INTERVIEW WITH STEVE CLARK & PHIL COLLEN

SOURCE: Metal Edge magazine – Feb 1989

On tour since last fall and still rocking strong, Def Leppard is on the international leg of their “In The Round” extravaganza, packing arenas in Europe and Japan before returning to Canada and the U.S. for a second stage assault.

“It’s going to be greater than ever,” guitarist Phil Collen enthused at the tail end of the first U.S. leg. “The show has gotten a lot tighter and smoother and we’re a lot more relaxed.”

At first, the Leps’ four year hiatus from performing made it tough to get into the road groove, and “it took a while for everyone to realise we were back,” adds axeman Steve Clark. But their triumphant comeback LP Hysteria and it’s string of hit singles and videos quickly took care of that, re-establishing their superstar status.

“We’ve got a lot of new fans as well as the diehards from ’83,” notes Phil, delighted that the new songs like “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and the album’s title track are big crowd pleasers. Slightly varying the nearly two-hour set as the tour progresses, they’ve dropped “Hit and Run” and now do a cover of “Travelin’ Band” in the encore, and plan to make more changes when they return here this summer for dates that will include outdoor shows whenever possible. “There’s still a lot of places we haven’t been yet,” reminds Phil.

Meanwhile they planned to take 10 days off during the European swing to demo five songs they’ve written on the road. Explains Steve, “We were really unprepared after the Pyromania tour and we aren’t gonna make the same mistake. We’ve all been writing.”

Revealing that “Animal” took four years to finish, Phil agrees it’s the best strategy. “If we start work now, by the time we get ready to go into the studio we’ll be done with the ground work. We’d like to complete an album in less than a year. I remember when we’d gone in to do Hysteria we said ‘This should only take five, six months.’ Little did we know,” he laughs. “But who knows, maybe it’ll sound great right off the bat – the later stuff like “Sugar” and “Hysteria” were done that way. We knocked ’em out and they sounded great.”

The third single and video off the new record, “Hysteria”, topped its predecessors “Women” and “Animal” on radio and video – it was a #1 request on Dial MTV for weeks. Shot in one night in an old New Jersey train station on a rare evening off from the tour, it’s their best clip yet. Steve & Phil agree – though they had more fun filming “Animal” on location with a Dutch circus last summer. Their fourth video for “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, was shot live in Denver, CO – both shows of a double-header there were taped in their entirety for possible use in a future home video.

Def Leppard will likely release more individual clips before then, however, as they plan to remain out on the road through the fall. “And after we finish we’ll go straight in the studio.” says Phil. “We have no social lives.” he sighs. “We’re resigned to the fact that this is all we do.”

Adds Steve, “We can’t do anything else, neither of us – we’re fuckin’ useless,” he laughs, supposing that if it weren’t for Def Leppard, “we’d be at Kentucky Fried Chicken – serving, not eating.”

Complaints aside, they wouldn’t have it any other way – and it’s a sure bet they won’t have to.

Steve’s first gig: A boy scout party with the band Electric Chicken. “We were crap!” he says.