Why did it take so long for you guys to
release a live album?
Vivian Campbell: It’s well known that it takes
forever for Def Leppard to make a record.
Phil Collen: [Laughs.] This is true. It’s
been that cycle of album, tour, album, tour.
Traditionally, when you’re with a major
label they’re not really fond of you doing a
live album because, historically, they don’t
sell as well as a studio album.
Campbell: We were always focused on
making studio albums and didn’t have the
time to focus on anything else. Between
tours, we’d take some time off, write
some songs, and be back in the studio.
We’ve always done that, and we’ve always
wanted to keep moving forward that way.
In fact, we didn’t actually record Mirror
Ball specifically to release as a live album.
We just started to archive it. In the old
days, when you did a live album you had
to get a mobile truck and it was big and
expensive—and it was just one show.
There was all the pressure and red-light
fever—“Oh my God! I better get this
right, it’s going on a record forever!” We
didn’t have any of that because we were
just doing our shows.
The technology nowadays is cheap,
affordable, and portable enough that all
you need is a laptop, some software, and a
bunch of hard drives. Basically, we started
recording every night, and we did that all
over the 2008–2009 tour. It also takes the
pressure off the band, because you forget
you’re being recorded. The hardest part was
actually going through the material and
deciding what the best performances were.
We left it to Joe [Elliott, vocals] to figure
out which night he sang best on a certain
song. He has the hardest gig, being the lead
singer. The human voice wears down more
than my fingers.
Campbell with a sparkle-finished Les Paul equipped with a DiMarzio Super 3 in the bridge position.
What were some of the interesting things
you noticed while going through the tracks?
Campbell: Our tempos are so consistent
that we could literally splice the front half of
a song from one night, and the second half
from another night, and put them together.
You would never know the difference.
Collen: We’re very precise in that way.
So does that mean there aren’t any mis-
takes on the record?
Collen: [Laughs.] I’ve got a few mistakes
on there. I heard a couple of bum notes
and bad chords. I like the fact that I get to
do that on a live album. We left mistakes
on Hysteria and Pyromania. I remember
going to [producer] Mutt Lange and say-
ing, “Hey—that chord!” He’s like, “Yeah,
yeah—it sounds great!” It’s kind of funny,
because everyone thinks he’s such a per-
fectionist, but it’s actually the vibe he goes
for. That’s more important than getting all
nitpicky. If it’s got character, it deserves to
be on the record. [ Turns to Campbell] How
close do you stick to Steve Clark’s guitar
Campbell: Pretty close. Not 100 percent,
note-for-note, but certainly 90-something
percent. His parts weren’t guitar solos per
se. They were very much a part of the
song—very melodic, very thematic. I think
it would be an injustice to the song if I
were to go way off and do my own thing.
And yet you can still hear your Vivian
Campbell-ness on the record—even
though you’re playing someone else’s parts.
Campbell: [Laughs.] Thank you. I play
heavier than Steve did. When I take the