If all went according to the original plan, the lads in Def Leppard would be looking back at 2020 as the year they rocked the masses as part of “The Stadium Tour” with co-headliners Mötley Crüe, as well as Poison and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. But as we all know, the COVID pandemic put those plans on hold. But now – two years later – the time is finally right for the highly anticipated outing to finally commence.
As it turns out, Def Leppard put the unexpected time off the road to good use, as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band — singer Joe Elliott, guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell, bassist Rick Savage, and drummer Rick Allen — were able to write and record their 12th studio album, Diamond Star Halos, which drops on May 27th, a few weeks prior to the launch of “The Stadium Tour” on June 16th (tickets available here).
Elliott and Collen recently checked in with Heavy Consequence via Zoom to discuss the new album and the tour. As Elliott told us in the video interview above, “We rapidly came up with this whole new plan of recording remotely. Because in the 40 minutes that me and Phil spoke [in March of 2020], we figured out that he’d written two, he’d co-written two that weren’t even planned for a Def Leppard record but he’d just written them anyway. I’d written three, and there was an old song of Phil’s that I’d been dying for us to do, so I threw that into the pile. And I think because it was so uniquely different, like, ‘OK, this is kind of exciting, really – that we’ve opened up all our avenues of exploration.'”
But it was after the band consulted engineer and co-producer Ronan McHugh that Def Leppard were fully convinced that the album could be done entirely remotely. Elliott explained, “Once we brought him into the equation and said, ‘This is how we’re planning on doing it,’ he said, ‘Piece of piss. Easy. No problem.’ He’s got his own studio, and as he got each song as a demo, he would build a session. We would send everything to him, and he would glue it all together.”
According to Collen, the album’s first single — the anthemic “Kick” — was a last-minute addition. “Sav [bassist Rick Savage] got back immediately [after hearing an early working of the song], and said, ‘Sugar, anyone?’ Because ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ was the last track we did for Hysteria. We essentially had finished the album, and Joe had come up with ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me,’ and that got recorded in 10 days. So, we’d done this one fairly quick, as well. Everyone started putting their parts on ‘Kick,’ and it absolutely was — and is — a Def Leppard song.”
Additionally, Collen admitted to have a clear vision as to who he was influenced by when co-penning the tune with Dave Bassett. “I based it on kind of a Slade / Gary Glitter / T. Rex / Mott the Hoople type thing.” But overall, there is a specific band that the guitarist has set as a benchmark when it comes to composing. “Queen have been an aspiration for us. We’ve always used them as a blueprint. Songwriting, Queen were perfect – you’d have Brian May write ‘We Will Rock You,’ Freddie would come in with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ John Deacon would write ‘Another One Bites the Dust,’ and Roger Taylor with ‘Radio Ga Ga.’ But they’re all very much Queen and they sound very much like Queen – but they’re coming in different elements. So, we’re very proud and pleased that we’re getting to that stage in our career.”
After a two-year delay, Def Leppard are chomping at the bit to finally launch their co-headlining North American outing with Mötley Crüe. “We’ve been excited obviously for like…two years,” said Collen. “It was like, ‘Here we go! This is great!’ The biggest tour of our career we were just about to embark on, and then it was like, ‘Not so fast.’ So yeah, absolutely. And we know more now than we did then. It’s all about increasing the weapons in your arsenal, and we know a lot more about performing, artistry, songwriting – everything. So, this is going to be really good.”
Added Elliott, “We find ourselves now in this fantastic position where, literally, the world is our oyster. It’s totally up to us not to screw it up. We’ve got all the tools in place — we know each other so well, we’ve got a great legacy and collection of songs, we’ve got a brilliant new album, and we know how to entertain a stadium audience because we’ve done it before. It’s just a joy to be in that situation and it’s something we’re really, really looking forward to.”
For much more on the new album and “The Stadium Tour,” watch our full interview with Joe Elliott and Phil Collen above. See the music video for “Kick” below, and pick up tickets to “The Stadium Tour” via Ticketmaster.
Trouble viewing the video interview above? Watch on YouTube.