DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell was recently interviewed by Markus Goldman of Philadelphia’s 93.3 WMMR radio station. You can now listen to the chat using the SoundCloud widget below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how he knew something wasn’t quite right with his body before he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma:
“I had a cough that just wouldn’t go away for literally about a year and half. And I kept going to my doctors. Then I also noticed that I was repeatedly getting ill. My immune system was very impacted. I would be on tour… We were in Japan and Australia in 2011 and I remember just getting this head cold and feeling these flu-like symptoms, and I saw a local doctor and he gave me some antibiotics. And then, about four weeks later, we were in England playing shows and I had a recurrence of the same illness. And then again, when I was back in America, about five or six weeks after that, I had the same thing come back. And the one thing that was constant through all of this was this cough that just wouldn’t go away. And my doctor said, ‘Well, sometimes it takes time for these things to heal up.’ I went to see a respiratory doctor, and that guy examined me and gave me an inhaler and a nasal spray and I kept going back to see him. I said, ‘This isn’t really getting any better,’ and he’d just give me a stronger inhaler. One thing it really taught me is that you really have to advocate for your own health. If you know something’s wrong with you, even though the doctors went to school and they’re very well educated, nobody knows your own body like yourself. So I knew something was wrong with me, and my doctors just weren’t listening to me. And I eventually went back to see this respiratory doctor and I said, ‘Look, you need to X-ray my chest and see what’s going on. It’s been a year.’ And that was the amazing thing, to me — that it took so long for them to actually give me a basic X-ray. So that’s what they did, only because I insisted. So they X-rayed me, and the doctor comes back into the room. You know it’s not good when the doctor is looking at your charts and he’s going, ‘Hmmmm…’ [Laughs] So the doctor comes in and he says, ‘There’s something amiss here.’ And I said, ‘Yeah. No kidding.’ So then they sent me off for CT Scans that very afternoon, and a couple of days later, the doctor called me and said, ‘You need to go see an oncologist.’ And it’s funny, when I first went to see an oncologist — a very, very brilliant doctor called Dr. Marilou Terpenning in Los Angeles — she sat me down and she immediately could diagnose that I actually had Hodgkin’s lymphoma before she even did any blood work. She asked me some questions. She said, ‘Are you having night sweats?’ And I said, ‘Yeah. For the last year. It’s so strange.’ And she asked me all these different questions. And she said she was pretty sure right there and then that I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And then we did a biopsy a couple of days later, and there you go: Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It’s bizarre. Anyway, but it’s all good. I’ve been dealing with it for a few years now, and it is what it is. It’s just one of those things you have to deal with. It’s just a bump in the road, you know.”
On how his cancer diagnosis has changed the way he approaches life each day:
“Well, I would like to think that even before all this happened, I’ve always been a reasonably positive person. My glass has always been half full, and now it’s just brimming to the top. So every day is a gift. It definitely does alter your perspective and your perception of things in life. I tend to not sweat the small stuff at all. I kind of look at the big picture and I’m very grateful that I’m still here living it. So it’s all good. Every cloud has a silver lining. You know, I’m actually probably happier now than I’ve ever been in my life, strangely enough, even though I’m still dealing with this. I’m not concerned that it’s gonna kill me. Like I said earlier, it is literally just a bump in the road. It’s something you have to learn to take in your stride. It’s part of life’s rich tapestry, as they say.”
On whether he and his doctors were ever concerned about the exhaustion factor, which weakens the immune system, and how it could potentially cause problems down the line:
“Obviously, the doctors were a little concerned, but I think the doctors, and indeed my fellow bandmates and management, have all come to realize, through my insistence, that this is the most important thing for me — to be able to continue to do my work. It’s a big, big part of the healing for me. If I were to sit at home and know that the band were out on tour and doing it without me, that would kill me. [Laughs] And, in fact, it almsost did. I missed four shows at the start of this American tour as a result of this — having to deal with the treatment and stuff — and that was brutal for me. There’s nothing I hate more than not being able to do my work.”
On how his treatments affected the making of the new DEF LEPPARD album:
“Well, it impacted me in so much as I actually missed a big part of the recording process. The record was done in three different instalments over the course of a year in Dublin. And I was there for the first [session], and I was there for the last [session], but I missed the whole middle session, ‘cause I couldn’t travel due to my health. So I actually didn’t contribute an awful lot to this record. But, having said that, I do think it’s the best record that DEF LEPPARD has made in decades. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something — you know, that they’re maybe better off without me when it comes to the creative aspect. But it’s a great, great record, and like I say, I was there for a fair amount of it, but not for all of it. But, you know, I’ve had to devote a lot of my time in the last couple of years to my health and I’d much rather miss studio sessions than miss the live work, you know, to miss the shows on tour. So I guess I had to choose one or the other.”
On whether his guitar flavor and style is still felt on the record:
“On most of it, yeah. You know, there are, actually, a couple of songs I didn’t play on at all. But that’s not unusual for LEPPARD, you know. We kind of make records very methodically and very slowly and one guy at a time, you know ,for the most part. Although with this album, the first thing we did were the rock tracks, and that was kind of the easy part. And we did play those the old-fashioned style — you know, real time, with all five of us in the room, so we could make eye contact. But then after that, you know, when we got into the more produced songs, the more studio-style songs, then we do tend to do it one guy at a time. And there have been records in the past where not everyone has played on every particular song, you know. It’s just whoever happens to be there.”
On whether making the new DEF LEPPARD album was a lot of work or if it was “just a damn good time”:
“You know, sometimes it is [a good time], sometimes it isn’t. I mean, there’s no one route to making a DEF LEPPARD record. We’ll basically try anything and everything to get the end result, you know. A means to an end, as they say. There are times in the studio when it’s really easy and it’s really fun. There are times in the studio when it’s really tedious. But that’s just kind of inevitable when you spend as much time trying to make a record. And some records have been easier than others for us. This one was relatively straightforward — at least it was for the time that I was there. Like I said, there were three sessions, and I was at the first and I was at the last. I would imagine that the middle session was the most tedious and the most difficult, although I can’t really say for sure, because that’s the one that I missed. But it was certainly a lot of fun, the first session, ‘cause we were just kicking around the rock songs and we were actually doing what we do best, which is play rock music. And the last session was particularly joyous, because that’s when it all came together — you know, when the final lyrics and melodies were written and the songs really started to take shape, and you could really see the light at the end of the tunnel. So that’s always a good feeling, you know. But, like I say, the other four guys probably had to endure most of the heavy lifting during that second session — the one that I missed.”
DEF LEPPARD’s new, self-titled album will arrive on October 30 via earMUSIC.