals. By doing that you really notice some of the subtleties and riffs are not really what we thought they were. [laughs] It’s important, but you don’t want to kill yourself over it as some of the songs have eight different guitar parts, so you have to choose the most relevant ones. Same goes for vocals, being DEF LEPPARD we actually have another instrument that a lot of other bands don’t have which is the vocal arrangements. So we had to compensate for that as well and we do pretty well with it. It really comes down to is hard work and we want to be proud of all that hard work so that it’s easy when you get on tour.
Guitar International: Is there more pressure now when you put out a CD or back in the ’80s? It seems that anything you do will always be compared to those early albums?
Phil Collen: Yeah, but you try not to worry about stuff like that because it’s not really important. The industry has completely changed, and there are like only two record companies left. Also, the fact is that most people don’t want an LP. The truth is that they just want to download one or two of their favorite songs. I like LPs and all that stuff, but this is the new reality. The great thing you can actually write a song and don’t have to do an entire LP. Sometimes you can have songs on the LP that get watered down because you put more effort into other ones. I do like being able to release two or three songs with more substance to them.
Read the entire interview from Guitar International.