Def Leppard’s Phil Collen Speaks on the Experience of Writing Their First Self-Titled Album

-By Zack Sigel

I had the dizzying experience of traversing much of rock’n’roll history in just a few days. On one end, I was interviewing a local hardcore punk band who’d only played together for a few years. On the other, I was about to speak to Phil Collen of Def Leppard, perhaps one of the most important rock bands in history, a band so famous and long-lasting that it seems redundant even to point this out.

Despite the band’s influence and fame, Collen talks about Def Leppard like he might a much newer band, always about to embark on the next great adventure. Their latest album is also their first self-titled one, and expands the band’s evolutionary trajectory into bold new territory. In a year of increased scrutiny of capitalism, Collen was eager to distinguish this album from Def Leppard’s previous efforts as its least commercial yet. Before long, the band will be on tour again: even after some 35 years together, Def Leppard show no signs of slowing down.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.

How’s it going?

Great, it’s been pretty busy actually. Actually, all of this year’s been busy. It’s really kicking in now, that’s for sure.

Yeah, you were on tour this year.

We are, we started in April. We finished the US tour just over a week ago, and then we start a world tour in about a week in Tokyo, Japan, on the ninth of November. So that’s a little break, and then it’s off again. Yeah, it’s really exciting stuff!

A lot of your success really started when MTV aired one of your videos, one of your first releases. At the time, music videos were a new way to experience music. In 2015, how has the way we experience music continued to evolve?

It’s still in a state of confusion. It obviously comes down to a business model, the differences of streaming versus vinyl. You’ve got all these different things. Fans, and people who hear the stuff, it’s one thing. It’s completely changing, it’s right in the middle of a process. You just have to do everything. You just have to do what you want. I think the great thing about this album that we’ve done is we actually didn’t follow the business line. It was really like the old days, with the Stones or Zeppelin, Bowie, they’d write songs for the art of it instead of for the business of it. And I think that’s how this has come about, and the reason we really love it, and everyone else is really loving the album is that the motivation is an artistic one and not a business one. It’s really cool. Now, how to get it to people? Like I said, it’s evolving, so we just have to everything we can while we’re out there. Which is cool, we’re on tour, and away we go.

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