DEF LEPPARD’S PHIL COLLEN ON “SLANG”: “IT WAS [OUT OF] LEFT FIELD FOR US”

defleppardb&w Gary Graff of Billboard reports:

Nearly 18 years later, the members of Def Leppard feel that 1996′s Slang didn’t get its just due — and are hoping to rectify that a bit with this week’s release of an expanded Deluxe Edition featuring demos, outtakes and alternative versions of the CD’s 11 songs.

It was an essential album for Def Leppard,” guitarist Phil Collen tells Billboard about Slang,” whose sound was markedly more raw and stripped-back than multi-platinum predecessors such as Pyromania, Hysteria and Adrenalize. “It was a drastic move, left-field for us. It was experimental. It went against the grain from what we normally were doing at the time. We felt like with ‘Adrenalize’ it started turning a little bit similar, so it was important to do something different at that point.”

Not everybody felt that way, of course. Though it debuted at Number 5 on the Billboard 200 (after No. 1 bows for 1987′s Hysteria and 1992′s Adrenalize) and went gold, Slang was Def Leppard’s slowest selling album in more than a decade, which Collen says was a source of great frustration.

“Y’know, I think we could’ve put out Sgt. Pepper’s or Dark Side of the Moon and I think it would have been the same because it was Def Leppard and we had gotten lumped in with all the crap metal bands of the 80s that were kind of pale versions of us,” Collen explains. “Nirvana had come along and everything had changed. What was very interesting was people said they didn’t like it so much because it didn’t sound like us, but we set up in a villa in southern Spain and pretty much recorded live, so it was actually closer to the mark than the other albums where we didn’t play live and did the usual studio thing of putting one thing on at a time and building it from there.”

Slang also marked the debut of new guitarist Vivian Campbell — who replaced the late Steve Clarke and wrote Slang’s first single, Work It Out — and was the first Def Leppard album made without producer Mutt Lange since 1980′s On Through the Night.

“Anyone who isn’t a Def Leppard fan, you play it to them and they love it,” Collen notes. “They go, ‘Wow, this is really cool. Who is it?’ ‘It’s us,’ and they go, ‘Whoaaaa. This is really cool.’ But, yeah, no one really heard it. There’s the faithful few who absolutely love it and think it’s the best Def Leppard album of all time, but it’s a minority.”

Collen says Def Leppard may play a few extra songs from Slang when it tours North America during the summer, and he’s also “hearing some talk” about another Las Vegas residency to follow up last year’s Viva! Hysteria shows at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Meanwhile, the group members recently assembled in Dublin, Ireland, for some preliminary work on Def Leppard’s next album, the first of new material since 2008′s “Songs From the Sparkle Lounge.”

“We’re just writing,” Collen says. “We’re all just together and figuring out what we’re gonna do. We’ve got some great ideas. We’re definitely going to get some new music out for next year.”

Read more at Billboard.

Listen to an audio sampler from Slang below.

defeppardslang630

source: billboard.com

Comments

  1. I always laugh when they whine about being “lumped in with all of the 80s crap bands”. They were a crap band from the 80s. I’m definetly in the minority, but Hysteria and Adrenelize are total fake garbage. And the lyrics are crap too, with fake sounding vocals. If this is supposed to be a more real album, I may pick it up, because judging by their earlier work, there is talent there.

    Oh, and Mutt Lange is overrated. :D

    • Lange also produced AC/DC’s Highway to Hell and Back In Black, which continues to sell copies and chart even to this day, just sayin’ ;)

      Cheers,
      Dana from EddieTrnk.com :)

  2. FOR GOD SAKES PUT A DAMN SHIRT ON. YOU’ RE 50+ YEARS OLD. GOOD FOR YOU! YOU DO CRUNCHES AND SIT UPS. IF IT’S HOT ON THE STAGE, WEAR DRY FIT. NOBODY WANTS TO SEE A SHIRTLESS MAN ON STAGE. CUT THE NONSENSE. CAMPBELL LOOKS COMFORTABLE IN HIS VEST. STOP IT. IT IS FEBRUARY AND WE DON’T NEED TO LOOK AT A SHIRTLESS OLD ENGLISH GUY.

