Def Leppard released their twelfth full-length album, Diamond Star Halos, on May 27 via UMe. It marks the band’s first new work since 2015’s chart-topping self-titled, Def Leppard.
Frontman Joe Elliott and guitarist Phil Collen spoke with Steve Baltin at Forbes about the making of the album. An excerpt from the interview is availavble below.
Baltin: What was the biggest thing that you took away from this time that you want to incorporate into Def Leppard going forward?
Collen: “As for touring, we started as a live band. We are always so proud of the fact that we really sing it. It’s the backing. You really play. It’s our songs. We present it in such a way. Me and Joe have always been fans of other bands, whether it was Queen or whoever it was. KISS even, with the show, Rush. You would take some of these elements and put them in them, the lasers and all of this stuff. So we still got that ferocious fire burning for us to do that stuff. So, that’s still there, and I think by the fact that we’ve had all this grace period of actually being able to do what we wanted artistically, when we get out on tour, it’s gonna be ridiculous because like I said, we are a live band. That’s what we really are. We’ve been able to grow as studio musicians, however you want to say it, so that we can feed this habit of being a live band, which now we’re doing on a very much larger scale than we did before. So all of it has been pretty amazing. Most bands don’t get to this stage. And at this age, they get stale or they sound tired. We’re the absolute opposite. We’ve learned so much from bands like the Stones and just our favorite bands being out there and we’ve just applied it all. So when we get out on tour, it’s gonna be pretty amazing, I think.”
Baltin: One of the things at the Vegas residency was the fact that you got to mix things up, and do things that you would normally do. Do you feel, looking back on it now, that having that opportunity to play some of the acoustic stuff in there, made you more comfortable exploring that side on this album?
Elliott: “Yeah, I think what we allowed to come in and seep into our DNA on this record was openness, trust. When I said to Phil, ‘I’ve got three songs,’ I would have said it differently if we were in the same room. I might have felt a little more intimidated to say that because generally we don’t go, ‘Okay, then let’s see the room.’ There was none of that. We just trusted each other that when Phil said, ‘I’ve got this song that I’ve written on the ukulele.’ It may have got a bit of an eyebrow raised 18 months ago or 10 years ago, five years ago. But the fact is that, I’d heard him playing the ukulele when we were in Vegas, and I knew where he was going with it, and it was more of a Queen, Zeppelin thing rather than some comical vaudeville instrument attempt to a song or whatnot. And my piano stuff, again, it’s not what we normally do. But if you’ve got a song that everybody thinks is undeniable, doesn’t really matter (if) you play on a ukulele, you start it on a piano. Some of the greatest rock songs that we love feature a piano, whether it be Queen or Bowie or The Stones or McCartney or The Beatles or whoever. It’s an integral part, it’s just not an integral part of our past. Very often, we’ve used the piano on maybe three songs in our history, and all of a sudden we had two on one record here. But we were sensible enough to use our fandom, if you like. When it came to writing on a piano, for me it’s not easy, it’s fun. And it’s a challenge but it’s a good challenge. But the actual playing is a little rudimentary.”
Read the complete interview here.
The artwork for Diamond Star Halos is art in itself. The design follows pedigree with their instantly recognizable album covers from their celebrated past. With images by world renowned photographer and director Anton Corbijn, styling concepts by Maryam Malakpour and graphics by the UK based Munden Brothers, the design truly follows the band’s influence through their eyes today.
Written by the band over the past two years it features 15 tracks including the anthemic, stadium-ready singles “Kick” and “Fire It Up”, with guest vocals from Alison Krauss on “This Guitar” and “Lifeless”. The album title references T. Rex’s “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” with nods to T.Rex, David Bowie and Mott The Hoople across the album, which mixes the sound of their classic spirit with modern fire.
Diamond Star Halos can be ordered in multiple configurations, including a Deluxe Edition, 2LP Vinyl, Digital formats and more. Exclusive bundles including newly designed album merch have also launched. Order at the band’s official store, here.
“Take What You Want”
“Fire It Up”
“This Guitar” (featuring Alison Krauss)
“U Rok Mi”
“Goodbye For Good This Time”
“All We Need”
“Open Your Eyes”
“Gimme A Kiss”
“Angels (Can’t Help You Now)”
“Lifeless” (featuring Alison Krauss)
“From Here To Eternity”
“Take What You Want” lyric video:
(Band Photo – Anton Corbijn)