Def Leppard’s Steve Clark on the long wait for Hysteria and the legacy of Pyromania

photo-10.JPG

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 17, 1988

By Steve Newton

Most successful recording bands like to put an album out every year. Sometimes they’ll skip a year, to vacation in the Bahamas or release a live or best-of LP. After three years their fans start to get a bit worried, not to mention the band’s record company–especially if the group is a mega-seller. Def Leppard’s 1983 album, Pyromania, sold seven-million copies worldwide and spawned three hit singles, yet their follow-up didn’t hit the stands until four years later. The Georgia Straight caught up with Leppard guitarist Steve Clark in Moncton last week and got the inside scoop on the delay.

“After the Pyromania tour–which was quit a long one, and sort of swept us off our feet–nobody really thought of making the follow-up album right away. At the end of the tour we hadn’t had any material prepared, so we had to start from sratch and write 10 new songs, which took six or seven months in itself. And Mutt [Lange the producer] was originally going to do the album, then at the last minute he said he couldn’t make it because he’d just finished the Cars’ album and was really burnt out. So without any warning we were left without a producer.

“So we looked at who was available, and there were a lot of people who wanted to do it–people like Phil Collins even–but who just weren’t available at that time due to prior commitments. So we settled on Jim Steinman, but he just didn’t work out at all, and we sort of wasted the best part of a year with him. Then we tried it on our own, but it was very slow work because we didn’t have any sort of headmaster there, and we had to try everything five different ways.”

Mutt Lange eventually came back into the project, and the band wrote another batch of new songs. But it still wasn’t smooth sailing. “Just a lot of things happened,” explains Clark. “Joe [Elliott] got the mumps–which isn’t clever when you’re 27 years old, especially downstairs, if you know what I mean. But he’s all right. And there was Rick’s accident, and Phil [Collen] and I both had car accidents, too. And then when we only had two days of recording left, Mutt had an accident and smashed his knee up, and that held us up for another couple of months.

“So it was like somebody didn’t want us to make that album! But we got over it.”

Of all the problems that plagued Def Leppard in their quest to make Hysteria, the most serious was drummer Rick Allen’s accident, in which he lost his left arm. After much trial and error, and experimentation with various drum machines, Allen came up with a technique that allowed him to create the band’s driving percussion sound. Clark says that the band never really doubted Allen’s ability to bounce back under tremendous pressure.

“When the accident happened it was such a shock, and we were mainly just concerned whether he was gonna live or not, you know. But later on we just thought, ‘Well, we’re gonna carry on whatever happens.’ And we trusted Rick enough to know that he’d be the first to tell us if he couldn’t do it.”

Even with all the craziness involved in getting Hysteria made, Clark says the naming of the LP had nothing to do with the chaos involved.

“For months and months we just couldn’t’ think of a title. We had a working title of Animal Instinct, which eventually became the name of our book [written by David Fricke of Rolling Stone]. And we had another problem there, because, after everything else, we didn’t want the artwork fo the record sleeve to be held up. So we all sat around one night and were going through newspapers and things and Rick went, ‘Hysteria, that’s a good word!’ And we all went, ‘Yeah, allright, that’s good enough.'”

To date, Hysteria has sold five-miliion copies and yielded four hit singles, “Women, “Animal”, “Hysteria,”, and the quasi rap-style “Pour Some Sugar on Me” [which sounds curiously similiar to Queen’s “We Will Rock You”]. A fifth single, “Love Bites” (not the Priest tune) will be out in video form soon.

One of the most prominent features of the  new songs is the increased use of vocal harmonies, which are almost Beatle-ish in places. But Clark says there was no conscious attempt made to focus more on the vocals than on the other elements of the Def Leppard sound.

“The only thing that we did make a conscious effort about was to try not to make Pyromania II,” says Clark. “None of us wanted to make that sort of album again–mainly because a lot of other groups had already made it for us.”

Clark feels strongly about the effect that the breakthrough Pyromania album had on other bands in the late ’80s. Certainly when you consider the success that such groups as Bon Jovi and Whitesnake have had with melodic hard-rock, he’s got a point.

“I think that Pyromania sort of changed the music direction at that time for rock groups, because it proved that you could get rock music with balls and melody–which didn’t appeal just to headbangers, but could cross over to a lot of other people. I mean, if I had been in a young group at that time, I probably would have looked up to Pyromania and said, ‘That’s a good direction to go in.’

“So that’s not a big-headed statement,” claims Clark. “We just believe that that album set the standard for a lot of groups.”

To hear the audio of my 23-minute interview with Steve Clark from 1988 subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 200 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, 1992
Colin James, 1995
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, 1998
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider, 1983
Ed Roland of Collective Soul, 1995
Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
Roger Glover, 1985
Matthew Sweet, 1995
Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, 2003
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, 1984
Jeff Healey, 1988
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1996
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Edgar Winter, 2005
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Randy Hansen, 2001
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, 1991
Joe Satriani, 1990
Vernon Reid of Living Colour, 1988
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
Zakk Wylde of Pride & Glory, 1994
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
John Doe, 1990
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Doyle Bramhall II, 2001
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Randy Bachman, 2001
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, 1997
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Steve Vai, 1990
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Rob Hirst of Midnight Oil, 2001
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1989
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1985
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Robert Plant, 1993
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Chris Cornell, 2008
Long John Baldry, 1985
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Ronnie James Dio, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001

….with hundreds more to come

Leave a Reply