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 DEF LEPPARD Guitarist Vivian Campbell - Two-sided

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PostSubject: DEF LEPPARD Guitarist Vivian Campbell - Two-sided   Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:41 pm

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BW&BK Feature: DEF LEPPARD Guitarist Vivian Campbell - Two-sided
Posted on Monday, December 05, 2005 at 10:29:30 EST


Special Report By Mitch Lafon

Longtime DEF LEPPARD guitarist, Vivian Campbell, recently released a solo album, Two Sides Of If, via Sanctuary music. BW&BK caught up with the guitarist on the last leg of the bandís summer/fall tour to get his thoughts.

BW&BK: Tell me about Two Sides Of If.
Vivian Campbell: ďIt was exciting to do. Hopefully, it wonít be buried by the record company.Ē

BW&BK: You had another side-project called Clock. How is this different and will both projects co-exist?
VC: ďWell, Clock was never pursued because we never had record deal. We recorded some demos, but it was just for the fun of it. Itís on the net and sort of exists as a peer-to-peer fan thing, but itís not currently an active project and never really was. It was just something to do and it was great fun. As much as Iíd like to, I donít think weíll do that again. Musically, it was totally different. It was power pop and I managed to fuse my guitar into it somehow. In the Clock thing, I was singing maybe 30 or 40% of the material. I wasnít the only singer and this (Two Sides Of If) is obviously a more straight forward blues thing.Ē

BW&BK: How did you get around to the blues? Dio, Whitesnake, Def Leppard Ė none are blues bands...
VC: ďThatís where I trace the origins of my playing. You can argue that every rock guitarist owes an allegiance to Muddy Waters. I absolutely believe thatís true. The first album I ever had was Live In Europe by Rory Gallagher and my first concert in Belfast was Rory. He was more the rock side of blues, but heís a blues man. I sat down with all his records and thatís where I learnt my first real lead guitar licks. So, my playing is a lot more blues-based than technical. A lot of my contemporaries in the Ď80s played from a technical point of view. They learnt the technique, but I taught myself.Ē

BW&BK: No lessons ever?
VC: ďWell, when I was a kid a couple of people showed me a D chord or whatever, but every lick I play I had to learn by listening to a record and figuring it out. Consequently, I play with a lot of bad habits. Technically, Iíve never really advanced and it got very frustrating for me in the Ď80s Ďcause I was in the hard rock/metal genre where technique was glorified. I was frustrated that I couldnít play like Paul Gilbert and Yngwie Malmsteen... to articulate and alternate pick. I was spinning my wheels. In hindsight, Iím very glad that I couldnít because as a guitar player itís much more of an interest to me to make something out of less than out of more. Thatís why with the blues itís been a good experiment to look backwards. As a guitar player with the blues, youíre looking for an economy of notes. Youíre looking for that one great note that expresses a feeling as opposed to being a guitar player in the hard rock genre where you just go to your standard licks. Itís like hereís a solo in A so play all your widdly licks in A. It works, but next time out what do you do? Do them backwards or what? Itís been very educational for me to go back to find where my guitar heroes learnt their trade from. Listening to Muddy Waters and Jimmy Rogers from the Chicago blues era of the late Ď40s and early Ď50s and you hear note for note Ė Eric Clapton guitar licks, Jeff Beck licks, Jimmy Page licks and where they came from. Muddy and Jimmy were the first two guys to really make it electric. The real guitar aspect of it started in Chicago when they electrified it and we, as electric rock guitar players, take it all from. Clapton, Page and whatnot in the Ď60s and Ď70s made it something we would learn, but they learnt from those guys. Vocally, for me, the blues fits that gravel I have to my voice. When I met my wife 20 years ago, she was really into the blues and she told me all those years ago that I should make a blues record, but I never listened to her. As a guitar player and a singer itís a good genre for me. Itís a good vehicle that suits my voice and it suits my playing and the two can co-exist. I donít have the pipes to sing rock and I couldnít sing on top of a big hairy band like Def Leppard. Iíve always loved pop which is why I got into the Clock thing. I love melody and I love the structure and simplicity of pop music, but as a guitar player itís really awkward. Itís like a square peg in a round hole. Itís hard for me to fit what I do as a guitar player into the pop genre, so the blues genre was perfect for me. Having said that, itís not the only kind of music I listen to, but itís certainly what I listened to for a year before making this record.Ē

