The rock anthems of Def Leppard have endured for more than 30 years.

“Photograph,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Rocket” are just a few of the instantly recognizable songs that still draws thousands of people to the band’s concerts every summer.

Playing the same tunes, night after night, year after year, might be tedious to some. But for guitarist Phil Collen, every day is an opportunity to do something new.

“Some people go, ‘Oh, touring is a grind.’ But not me. I love it. I treat it like being a tourist,” he said. “You get to take in the culture of the city where you’re at; when we were in Mexico City, we got to see these pyramids. Stuff like that, taking advantage of whatever is around the town where you’re at.”

Def Leppard will headline a triple bill with Poison and Tesla on Sunday at Klipsch Music Center, the final stop on their whirlwind 79-day North American tour. Collen took some time in between shows to talk about life on the road, a new generation of fans and his favorite songs to perform.

What is the up-and-down nature of touring like?

I love to be on tour. I get up early in the morning, about 6:30, if for no other reason than I wake up at that time. We try to get as much stuff in while we can before we go on. Last year, I was producing the new Tesla album that was actually recorded while we were on tour. So you keep yourself doubled up and before you know it, it’s time to go on stage. There is so much happening, and I find that really exciting.

What has it been like being out with Tesla and Poison for the past few months?

I’ve been saying this for a while, this tour is an absolute celebration of the integrity of these three bands. For the most part, it’s all the original guys. There’s an integrity there. It’s not just the band in name, it’s the main guys.

I love what we did on the last Def Leppard album. I’m totally digging the new Tesla album, and all of that comes into play. It’s been very exciting.

What does it mean for you that people still love this music and celebrate you whenever you come to town?

When you first start, you try so hard, and that’s what we try to keep up, to make it better and better each time we go out. I think that reflects on the audience. You see younger people coming, and there’s this whole new culture of people in Def Leppard T-shirts. They weren’t born when a lot of this stuff comes out. The other day, I saw a group of 16-year-old kids in Bozeman, Montana, with the Hysteria shirt, and they knew every single word we played. I thought that was pretty cool.

Of all the different songs you play, is there one that you enjoy playing the most?

It’s like choosing your favorite kid — you can’t really pick. The one that really kind of represents the band, because it’s got this big charge, these big rock-anthem drums, these huge charging vocals, is “Rocket.” We kind of hit every corner with that one. It represents what we’re all about.

What comes next for the band after this North American tour?

We’ve got South America, do a month down there. Then we have some new songs. We’ve had some new song ideas on the go, and after that we’ll start recording. You don’t have to be in the studio to do it these days; you can get stuff down on your laptop as you go and tweak it like that. That’s exciting, we’ll probably have an EP album for next year.

If you go

Def Leppard, Poison and Tesla

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Klipsch Music Center,

Tickets: $28.50 and up

Information: livenation.com

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.