April 15, 2015

Def Leppard Vivian Campbell chats with nightMair Creative

Def Leppard official nightmair creative

nightMair Creative’s editor, Donna Mair spoke to Def Leppard‘s guitarist Vivian Campbell today via telephone, in an exclusive interview on the ‘eve’ of their current Canadian Tour which starts tonight in Penticton and continues in Vancouver, Victoria, and beyond.

nightMair Creative: hello Vivian. Can you hear me okay? You sound very far away like you’re still in England!

Vivian Campbell: Can you hear me chewing on beans and toast? (laughs) I’m actually in Penticton British Columbia, and it’s a little brisk and breezy, but nice and sunny here.

nMC: Are you happy to be back in Canada?

VC: Yes! Yes we indeed. We’re just happy to be back on tour. Canada’s always been good to us so its nice to come back and do more than just Toronto which is what we normally do.. I think its been about 15 yrs since we did as comprehensive a tour of Canada as we’re doing this time around… long overdue.

nMC: Yes indeed!

VC: Strangely we play Toronto as part of the American tour… we’re not playing it on this tour, but generally its part of the North American tour. We love to play Toronto but its nice to play somewhere else too.

nMC: What’s one of your favorite things about Canada?

VC: uhm.. clean air! That’s always nice! Laughs… and interesting wildlife. I get to see a moose every now and again. Last time we played Calgary and Edmonton, we had to drive from one to the other across the mountains and they had to stop the bus because there were a whole bunch of moose in the middle of the road.. it was great. It was like a National Geographic special.

nMC: What is one of the favorite things you like about the big shows, the arena shows?

VC: I like playing all shows. I live in Los Angeles unfortunately (a reference to our clean air), and on occasion I go out and play the odd bar gig with a band.. I just like to play. Its always very rewarding when you to come up with an idea for a song, and its really nice to hear it all come together, and its great to be able to make a record, but there’s nothing more rewarding than doing a gig. Instant gratification. And it stands to reason that the bigger the gig the more the gratification. Its fun. You know, we enjoy our work. We don’t take it too serious, at least we don’t take ourselves too seriously; we go out and have fun and try and make it an entertaining and joyful experience for ourselves and our audience.

nMC: In terms of coming up with new ideas for your guitar work, do you practice daily? Weekly? Do you just noodle?

VC: I try and get up to speed before the shows obviously, but in terms of being inspired about playing the guitar, sometimes I find that I’m more inspired if I walk away from it for a while. If I don’t play guitar for a week or so and then I come back to it then it’s exciting to me again. Years ago I basically used to force myself to practice a lot and then I realized I was just spinning my wheels. It wasn’t necessarily making me any a better as a guitar player. I do think that the best guitar players are the ones that generate the best ideas, not necessarily the ones who perform the most flawless execution. Two aspects to it, there’s the mechanical aspect to it and there’s the part that’s inspiration. My favorite living guitar player is Jeff Beck because he always plays as if he’s inspired. Its not the technicality of Jeff Beck’s playing that impresses me, it’s the thoughts behind it. You have to approach it fresh, as fresh as you possibly can, so for me that means walking away from it for a while.

nMC: we have a fan question from Jason (who fronts his own local band) – you guys perform shirtless and have amazing 6-packs. How do you stay in shape on the road?

VC: (Laughing) Well he obviously hasn’t seen my belly lately… (laughs) .. I’ll leave that one for Phil Collen to answer. You know, what we do is we try and stay in reasonable shape but it has to be balanced.. as long as I’m fit enough to do my job that’s the important thing to me. (Laughs again) I don’t think I’ll be taking my shirt off in a hurry.

nMC: Do you find that your fan base is growing older with you or are they bringing their kids to shows now too?

VC: We’ve noticed for the last 10+ yrs, with the dominance of the internet and that being the primary distribution source of music that our audience has actually diversified and there’s been a lot of younger people coming to our shows, so we are very pleased about that. Its always nice and its gratifying to reach across generations with music. Our core audience is still from our generation and that makes up the bulk of our fan base, but we do see all over the world younger and younger people coming to shows.

nMC: we have another fan question from Darrell: If you were stuck in a car, with a cd stuck on one song, what song would you choose?

VC: Ah it wouldn’t be a Def Leppard song (chuckles). That’s a tough one. I don’t actually have a favorite song or a favorite artist. I think you’ll grow tired of anything if you hear it enough… your favorite food – you’ll grow tired of if you have to eat it three times a day. Diversity is nice… there’s a lot of great songs out there fortunately.. a lot of them I forget about and then every now and again I’ll hear it on the radio in passing and be reminded how great it was. Its nice; the joy of discovering music ,and then years later the joy of rediscovering how great that music was. And how much you liked it.

nMC: Other than Jeff beck do you have any other artists who are inspiring you or maybe making you take notice?

VC: There’s a lot of great music out there but I don’t take as much notice as I probably should. Someone can turn me on to a great record but then 3 or 4 months later I’ve sort of forgotten about it until I scroll through my iTunes and see it again, despite the fact that I really enjoyed it and played It for days and days. And there’s great new music out there but it’s not as prevalent as it used to be. You really have to invest in going to find it. It used to be that MTV or FM radio would basically filter it and bring it to you – they would deliver the best of what was recent but that doesn’t necessary exist anymore. FM radio just plays Classic Rock which I shouldn’t bemoan, we Def Leppard are what they play over and over again and its helped our career, but its not a great medium to discover new music… you just have to be active about searching for it more than you used to be.

nMC: What do you do in your down time on the road?

VC: I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at car porn. (laughs)

VC: When I’m at home I have two teenage daughters. That takes up a lot of my time. When I’m not actually working I need to be an attentive father. I have a beautiful wife. I have a beautiful small dog named Stuart who needs attention. That’s about it. I lead a very boring kind of life. When I’m not on tour I’m on the couch with my lovely wife and my small dog.

1-def-leppard--004nMC: None of the stereotypical rock star stuff… like back in the 80’s.

VC: No I never was. I never subscribed to that lifestyle. That’s never why I started playing. I started playing guitar because I loved the sound of guitar. Maybe its because I’m a Virgo – I’m a little more pragmatic about things.

nMC: You’re a muso.

VC: Well, I like to think of myself as a musician but in reality I know I earn most of my money being a performer, but I’d like to be a musician.

nMC: What can we expect from your live shows this tour?

VC: The majority of people come to a Def Leppard show expecting to hear the big hits, so we will be playing those.. every tour we try to make it a little different than the one before, maybe some deeper cuts from other albums. This tour we’ll be featuring some things from the Euphoria album, and a few of the other albums, keep things a bit of a surprise.

nMC: Thanks for your time good luck with tonight’s show and the tour.

VC: Thanks Donna.

You can catch Def Leppard on tour now. Penticton show is sold out, select limited tickets for Vancouver show. For a full list of shows and ticket links head to the band’s WEBSITE.

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