Phil Collen Explains How Def Leppard Uses Backing Tracks In Concert

By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta

March 14, 2019

Def Leppard has never been shy when it comes to questions around the role computers play in their live shows.

After drummer Rick Allen lost an arm in a 1985 car accident, sequencers and a mix of real and electronic drums allowed the band to continue with the same lineup. Since then, Def Leppard has buoyed its live sound with other back-tracked elements. It's never been a secret.

So after Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx called out a "certain band" (believed to be a reference to KISS) for purporting to be 100 percent "real" while backtracking lead vocals, Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen is explaining why he doesn't think his band's use of tracks is problematic.

"I mean, we've always used keyboard things and parts of a drum loop, like on 'Rocket' — you couldn't really play that part live," Collen told Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon in a new interview. "So we've used stuff like that."

He added, "our vocals are always live, and that's the big difference — we're like a live vocal band. And that's something that a lot of the other bands don't do. They kind of fake the vocals and it's not really them. But this is really us. ...It's real. The vocals are real. Everything's totally, 100 percent real."

Collen said in an interview last year that the reason Def Leppard rarely collaborates on stage with other artists is because their songs are so complex vocally; it's hard to concentrate on anything else.

Def Leppard will be enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this month.

One of the band's longtime friends, Queen guitarist Brian May, will reportedly be inducting it.

Photo: Getty Images

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