Def Leppard

Behind the SongsBackstage Pass

BEHIND THE SONGS


Track-by-track, here are the stories behind the songs on SLANG
as told by Phil Collen


Truth?
Turn to Dust
Slang
All I Want Is Everything
Work It Out
Breathe A Sigh
Deliver Me
Gift of Flesh
Blood Runs Cold
Where Does Love Go When It Dies
Pearl of Euphoria

TRUTH?
One of the first songs written for SLANG, but after two years it started to sound a bit dated so we rewrote it and recorded it during the last three days. I think the panic and pressure in this case gave the song an extra and nervous excitement that it really needed.
TURN TO DUST
A bit of an epic. The Indian flavor was inspired by the lead vocal melody and we built from there. We started with a sample of a sarangi (a bowed Indian instrument) from an album by Ram Narayan, which I bought during a trip to India. After we added guitars it became apparent that we needed other instruments so instead of limiting ourselves to a conventional approach we went for it! Recruiting a guy in England named Craig Pruess for strings and a host of other Indian goodies. We also added a dohl courtesy of Av Singh resulting in classical instruments co-existing with electric guitars and drums. We also have a version of this without drums, just featuring the strings and stuff (hopefully a "B" side or something one day). Anyway, the lesson learned from this one was: follow your nose and don't be restricted by boundaries.
SLANG
Contrary to popular belief this song is not about shagging! In fact, it's more of a safe sex anthem (avoiding contact and the like). We wanted to blend metal guitars with an almost James Brown kind of thing over a modern dance track then add some Latin percussion and stuff. It's very hard to make those hybrid or fusion type songs work, but we really nailed it!
ALL I WANT IS EVERYTHING
Joe's original demo almost sounded country and western. The first band version sounded like a mellow GNR, anyway we changed all of that. The weird thing about the album version was that while recording, we were still learning the song so it was very live and unrehearsed. After listening back to it the next day, we realized it had a certain magic and groove that we couldn't have improved on if we'd have spent five years on it. So we left it and added minimal overdubs. This approach was not used on every song of the album. In fact every song was its own little project. You know "horses for courses and all of that."
WORK IT OUT
Viv's demo of this was pure pop and a great song but we wanted to give it a harder edge. This song took ages to get right as we tried to blend certain unusual elements ie... Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, and Bowie; while keeping the rock guitar thing happening. A lot of the stuff we record is due to a process of elimination and this song was no different. Joe's vocal was also very different from anything we've done in the past using Iggy Pop and late 70's Bowie as a guideline. Again, this song as almost everything on the album, was a progressive experiment while keeping the element of fun a priority. This is obvious during the middle section where we started to jam, going of on an inspired tangent, a benefit of recording live. The first U.S. single release and some of the coolest drum stuff I've ever heard Rick play.
BREATHE A SIGH
In sharp contrast to ALL I WANT IS EVERYTHING, this song took ages and about seven different versions until we were happy with it. This ranged from a piano version to a reggae thing. My original demo tried to sound like Mariah Carey does gospel with a country twang, and I didn't think it would be right for us. But after all the different versions and being very close to bailing on this song, we tried it one more time. This time we based it around a pop, hip-hop drum feel and Sav's cool bass line. We then added sustained electric guitars and a classic Def Leppard multi-tracked backing vocal type of thing kind of inspired by Boys II Men. It was getting there but was made better by the help of Brad Buxer's percussion programming. Then we were ready for the lead vocal. The original inspiration for the vocal phrasing was Aretha Franklin so we went that rout. Stuck a jazz guitar in the intro and !Voila! The hardest song to record, but the biggest achievement!!!
DELIVER ME
Recorded live, hardly any overdubs but the lyrical angle changed slightly during the last week of recording. The whole meaning of this song changed by adding the last three lines. I don't want to give it away before anyone gets a chance to hear it. I think it's as important for the listener to have an interpretation as it is for the writer (it's like telling someone the end of the movie that they're watching). So listen and watch this space.<
GIFT OF FLESH
This was the song that got us using Marshall amps again. When we heard Rick playing a real drum kit (after using electronic drums for 11 years) it kind of set the tone. He sounded like someone released from solitary confinement and given total freedom. We said "Play like Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols on their first album." So he beat the crap out of his drum kit and it was perfect for this song and others to follow. Lyrically the song is about man taking life for granted or an updated Sympathy for the Devil kind of thing. I don't know, you tell me.
BLOOD RUNS COLD
I think it's pretty obvious what inspired the lyrics to this one. The backing track was influenced by some of the earlier Police songs and the middle section came about when Pete "Woodroffe" said "Let's not have the standard, boring ol' middle eight, let's take the attention somewhere else and have a female solo vocal going off at the same time" so initially I put down a guide vocal and it did the trick so we kept it in the song. The other thing about the album, especially this track is the prominence of the bass guitar. Sav sounds great on this song! Almost like a featured solo, again, something we've never done before.
WHERE DOES LOVE GO WHEN IT DIES
I think these are the best lyrics Joe's ever written. It was sung over an acoustic backing track. The intention of this song was to have a folk feel using influences ranging from Zeppelin to R.E.M. We added instruments that we've never used before such as a dulcimer and a mandolin as well as acoustic and electric guitars. The emphasis was fun and intention was to add to the vibe> All of this was played over the top of my original demo. The beauty of recording with home studio equipment!
PEARL OF EUPHORIA
This song was played over Joe's original demo (if it ain't broke don't fix it, just add to it). Lyrically very dark. With a few different interpretations of the song the longer we spent on it. So before we talk about the content of the lyric you guys should listen to it. This song reminds me of the movie Apocalypse Now although it has nothing to do with it. For me, it just captures the mood of the psychedelic era. Partly because Joe reminds me of angry Jim Morrison on this song. The most interesting thing about the lead vocal is that it was recorded as we wrote the lyrics (almost like a demo). They had the perfect intention and attitude. Joe tried replacing the vocal later but it never sounded as good as the guide so we kept it. The end guitar solos were me and Viv randomly improvising (without hearing each other) we got about 14 tracks like this and Pete just used them all. It sounded great so we left it.

The whole album was great fun
because we pushed our own boundaries
and we weren't pressured in any way.
signed, Phil Collen

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