Enlarge Phil Collen by Kevin Nixon, via Wikimedia Commons

Def Leppard’s Phil Collen Lacks Faith in the Future of Rock: “I Hear Stuff That’s Not Inspired”


In between dates of his band’s stadium tour with Mötley Crüe and Poison, Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen spoke to Listen Next! about Def Leppard’s legacy, the 25th anniversary of Hysteria and the future of rock music. When asked about bands that he feels Def Leppard could pass the torch to when they finally retire, Collen had a pretty dismal outlook (transcribed via Blabbermouth).

“Metallica’s great; when you see ’em, there’s a big difference. Guns N’ Roses are awesome. I don’t see that anymore; I don’t see that star power. I don’t see that kind of thing. So that’s what I’m waiting for. There hasn’t been any of that. Nirvana was… Obviously, Foo Fighters is an offshoot of Nirvana. And I love the Foo Fighters; I think they’re great. But when Nirvana came out, I was, like, ‘Woah, this is amazing.’ The Sex Pistols — amazing. But I’m just waiting — still waiting.”

Collen went into further detail about his issues with today’s crop of rock bands, taking aim at social media specifically:

“There’s a problem, I think, and I think it’s the TikTok and YouTube crowd.

“When bands or artists would write before, it would be because they wanted to be an artist and wanted to express themselves and write songs and share them and go, ‘Wow. Check this out’, as opposed to, ‘Wow. Look at me. Please love me. I don’t wanna sound like an old dude, but that’s what I noticed. And I’m still waiting for someone like Prince or [Led] Zeppelin or something that has a bit more something to it. There’s very little stuff.”

He further elaborated later in the interviewer, when he was asked about a lack of future festival headliners. He commented on what he sees as a lack of inspiration and originality in rock bands today, suggesting that his issue isn’t just with:

 “That question comes up quite a bit. People go, ‘What about this?’ And I don’t hear anything. I hear derivative stuff and stuff that’s not inspired. You wanna get inspired. So, yeah, I’m still waiting. It’s like in every genre of music. In hip-hop, it’s the same deal. You’re waiting to hear… Or R&B. You listen to the old R&B — you listen to Stevie Wonder, you listen to Marvin Gaye and stuff like that — nothing is like that anymore and that kind of soul and vibe and everything. I think we’ve kind of comfortably got into something else that doesn’t really demand that kind of excellence. It’s rare that that kind of talent comes along.”

I can kind of see where Collen is coming from. There isn’t a ton of original, non-cookie cutter rock music on the radio and Imagine Dragons certainly aren’t inspiring much faith. But on the other hand, every time I check my email or log on to Bandcamp, another underground rock, punk or metal artist is releasing something awesome. I don’t think it’s an issue of finding inspired and boundary-pushing music, it’s just an issue of where one is looking for it.

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