DEF LEPPARD's PHIL COLLEN On The True Meaning Of The Song HYSTERIA
Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen has been interviewed for a lengthy one hour podcast with the full audio available.
Phil spoke to John Brenkus for The Brink Of Midnight podcast.
Phil talked about how he and Sav wrote Hysteria, recording guitar parts, Love Bites, PSSOM, Animal, Rocket, Armageddon It, playing live, discovering music/singing, first guitar, starting in music, first record deal, work ethic, Rick Allen, Girl, joining Def Leppard, Mutt Lange, the Hysteria album, Def Leppard's style, peer pressure, health/fitness, finding something you love to do, playing songs live, Photograph/band image/videos, writing Hysteria/Animal, being open-minded/influences, turning tragedies into positives, his spiritual beliefs, his healthy lifestyle, Omaze charity, the Diamond Awards in 1999 and recent success.
He spoke at length about the making of the Hysteria album and many of it's biggest songs.
And...once more Phil tells his Love Bites story (someone please tell him...they played itbefore it went to #1...).
Listen to the full one hour interview below.
Visit thesection for more news on new music (based on band member quotes).
The Brink Of Midnight - Phil Collen Interview Quotes
How Hysteria Was Written
"Rick Savage, our bass player, came to me while we were in Dublin. One like Sunday afternoon and said: 'Here I've got this idea for a song, it's kind of got this guita riff it goes...' Which I said well I've got this other part that goes. But I started singing along to his part straight away so I went. 'Out of touch, out of reach yeah. You could try to get closer to me'. And then the next part I had it went. 'I gotta know tonight. If you're alone tonight. Can't stop this feeling. Can't stop this fire.' And this there's a lot of people they go: 'Well Def Leppard didn't you record a string at a time?' That section we did. Mutt said no we want it to have it's own unique sound. So I'd track it up god knows how many times. And my friend came into the studio while I was doing that. Me and Mutt were the only ones in the studio and he was going: 'What are you doing?'. And we're trying to create this sound. So next time you hear that there's 16 guitars just doing...and obviously we play it like that live. But we did separate so you could hear the clarity of the notes. So it sounded like a guitar, not like a guitar but like a key board but it sounded different enough."
"And then we presented that to the rest of the band and everyone got inspired. Joe, Mutt Lange and Steve Clark. So what happened there. But that part we broke down - so when you mix all that together...so we can only choose a couple of those things. There's only two guitar players. So there's all of this stuff going off in this massive kind of chorus."
"Another one, here's a funny story just really quickly, Love Bites. That had so many guitar parts in it and we never played it together as a band. It was a pure studio song. Our only Billboard Number One single actually. Anyway it goes on and it's got this big chorus. It goes to this bridge section There's all these millions of guitar parts and millions of vocals. the song goes to Number One and we've never played it before. So we're in Vancouver like crap, we better learn this song. So on the chorus there's this thing going off. So that's a prominent part. So we do that. So I play and Steve's going. We simplify it all but we was so petrified. We took this rehearsal room in and we're trying to learn these things and singing and playing some of this stuff is really hard. And I can't even do it right now I'd have to...I need the rest of the band. We rehearsed it for two days straight. We were petrified and then we played it in Vancouver for the first time. ."
"Well the first riff. Country music is Mutt Lange's favourite thing and he came in after Joe had been going: 'Got this thing Pour Some Sugar On Me'. And he said OK let's make it almost like a Hip Hop thing. And there was this country lick that Mutt played. And he plays with his fingers and it was. And I couldn't do that back then. I couldn't play with my fingers or anything and I said I can't do that. And I use metal picks. And he said do your thing. How would you play it and I said well I'd play that like. And then it's got this thing it has gaps. Mutt said we need gaps so you can hear hear the snare drum. That's the riff. The temptation is to play along more but we don't do that. You just leave this gap for the snare drum. And all this space and this kind of Hip Hop style vocal meter that goes over the top. And that, when we did that Mutt said you gotta do that bare voice. That kind of screaming. And I said well it hurts and he said yeah but it sounds great you gotta do that. So we ended up all of these things that you wouldn't normally do. You know normally I'd of backed off for a little bit. Would've played through the thing, but it was kinda special. It had all these gaps and spaces and it was rhythmic. It had a great groove and it had a melody and it was a kind of silly subject. It didn't really mean anything but everyone interpreted it as about sex. You know Pour Some Sugar On Me. Wink wink nudge nudge. You know it's like, but it didn't really mean that initially."
"Animal. So the first incarnation of that one, I forget exactly what it was but once Joe had done the lead vocal again we re-wrote the song around it. And we had this tiny little amp, not much bigger than this and we just demoed it and we cranked it up and obviously before all of this stuff. And the beginning of it goes. And we tried to get these, Andy Summers from the The Police, like on Walking On The Moon. And we couldn't get the sound. So we were really disappointed in this sound we're getting, but like everything else it's too late. We end up keeping the demo guitars on this tiny little amp. This Gallien-Krueger and Steve's playing a tiny Rockman and we actually keep the original guitar. And we obviously added to it doing tons more. But we kept the original spirit of it. And then that's got so many different parts in. And it was our first Top Ten hit in England as well so that was kinda cool."
