Wednesday, August 20, 2008


After more than 30 years in the music business, rockers Def Leppard are seeing
their audiences getting younger and younger--but, according to guitarist Vivian
Campbell, that's not because parents who loved Def Leppard as teens are turning
their kids on to the group.

"That's a byproduct of music piracy more than anything else," Campbell said in
his Irish accent. "I'm not saying that as a negative. I think it's very

"A lot of younger kids get turned on to classic bands because they're trading
files. They have 4,000 or 5,000 songs on their iPod, that's $4,000 or $5,000 on
their iPod, at iTunes' prices, at least. A 12-year-old can't afford that. When
kids trade files, it's actually a good thing for classic bands such as us. It's
not such a good thing for up-and-coming artists who need to sell records."

These days, kids are presumably trading files of Def Leppard's latest album,
"Songs from the Sparkle Lounge," a collection of songs written--where else?--in
The Sparkle Lounge.

"The Sparkle Lounge is our backstage tuning room," Campbell said. "When we're
on tour, adjacent to the dressing room, we have a little room that became known
as The Sparkle Lounge where we set up little practice amps. It became known as
the Sparkle Lounge because our road crew would go in and decorate the room with
fairy lights. We'd go in there, I have a mobile ProTools rig and that runs on a
laptop. We'd bring that on tour with us and we recorded demos as we went
around. It's a very honest title for the album, because that's actually where
the songs were born, The Sparkle Lounge."

The album includes the song "Nine Lives," a tune co-written by country artist
Tim McGraw. The collaboration, a first for Def Leppard, came about through a
personal connection .

"Rick Allen, Def Leppard's drummer, his older brother is Tim McGraw's tour
manager," Campbell said. "So he brought Tim to see us a couple times. Tim got
on stage with us at the Hollywood Bowl and did 'Pour Some Sugar on Me.' He kept
going on about wanting to work with us. He said he had this song idea, this
title, 'Nine Lives.' He and [Def Leppard guitarist] Phil Collen hooked up and
bashed out the tune. We cut the track in Dublin. Phil went to Nashville and Tim
cut his vocals there. It was great to work with him when he was around us. He
has a very high level of energy. He's a lovely guy."

"High energy" is also a phrase that Campbell uses to describe Def Leppard's
live show. Arenas, he said, are the best places to hear his band's music.

"Def Leppard's music was always best sampled in the arena," he said. "People
always say, 'Do you like playing clubs?' My answer is, 'Quite frankly, no, for
a couple reasons.' No. 1 it's always a lot more intimidating to play when
you're that close to your audience. More especially is the fact we're an arena
rock band, and our songs are more natural in that environment."

On this jaunt, Def Leppard--which also includes singer Joe Elliott and bassist
Rick Savage -- is playing 19 or 20 songs, including three from "Songs from the
Sparkle Lounge."

"You can't force your new music on your audience," Campbell said. "As much as
we'd like to go out and play the whole new album, that would bore the majority
of our audience, all but the most diehard. We're very fortunate to have an
absolute truckload of hits. It's actually very difficult for us because we have
to decide which songs to play."

This fall, Def Leppard will veer off its normal path and collaborate once
again, this time with teenage country singer Taylor Swift for an episode of
CMT's "Crossroads." Once again, teenagers are proving to be big fans of the

"We haven't met her yet. Apparently she's a huge Def Leppard fan. It's a
strange kind of a pairing, but we shall see," Campbell said.
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