In a brand new interview with About Heavy Metal, DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell was asked what he remembers most about the sessions for “Slang”, his first studio album with the band, which came out twenty years ago. He responded: “That was a strange time for the band because the music industry, as you know, had gone through a radical change in the early ’90s. Right around the time when the ‘Adrenalize’ record was coming out, the tide was really changing with the whole grunge movement. We were really swimming upstream with that one. Then by the time we got into the studio for the next record, ‘Slang’, we were at a strange time. We didn’t really know what we were going to do or what we could do. The only clear point that we had when we were starting to make the ‘Slang’ record was that we could not make a record that sounded like DEF LEPPARD. We knew that we would be totally crucified if we made a record with big harmony vocals and lush production. It was just so against the trend of what was popular at the time, so there was that going on. Then, furthermore, I think we were all at that time in our life when we were starting to have grown-up real life issues affect us like death and divorce. Sav’s [bassist Rick Savage] father passed away on the eve of going into the studio to make that record. Joe [Elliott, vocals] and Phil [Collen, guitar] were both going through divorces. It’s just stuff was happening.”
He continued: “We were never going to go in to making that record and write a song like ‘Let’s Got Rocked’. That was definitely not going to happen. It actually did put us in that frame of mind where we could be more reflective. We were going to make a darker record. It really was starting to shape up that way and I actually love the sound of that record. I love the sonics of it. I love the way that we technically recorded it. We didn’t process stuff very much. We didn’t do too many overdubs. The guitar sounded great. Rick [Allen] used acoustic drums for the first time in decades. It’s a good-sounding record.”
Campbell does admit that he wishes now that “on some of the songs we’d maybe compromised a little bit and worked a little bit more towards incorporating some of the things that DEF LEPPARD were famous for like a little bit more melody, a little bit more vocal structure. There seemed to be a tendency to just want to go full grunge on it.”
He continued: “Of course, we were doing all this without benefit of a real producer. We co-produced the record with Pete Woodroffe, who was a longtime engineer and co-producing friend of ours, but we didn’t have the guidance of someone like Mutt Lange, someone with a clearer vision to steer us through that. It was make it up as you go along basically. There’s some really good points and some really bad points to it.”
Campbell added: “It was my first record with LEPPARD, so I was in a very strange position of not wanting to rock the boat too much. I’ve never been that kind of a person. I just was sitting there taking it all in and trying to get up to speed with what was going on, but I don’t think any of us really knew what was going on.”
DEF LEPPARD’s latest, self-titled album entered The Billboard 200 chart at position No. 10 with first-week sales of just over 30,000 units — nearly all from pure album sales.
The album is the band’s first studio effort since “Songs From the Sparkle Lounge” in 2008.