DEF LEPPARD’S PHIL COLLEN ON “SLANG”: “IT WAS [OUT OF] LEFT FIELD FOR US”
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.
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.
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.
Your statement about marketing trends, and the people that blindly follow them, was extremely astute and accurate.
Dana from EddieTrunk.com 🙂
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!
Get Mutt and deliver in ’14.
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.