This is a good time to be Def Leppard, co-lead guitarist Phil Collen says. The band’s latest album, Def Leppard, is the best record its members have released since the landmark Hysteria (the Thriller of hard rock with its seven Hot 100 singles) in 1987. “This is the most special and unique album we’ve done,” Collen said from Glasgow, Scotland, where the band had been touring.
“Everything about it was against the grain; there was no reason to do an album, it’s not cost-effective, takes too much time. So we went in to do a single and got so excited with the flow of inspiration and the songs and ideas that were coming, in three days we said, ‘Oh, s—. We’re doing an album!’ ”
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Def Leppard sounds more like the Def Leppard millions of ’80s MTV kids turned to such albums as Pyromania and videos like Photograph, Foolin’ and Pour Some Sugar On Me, a confection the new Let’s Go and likely concert opener, recalls with its stomping hook. Living well helps. Collen, a vegetarian since he was 25, has done every sort of workout imaginable, including power yoga, martial arts, kick boxing, weights and mat Pilates. “Keep active, don’t eat poison. If you want the fountain of youth, there are a couple things you have to do,” he says.
So far, his band mates share Collen’s enthusiasm. “We’re bad-ass live, better than ever. A lot of bands get older … they don’t practice enough, the singer sounds awful, the harmonies use Pro-Tools. We haven’t done any of that. We got better as players, performers, singers. That is an inspiration in and of itself,” he says. “I was 58 two days ago,” Collen said in December, “and to think I’d even be able to play the guitar this well, let alone at any age, is great. If you keep that integrity you get rewarded.”
See the band Friday night at the BB&T Center.