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July 9, 2008
WalesOnline asks the question, can a Def Leppard ever change its spots? The old-school British metal band who shot to fame in the ’80s are back with a new album called Songs From The Sparkle Lounge and arrive in Cardiff on tour this week with Whitesnake and Thunder.
But while contemporaries such as Iron Maiden have enjoyed a huge resurgence in popularity and credibility, Def Leppard have remained a nostalgic side show in Britain, maligned for their ability to write slick US-friendly radio rock.
In recent years the band has enjoyed a change in management that has brought about a profile resurgence in America, but guitarist Phil Collen admits the band would like to be more respected in their home country.
“(We would like) to get more acceptance in Britain,” says Collen, whose father is Welsh and has an auntie from Trehafod.
“We want to get to the next stage here.
“I think if you stick at it long enough and are valid musically, you can do anything.
“So our aim is to just keep going and hopefully in the UK it will change this time.”
Collen knows the sniffiness they face in the UK comes from the fact that Def Leppard are perceived to target the US dollar instead of the British charts but he says that was as much accidental as intentional.
“We sound like an American band and I think that is down to our influences,” he says.
“So our sound was totally geared towards American radio and they really got that here.
“But what I have learned is that our integrity is very much intact here because we have never gone away and reformed, which is always a rubbish thing to do.
“And what we have been through with Rick (Allen) and Steve (Clark), people recognise us as a real band.”
The band has indeed endured tragedy with the death of guitarist Stephen Clark from a drug overdose in 1991, but there has also been human triumph with the remarkable recovery of their drummer Rick Allen, who continued to play drums despite losing his left arm in a car accident in 1984.
Allen’s accident came a year after their breakthrough third album, Pyromania, had put them at the top of the charts for the first time, and his tale of courage in adversity intensified the media spotlight on them.
Allen returned to his skins for the first time in an emotional gig at Donnington’s Monsters of Rock festival in 1986 and the band moved onto massive international success with their 1987 album, Hysteria.
“People suddenly paid attention to us to see what Rick was doing after his horrific accident, where previously no-one really liked us,” says Collen.
“That gave us a lift because in England it was all about credibility, and we were never really into that whole thing.”
Regardless of their new-found affection, the band still faced credibility issues here that were not a problem in the US, where they cruised to Bon Jovi style success with their fifth album, Adrenalize.
However, Adrenalize was released in 1992, at the height of grunge music and that new genre of credible rock music left them dead in the water on both sides of the Atlantic.
It left the band frustrated that they weren’t able to match their former success.
“It’s frustrating that you do all this hard work, put 100% into an album, the tour and the promo, and then you don’t even get a review or played on the radio,” says Collen, whose band has recently toured in the US with Journey, Bryan Adams, REO Speedwagon and Styx.
But enough water has passed under the bridge that Def Leppard believe the time is right for them to be discovered by a new generation and rediscovered by their old fans, thanks the belief given to them by a change of management.
“The new people said we needed to tour more to take advantage of our back catalogue of songs and get our profile up, so over the last three years we have upped the ante and we are touring more now than we ever have.
“The American tours were hugely successful and we have all the songs for people to realise we are a huge rock band.”
Courtesy of www.walesonline.co.uk