BW&BK: Is the record a one-off?
VC: ďYeah, as far as Iím concerned. I have no plans to take it further.Ē

BW&BK: Will you do other solo albums?
VC: ďI might, but it depends on how this one is accepted. It cost me a lot of money to do this one. Itís really a labour of love.Ē

BW&BK: The album was recorded over three days last April and you mentioned that the blues was about Ďless is moreí Ė How was it as a recording experience. After all, Def Leppardís philosophy seems to be Ďmore is moreí...
VC: ďWell, that was another reason for doing it. It was the total opposite of how Leppard makes a record and as such it was very refreshing. Ask any guy in Def Leppard, Iím the one that hates being in the studio making Def Leppard records. I believe in the magic of the first take and that really doesnít gel with the Def Leppard philosophy. We, as a band (Def Leppard), are getting more towards that and weíre becoming more open to accepting the possibility that the first two or three takes might actually be the best as opposed to trying to beat it out.Ē

BW&BK: As a Def Leppard fan, I hope that you go with that philosophy. I like the rawness of... an early Sabbath Ė where they set up in a studio and nine hours later an album is done.
VC: ďAbsolutely! Thatís absolutely the way to make records.Ē

BW&BK: Rock is supposed to be about warts and mistakes and edginess...
VC: ďObviously, thatís where every band starts. You donít all go into the studio with Mutt Lange producing your first demo, but Mutt pioneered this way of recording that Def Leppard took to its zenith. It was OK and appropriate then, but itís not always appropriate. Weíre a great great live band and I think the guys in the band finally realize that and realize thatís thereís a great dynamic when we play the songs live. Weíre actually trying to write songs now while weíre on the road for our next studio album and we can cut some of the tracks, at least, in a live environment and capture some of that energy. Iím not saying that Joe will do a live lead vocal... weíll still go in and tinker and I donít think Def Leppard will ever make a live-in-the-studio record, but weíre definitely heading towards that. Each successive record that weíve made has been a little bit more like that especially the Slang record where we actually cut some of the tracks live with acoustic drums. That was a real departure from the traditional ĎLeppard thing.í Def Leppard also has a covers record coming out next spring (April 2006)...Ē

BW&BK: Donít you think the covers record lends itself to a more live-on-the-floor recording?
VC: ďWell, it did and thatís how we made that record. Making the covers record was the quickest record the band has ever made. We actually put a bunch of the stuff together in real time in the studio. We were inspired by the energy that translated into the recording by doing that. We were not only inspired by the method of recording, but also by the songs and the style of music Ė short, donít bore us, get to the chorus three minute pop songs. Weíll probably bear a lot of that in mind for the next studio record and get away from the bombast and ballads and shit. It was us going back to the roots of when we were literally children and that first turned us onto music which was the glam rock era. Before I had my Rory Gallagher album, I had a Marc Bolan single. Bolan was my first real exposure to music. Thatís what made me know that I wanted to play guitar.Ē

BW&BK: Joe, in a previous interview, mentioned that everybody had recorded a vocal track for the covers album Ė as b-sides or bonus tracks and that you had done two tracks, but werenít sure if you were going to sing lead or not...
VC: ďWell, yeah, but Joe is the singer in Def Leppard. I do a certain thing when it comes to my vocals and rock isnít it.Ē

BW&BK: I have to say I like your way of thinking. I like three minute raw pop songs Ė you should speak up more in the studio...
VC: ďItís been a long time coming and when a band has been successful with a certain formula itís hard to change that, but I think everyoneís coming around. When Leppard were making those records with Mutt, computer recording technology didnít exist and it was very labour-intensive to do that, but now itís so fucking easy to make a record with ProTools. Anyone can apply that method of putting down 72 tracks of backing vocals and time correcting everything. So, I think thatís another good reason to look backwards and try that old school method of the sound of a band playing in a room and the energy that captures. On the blues record (Two Sides Of If), we did that. All we were looking for was the right take and the right take was not the technically perfect take, but it was the one where nobody flubbed up too bad and I remembered all the words. Thereís an energy to that and Leppardís not about to do that, but we can head in that direction. We can cut some of the tracks live and put Rick (Allen) back on acoustic drums for the most part and capture the sound of a room.Ē

