Rock 'n Roll Roulette
Fast paced, rapid fire, and unedited
Joe Elliott & Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard Gamble in this month's Rock 'n Roll Roulette
"Vivian is an integral part of Def Leppard and always will be. There's no other guitarist or person I could imagine joining the band after Steve died other than Vivian. Not only is he an amazingly talented guitarist and musician, he has a heart of gold and is one of the most kind and wonderful human beings I've ever been privileged to know. He, along with Savage, Rick, and Phil are my brothers."
Def Leppard is an English Rock band formed in 1977 in Sheffield. Since 1992, the band has consisted of Joe Elliott (lead vocals), Rick Savage (bass, backing vocals), Rick Allen (drums, backing vocals), Phil Collen (guitars, backing vocals), and Vivian Campbell (guitars, backing vocals). They established themselves as part of the new wave of British Heavy Metal in the early 1980s, and continue to sell out stadiums all over the world.
On Thursday, May 26, Def Leppard hit the stage for the first time since November of 2019 at the famous Whisky a Go Go in LA to launch their 2022 stadium tour. This is the first small venue they've played at in over 20 years.
By Kreig Marks, June 2022
KM: Hey guys. Welcome to Tru Rock Revival. I appreciate both of you making the time for us on such short notice.
Joe: No worries, Kreig. We are all about spontaneity. And I know you spoke with Rick Allen a few months back, and he said he had a lot of fun with the interview, and really likes what you guys are doing.
KM: Rick was very cool. We had a lot of fun talking. So now I've got you and Vivian on the phone, and we're going to do a quick 10 or 15 minute Roulette interview. Are you guys good with that?
Joe: I'm good with that. How about you, Viv?
Vivian: LOL. I'm always up for some gambling. Bring on the roulette, Kreig!
KM: First off, congratulations on the new album, " Diamond Star Halo. " I'm going to assume you guys are fans of T-Rex. Would that be safe to say? For those reading this and don't know the significance of Diamond Star Halo, there is a verse in the song, "Bang a Gong" by T-Rex. So guys, T-Rex fans?
Joe: LOL. What makes you say that? LOL. Yeah, I've been a huge fan of T-Rex for years, actually, we all are big fans. We felt that calling the album Diamond Star Halo was a pretty cool way to offer some sort of tribute, or to honor the memory of Mark Bolan and T-Rex.
KM: It works. How about you Vivian? You a big fan of T-Rex?
Vivian: I've always enjoyed the music that T-Rex put out. Like Joe said, this album is our tribute to T-Rex and Mark Bolan.
KM: You guys are about to launch a huge stadium tour. You just did the first show, which was a very small intimate show at the Whisky a Go Go in LA. I've seen several clips of the show and you guys sounded great, and it seemed like you were having a fun time.
Joe: Yeah, it was a great time. We haven't done a small venue like that in over 20 years. It was a lot of fun. It seems like a lifetime since we've been out in front of a live audience. The last show we did was in November of 2019. We all know what happened in 2020 with the pandemic, so this was a great way to freshly celebrate the release of the new album, and to celebrate all of our fans who've been there with us thru the years. Vivian, how many years has it been? LOL
Vivian: For me, about 30 with all of you. Now, for you and the rest of the old guys, it's been what, 40, 50 years? LOL.
Joe: Can you believe we've all been together this long and haven't killed each other? LOL
KM: The band, it has definitely had its share of ups and downs over the years; tragedy, death, sickness, divorce. But somehow you guys have persevered and continue to put out great music, and the show at the Whisky. What's the longest stretch you guys have gone without performing live?
Joe: That would be about 6 years. After Rick's horrific car accident, we didn't know if we would ever perform again. Through Rick's strength and courage, we stayed together, and I think we're better than ever. Yeah, we've had a lot of tragedies in the band, but we've also had a lot of great times too.
KM: Vivian, how are you doing these days? (Vivian was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in March, 2013)
Vivian: For two years through 2021, I had been doing a process called Immunotherapy. It's part of a Phase II clinical trial taking this amazing new drug called Pembrolizumab, which recently got FDA approved for Hodgkin's Lymphoma, the cancer I was diagnosed with having. So, for the past couple years I've been doing very well and I'm in full remission.
