DEF LEPPARD Guitarist VIVIAN CAMPBELL: ‘We Genuinely Do Like Each Other’

Mike Thiel of recently conducted an interview with DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. You’ve played in DIO, WHITESNAKE and many other bands. What’s different about playing with DEF LEPPARD?

Vivian: There’s a lot of things that are different about it. Primarily, DEF LEPPARD really is a band. It’s five guys and we’re not a revolving door of musicians, which those other bands are. WHITESNAKE especially — I mean, has anyone actually counted how many musicians have been through WHITESNAKE? (laughs) I know it’s over 50. It’s ridiculous, and even DIO, like after I left DIO, there were several other guitar players, a couple other drummers, quite a few bass players (and) a couple of keyboard players. DEF LEPPARD, if Steve Clark were alive, he’d still be in the band today. DEF LEPPARD is not the kind of band that just goes out and swaps members. … It also has a much higher standard than other bands I’ve been involved with. When it comes to songwriting, good isn’t good enough, it has to be great. The band is notoriously meticulous in the studio, and even going to our live performance, we take what we do very, very seriously, so there’s a very high standard of work that goes into the band. We show up sober and on time and do our job. You’re still playing huge venues with DEF LEPPARD. How are playing shows in 2011 different than the early ’90s when you joined?

Vivian: When we were touring before, we were touring to promote a new record. That’s certainly not really the case nowadays. It’s kind of more of an event. Our show has grown production wise; it’s come full circle again. My first tour with the band was for “Adrenalize” and that was a huge production — just a massive stage and lasers and all sorts of bells and whistles. Then in the ’90s, in the grunge era, that kind of stuff wasn’t in vogue, shall we say (laughs). We just went out with a backline and kind of put our heads down and played rock and roll. It was a different kind of a thing and then by the very late ’90s, we started to say, I think it’s OK to actually go back to being DEF LEPPARD again and put some production value back into the show. So the show has grown and grown, and fortunately our music really lends itself to that … I wouldn’t say we’re a theatrical band — that kind of thing reminds me of MÖTLEY CRÜE — but we are very much about the production. Is there a secret to your longevity in the music business?

Vivian: There’s a certain level of talent, but I think more importantly when young musicians ask me for advice like, how do you do it? How do you make it in the music business? One of the first things I would always say is that you’ve gotta remember that as with any other job, you’re interacting with people. So work on your people skills as much as your guitar chops because a lot of great guitar players are just real (expletive), so you don’t wanna work with them (laughs). That’s one thing I can’t say about DEF LEPPARD; we genuinely do like each other. We get along. It’s not like we go out camping all day together and wear matching pajamas, but we can tolerate each other’s company and have enough respect for each other as human beings to work together and keep it together. So many other bands, frankly, they (expletive) hate each other. They have separate dressing rooms, stay in separate hotels and it’s painful for them to come onstage and pretend like they like each other. It’s not an act for us.

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