TO: Def Leppard
FROM: Don Skwatzenschitz
RE: Career Advice
First of all, yes—I wanna get rocked. Ha! Remember that, back in ’92? Man, those were good times. I mean, not great times—Clarky was dead, and everyone felt bad, but didn’t we have a good time hazing poor Vivian? I’ve never had a better time on tour with a rock and roll band. Thanks for including me, and for putting up with Mitzi lifting up her shirt in the front row for 64 shows. It couldn’t have been easy for you, particularly Joe, who would invariably be trying to sing to a babe on one side of Mitz or the other.
Anyway, since we go back a ways, I feel compelled to talk with you about a serious issue, namely, your recording career. It needs to stop. Now. The last two albums prove it, if the previous two or three didn’t. A covers record is typically a sign of desperation, and Yeah! was no exception. Face it, people would rather hear All American Rejects do your songs, or Taylor Swift, or some anonymous kid, or even you, 20 years ago, than to hear you do T. Rex or Bowie covers. Not to mention David-effin’-Essex. “Rock On?” Ain’t no rock to be found there, buddies.
And I don’t know where to begin with Songs from the Sparkle Lounge. It’s a good record, but there’s something missing. Suffice to say, regardless of how much you like Tim McGraw, putting him on a stone-cold rocking Def Leppard track like “Nine Lives” was a bad idea, regardless of how many times they played it on NBA broadcasts. And “Only the Good Die Young?” Why not just write a song called “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” and see how that works?
You are one of the most consistently high-grossing concert attractions to hit the sheds each summer. You don’t need to record ever again. Knowing you guys, though, my gut tells me you’re going to do it again. And again. So let me give you some advice on what to do the next time out:
- Get back with Mutt Lange. The divorce from Shania might be bad for him, on many levels, but it could be a boon for you. Apparently, Maroon 5 has him locked up for the next few months (poor bastard). When he’s done, get on his calendar. You want a reason you should do this? I’ll give you three: High ‘n’ Dry, Pyromania, Hysteria. Whatever might be holding you back needs to be put aside, not only for the good of the band, but for the good of rock and roll itself. For Christ’s sake, he produced Nickelback. Nickelback! What’s Nickelback, but the new Def Leppard, albeit without the cool vocals, instrumental prowess, or great songs?
- Come up with a cool name for the record. Songs from the Sparkle Lounge? Sounds like you recorded it in a room in Barbie’s Dream House. You need something more rockin’. If you can’t come up with anything, just ask Mutt; I’m sure he’ll think of something. Other names you’ll want to avoid: Krap Rekkurd, Fecalize, and Songs from the Ramrod Bar.
- Stop touring. Like I said, you’re one of the best out there right now. It’s a catch-22, though—you’ll never get people to listen to your new material with fresh ears as long as you’re reminding them of the hits they like a hell of a lot more. Reminding people of all your past glories every summer just makes following up on those glories that much more difficult. Take a summer off—it’ll be good for your new stuff. Besides, shouldn’t Cheap Trick and Poison be able to headline on their own by now?
- Take five or six years to make the record. Remember how everyone pined for Hysteria for years before you finally put it out? With the right marketing touch, you could get the same kind of anticipation now. And anticipation might be the only ace you have in your hand at this point. Fortunately, given the amount of time Mutt takes to make a record, this shouldn’t be a problem.
- Give yourself over to some excess. You’re far too clean now; it’s time to spend some serious time getting seriously messed up. Alcohol? Better in excess than in moderation. Drugs? Be careful, but go nuts. You see how much press Pete Doherty gets? You guys could go on a two-year bender and return as revered as Zeppelin. Besides, Phil, you look better at 51 than you did at 25. Go eat a sandwich, pal! Then down a bottle of Yukon Jack or something.
All the best,