Def Leppard is resurfacing in the states for a summer tour with Journey, and it might seem like things have been fairly quiet for the venerable rock band so far in 2018.  But guitarist Phil Collen has barely taken a pause since Def Leppard came off of the road near the end of 2017.

To start the year, he joined Joe Satriani and Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci on Satriani’s latest edition of his G3 tour, and outing that lasted for much of the winter.

Collen’s 45-minute set gave him a chance to not only play a Def Leppard tune or two, but also showcase a few songs from his other band, the bluesy rock and soul outfit Delta Deep. His backing band for that tour was essentially Delta Deep, with that group’s singer, Debbi Blackwell-Cook, and drummer, Forrest Robinson, along with bassist Craig Martini (subbing for Robert DeLeo, who was busy with his other band, Stone Temple Pilots, and couldn’t do the tour) on most of the G3 shows.

The timing was good for Collen to shine some light on Delta Deep, considering the group released a concert album, “Live from the East Coast,” just as the G3 tour got rolling. In the time leading up to that tour, Collen hadn’t been idle, either.

“I’m actually deeply into recording the second (Delta Deep) studio album. I’m so thrilled about it already,” Collen said in a recent phone interview. “We’ve got about 10 (songs) written. We’re probably going to have 11 or 12 on the album.  Collen also has his sights set for working on new Def Leppard songs as his band begins its summer tour with Journey.

“I’ve got a bunch for Def Leppard (songs) and so do ‘Sav’ (bassist Rick Savage) and Joe (singer Joe Elliott). So that’s going to be interesting as well,” Collen explained. “What I’m going to do, and on our next tour, which is going to be mammoth, I’m actually going to pretty much have my studio in the back of the bus and I’ll be doing a lot of work while I’m on the tour…You’ve got a lot of time off during the day and it would just be really good (to work).”

The fact that Def Leppard, which also includes guitarist Vivian Campbell and drummer Rick Allen, is working toward a new album suggests that the group – unlike many remaining bands that started in the 1970s and early 1980s — will continue to make new music on a fairly regular basis. The band’s most recent release was a 2015 self-titled studio album.

That marked the 11th studio album from the band, which formed in 1977 in Sheffield, England and released its debut album, “On Through The Night,” three years later.

But it wasn’t until Collen replaced original guitarist Pete Willis prior to the making of the 1983 album, “Pyromania,” that Def Leppard came into its own. Working with producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange (who also produced the band’s 1981 sophomore effort, “High ‘n’ Dry”), Def Leppard locked into a meticulously recorded sound that mixed the hookiness of pop with the thrust and edge of heavy metal.

Released in 1983, “Pyromania” spawned rock hits in “Foolin’” and “Photograph,” and initially sold some seven million copies. The 1987 follow-up, “Hysteria,” was even more successful. Boasting hits such as “Animal” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” sales of that CD eventually topped 15 million and pushed Def Leppard to the very top among rock acts at the time.

The group had one more huge hit with the next CD, “Adrenalize,” but then grunge became the big rock trend and this helped push Def Leppard and other ‘80s hard rock/metal acts out of the spotlight. Despite turning out new CDs on a regular basis, Def Leppard’s album sales declined during the 1990s and early 2000s. Nevertheless, the band remained a popular live act throughout that time, and over the past decade, Def Leppard’s popularity has been back on the rise, not just in America, but around the world, as evidenced by the run of shows in Australia, New Zealand and Europe that will follow the tour with Journey.

“There are a lot of places we have to go back to, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, a bunch of places, and then England and Europe,” Collen said. “So it’s worldwide. It’s growing for us.”

Collen is also enthused about Delta Deep, a group whose hard-hitting bluesy rock sound contrasts notably with Def Leppard’s more concise and pop-oriented material and also gives the guitarist more opportunities to showcase his often-overlooked skills as a soloist.

The seeds for starting the group stemmed from jam sessions Collen and powerhouse vocalist Blackwell-Cook were having at his home in 2012. This evolved into songwriting, with Collen’s wife, Helen, joining as a third writer. Collen and Blackwell-Cook then recruited Robinson and DeLeo to form the rhythm section and the band recorded a mix of originals and covers for the self-titled Delta Deep debut album, which was released to excellent reviews in 2015.  While it may have been unusual for a band with only one studio album to its credit to follow that debut with a live album, Collen said this became the obvious next step once Delta Deep started touring in 2016.

He noted that the self-titled album was basically Robinson and DeLeo playing their parts over the demos he and Blackwell-Cook made, so the four musicians didn’t know how they sounded when they all played together until the tour.

“When we actually did start playing together, it was this monster,” Collen said. “I think it was absolutely essential to catch that sound we were just developing. And we were shocked with how monstrous it sounded, how confident, and the swagger and power and all of this stuff.”

The initial plan for the live release was to choose performances from across the 2016 tour and compile them for the album. But a show at Daryl’s House, the venue run by Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates) in Pawling, New York changed that plan.

“Something happened, and that particular show, we were like ‘Woah,’” Collen said. “Even the little bumps and mistakes and things on this one didn’t really matter because the vibe of it was just like magical. I played it back to some of the other versions and that ‘Daryl’s House’ one just killed me… We had to use the whole show.”

Just as Delta Deep developed as a live band on that 2016 tour, the songwriting for the second studio album is moving the group forward, Collen said.

“We’ve found out we’re this live band, we can play all this stuff, we can do all of these things,” he said. “Now even the songwriting’s got a lot better already.

“We’re taking that (live sound) and we’re going somewhere else with it,” Collen said. It’s Al Green-styled soul, Zeppelin-styled rock, all on the same album. So we’re like wow, this is killer.”

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