    • Richman,

      That is older picture and was probably taken when the climate was warmer, relax…LOL! As a woman, I can appreciate all of Phil Collen’s hard work, very admirable ;)

      Cheers!
      Dana from EddieTrunk.com :)

      • Sorry, he is certainly a competent musician with an impressive resume and he consumes tons of lettuce but his shirtlessness ( a rarely used word ) as you are well aware is notorious on this website. Thanks for the smiles. I’m gonna take in HIGH N DRY for the morning commute tommorow. Historically that album holds up the strongest because it never got played on Z-100 or WPLJ. I don’t think he has ever been married because he would have to wear an undershirt, a dress shirt and a suit jacket. I doubt he would be able to do that.

        • You’re welcome for the shirtless smiles.

          High N’ Dry is one my favorite albums too, along with Pyromania.

          Cheers,
          Dana from EddieTrunk.com :)

  3. Count me in the minority…I really loved Slang,. While I can leave the 3 ballads (they shoot themselves in the foot with too many slow/sappy ones), the rockin’ tunes are damn good. Tracks 1 & 2 (Truth/Turn To Dust) are two of my all time favs, but were rarely played live (if ever) which baffles me. Deliver Me and Gift of Flesh are also good, and I always loved that first single, Work It Out.

    I initially did not like the title track, but it has grown on me and is quite catchy. The closer, Pearl of Euphoria, is simply Epic. It needs to be played at full volume with a great set of headphones.

    It is definitely time Slang got more attention.

  4. Man, I would not say that Mutt Lange is overrated. Everything he produces sells. I am a Leppard fan and I’ve always liked Slang. “Blood Runs Cold” and “Breathe a Sigh” are particular favorites. Remember the mid-’90′s were a weird time for bands like Leppard.

    • Doug, I agree with you 100%. I know people in the business (recording engineers, producers, etc.) and Mutt is highly respected amongst his peers.

      Sorry to say, and this is just my opinion, but I think Rick Rubin is highly overrated.

      Cheers,
      Dana from EddieTrunk.com :)

  5. I really think that SLANG is one of those albums that it literally takes 15-20 years after its release to appreciate it. At the time of its release in 1996, it was out of its realm with the music that DL is used to releasing… though it stylistically, it fit with the sign of the times.
    However, it was too big of a departure for DL at the time. I can rationalize with the release coming off the release of Adreanalize that wanting to mature themselves in the music, and theoretically considering it was released after RETROACTIVE (which had a lot of rawer Hysteria leftover tracks), the band thought it would take – but it was too much of a departure for the fan base.

    Though it might have fared better had it been released after the consecutive releases of EUPHORIA, X and SONGS FROM THE SPARKLE LOUNGE…and could’ve been more successful than it was. Although it was not a complete flop for DL, it was a struggle release that alienated a lot of fans up through ADRENALIZE/RETROACTIVE……

  6. Left field? More like a foul ball.
    Do the math, – Steve, – Mutt, + Vivian = Worst Def Leppard album EVER!
    I’m a huge DL fan and was so disappointed with Slang.
    We wait 4-5 years between albums, then get a “different direction”?
    So glad they’ve gotten back on track. Sparkle Lounge is a great album.
    I have pretty much every record, CD, CD Single, Bonus Track, Deluxe Edition, VHS, LD, DVD released by Def Leppard. I have the Japanese CD of Slang with bonus disc. I will pick up the Deluxe Edition of Slang tomorrow from Wal-Mart, since it’s only $10.
    I’ll give it another listen. But, as a DL fan from day one, it was just too drastic a change for me.

  7. flashrockinman says:

    Deliver Me, Burn Out & Blood Runs Cold sound pretty good. A lot of the other tracks sound like stuff you might have found in the bargain bin. Which doesn’t mean it’s bad.

  8. I loved Slang when it came out. Didn’t care too much for Hysteria or Adrenilize. A lot of shred 80′s bands were left not knowing what to do in the 90′s. Even Satriani’s self titled album sounded way different. Loud guitars were out. Oh no, couldn’t have that sound anymore, but I thought Slang was good. Better than X, I must say.

