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When Def Leppard's Phil Collen gets home from a long tour, the first thing he does is crank up some CDs of the latest shred-guitar monsters, right? Well, not so much. "In general, that’s not really what I’m all about," he says. "If you look at my record collection, you might see Parliament-Funkadelic next to Wes Montgomery. On my iPod, you've got dance music and R&B. I don't spend a lot of time checking out my peers."
The axe superstar describes his tastes as being "all over the map," and he says that he's always found room for a wide range of music on his playlist. “I remember when the Sex Pistols came out," he says, "and I got into them just like my friends did. But that didn't mean I threw out my Genesis records. Good music is good music."
Collen cites EDM titan Skrillex as one of his current faves and says that hard rockers might learn a thing or two from the DJ's mash-up abilities. "Skrillex is extreme hard rock without guitars, extreme hip-hop without vocals," he says. "To combine the main elements of two different genres is a pretty big achievement." Calling himself a "massive dubstep fan," Collen favors aggressive, wobbling basslines and savage synth loops when working out (which, judging from his well-sculpted physique, we're going out on a limb and guessing is quite often). "Dupstep is really exciting, and it gets me pumped up," he enthuses.
The guitarist acknowledges that music fans can sometimes become intransigent about stepping outside of their comfort zones, and he theorizes that insecurity might be at the root of such inflexibility. "You have to look inside yourself and figure out why you're resistant to something," he says. "A lot of times, there's no good reason. It’s OK to like Lady Gaga, it’s OK to like Britney Spears, and it's fine to admit that they have talent. You don't have to like everything, but don't be afraid to let it in. Love what you love. If somebody has a problem with that, well, that's their own small-mindedness."
On the following pages, Collen scrolls bravely through his iPod and stops at six not-so-guilty pleasures. There's not a whiff of a hammer-on solo to be found on any of them, but in their own unique ways, they rock his world all the same.