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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.
Erwin Musper Hysteria Album Engineer Audio Interview

Sunday, 2nd March 2014

Hysteria 1987.

Engineer/Producer Erwin Musper who worked on Def Leppard's Hysteria album has been interviewed by In Search Of A Song and the audio is available.

Erwin talked about his time working with Mutt Lange at Wisseloord Studios in Holland giving an insight into how detailed the work was. Erwin spent almost three years there working on the album. He was also credited for songs that were later released as B-Sides and on the 1993 'Retro-Active' compilation.

Listen to the full one hour show via the link. Erwin's parts about Lep are at 20mins (3mins section) and then for the last 20 mins starting at 41mins in. PSSOM, Animal and Love Bites are also played in full.

In Search Of A Song - Erwin Musper Interview Quotes

Rick Allen Recovery/Drumming

"Actually I was right in the middle of it. And it was not the only accident that - Mutt Lange the producer, he got into a car accident and ended up in the hospital. And he gave me directions from the hospital. I drove to the hospital at 10am in the morning and he said well today we need to this, this, this and this can you do that for me and let me hear the results in his bed at the hospital the next day. The same thing when it happened to the drummer. Of course it happened while we had a little break cause it was New Year's Eve. Between Christmas and New Year I don't think we worked and we just heard it but everyone came back and we were in shock but we never stopped because the drummer he vowed to be able to play drums. And as he soon as he got discharged from the hospital and they kind of developed a drum kit that would work for him where his left foot was the snare on the pedal. So while he was doing that we were still working on songs with a drum computer just to get other stuff done and the moment that he was able to lay down drum takes."

"We had that electronic drum kit set up and we were kind of - we started again where we left off. The only difference with before it was an acoustic kit and after that of course it was an electronic kit. And we had the Fairlight computer which is a 200,000 dollar computer that no one understood except one guy they flew in from England and he recorded that into the Fairlight which was a 16 track recorder you know the very first digital idea where you could do editing. So that it was ended up on the record. The electronic version and actually all the recordings, definitely the bulk of before the accident eventually it was thrown out. That's why it took us three years to finish that production."

"But there was not one day that these guys said well we need a drummer they were almost like brothers. You know there was not like one talk of - it was impossible to think he would not be in the band any more. And I remember back when we were almost done with the album they played a gig in Germany - Nurburg Ring or something (actually Nuremberg) huge outdoor festival and I think that was the very first time that he played live with his electronic kit and he was a I don't know happened but it must have been a magic moment for 100,000 people. But normally you have your right foot on the kick drum and your left foot on the high hat so now he has left foot on the pedal that hits a trigger for the snare. So every snare you hear is a left foot thing and he had another pad so he could do some rolls you know with his right hand he could do that and he got very, very good at that. So in the end it didn't - maybe it was almost like the end result is even better than we expected."

Mutt Lange Production Method

"And there was some morbid jokes like the producer Mutt Lange said Hey Rick when I told you to play cymbals I didn't tell you to take your arm off. So in the end you know it was very, very much a close knit family. I remember I think in February of '86 or something I hardly went home because we were facing that deadline that got closer and closer. So I took a nap for two hours on the couch and then the producer took a nap and then we went back at it so we had the studio 24 hours a day. And at one point I remember - I don't how familiar you are with how Mutt Lange works but he works like - we EQ'd every single syllable of the vocal. So if you have - let's say I have two parametric EQ's and a fader so the original vocal track went through those EQ's and then to a fader to another track. So he told me oh we'll do this line called I'm coming home, if he hits the k of coming. I want you to give it a little bit of 5 point 6 kHz and the moment he goes into the O of coming you have to dub 2 kHz you know so I did that while playing back from one track of the line so until I got it right and he said and while you're doing that as soon as he hits the first hit of coming he would hit the fader so the K would be a little louder. So we did that - it meant like after one line of lyric , maybe two lines, it took us four hours!. We really had to go outside the studio to catch our breath go back in - next line, can you believe that?."

"And another thing is that every single note of the bass was a different track. So all the A's and the G's and the G-Sharp, whatever it was a different track and all the slides from one to the other - a different track because Mutt wanted to be able to EQ every single different note. And think that with all the guitars, with everything - that's why it took so long and I thought he is crazy. Up until a certain point when he said Do you hear it? and I started to hear it. And I heard stuff you know as deep as going into that sonic idea that he had. Suddenly I understood that and even though it is ridiculous it made sense and that's why that record you know when it came out that was a mind blowing record for every other studio. That one was on every console as a reference for I don't know for how long. And I still take ideas from that into my production. I don't go that deep but you know you can take oh that's nice I can EQ a verse different than a chorus and maybe take care of this. So I'll take hints of it but back then we did stuff that was actually only possible 20 years later in Pro Tools."