Def Leppard are one of the UK’s most enduring rock bands, and things are not slowing down anytime soon for them or bassist Rick Savage.
With about to go on sale for the long-awaited UK leg of their tour with Motley Crue, Poison and Joan Jett, the rockstar will be hitting the road again next year – as well as kitting out a new wave of fans with a brand new clothing line, Overnight Angels Crew, designed by Rick and his son.
While they’re all icons from the 80s, the bands have found newfound interest from younger generations in recent years, leading to sell-out crowds and 1.3million tickets sold to the North American tour.
Rick told Metro.co.uk: ‘That was amazing. It was absolutely fantastic, 36 stadiums across America and Canada and I think I’m right in saying it was the biggest tour of the summer in the States.
‘We ended up playing in front of more than 1.3 million people, it was just a fantastic, fantastic experience, I gotta be honest. It wasn’t just us and Motley Crue, I mean, obviously we were the main attractions but it was Poison and Joan Jett, and the whole package was just fantastic. There was a great vibe, everybody got on and there was a good camaraderie and everyone mucked in.’
Def Leppard and Motley Crue had toured the UK together over a decade ago, but the experience was different this time around, with Rick explaining: ‘It was chilled out and relaxed, but it was way more friendly than it was 10 or 12 years ago.
‘There were very few days would go by where Nikki Sixx didn’t come and sit in our dressing room, or we didn’t go and sit with him or whatever. We have a vegan chef on the road with us and he would sometimes come in and nick some of the food and just talk b*****ks for an hour or so and then we’d have to go and do our things, do a little meet and greet or get ready, depending on who was on the stage first that night.
‘I’ve got to say it was just just brilliant. It was absolutely brilliant – all the guys are just great company.’
Another thing that stood out for the bassist was the lack of egos on the tour and just great vibes all around, as he revealed: ‘You get to a point where there may be friction between certain bands or certain individuals, but there was none of that, it was just great to be part of and, of course, the audiences were just unbelievable.
‘Every night, we kept saying, “Wow, tonight was the best of the tour,” to the point where you just couldn’t separate show after show after show because it was just a fantastic, brilliant experience. We really, really loved it.’
While some of the fans have stuck by the bands for the past four decades, the current tour has also allowed those who weren’t even born in their first heyday to experience the icons of heavy metal in the flesh.
‘There was such a big cross section of people, there were people at the gigs that honestly, were in their 60s and were there first time around if you like, but the amount of young kids – I mean, possibly even grandchildren of the original fans – that were there…,’ Rick revealed.
‘The age range was absolutely unbelievable. It was also literally 50/50, male and female as well. In fact, if anything, it may have been over balanced to the female side. Honestly, if you wanted to sit down and write down all the elements of a perfect audience and a perfect show, this was it basically, it’s simple as that.’
Remaining at the top of your game and retaining 1.3million-strong ticket sales is no mean feat, but Rick believes the secret to longevity in the music business is never to rest on your laurels.
He explained: ‘The 80s was a fantastic time in my life. I mean when you’re in your 20s and you’re in the middle of the 80s, there’s no better place to be, to be perfectly honest, so we were so fortunate to get a break and to become relatively famous in that decade. It was pretty cool, and what’s even cooler, is that there’s so many bands on that decade that were popular then that are still popular now, whether it’s U2, R.E.M., Bon Jovi, Guns N’ Roses, ourselves or Motley. There’s a hell of a lot of artists that came from there that are still valid today, I believe more so probably than in the 90s or the 00s.
‘We’ve toured with Joan Jett before, we’ve toured with Poison before and we actually toured with Motley before, back in the UK about 10 years ago. And every single one of those artists is so much better now than they were, we’re all improving all the time.
‘It’s so great to still have that pride and to still want to be better than you’ve ever been, and I think that’s what drives most of us on is that drive to keep improving. Even if you’ve reached the stage in your life where you don’t really have to do it, but you just love it so you just want to want to keep yourself valid and up to date.’
Rick also feels humbled to still be drawing the sell-out crowds 40 years down the line – something he could not have predicted as a fledgling star in the 80s.
‘It’s very humbling and it’s also a little bit kind of unbelievable in another sense, where you go, “Is this really happening? Did we really think we’d be doing this in our early 60s, when we were teenagers?” It’s like, don’t be so stupid, but here we are, and it really, really doesn’t feel wrong or out of place,’ he says.
‘As a band, Def Leppard are playing the best we’ve ever done in our lives and it’s that attention to detail and hard work and just wanting to be as good as you can – and I think if you use those principles in any form of life, you’ve got half a chance.’
Known for never shying away from being daring with fashion, another area in his life where he is applying those principles is to his new clothing collection, Overnight Angels Crew, which was born out of a lockdown idea he shared with his son, Scott.
He reveals: ‘I personally love clothes, I’ve always loved clothes, and Scott has always been the same. He was one of those kids that always had a definite opinion on fashion. Especially during the pandemic, it was more for a bit of fun than anything else and we wanted to do something that might appeal to a lot of people. We don’t view ourselves as a merch company or anything like that, but we do want to do nice T shirts, nice hoodies and something that’s a little bit more high end but it still has a rock and roll edge to it.’
Rick’s own style has evolved over the years as he adds: ‘There was a time when I wouldn’t have been seen dead wearing flares because it was so uncool – now I love wearing flares! But I love seeing how different clothes react differently when you’re on stage and when you’re in the natural lifer and just how different fabrics react. It’s a bit of an obsession really. I just love working and wearing different types of clothes and working with different shades – it’s not even about matching colours, but matching the sort of vibe with an outfit.’
Overnight Angels Crew will be releasing a new product every week until Christmas, mixing pieces which can be worn every day with special edition designs.
‘The first drop was T shirts, hoodies, very simple sort of designs and we want to try and slowly progress into more dressy type things, more elaborate shirts, more cooler jackets, that type of thing.
‘I’ll be wearing certain jackets on stage and things like that, which will be available to buy at some point.’
Summing up what Overnight Angels Crew is about, Rick explains: ‘If a guy’s going to dinner with his wife, he doesn’t want to look like a complete rock star, but sometimes they just want to look a little bit like a rock star.
‘So it’s just that that elevation of slightly different style away from the norm without being ridiculous, you know? A little bit of glitter can sometimes go a long way and that’s kind of what we want to do – we just want to sprinkle a little bit of glitter on people’s ideas of how they can look.’
Rick Savage’s Overnight Angels Crew clothing is