Def Leppard guitarist/songwriter Phil Collen revels in smashing stereotypes. For this legendary rocker— vegetarian long before it was cool—indulgence means thrice-daily workouts and late-night chocolate. As he prepared for Def Leppard’s summer tour, which kicks off June 15, Collen spoke to VT from his Laguna Hills, Calif., home.
Q A lot of musicians have become vocal about vegetarianism. But when you gave up meat, it wasn’t exactly something rockers would talk about on MTV. What’s changed?
A When I became a vegetarian in 1983, it was still a bit rare and even weird. I always thought meat was barbaric, though. It was not a health thing for me, but a moral thing. I wasn’t going to put something in my mouth that was slaughtered for my entertainment. It’s a very ego-based way of eating.
Q What do you say to bodybuilders and competitive athletes who think you can’t achieve peak performance on a plant-based diet?
A I bench-pressed twice my body weight a couple of years ago. That’s what a pro athlete would do.
Q This summer the band is releasing its first-ever live album, Mirrorball. For Def Leppard newbies, which album makes the best introduction?
A Hysteria, our most successful to date. It went Diamond, selling more than 14 million copies. Or Vault, our greatest hits. It has a bit of everything.