Def Leppard’s Phil Collen Weighs In on Backing Tracks Debate
“Well, it depends what you’re talking about,” Collen told Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon in a new interview. “I mean, we’ve always used keyboard things and parts of a drum loop, like on ‘Rocket’ – you couldn’t really play that part live. So we’ve used stuff like that.”
He explained that "our vocals are always live, and that’s the big difference – we’re like a live vocal band. And that’s something that a lot of the other bands don’t do. They kind of fake the vocals and it’s not really them. But this is really us. … It’s real. The vocals are real. Everything’s totally, a hundred percent real.”
You can listen to the full interview below.
Collen conceded there were environments, such as at live sport events that are strictly times for commercial breaks, where lip-syncing was preferred in order to assure the quality of the performance.
“That’s a different thing,” he said. “But for live concerts, we’re really up for actually really playing live, and that’s something we’ve always done.” He added: “If someone’s got a bad throat that night, you’re gonna hear it.”
He also argued that some bands had to use pre-recorded material if “the real person’s not there,” citing the example of Queen. “If you go and see them, you have to have enhancements. [It’s] just the way these shows are.”
Last year, Judas Priest singer Rob Halford reported that guitarist Glenn Tipton, whose health condition means he can no longer tour full-time with the band, refused the option of playing to backing tapes in order to remain on the road. In 2012, Paul McCartney decried the use of automated performance, arguing that “the concert experience is at the heart of what music is about.” The previous year, Sammy Hagar claimed Van Halen were using recordings of fired bassist Michael Anthony’s voice to bolster their live sound.