BW&BK: Letís go back to your blues album and the recording process. Was it recorded in three days to catch a vibe?
VC: ďI couldnít afford anymore. Ideally, I would have had a week. Itís my first record and I was singing and playing in real time. There are moments on the record that are cringe-worthy where I bent a note too sharp here or sang flat there, but it was three days because the first day was set-up and nobody was rehearsed. The second day is where the bulk of the album comes from and the third day we only had till 7:30PM because another band was loading in. It was a mad panic, but I literally couldnít afford any more. The only reason Terry Bozzio is on the record is because heís a friend of mine. I certainly couldnít afford to pay him.Ē

BW&BK: Will you be touring in support of this album (Two Sides Of If)?
VC: ďI have no plans, because itís not financially viable. To take four or five guys on the road is expensive and itís the blues... and I donít want to pay for the privilege. Plus, Iíve been on the road most of this year with Leppard to go home for a week and go out on my own would be bus manís holiday.Ē

BW&BK: Iíd like to ask you about comments I read that supposedly came from you Ė where you talked about Dio and Whitesnake and mentioned that heavy metal guitaring was over rated and that you donít like the records you played on...
VC: ďWhen I was a teenager, I was really only motivated by the guitar, the guitar lick, the guitar solo and the guitar sound. You get into playing rock and heavy metal because those are the genres that glorify the instrument. My first original band, Sweet Savage, sounded a lot like Metallica, but when I started playing with Dio I found Ronnieís method... he was really into old school metal. This was the early Ď80s and there were a lot of younger bands coming up that actually had a sense of humour about themselves and Ronnie didnít. He was very serious about his genre and stuff. I felt it was very constricting and because of having to work in the confines of that tightly defined genre; I became aware of music outside of the rock genre. Thatís when I really started to appreciate singers. I remember being on Dio tours and going out and buying cassettes of Elvis, Aretha Franklin and Peter Gabriel, and just listening to a lot of vocal music, pop music, soul music and just getting my head out of the whole guitar thing. Plus, being in L.A. and all that was going on then, I was getting frustrated with the whole emphasis being solely on technique. Having said that I go back and listen to the early Dio records and itís only now that I can appreciate what I was doing then. I didnít have a lot of technique, but I had a lot of fire and I was willing to be inventive. I do believe what I did then is valid, but if you asked me at the time I didnít believe it. Now that Iíve come through that, Iím glad to be working within my limitations as a player. It forces me to be more creative. But it was very frustrating because of the tight confines of the hard rock/heavy metal genre. The guitar was becoming like an Olympic sport. It was about cramming in the notes and it was losing that passion. For me, discovering other kinds of music and wanting to sing... Ronnie didnít want me to sing. I wanted to do BVs (backing vocals) and he said Ritchie Blackmore didnít sing and Tony Iommi didnít sing and that guitar heroes donít sing. They play guitar, so he didnít encourage me at all. When I was with Whitesnake, David Coverdale taught me a lot and thatís when I started taking vocal lessons. But it was a situation I never really was at home with. It wasnít a band, Whitesnake was as it still is today Ė a revolving door of musicians. We had a successful couple of years, but I didnít have a future with that band. So, I got edged out and that was OK. I recorded one guitar solo on a track that I had nothing to do with, so itís not like I got creatively involved and itís when I realized that I couldnít... That door was firmly shut and thatís when I decided I had to leave. People canít look at me and say I was part of Whitesnake; I was never part of Whitesnake. I was the guitar player in a touring band playing songs I had nothing to do with.Ē

BW&BK: Any idea when the next Leppard studio (not covers) album will be out?
VC: ďI donít know. We wonít even be able to start recording that until probably this time next year (fall 2006). So, I donít see it before í07. Itís determined by the songwriting process because we write and re-write and itís constantly morphing. Itís not the actual recording that takes time. Weíve never tried to write and demo on the road, but we realized we have to because itís been so long since our last studio record.Ē

BW&BK: Is it hard to write on the road?
VC: ďYeah, because itís hard to be motivated. We do soundchecks and interviews and thereís a lot of travel. Itís very tiring and itís hard to get into that creative space. When you get a day off, you want to go to the gym or sleep, so it definitely requires an effort, but itís not impossible.Ē

BW&BK: My time is up... anything we need to plug?
VC: ďI launched my record and I launched my website: www.viviancampbell.com . I keep it fresh and updated as much as I can.Ē

_________________
It's A Viv Thing!



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