If it’s summer, Def Leppard must be on the road playing at a shed near its many fans. Just like Jimmy Buffett, Kiss and some other long-of-tooth recording artists, Def Leppard, performing Tuesday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, is on the road for the rest of the sticky season.
“We love playing America during the summer,” guitarist Phil Collen said during a phone call from London. “It’s something that is an annual thing. We love the camaraderie. We’re out again, but it’s all different in 2015.”
The difference is that Def Leppard is the headliner this time around. Last summer, Kiss closed the shows after the venerable British pop act played a healthy 90-minute set. “We have no complaints about last summer,” Collen said. “We got to perform and had a blast with Kiss.”
The band has a new album in the works, it’s first release since 2008’s “Songs from the Sparkle Lounge.”
“We’re certainly overdue to put out something,” Collen said. “It’s been too many years since we put out an album. This new album is pretty much done. We don’t have a title yet. We worked on this over a two-year period. There’s some hard rock on it and what might be classified as Top 40.”
But will Def Leppard’s new tunes match up with contemporary Top 40?
“I guess we’ll find out,” Collen said. “The music world has changed but I still think well constructed pop-rock songs have their place.”
When it came to catchy pop-rock songs during the early ’80s, there was no better band than Def Leppard, which also includes vocalist Joe Elliott, bassist Rick Savage, drummer Rick Allen and guitarist Vivian Campbell.
“Pyromania,” the band’s breakthrough album was loaded with accessible tunes. Such pop confections as “Photograph,” “Rock of Ages“ and “Foolin’ ” connected with fans thanks to some of the biggest hooks of that era. Fans could sing along with the chorus, and there was no better band at crafting verses than Def Leppard.
“Give much of the credit to (producer) Mutt Lange,” Collen said. “He preached melody and rhythm. It was also never enough for Mutt. He kept pushing us to up the ante and because of that we came up with some amazing verses in those songs. He helped make each of those songs better. He was never satisfied. He would say, ‘try this and that.’ Working with him was a great experience, and it helped us.”
It’s been 32 years since more than 20 million albums of “Pyromania” were purchased.
“We have had some amazing highs and some brutal lows,” Collen said. “It didn’t get much better than ‘Pyromania.’ People loved that album and still love it. But we’ve had to deal with some tough stuff in this band, but we always bounced back because this band is everything to us.
“We’re like a family, but it might even be bigger than that. In most families, someone leaves after they turn 18. But we’ve been together for over three decades and we’re still moving on. We’re still creating and we’re still doing these tours. I don’t know how to top what we do. It’s an amazing thing.”