  9. Photo-shop,airbrushed. Vivian is almost as tall as Joe. Joe’s face isn’t falling down as in person.

  10. Dave Balzano says:

    I guess with Dep Leppard, it came down to being identified with a certain sound, for better or worse, and once Pyromania and to an even greater degree, Hysteria broke through to the mainstream, there must have been pressure to repeat themselves with Adrenalize which though good, does sound like a band treading water. Def Leppard, always for one reason or another took several years between releases (back when it was less common) a la Boston, but they always came back with a big hit. With Slang, it was too different for the fans that came along expecting new hits, and by the time they put out the next album, where Mutt Lange produced a few cuts, they had already lost some of their footing. The fact that they accumulated so many classic hits and album cuts is a testament to their talent, but the public is fickle and it seems like people eventually moved on.

  11. Def Leppard’s “worst” album is better than 95% of the material that most bands could come up with on their best day. Of course it wasn’t going to sell 15 million copies in 1996. They knew that. Brilliant album and a fantastic Deluxe Edition treatment.

  12. metalmania says:

    I’m not trying to knock anyone’s taste, we all have our preferences, but I recall not liking Slang because it was too mellow – it has nothing to do with how they recorded it. To be honest I haven’t listened to it in a long time, and I’ll give it another go – maybe I’ll like it more several years later. Here’s the thing – High N’ Dry and Pyromania are two of my favorite albums, they were among the first rock albums I ever got and were a big part of my early musical foundation in the genre. I still love them today. Hysteria was a letdown for me, they started getting soft and continued becoming more “pop” oriented from there. Their direction and my own diverged for quite a long time. I liked some of Retroactive, but did we really need 3 versions of “Two Steps Behind” on it? I think I’ve heard everything they’ve released, actually do own most of it, but I still haven’t liked any of it from start to finish as much as the earlier stuff. I even like On Through The Night more than most material after Pyromania. Don’t get me wrong, there are individual songs in that time that I really like, but I’d have to cherry pick every album to put together one solid full length disc I’d want to listen to again and again. I’ve only heard Sparkle Lounge once or twice, but I do recall thinking it was decent – or at least some of it was. I want Def Leppard to be a hard rock band, I’m just not sure they really are anymore. I’ve said this on this forum before, but I’d really like to hear them just crank up and let it rip on the next album. I doubt it will happen, but going for a modern Pyromania vibe would make me happy. Vivian Campbell played in Dio for goodness sake, c’mon man! Lay down some riffs and a few blazing solos! Forget the country collaborations and mushy ballads, prove that you can still kick some ass!

    • Before Judas Priest became my favorite band, it was Def Leppard. I completely agree with your statement about High N’ Dry and Pyromania. I still love those records as well, but was also disappointed with Hysteria. Although, the album does have a few good songs, it was way too polished and commercialized for me.

      Just like when Judas Priest released Turbo, I was very surprised, to say the least. With time, I have come to appreciate that record. However, when it was released, I couldn’t believe that Judas Priest went “glam,” or at least their interpretation of “glam.” LOL!

      Dana from EddieTrunk.com :)

      • I’ll tell you a funny story. I remember a couple girls in High School who were big Def Leppard fans. Def Leppard played my hometown opening for Blackfoot on the “High ‘n Dry” tour and they went. A year or so later, we heard Pete Willis was fired. One of the girls said “So what, he was ugly anyways!”

        I saw Def Leppard on the Pyromania Tour. I went to see the opener Gary Moore, who unfortunately cancelled. Krokus opened and pretty much was every bit as good, if not better than Def Leppard. Within a month or two of nearly getting upstaged every night, Def Leppard kicked Krokus off the tour. I remember reading an article in Circus Magazine, or one of the rock mags that corroborated that.

        • What town is this? You had BLACKFOOT, GARY MOORE, KROKUS, & HIGH ‘N’ DRY era DEF LEPPARD. That is some pretty awesome variety there sir. If I stumble upon a time machine, I know where I am headed. My high school that my dad paid a flipping fortune for had nuns playing acoustic guitars and guys doing rap-offs in the cafeteria. Truth be told, my rapping is still very good ’till this day, though I’m not much of a fan of rap music. I’ll say this about Pete Willis wherever that bloke is, he is most likely wearing a shirt. The band made the right switch, but he has on a shirt on.

