VIVIAN CAMPBELL On DIO: ‘We Never Had A Very Strong Relationship Beyond Music’

Radio Metal recently conducted an interview with DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Radio Metal: There are three new songs at the end of “Mirror Ball”. Are they a good representation of what the band is about right now?

Vivan Campbell: They’re three very different songs. They’re not necessarily band songs, they were written by individuals: Rick Savage [bass] wrote the song “Kings Of The World”, Phil Collen wrote the song “It’s All About Believin'”, and Joe Elliott wrote the song “Undefeated”. They represent three different styles, but that’s part of the beauty of LEPPARD: everyone in the band contribute on the creative level, although usually on a DEF LEPPARD record we tend to be more involved as a band as it comes for the writing, at least for the make-up of the song. But on this record, it was a live album and essentially, at the end of it, our management advised us that we should add some new songs, so we essentially just went individually on the songs. I think the one that represents the band the most is Joe‘s song “Undefeated”. I really do think that Joe probably wrote the best DEF LEPPARD songs because he brings a very simplistic approach to the songwriting and that’s what makes it so universal. “Undefeated” is a great rock song and I think it really represents what the band is about right now. It’s our intention in 2012 to make another studio album and hopefully we’ll learn a little bit toward the rock side of the spectrum.

Radio Metal: You’ve been quoted saying that you’d want the next DEF LEPPARD album to be back to the “High N’ Dry” sound. This is interesting because you weren’t in the band at the time of that album and the band didn’t have the success it had with later albums. What do you like about that album?

Vivian Campbell: Well, first of all I think that everyone in the band would like it too but I’m not sure that it’s gonna be quite like that later on. I mean it’s our intention to try and get back some of the flavor, but I think it would be wrong to try and make an album that sounds exactly like “High N’ Dry”. What was really good about “High N’ Dry” was that it really showcased the influences of rock. But that’s only part of the influences of DEF LEPPARD. The band is also very melodic in terms of our influences and many people would say that the real DEF LEPPARD sound was from “Pyromania” and onward. There was a fusion of these rock elements and the pop sensibilities. That’s always been what we tried to achieve when we write songs and go to the studio, to balance these two elements. There’s a percentage of our fans that really want us to just get back to the rock thing and we’re very aware of that, but I don’t think that’s the majority of the DEF LEPPARD fans. I always said, when people ask me about our friend producers, that if [Rick] Rubin for example would work with DEF LEPPARD and produce a record he would absolutely strip the band back to the roots and try and make the band record an album like “High N’ Dry”. But it’s not always possible because that record was recorded many, many years ago, and the one thing that’s consistent in life is change. People change, your attitude change, everything around you changes constantly so it’s not always possible to go back to a certain point in time. But I do think that that’s a good influence or target for us collectively to look at when we think about our next studio record, and I think that there’s a couple of guys in the band who shares that opinion.

Radio Metal: You played with Dio‘s solo band in the early ’80s, at what is considered its creative peak, but I know that you two were not very much on good terms. Is this something that you regret now, not to have had the time to make up with him before he died?

Vivian Campbell: No. Even when I was in the band with Ronnie [James Dio] back in the days, we never had a very strong relationship beyond music. That was what brought us together: we were on stage together, recording and writing songs… It was a very strange relationship between he and I. It was a lot of miscommunication, of misunderstanding and I think a lot of it was generational. Ronnie was a lot older than me and I found it very difficult to communicate with him and vice versa, I think he found it very difficult to communicate with me. A lot of people have thought for years and years that I left the band, which is not true, I was fired. I never wanted to quit the DIO band. I didn’t have any reason to contact him again after he fired me. It had been 25 or so years since Ronnie had fired me from the band. I’ve never seen him again, I’ve never spoken to him again, he never contacted me. It is what it is. I’m very proud of the records that we recorded together, but you can’t go back. You gotta keep moving forward.

Read the entire interview from Radio Metal.