KM: That's great to hear. I'm glad you're doing well. Now, this question is for both of you. Obviously, the music profession has changed a lot over the past 20 to 30 years. Bands are no longer profiting from record sales. The days of selling millions of records and getting that recognition in the form of a gold record is long gone. What keeps you guys going and how do you stay motivated to keep on writing and recording new music? The money these days is from the touring, licensing and selling merchandise. I'm going to assume that all of you guys are financially secure for the rest of your lives, and you're not touring just for the payday. Am I correct to assume this?
Joe: Would I be lying if I said we're only out there for the pure joy of it? Yes, of course I'd be lying. Everybody likes to be rewarded financially for their work, for their efforts. But yeah, at this point in our lives, and I think I can speak for Vivian and the rest of the guys in the band, we are fortunate to be in the position where we don't have to tour, we don't have to put out new music, we don't have to sell merchandise, or things of that nature. Yeah, we could just tour to tour because we love it that much, but I'm not going to turn away a dollar at the end of the day. LOL
KM: Vivian, you've been in the band now for a long time, so most Def Leppard fans consider you to be more or less an original member. How long did it take for you to become very comfortable as a member of the band?
Vivian: I'm still not comfortable! LOL
Joe: Ain't that the truth! LOL
Vivian: You know, in all seriousness, I felt comfortable around all the guys from day one. They always made me feel like I was one of them and they always emphasized that, which I really appreciated because I was there replacing a Def Leppard legend in Steve Clark. I think it was probably harder for the fans of the band to accept me, totally understandable. I mean, Steve was a fantastic guitarist and musician, and was there with these guys from day one. I was never looking to replace Steve. Nobody can replace a guy like Steve Clark. I just hope that I've done a good job over the years stepping into his amazing shoes.
Joe: Vivian is an integral part of Def Leppard and always will be. There's no other guitarist or person I could imagine joining the band after Steve died other than Vivian. Not only is Vivian an amazingly talented guitarist and musician, he has a heart of gold and is one of the most kind and wonderful human beings I've ever been privileged to know. He along with Savage, Rick, and Phil are my brothers. Steve was my brother too, and will always be my brother. Not a day goes by where I still don't think about him and wish he was here. But at the end of the day, all of us are brothers and have shared so much together thru the years. We've always been there for each other through the ups and the downs, through marriage and divorce and marriage again, kids and now grandkids. LOL. God, I'm an old fuck. LOL
KM: LOL! Let's talk about the new album. When did you guys start writing it, during the pandemic? I've listened to the album a few times and I really enjoy it. It has a lot of the familiar Def Leppard sound, but also has some new twists. There are two songs on the album that you sing with Alison Krauss. How did that collaboration happen?
Joe: We had been working on it for a while, and during the pandemic we had some time on our hands, so that's when we really got to work. As far as Alison, we've known her for a long time, and Robert Plant told me she was a huge fan of the band, and a couple of the songs he could hear her singing with us. I trust Robert. I mean, who wouldn't? So, I called Alison to see if she'd be interested in singing on one of the songs for the album. I sent her two to listen to, and she said she couldn't make up her mind which one she wanted to sing on. So I told her, "Hell, let's have you sing on both of them."
Vivian: Alison is great. She's an immensely talented singer and songwriter, and to have her sing on a couple of our songs is a real treat.
KM: So, now you're about to launch this huge stadium tour with Motley Crue, Poison and Joan Jett. That should be a lot of fun. And Joe, your voice sounds very strong these days. I know you had been having some vocal cord issues for a few years.
Joe: Yeah, it's going to be a blast. And, we're all well- rested. You know, the pandemic was actually a blessing of some sorts, because it gave me a chance to really rest my voice and get it strong again. You're right, I had been having some voice problems for a few years on and off, and the pandemic really helped bring it back. So, that was a good thing, I suppose. Yet, I'm terribly saddened for all the people who lost their lives during the pandemic. It's been a horrible tragedy for so many people. I wish it were different. As far as the tour, all those guys, and Joan, they're really cool and a lot of fun to be around. It may be like a big crazy circus that happens to feature guitarists, drummers and loud rock fans. I can't wait to get out there.
KM: Ok guys, I know you both have to go. This has been pretty cool. I'm glad we were able to fit this into your schedule. Let's circle around again after the tour.
Joe: Sounds good, Kreig. And Rick told me to thank you again for his interview a few months ago and for visiting him at the art gallery.
KM: My pleasure, you guys are great.
Kreig Marks, Publisher / Founder TRR
Kreig Marks is the Founder/Publisher of Tru Rock Revival Magazine.
Rock music has always been his passion, and promoting musicians. In is spare time he is an internationally recognized neuro-fitness trainer/ kinesiologist.