Def Leppard still packing in audiences with high-energy shows

A little more than 20 years ago, Phil Collen discovered a nifty way to squeeze an extra two hours out of each day.

The Def Leppard guitarist quit drinking, and from there on out, he stopped spending precious time every afternoon recovering from gut-roiling hangovers.

This all happened right before the band released its top-selling album, 1987’s "Hysteria," which made Def Leppard one of the biggest rock bands in the world and put its members right in the eye of a tornado of booze and babes.

"For me personally, the only difficulty was seeing where I could draw that boundary," Collen says of getting off the sauce. "I tried to do the social drinking thing, and it didn’t really work in that environment. Everyone always wants to force drinks down you, and ‘take this,’ and girls are throwing all this at you. The only way for me to do it was to go, ‘OK, well, I’m not going to drink any more.’ And then it became really easy. I was totally done."

Sobriety has its benefits: Collen actually remembers the band’s rise to multiplatinum prominence without the memory-scrubbing fog that comes with getting to know Jack Daniels on a first-name basis.

These days, Def Leppard doesn’t sell records like they used to, but the band is still a steady arena filler and has become an institution on the summer touring circuit, where it’s as much a part of the season as sunburns, bikinis and lots of dudes passed out in the grass of your local amphitheater.

Collen himself has become similarly ingrained in American culture. The British expat has lived in the same house in Orange County, Calif., for the past 19 years, and his three kids were all born there.

"I go back to London, and I love it — I didn’t like it when I used to live there — but I go back now and I get out of touch with what’s going on socially or who these comedians are on TV," Collen says bemusedly. "I have no clue. I’m completely lost as far as that goes. I’m more Americanized. I just sound like a foreigner."

Mostly though, he sounds like an overenthusiastic teenager, the youthful vigor in his voice belying the fact that Collen turns 52 this year. He still acts like a kid as well, playing every show with his shirt off, grinning like a dude who just lost his virginity,

This energy is palpable on Def Leppard’s most recent disc, 2008’s "Songs From the Sparkle Lounge," a punchy, pop-rock barnburner that takes the band’s T. Rex, David Bowie and Sex Pistols influences and dunks them in glitter and adrenaline.

The band began working on the album while on the road, and it’s named after the area backstage where they began to demo their new songs.

"We wanted to start (the album) while we were on tour so that we didn’t have that terrible lull after getting off tour, six months, nine months, and kind of losing the vibe of it," Collen recalls. "We started while we were on tour with Journey opening up. A lot of times, we’d be in the little Sparkle Lounge studio room, which was just a computer basically, a laptop, and you could hear Journey in the background. It was very inspiring, I must say. That’s a really good way of doing it. The Stones and Zeppelin used to do that. They’d tour for a few months, go in the studio for a little while, and it just keeps you fresh. I think we’re going to do the same for the next one. Even if we get one song on the go, that’s enough to set the ball rolling."

And for the most part, life has been a ball for Collen. You can tell by speaking with him for a few minutes.

He knew he wanted to become a rock star when he was 14, when his cousin, who was two years older than him, took him to see Deep Purple.

"That pretty much was the catalyst," he says, his voice pulsing with a boyish awe. "I saw the ‘Machine Head’ tour and Ritchie Blackmore was smashing his guitar. I was like, ‘Whoa! OK, I want to do that.’ "

Over the years, Collen and his bandmates have brought lots of fireworks to the stage themselves, becoming plenty rich and famous in the process.

Collen once imagined himself in this position, though he never imagined that it would be like this.

"When you’re growing up and you want success, you think of it purely on a local level. You think, ‘I’m going to play my hometown venue’ and it’s gonna be based around that," Collen says. "If you have any success at all, you can’t choose where it’s going to come from. I think the fun and inspiring part about that is that it takes you places that you’ve never been to. People are going nuts, they get it, and they’re so far removed from where you came from. Or what you could have imagined."

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Get a sneak peek at Palace Station's newest renovations
Station Casinos spokesperson Lori Nelson gives a first look at what Palace Station's $192 million renovation will bring. Some areas will begin opening to the public next week according to Nelson. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
New Marilyn Musical Brings Screen Icons Life To Strip
Paris Las Vegas hosts musical bio featuring new, old tunes. (Carol Cling Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like