          • ..has on a shirt. Sorry.

          • Def Leppard toured a lot for High ‘N Dry! And Blackfoot toured a lot in those days. The Blackfoot/Def Lep show is also in Eddie’s 1st book – you can see a stub from the tour. I think Def Lep might have even opened for Billy Squire in 1982 as well. I saw Krokus with Ted in 1981 (actually I think Blackfoot was 2nd on that bill.) Then Def Lep with Krokus in 1983. So the Def Lep/Krokus show (with Gary Moore cancelling) was for Pyromania. Then Def Lep played with Blackfoot in 1982 I believe. The shows I saw were in my hometown of Rochester NY.

        • Def Leppard booted Krokus off the tour because Marc Storace was stealing Joe Elliott’s stage raps and they were taking too many liberties as an opening band. With all due respect to Krokus (a fine band), they certainly didn’t cross over into multi-platinum territory – even after the massive exposure Leppard gave them. And they didn’t blow Def Lep off the stage every night. After Headhunter, their record label wanted Krokus to be more Leppard-like, but singles like “Burning Up The Night” ranks as some of the weakest pop metal garbage I’ve ever heard.

          • Krokus went over great – like I said, I was there. I saw then in 1981 too, opening for Ted Nugent. They were definitely on the cusp of breaking things wide open. Who replaced Krokus on the Def Leppard tour? I liked the Krokus tune “Winning Man” from 1980 I believe. Never a huge fan, but they were great at the time.

            Stealing a stage rap won’t hurt a headliner. Stealing their audience will definitely hurt a headliner. If that’s what the Leppard camp said, I don’t buy it. I’m sure Def Leppard learned their lesson about how good an opener can be when they opened for other bands.

      • Yeah, I’ll say it: TURBO is an awesome album. I’ve been going to TURBO support groups for twenty-seven years and take it from me, it doesn’t ever get easier. High School, College,first job, career, home life. I’ve been shunned all of this time because I like WILD NIGHTS, HOT AND CRAZY DAYS and ROCK YOU ALL AROUND THE WORLD. But after all of these years, on this beautiful website someone else listens to PARENTAL GUIDANCE. I no longer feel as though I’m out in the cold. Granted opening up during a DEF LEPPARD discussion is baby steps, but you are not alone DANA. The Metal God is with us. I had it on cassette and CD bought it twice and got stared but I got my fill of TURBO and WE CAN RACE FOREVER………………

        • LOL!!! Wild Nights, Hot and Crazy Days is one my favorite songs on that album too. But as a Priest purist, in 1986 and with only one album separating it from my all time favorite Priest album, Screaming for Vengeance, that record was sacrilege. As I said, with time, I have learned to like and appreciate Turbo.

          Dana from EddieTrunk.com :)

          • All I will say is this…Out in the Cold is still one of their coolest tracks, even with the guitar synth intro. It had me ‘Locked In’ from the very start.

  13. Sorry, RACE TOGETHER, RIDE FOREVER…..Caught up in the moment. I’m going to the gym now and my TURBO filled IPOD is coming with me. Once more, TURBO is a great, classic album.

  14. flashrockinman says:

    I totally agree about Turbo. It was cool however to hear Turbo Lover live on the Resurrection tour. Something about the 80s. Pyromania still sounds awesome. Work It Out (1st Draft) is another cool one off the Slang reissue, although that’s 90s. I also like DL’s recent rerecording of Switch 625.

    • You have courage FLASHROCKINMAN. God be with you. As recently as 2 months ago at work a guy said to me: YOU LIKE TURBO, IT F#$KNG SUCKS. He had to be emphatic about the way he said SUCKS too. My strong like of TURBO has been following me like a curse for 2/3s of my life. I know now that I am not alone as 2 brave and couraged people have come forward now, stepped and joined me. YOU ARE MY BROTHER AND SISTER. My 15 minute commute to work will include: LOCKED IN and PRIVATE PROPERTY mixed in with ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION. WE ARE DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH.