"Well all of the songs on that album were really special and they were combined efforts, all of them. You know because you'd come up with.... like Joe said: 'I've got this kind of Burundi tribe rhythm'. And we kind of done a version of it and then I play this really quirky thing, this is Rocket, you wouldn't have normally. Normally it would've have been on a band like The Cure or something. And the song actually is about all of our influences, even namechecks them. It's like Benny And The Jets an Elton John song and the videos got Marc Bolan and T. Rex and David Bowie. It's got all of that stuff and that's really what inspired us as youngsters. So the song is huge drums, these crazy big drums. You know very manly ROCKET!. Testosterone kind of working man's chorus thing. It's like this weird thing and it's got all the elements. It's a great pop song. It's a bit quirky but it means so much more and that was one of the things. You feel like you've discovered something. Like that thing and Mutt Lange, like I said, he was there for all of it and he's like well that's great and don't over do it. Don't overstate it. Let's make it special and it was just great the way it... and it was inspiring to do that."
Hysteria Guitar Solo
"And me or Vivian will mess that up. The simpler the tune or the melody the easier it is to mess up. Me and Steve used to mess...one of us every night will mess that up. I'm amazed I didn't just then because it's so simple and it's like oh wow. It's so easy to go...and then you're off and then it's like Oh!. But the simple melodies are the hardest."
"And Armageddon It was just a working title. It didn't really mean anything and I'm a getting it. Again nudge nudge wink wink yeah you know. But it's not, it's about whatever you want it to be about. It's a fun rock song and we were very influenced by Glam rock. Bowie, T. Rex and that and it's got full on. but it's the groove thing. And again you know we actually didn't have time to finish it off and that was just a working part in the song and it just got left and the song was kind of finished and we said that's fine. That's not a deal breaker. I think you have to do that with songs as well. Like you know if you go I'm struggling and verse three has this line I don't like. It's not a deal breaker. If it's a chorus then it means something else. then it's a deal breaker."
Like T. Rex
"Yeah with the melodies. We always said that our band. The blueprint was crossing Queen with AC/DC. And then looking different enough that you'd fit in with the Duran Duran kind of crowd or something with MTV and all of that."
Hysteria Album Story
"It's our signature sound and that was the thing/ So I'm writing on this record as well. So I'm bringing a different flavour to the writing process as well and vocals and all of this stuff. But Mutt Lange started it with us and he said look I have to do this Cars album. Which was Heartbreat City the one with Drive on it and all of that. So he was committed to do that and he said you should probably, if we get the songs right you get a producer in and finish it off. So we tried that and it was an abysmal failure. So we were trying all this stuff in Holland and it's costing a fortune in these studios. Which we learnt a lot from obviously and he'd finished the Cars album and he was ready to come back and we said oh thank god!. We done it in about nine months after he returned and then it was inspiring."
"And technology had moved on and we used these different kind of influences. You know rap was really becoming popular and PSSOM was based on rap vocal meter and The Police and just different kind of flavours that other rock bands didn't do and these really over the top vocals you know like Queen but done in a different kind of way. So we had all of these kind of amazing directions to go in without making it gratuitous. It still had to have groove and melody and have that which was always the foundation of the songs. But it was an incredible process. And again you're learning all this stuff all the time. You know more today than you did before."
Finishing Hysteria/Guitar Style
"When we were finishing it it did. And again you know I've gotta give credit to Mutt because he wrote all the songs with us. The sound was his idea. He said let's push it out and me and Steve Clark developed this double guitar kind of orchestration. Every other rock band it'd be a rhythm guitar and a lead player. We're like no we can do multiple things like an orchestra. You know the strings doing one part. You'd have something chugging away. You'd have a counter rhythm there and a melody there that weaves in and out. So we'd be doing all this on two guitars. Which is...you've only got 24 tracks. We overdubbed like crazy, it was nuts. So there was no limit to where you could go. And when anyone said you're not gonna be able to do it live. We said we don't care we wanna make a great record You know Queen never said that when they was doing Bohemian Rhapsody and that was the...we took that pointer."
Hysteria Song meaning
"Hysteria's wonderful. It's the title of our biggest selling album. It means more than what it did when we initially wrote it. Even lyrically 'cause it turned into something else as it was coming out. And it was a real group effort that one. It was fantastic how that came about."
"So we were writing songs in Dublin, Ireland and that's where we kind of set up base you know after the Pyromania tour. Rick Savage said Oh I've got this little idea and he went. Wow great. He started playing it, I said hang on a minute. I've got something else but do that again and I just went. 'Out of touch, out of reach yeah. You can try to get closer to me'. And I had that section. So we had this part we played it to our friends, before we played it to the band, they're like wow that's so cool, what's that?. We're like don't know it's this new thing. Then we play it to Joe, Mutt and Steve Clark. Steve comes up with a thing straight away. they all come up with something. It inspires them to come up with something else. So before we know it we've got this song."
Title/Meaning Of Hysteria Song
"And Rick, we were struggling for ages and the title didn't come until way later. And he said what about Hysteria as a title of the album?. And we went great OK let's do that. We went through millions of different stupid titles like you do. And so later on we had this song finished and we needed a chorus and Mutt said well let's use Hysteria and let's tie it in. So it sounds like, the song actually sounds like it's, you know, a relationship. A corny thing it could be that. It could be that but it's more about finding enlightenment and actually that moment it's Hysteria. It's Hysterical you know when you get that feeling better start believing. It's that."
Buy 'CD/Vinyl Collection: Volume 1' Online
Buy 'Hysteria 30th Anniversary Edition' Online
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