Kris Engelhart of Backstage Axxess recently conducted an interview with DEF LEPPARD and LAST IN LINE guitarist Vivian Campbell. You can listen to the full chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the current state of his health after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2013:
Vivian: "I am still doing treatment. I've been doing immunotherapy. I've been doing it for almost two years now. It's the latest and greatest in medical science. I'm taking a drug called pembrolizumab, which is a monocle antibody, the same stuff that cured [former president] Jimmy Carter's melanoma. All good. I'm happy to say that's the least of my concerns."
On achieving the "DIO-era" feel on LAST IN LINE's debut album, 2016's "Heavy Crown":
Vivian: "It came naturally. There was nothing premeditated about it. We approached writing and recording that record in the same way that we had recorded the early DIO records with Ronnie [James Dio]. We just tried to keep it very simple, very organic. When I play that kind of music and when I play with Vinny Appice [drums] and with [deceased original bassist] Jimmy Bain, that's the sound we make. The only difference is the singer. Andrew [Freeman] is very different from Ronnie. He's got a whole different tonality in his voice. But he's a very powerful singer like Ronnie was. He can sing on top of the racket we make. We tried to keep it really simple. We just went in and wrote songs exactly the same way we did for 'Holy Diver'. We just go in and kick around some riffs and Ronnie would come in and sing a melody on top then we'd go record it. It sounds very straightforward because that's how it was. That's exactly the approach we took with the 'Heavy Crown' record. We're very pleased with the results. There is a sound musicians have individually and collectively and when you put the components together, that creates the sound of the band. The original DIO band just had that certain sound."
On whether LAST IN LINE will continue playing DIO songs live:
Vivian: "Absolutely. We did a bunch of shows in Europe in November and December last year. We really honed the set. We really got it to where the band was really on form. We're happy to say the 'Heavy Crown' songs that we do play and we do like to feature a lot of that record–the band is a new band and it's vital we perform the new music — but it fits in very well with the early DIO classics. It's a seamless transition that way. We obviously really enjoy playing that. It's fun to play it alongside the songs from 'Heavy Crown'."
On classic rock and metal bands not releasing new music:
Vivian: "I think it's sad on one hand because no matter how good your new music is, it's almost impossible to get it to people's ears. It's never going to have the ubiquity classic rock has. Radio doesn't exist in the same way it used to back in the '80s or even the '90s. That support structure is no longer there to bring new music to people's ears. Rock radio is stuck in a rut of playing classics, mostly terrestrial rock radio and commercial radio. There's not really that support system for new music. I can see how many, many classic rock bands wouldn't be motivated to bother. But I personally believe it's vital for the integrity of the band. It's fun to exercise the muscle. If you don't exercise it, you use it or lose it. I do think it's important, even if it's a personal exercise in futility. That ethos is shared with all the guys in LAST IN LINE and with DEF LEPPARD. It's always been important with Joe [Elliott, vocals] in particular in DEF LEPPARD that we continue to put out new music just because it validates our existence as creative musicians and as creative humans."
On DEF LEPPARD's upcoming North American tour with POISON:
Vivian: "This is really just an extension of last summer's tour in many ways. We normally do a tour in the summer. The summer is the time that most bands take it on the road in America. We've done that for the past several years. We had significant interest after last summer where promoters wanted to continue the tour but we weren't able to at that time, hence, doing it this way. It's a different kind of approach. We're going indoors on a lot of these shows. Normally in the summer you play the amphitheaters and the outside places. We're going indoors, not on all of these shows, but the majority of them are indoor arena shows. It actually is better for your production when you play indoors. It makes it a little more vibrant. It is different from last summer's tour in as far as we have POISON with us and we still have TESLA, but the middle act has changed, so that will make it a little different."
"Heavy Crown" was released on February 19, 2016 via Frontiers Music Srl. The CD was recorded at a Santa Clarita, California studio with producer Jeff Pilson, a veteran bassist who has played with DIO, FOREIGNER, DOKKEN and T&N, among others.
DEF LEPPARD's co-headlining tour with POISON and special guest TESLA will kick off on April 8 in Manchester, New Hampshire and will wrap on June 25 in Indianapolis, Indiana.