Interview: Def Leppard

Photo by Kazuyo Horie

Photo by Kazuyo Horie

By Mark Derricutt

It was one of those days where everything had the potential of going your way, but no. The universe had other ideas. First I arrived late to work only to discover my interview gear remained at home, then several work projects all came to a head at once, So now I find myself making an emergency 35 minute return drive from Auckland's road-work laden CBD within 25 minutes to catch up with Vivian Campbell - legendary guitarist of Def Leppard to discuss the announced Spark Arena show with The Scorpions in November to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Hysteria

Speeding down sideroads, windows open, the wind in my beard — Leppard at full volume, my heart is racing with the news my time slot was fast dwindling and now sat at a mere 5 minutes - this was not the ideal scenario for talking to someone whose music you've admired for 35 years - so I do what I do best —- blend my near tragedy into the conversation, or at least an ice breaker…

Mark: Hey Vivian, how are you?

Vivian: Not bad, how's it going?

It's ahh, been one hell of a hectic day here, things have not been going my way, I'd say it's been Hysteria, a bit hysterical, but you didn't actually play on that album did you?

No… I did not - I did buy it twice; on cassette and CD. No, I joined the band in 1996.

That was shortly after the album came out?

It was a few years actually, Hysteria came out in 87, and it was after the Hysteria tour that Steve Clark had passed away during the recording of the follow up - Adrenalize, and I joined the band for the Adrenalize tour in 1992.

How was it to step in and take over for Steve, how did that feel? Was there a kind of apprehension?

Um, well I was a huge Def Leppard fan before Joe asked me to join the band, but obviously it's strange. I'd been used to stepping into other situations before, I played with Ronnie Dio before that for the early Dio albums - Holy Diver, Last In Line, and Sacred Heart and I'd gone on tour. I'd gone on to work with Whitesnake for a couple of years so I'd been used to playing in different bands, but I've got to think as strange and difficult as it might have been for me to join Def Leppard it must have been much more difficult for Joe, Sav, Rick, and Phil to look over to their right and see someone other than Steve Clark on stage playing with them.

So I've always been very cognisant of that fact. I've tried to be very sympathetic to that and also very respectful to the fact that to this day we still play the majority of the show with songs that Steve was involved in.

He was an incredible songwriter and riff writer as well as a great guitar player so he was a very important part of Def Leppard and I try to walk the line between injecting my own sound and my own style on Def Leppard.

But at the same time try to be very respectful of the heritage that's there, you know. Steve's guitar solos were not flashy guitar solos so technically they're not… it's not that they're challenging to play but they were very important to the songs. And that represents an important musical element of the songs, very thematic. So you know I play very very closely to the parts Steve composed in his guitar solos but at the same time I try to put my own flair on it.

You're playing at Spark Arena in November. The feedback that we've been seeing locally is just going over the moon with The Scorpions, and you guys playing of course, and the whole Hysteria album, anything you want to say to New Zealanders?

Yeah well, we are very very excited to go back there. The last time we were in Australia unfortunately we did not get to go to New Zealand on that particular trip, that was at the end of 2015 so it's a few year before that since we last played in New Zealand. I personally love New Zealand, it reminds me of my home country Ireland - not only geographically but the way the people are, you know - it's a very warm country in terms of the radiance of the population.

It's always been a great place to play for me and it'll be fun to go there with The Scorpions - I've never played, never shared a bill with The Scorpions, I'm a big fan of Matthias Jabs the guitar player and I'm hoping to steal some of his licks while we're working together. So that'll be a lot of fun. Once we get to Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the UK after that we'll be performing as you know the Hysteria show in it's completio. So that's always exciting cause it is really a landmark record and as a guy who bought it… (twice… on cassette and CD).

You know I wasn't in the band at the time but I was a huge huge fan so it's a great pleasure actually to be able to play it live. And we can do a really really good job representing it too because we're a very strong vocal band and work really hard on that aspect of the live performance so we can actually really represent it well and we don't have to rely on back up kits or things like that.

It's nice, it's a good show.

Cool, well thanks for taking the time to talk to me, it's a shame we didn't manage to talk longer but things happen so I look forward to seeing you in November.

Cheers Mark

Def Leppard & The Scorpions

Monday November 12th: Spark Arena, Auckland

Tickets go on sale Friday, May 4 at 1pm

For complete tour, ticket and VIP Experience information, visit: