DEF LEPPARD's JOE ELLIOTT/PHIL COLLEN On DIAMOND STAR HALOS Album Concept/Sessions
Def Leppard members Joe Elliott and Phil Collen were interviewed about the new Diamond Star Halos album and discussed its concept and the recording sessions.
'Diamond Star Halos' is the band's 12th studio album.
it will be released on Friday 27th May 2022.
Joe and Phil appeared live on Talkshoplive's The Rock N Roll Channel with host Steve Harkins at 7pm ET/12am UK last night to talk about the new 'Diamond Star Halos' album.
As you can see (if you recognise it) the interview was conducted from Mates Studios in Burbank, California where the band usually rehearse.
Joe and Phil (but mostly Joe...) talked about making the album, the Diamond Star Halos album title, 70s musical influence, remote recording, album songs, Rick Allen's accident/recovery, Phil's Deep Purple gig story, Mick Ronson, The Stadium tour and going back on tour.
Watch the 1 hour 12 minute video interview below.
Starting The Album In 2020
Joe and Phil talked about how the album's initial sessions began due to the first lockdown in March 2020.
Album Title/Marc Bolan
They also explained in detail how the album title came about and how the 70s sound and in particular Marc Bolan/T. Rex influenced the songs and lyrics.
Joe said it was initially called 'Diamond Star Halo before an extra S was suggested to them'.
Joe explained that while not a traditional 'concept' album, the record has a certain sound that can be called a concept as the songs all fit well together.
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Joe Elliott/Phil Collen/TalkshopLive - May 2022 Interview Quotes - (Transcribed by dltourhistory)
Seven Years Since Last Studio Album
Joe Elliott - "Yeah it's a funny one really because we weren't planning on making an album until lockdown."
Phil Collen - "We were forced into it yeah."
Joe Elliott - "But at the same time, had it not been for the fact that the pandemic lasted so long it would have been out last year. So it would only have been a six year break."
Joe Elliott - "But it probably would have been eight years if we hadn't have had the pandemic in the first place."
Phil Collen - "Yeah absolutely."
Joe Elliott - "You know so it' a really strange situation that we found ourselves in but glad to have it done and out there."
Who came up with the artwork?/Album Title
Joe Elliott - "Well Phil came up with the title. We'd been flapping around for a while of what to call the album. A couple got rejected. Some never even made it past first base. But then he just went 'Oh sod it let's just call it Diamond Star Halo'."
Joe Elliott - "Which is a phrase that we use quite often to explain a lyric atyle. Or an era in time. You know Diamond Star Halo is a - it's the part line out of the song Bang A Gong by T. Rex. Which were the band themselves were a huge influence on us."
Joe Elliott - "And the 70s was a recurring theme on the way that the songs were developing on the album. So as soon as he said it."
Joe Elliott - "I'll never forget this. We were all on a conference call. Not on Zoom, just phone. And when he said 'Oh let's just call it Diamond Star Halo'. There was silence for about six or seven seconds. And you could almost hear everybody's cogs going round."
Joe Elliott - "And then there was this collective 'Yeah that's great!'. And then somebody suggested we pluralise Halo with Halos. And boom we had it you know."
Joe Elliott - "And from there onwards it kind of started - it led us down the path for the artwork didn't it."
Phil Collen - "Absolutely."
Joe Elliott - "I think I said - I keep seeing tattoos. Not Popeye the sailor man type things on a big muscley arm. But some kind of tarot card tattoo thing and we just expanded from there you know. And we got Olly Mundun. Part of the team The Mundun Brothers."
Joe Elliott - "They were a suggestion from the label in fairness, Universal. And they said we really like these guys. And we were very open to engage with anybody with positive suggestions. Didn't have to come from us."
Joe Elliott - "And they started bouncing a few ideas round and when they sent the roughs over. Even though they said look these are real basic ideas we could see that there was a little spark there. It's like yeah we're going in the right direction here."
Joe Elliott - "So we let them get on with it and they came up with a fantastic sleeve."
Diamond Star Halos Title
Phil Collen - "Not even slightly. Me and Joe always refer to that era don't we that we got baptized into music if you like. We were at around 12 or 14 years old. It was the 70s there was one, two TV shows in England. Top Of The Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test. And that's really where it was like kind of a Mecca for us."
Phil Collen - "We'd go this is amazing. And I remember seeing David Bowie as Joe did on Top Of The Pops and T. Rex and everything. And that era. We're always going oh that's hubcap diamond star halo. Which as a line in Get It On (Bang A Gong) doesn't really make sense, but it totally makes sense if you know what I mean."
Phil Collen - "So that was perfect for us."
Joe Elliott - "It makes sense to us."
1970s/Angels (Can't Help You Now)/Album Title
Phil Collen - "Exactly. So that made sense to us and even doing the album that way. We didn't realise that there was such a connection to the early 70s. I remember Joe played me, one of the first times he played me Angels which he'd written on the piano."
Phil Collen - "It reminded me of early 70s Elton John. And the end of it reminded me of Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd."
Phil Collen - "So unknown to any of us we had this thread going. And it kind of just continued and when the title, when that popped out it was like oh it's obvious and then it continued even with the artwork."
Phil Collen - "So we actually keep saying this is a concept album. But a new day. A new age concept album because it's, you know, it's not like Quarophenia or Tommy or something like that."
Phil Collen - "There's a link and it's kind of almost like a spiritual link if you like from when we got into music."
Marc Bolan/T. Rex Influence
Joe Elliott - "You know we owe a big debt of gratitude to Marc Bolan really because all down the years he's been an inspiration to all of us individually and collectively. I mean this is a guy that used to write songs with titles like Salamanda Palaganda. ."
Joe Elliott - "You know, what?. But the hubcap diamond star halo thing. You know when we'd refer to that as a lyric style. Sugar and Armageddon It are definitely hubcap diamond star halo type lyrics. They don't make any sense but they're phonetically friendly and that's what it's all about."
Joe Elliott - "It's not trying to write poetry like T. S. Elliott or something. Gods Of War is not a hubcap diamond star halo lyric but Sugar and Armageddon It are. You know because they're just nonsensical fun lyrics that just get you from the front to the end of the song."
Joe Elliott - "And it's always been there, you know, even back before 1987. It's always been part of our DNA to just dismiss something because the lyrics are, you know, odd, weird like what's he singing about?."
Joe Elliott - "I mean they're so much more fun because you're trying to figure out what they're going on about. And Marc Bolan was like the king of it."
Joe Elliott - "He moved away from the Tolkien-isms of Tyrannosaurus Rex into these full on Glam rock god talking nonsensical whimsical stuff. That not only registered with us along with Bowie's different sensibilities but again his visual aspect and his band The Spiders From Mars."
Joe Elliott - "And the fact that we were of this generation that actually went from black and white to colour TVs. Which nobody younger than us would understand what I'm even talking about. There used to be black and white telly's? Yeah, and outdoor toilets!."
Joe Elliott - "And we came from that generation so to be as Phil says baptised into 1971 to 1974 when we were really sponges taking everything in. A big part of that was moving from the black and white Kinks, Stones, Who, Beatles era into the colour of Bowie, Bolan, Slade, Mott, Queen, Sweet you know."
Joe Elliott - "They would dress up trying to outdo each other on Top Of The Pops. And then we would see the ore album orientated music on The Old Grey Whistle Test. The Zeppelins and the Robin Trowers or the Alman Brothers and stuff like that. And you just weed through it all and cherry pick the bits that would become us down the road."
Phil Collen - "And we still do that. You know we still, you know, you can like New York Dolls, Rush and Marc Bolan. And in fact we do you know. It's like all of those things and we've always tried to include all of that."
Phil Collen - "Even in the live shows. Like I remember seeing lasers in the 70s. I took my Mum to see Rush. And she, it blew her mind. It's like all these lasers. So we kind of do that."
Joe Elliott - "The fact that you took your Mum to a Rush show blew my mind. She comes home and goes you know 'I really get off on that 2112'."
70s Influence/Sound On Album/Remote Recording
Joe Elliott - "And it was organic. It was completely organic. You know the more you talk about the record and the more you delve back into how the process of the album came along. And because it was done in such an odd way and without technology impossible way to do."
Joe Elliott - "It's got an organic natural feel about it. You know the fact that we were in isolation. Offered each one of us individually a comfort zone. Even though we were pushing the boundaries of our own expectations."
