THEY may be 41 years into Def Leppard but the British rock icons say they are playing better than ever – and they still love it.
Calling from a tour bus in the US, in the middle of a 60-plus-show tour where they are playing “either sports arenas or stadiums” almost every night, guitarist Phil Collen told Community News he was still “in heaven”.
“It’s been amazing, we’re just loving it,” he said.
“The reason we got into a band in the first place was to play live so it’s like a dream come true.
“Plus we’re better than we used to be.
“We keep getting better because we’re constantly playing and constantly getting inspired and just raising our own bar.
“I get on stage with my favourite band – my brothers – and it’s really cool.
“And people are loving it so on top of everything else, that makes it even more special.
“I’m 60 but I feel better.
“I remember when I was 25 and I didn’t feel this good physically.
“And I wasn’t as good a guitar player.
“I didn’t have all this experience about life and everything else.
“I have five kids now, I’ve been married, divorced, all this stuff has gone on and I know so much more.
“So this 60-year-old is really enjoying it.”
And while they are proving they are still very relevant, with their 2015 self-titled album debuting at number one on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart, Collen admits it wasn’t always the way.
“We had a few years where it really sucked but we never split up,” he said.
“We had this very British attitude of ‘if the ship is sinking, we’re going down with it’.
“And we’ve had some really lean periods, like in the 90s it kind of sucked for us for a while but then it came back and it makes it all the more worthwhile and special so we really appreciate every moment like when an album goes to number one.”
The same can also be said for their most successful album Hysteria, released in 1987.
Four years in the making, it was the groundbreaking 12-track album that saw Def Leppard overcome the adversity of drummer Rick Allen losing his arm in a car crash and going on to conquer the world.
“It tanked initially,” Collen said.
“We were so far in debt and it came out and we didn’t make our money back.
“And we were still in debt until the fourth single Pour Some Sugar On Me was released and it just blew up.
“It actually started getting popular in strip clubs in Florida.
“The girls that were dancing to it would start requesting it on the radio stations and that’s really how it became a hit.”
Hysteria continues to make its mark, this year reaching number three on the US iTunes chart and number five in the UK after in January the band became one of the last multi-platinum selling acts to make its catalogue available on streaming and download platforms.
“We felt our music was worth more than just giving it away,” Collen said.
“All these other bands were giving it away and the deal was the same as a record deal but there was no product.
“So all of a sudden, you’re giving this music away for the same rate that you would do an album, only there’s no product because it’s digital.
“We thought that wasn’t fair and we thought after putting all the effort, all the money, one of us dying, one of us losing an arm, it had way more value than that.
“So that’s why we held out.
“Then our label and manager finalised a deal we could work with and we’ve had such a great relationship with it ever since.
“So I’m glad we held out but I’m glad we did it when we did it.
“In America. there was actually three charts that we had number one, number two and number three: Hysteria at number one, Vault at number two and Pyromania at number three so that was pretty weird.”
The band is now keeping the Hysteria hype alive, performing it in full as part of the next leg of the tour, starting in Japan and continuing to Australia and New Zealand.
Adding to the high-energy shows, which includes RAC Arena in Perth on November 2, is German rock band Scorpions as the special guest support act on its first-ever Australian tour in its 50-year history.
Def Leppard fans can also keep an ear out for new music, having just recorded a song to be released later this year.
Community News has 12 double passes to give away to Def Lappard at RAC Arena on November 2.
Enter here by 10am on Friday, October 19.
Who: Def Leppard
What: Hysteria national tour
When: November 2
Where: RAC Arena