Def Leppard’s Phil Collen: Hysteria was the best thing we ever did

Phil Collen
Phil Collen (Image credit: Getty)

Def Leppard’s Phil Collen has reflected on the band’s classic 1987 album Hysteria.

The follow-up to 1983’s Pyromania was a massive success, racking up more than 25 million sales worldwide and spawned hit singles including Animal, Pour Some Sugar On Me, Love Bites and Armageddon It.

And while looking back on the record with Music Radar, the guitarist acknowledges its lasting legacy.

Collen says: “I think it’s the best thing we ever did. It was our commercial and creative zenith. Most of the credit goes to producer Mutt Lange, because he really pushed us to do something different.

“The first thing he said was, ‘We can’t make Pyromania 2, because every other rock band in the world is doing that. We’ve got to dig a bit deeper, and it’s gonna be a lot of hard work.’

“Jimi Hendrix probably could have done it in his sleep. But us mere mortals have to work hard at it. But it paid off. Because here we are, 30 years later, still talking about it.”

Collen continues: “The thing is, a lot of guitar players, they all read from the same book, play from the same licks. With that album, we worked. We went somewhere. Mutt taught us how to sing, how to play guitar better. I came out of Hysteria a better player, without a doubt.”

Collen says that “the melody was king” on Hysteria and that the guitars were there to enhance the sound, and adds: “Hysteria does sound like an 80s album, but it was trying to. It was trying to cross over, and hard rock bands didn’t really do that.

“There was a big difference between, say, Priest, Maiden and us. We were more in the area of The Police and Billy Idol and even ZZ Top, who were a blues band – but they’d done this electronic album, Eliminator and had their biggest hit.

“It wasn’t about trying to be a big, macho rock band. It was about trying to create great music.”

Read the full interview with Collen over on Music Radar, where the guitarist talks about his approach to playing on the landmark album, the riffs he used on Hysteria, the solos, and much more.

Earlier this year, Def Leppard released the 30th anniversary edition of Hysteria on several different editions, including a super-deluxe package and a double vinyl version.

The story behind Def Leppard's Hysteria album artwork

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.