Joe Elliott - "So it's a real weird juxtaposition that we were in our own homes. Instead of these guys being the greatest guests I've ever had in my house. And me being obviously the greatest host they've ever had."
Joe Elliott - "There's something about the fact that if I'm singing a song these guys are sitting around my house. They're not sitting around their own or getting on with something else."
Joe Elliott - "On this album we were collectively working on this album all the time. Individually we may of only been doing five, six, seven hours a week because you were living life with your family. And you weren't allowed to do certain things."
Joe Elliott - "Phil would take his kid to the park because you're still allowed to go out and exercise. I've got a big garden I didn't have to do that."
Joe Elliott - "And I had somebody staying with me that could take my kids into the garden so I could get on with making the record. And we were eight hours apart time zone wise ."
Joe Elliott - "He's in California. I was in Dublin, Ireland. And that again worked to our advantage because while I'm asleep he's working away on something. And I wake up to it in my inbox."
Joe Elliott - "He goes to bed and I work on it and send it back to him and he wakes up to it in his inbox. And we were playing Tennis with these songs like that all the way through making this album."
Starting The Album In March 2020
Joe Elliott - "Which again, I'm going back again now, March 2020 we didn't realise we were making an album. We were thrown into this Pandemic lockdown. And came up with an alternative plan to them coming over to me."
Joe Elliott - "Literally in 30, 40 minutes on the phone. I said what are we gonna do now?. And it's like OK well why don't we try and just do it over the Internet."
Joe Elliott - "You know I've got these finished songs. he said Oh really, I've got some as well. How many have you got Phil?. Three, four by the time I requested This Guitar which dates back to 2003. And I've been dying to sing it ever since I first heard it."
Joe Elliott - "I had three. So we instantly had seven. When we brought everybody else on board. Sav says well I've got two on the go. Great we've got nine songs on day one."
Joe Elliott - "And because we weren't five alpha males in one room everybody had the time and space to work on their own material."
Joe Elliott - "And we, it wasn't reluctance at all but we instantly accepted the fact that if he said I've got a song. He's got a song. Not an idea to a song that we might need to Leppardise it, change this."
Joe Elliott - "No, it is what it is. I've got a song written on a Ukulele. I've got a song, two songs written on the piano. OK. If we were in the same room they would have tried to transpose the piano parts into guitars. We both agree to that."
Phil Collen - "Absolutely."
Joe Elliott - "It would probably have happened. But because we did it this way it didn't. Which instantly expanded our horizons massively. Yet as I said earlier on somehow put us into a comfort zone of being able to do that without the peer pressure of our own selves."
Joe Elliott - "Looking at each other going what have you got?. Why are we gonna work on your song first?. Etc. We're not that competitive, but it just took away this usual situation that we're in like which one are we gonna do first."
Joe Elliott - "Then somebody has to put their hand up and say let's do mine or let's do his. We just worked on them all at the same time. It was Ronan McHugh the co-producer who had all the work to do."
Joe Elliott - "Because he had the job of weeding through our performances, the takes of the song and gueing them all together. But as disjointed as this might sound to somebody watching that has never done what we've done."
Past Remote Recordings On Albums
Joe Elliott - "It's actually a lot easier than it sounds 'cause we've dabbled in remote recording in the past. Literally we would finish an album may be ten years ago. 15 years ago. And then when we're getting to the mix of songs."
Joe Elliott - "The engineer would go where's the harmony?. For such and such a part. We forgot to do it. . Phil's already gone home. We'd get him on the phone. Can you song the harmony to this and email it in?. Yeah sure no problem."
Not Going Back To Traditional Recording
Joe Elliott - "And so we knew how it works. We'd just never done in one hundred percent. And it was an absolute joy."
Joe Elliott - "We'll never..."
Phil Collen - "I agree."
Joe Elliott - "...go back to recording in a traditional way again because it's so much fun doing it this way. It took all the pressure off. In fact as Phil points out all the time it took away all the bad energy of airports. Jet lag. Sitting around my house. You know all the negative parts of..."
Joe Elliott - "It's all good. But if you have to say what's the worst thing about it. it's like sitting around waiting for somebody else to finish their parts. Didn't happen."