  15. Screaming. Unleashed. British steel. Point of entry. Sad wings. Then turbo

    • Todd,

      I think I might slip Hell Bent for Leather and Defenders of the Faith in there before Turbo.

      Dana from EddieTrunk.com :)

      • metalmania says:

        I’m glad to hear there’s some love for Turbo out there. Locked In is my favorite from that one, and Turbo Lover is a cool song. That one’s kind of the “happy, partying Priest” album. I don’t mind a band trying to add some different textures to their sound, as long as their identity doesn’t get lost. Somewhere In Time is one of my favorite Iron Maiden albums, synths and all, because the songs were great, but it still sounds like Maiden. Turbo may not be the best Priest album (that honor belongs to Screaming For Vengeance for me), but it’s still a metal album. Your parents still didn’t want to hear you cranking it up, whereas I think there were some songs on Hysteria that my mom was like “Oh that’s a nice song, why don’t you learn to play THAT one on your guitar?”

        • Totally agree on Somewhere in Time. To date my second fave after Piece of Mind. Wasted Years is still one of my all time favourites.

      • What was I thinking. Thanks for correcting me. Delivering the goods is one of my favorites. I’m getting old. Thanks.

    • British Steel
      Screamin
      Defenders
      Point Of Entry
      Angel of Retribution
      Unleashed in the East (does that count?)
      Hell Bent for Leather

  16. Scott McGee says:

    Turbo is an awesome album. Not a typical Priest album, to be sure, but awesome nevertheless. I would guess it took a lot of courage for them to even make it. Out in the Cold is just epic, in my opinion.

    • Agreed Mr McGee – Out in the Cold is still one of their best IMO. I’ve had it on every Ipod device I’ve ever owned. I remember seeing them on that tour and they opened with it, sent chills down my spine.

  17. True story

    Always a Leppard fan I bought “Slang” when it came out and took it to a party. Put on the title track and people were dancing, saying they liked the song, who is this? When they found out it was Def Leppard they looked at me like I had broken wind in front of the Queen. Some complained that it didn’t sound like Pyromania / Hysteria but most were like, ugh… an 80′s band. Funny because 3 years later on the Eurphoria tour, Def Leppard (and 80’s nostalgia) was cool and they couldn’t wait to see them.

    Funny how great art gets lost in crappy marketing trends and what the sheep will swallow… I’ll have to pick it up and give it another listen.

    • Lorne,

      Your statement about marketing trends, and the people that blindly follow them, was extremely astute and accurate.

      Dana from EddieTrunk.com :)

  18. Raising a hand for the minority club, Slang is my favorite Def Leppard album (and i’ll be picking up the deluxe edition when I can). Something about the album vibe just keeps me putting it back on. Wasn’t old enough to pick up High & Dry when it was released (ahem, sorry…), but to me Slang feels “real” in the same way a lot of fans seem to relate to High & Dry / Pyromania. Maybe it’s just the “music of your youth” thing??!! Still not going to retire Hysteria tho either – plenty of good music on the entire back catalogue there to rock out to.
    And I still use Breathe a Sigh (with some heavier stuff) to test new speakers… let’s see how much it buzzes when I turn it up to here….. the top and bottom end of that guitar intro is a breaker!

  19. Get Mutt and deliver in ’14.

  20. I must say when Slang came out I was not to thrilled at first. I wanted something different from the Leppards. Something that did not sound like the last two albums Hysteria and Adrenalize. I grew up on High n Dry and Pryo. so I was looking for harder sound from them. I put Slang a way and came back to it months later. Don’t know what happened, but Slang was growing on me. Now my favs. are High n Dry and Slang. The only song from Pyro. that I really like is Comin under fire. I guess because of the radio over played their music back in the day. Slang is different darker heaver. Yes they could have improved on some of the songs on Slang, but I’ll take it. Now the albums after slang imo are ok. I don’t hate them, but none of them are on my play list. I read comments about how Slang has to many slow songs on them. I have one thing to say. Take another listen to X and tell me how my slow songs are on album. Def Leppard needs to change. You keep putting out the same sound it gets old. Like I said my opinion.

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