Let's get rocked

Def Leppard tries to change its musical spots

"It was a lot more like the old days, like a bunch of young kids playing in a garage," says Collen. "We just set up the gear, miked the amps, and let go. Not much fancy equipment was used, and I think we're the better for it."

Slang reflects the band's individual musical tastes and influences, incorporating Collen's love of hip-hop and rap music, guitarist Vivian Campbell's fondness for classic pop songs, and singer Joe Elliot's preference for loud, distorted rock. The album features a wide spectrum of styles, including the industrial-lite of "Truth?" to the funky, R&B-tinged "Work It Out." This may strike some as a last-gasp attempt by the band to reclaim the radio airwaves it once ruled, but Collen says that's not the case.

"We just got tired of other bands copying what we did. So we decided to let them do that. They can have that. We're doing something else," Collen states. "It wasn't a conscious effort to get played on the radio 100 times. We wanted to do what was right for us--making an album that we liked, that was representative of who we are. I think we succeeded."

1996 marks not only the opening of a new chapter in the history of Def Leppard, but also the first time since 1980 that the band has released an album that wasn't marked by some form of tragedy or turmoil. Original guitarist Pete Willis was fired from the band during the recording of Pyromania for drinking too much; Allen lost his arm during the sessions for Hysteria; and guitar player Steve Clark died after mixing painkillers and alcohol while the band was in the process of making Adrenalize.

With that kind of past, the future always seems a bit shaky for Def Leppard, but Collen promises at least another album and tour, which--with the band's tendency to take its time making records--virtually assures Def Leppard continuing into the next century.

"Why quit? I'm healthier than I've ever been, and there's nothing that beats being in a rock band," Collen avers. "I mean, it's fun again, and as long as it stays fun, why would I ever want to quit? Why would anyone?"

Def Leppard comes to Starplex August 2.

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