Cohesive Album Sound
Joe Elliott - "Exactly right and we've been saying that all along. That it's like you really have to hear it to know what we're saying is absolutely true. It doesn't sound bitty at all."
Joe Elliott - "In fact we've been saying since halfway through the record that we've actually got a concept record on the go here. It's not lyrically a conceptual like Tommy or Quadrophenia. But there's a concept all the way through it."
Joe Elliott - "The way that it was put together. The way that we recorded it. The way that the songs blended well. The running order started taking care of itself."
Liquid Dust/U Rok Mi
Joe Elliott - "And it's like. I remember saying to Phil. I really think we should join Liquid Dust and U Rok Mi together because of the way that they're structured. it sounds like a medley."
Phil Collen - "Yeah a World Music medley or something."
Joe Elliott - "But the only issue with that was that they were slightly different tempo. So we had to do a lot of Beatle-esque messing around with stuff to get them to fit."
Joe Elliott - "But we did. or should I say Ronan did and he did a brilliant job of it."
Joe Elliott - "That's what I mean about conceptual. It's like the way that the songs flow from start to finish. The fact that they are bookended by two Rick Savage songs."
Joe Elliott - "And everything else is either Phil and Dave. Or Phil and me or Phil on his own and me on my own. they all just work together really well. And when you hear it from start to finish it's got a beautiful thread and a flow to it and it's totally natural."
Joe Elliott - "Even though it was completely naturally recorded. It's amazing really."
Phil Collen - "I think one thing we've always aspired to is to be Queen and one of the things Queen did. You know Freddie Mercury would write Bohemian Rhapsody. Brian would have We Will Rock You. Another Bites The Dust was John Deacon and Radio Ga Ga by Roger Taylor. Drastically different songs."
Phil Collen - "And different songwriting but all very much typical Queen. And that's what we think we've got here. We've kind of finally reached that stage where whatever we do is gonna sound like Def Leppard."
Phil Collen - "So you can have strings, piano, Ukulele whatever it is it's gonna sound like Def Leppard once we're on there doing it"
Phil Collen - "So we're really proud of that fact and we didn't realise we were doing it. It was just something we spoke about. All of a sudden here we are."
Ukulele Song Sound/U Rok Mi
Joe Elliott - "And if it puts anybody's mind at ease. The Ukulele actually sounds a bit more like a mandolin than a Ukulele. Which puts it into Zeppelin III territory. So we're not talking George Formby. This is not that at all"
Joe Elliott - "It's just that he'd bough ta Ukulele for a laugh and started playing it and all of a sudden wrote a song on it. It's like and why not you know."
Joe Elliott - "It gives us that extra dimension that we wouldn't have had if he didn't."
15 Songs All Fit Together/Song Outros
Phil Collen - "Well we agonised over things. I mean agonise isn't the right word 'cause it's fun and it's inspiring, But we do. We think it's important. We don't agonise. We actually think it's totally important and t makes the song better."
Phil Collen - "So we do that stuff."
Joe Elliott - "You know it's horses for courses. When you get a song like Angels off our new album. The whole end section was written specifically to be massively climactic. Which is why we brought in the girl kind of oohs and ahhs."
Joe Elliott - "Like what Pink Floyd would do to give it that finality you know. And it's something that you strive towards."
Joe Elliott - "You hear certain things in the music that you listen to as a kid that you still listen to now that you hear accidentally when you're in a car and it just comes on the radio."
Joe Elliott - "And you hear a track off Dark Side Of The Moon and you realise that's like a concept record but it's actually not. It's apparently a concept record in appearance only really because of the fact that a lot of those songs run into each other."
Joe Elliott - "So it seems to be a concept that's - it is. It's a concept the same way that Diamond Star Halos is. It's a musical concept. It was a leap and a bound from the previous record. And it took them to a different dimension."
Buy 'Diamond Star Halos' Online
- - Regular CD
- - Deluxe CD
- - Vinyl
- - MP3
Diamond Star Halos - Tracklisting
01 - Take What You Want - 4:14
02 - Kick - 3:42 - (Collen) -
- Producer - Def Leppard
- Producer - Ronan McHugh
- Total Time - 61mins
- Release Date - 27th May 2022
Diamond Star Halos (Deluxe) - Tracklisting01 - Take What You Want - 4:14
02 - Kick - 3:42 - (Collen) -
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