Frankie Di Vita,
Tuesday, July 2, 2002 @ 12:37 AM
KNAC.COM Personality Frankie D
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There are certain bands that have stood out for me in my lifetime. Bands that have made me rock, put a smile on my face as I tried to sing along or play air drums on the steering wheel of my car as I drove, or had given me such a high when watching them play live right before my very eyes that I felt like I was glowing after the show. Def Leppard has been such a band in my life. Def Leppard and I go way back… although they don’t know that. I have had the extreme pleasure of seeing Def Leppard in concert many times. I feel fortunate in that respect. But this past Wednesday night was truly a memorable experience. I was at a Def Leppard video shoot.
The boys in the band are geared up and ready to release their tenth studio album, simply titled X (for the roman numeral 10). The first release off the album is the first track titled “Now.”
I arrived at the Sepulveda Basin in the San Fernando Valley on Wednesday June 26, 2002 at about 7:30pm after getting lost and driving in circles for about a half hour. By the time I arrived at the shoot it had already been in full swing for hours. The directors, Emmet and Brandon Malloy (the brother team known as The Malloys) had already been working with extras for hours bringing the concept of this new Def Leppard video to life. I met up with guitarist Vivian Campbell shortly after arriving and he proceeded to explain to me the concept of the video.
After coming up with about five different ideas, they decided on the concept of the life of a Def Leppard t-shirt and the way it’s been handed down and has changed hands and owners over the years. That explained why the night before the shoot, I noticed on the Def Leppard website that they were looking for original Pyromania t-shirts and Union Jack shirts. An interesting idea. Then I thought the concept reflected the life of Def Leppard. Brand new at first and ready to be worn. Then passed on to someone new, like a new fan discovering Def Leppard. Tattered and torn a bit over the years like the hardships this band has endured, but all in all still here and comfortable and enjoyable to wear.
At this point of the shoot, it was hurry up and wait for Def Leppard. Although the entire band was on hand and ready to go, they had not yet been called to the set. So they just tried to keep busy. Some walked around and talked with others, singer Joe Elliot played his acoustic guitar in the dressing trailer in preparation of the shoot and guitarist Phil Collen watched a little TV. The waiting period actually gave me a chance to meet some really nice people. Joe Elliot being among them. I had actually met the entire band two years ago when they were inducted into the Hollywood Rock Walk. But this was the first time I was really able to speak with them. After a chat with Joe about the recording process of the album and how it helped tremendously, financially and geographically, to record the majority of it at his home studio (Joe’s Garage) in Dublin, Ireland I excused my self for a moment and reappeared bearing gifts of KNAC.COM gear for the entire band. They really dug the KNAC.COM Zippo lighters.
Finally at about 9:20pm the band was called to take their places in front of the cameras. The setup was a really cool look. The Sepulveda Basin, which is a dam, was dry at this point. Water trucks were brought in to wet down the concrete and lights were placed in a half circle around Def Leppard. The lights reflecting off the water around the band while they played gave the shot a clean glowing reflective affect. Almost like they were standing on a mirror.
Def Leppard were now in the middle of a full-blown production with about 30 onlookers. I, in the back of my mind was thinking, “I hope those amps aren’t plugged in because they are standing in an inch of water”. They were finally filming the scene that featured Def Leppard doing what they do best -- playing live.
I’m sure it was a relief to many in the Def Leppard camp that this production was underway. They have been on a very tight schedule. With the members of the band living on different continents and all finally arriving in Los Angeles the week prior in order to rehearse for an upcoming show, they were left with only a small window of opportunity to have this video filmed. This was it. A director for the video had not even been decided on until five days prior to the shoot. And then they ended up with two. The Malloys.
One would think that filming a band playing one song wouldn’t take very long. But you would be surprised. First they filmed Def Leppard collectively, then three members from one angle and then the other two from another angle, and just when you think they’ve got all they can shoot they film each member individually and then all of them again from behind. It was a long process. The editing department has their work cut out for them... no pun intended.
At one point in the evening, bassist Rick Savage commented to me on how he hated filming videos but would gladly film one for each song on the album if need be. “It’s a lot of hurry up and wait,” he said. I guess he’d never make it as an actor.
I must admit though, with all the different takes the crew had to shoot and all the waiting for the next angle to be set up before they could do it all again, watching Def Leppard working right there in front of me was definitely a rush. After all, I grew up with these guys.
The Def Leppard video shoot finally wrapped at about 1:45am. Not too late considering we were expecting to be there until around 4am.
“Now” should be hitting the airwaves soon. Keep your eyes peeled for the first video off of X.
Thank you to Def Leppard for being so cool as to allow KNAC.COM to watch from the sidelines and take a few photos while they worked. A special thank you to Vivian Campbell.