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The Denver Examiner interviews Phil
conic rock band Def Leppard made their debut in 1978. Guitarist Phil Collen joined Def Leppard in 1982, just in time for their groundbreaking album “Pyromania”. The album sold in excess of 10 times platinum and received a Diamond award in the U.S. and Canada. During the recording of Hysteria, drummer Rick Allen was in a car accident and lost his left arm. Amazingly, he retrained himself on the drums, and Hysteria became their biggest selling album to that date. The album became their second Diamond album and sold 12 million copies in the U.S. alone. There were seven singles released from the album, including “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Love Bites.” In 1991, after guitarist Steve Clark’s untimely death, Phil played both guitar parts for Adrenalize, and the album was number one in the U.S. in 1992.

I had an amazing opportunity to talk with Phil about his start in music and being in one of the biggest rock bands ever. When he was a teenager, his cousin took him to his first concert, which was Deep Purple. Phil remembers watching Ritchie Blackmore in disbelief, saying “I didn’t know he could play guitar like that.” Growing up, he listened to all kinds of music including The Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, the Motown sound, and just about any musical genre you can imagine. From the moment he saw Deep Purple in concert, he knew that he wanted to be a musician and didn’t want to do anything else. He got his first guitar on his 16th, after pestering his parents for two years.

When talking about his songwriting process, he told me that it’s different every time. Sometimes it comes from a drumbeat, a word from a movie, book or poem, or a bass riff. “I’ve gotten some of my best work from a line in a cheesy TV show,” he told me.

Along with being extremely busy with Def Leppard, Phil has a side project called “Manraze.” This band features Phil, Paul Cook (The Sex Pistols) and Simon Laffy (Girl). They just released their sophomore album, punkfunkrootsrock, earlier this month. I asked him if there was a difference between recording a Def Leppard album versus a Manraze album. He told me, “It’s very different. Def Leppard has an iconic sound, and we stay true to those sounds. With Manraze, there are no limitations. It’s fresh and liberating.” The project started in 2004 when Phil decided to express himself by another creative outlet.

Manraze is a London-based alternative/nuwave rock band. The CD features a diversity of genres including rock, soul and reggae dub. It’s a perfect blend of each band member’s influences and talents brought into the mix.

Manraze has announced plans to perform a “one-night only” event in Los Angeles at the legendary Roxy Theater on Sunday, October 2nd. This will be the trio’s official Album Release Party. Special surprise guests will also be on hand to help the guys celebrate their release. Fans can pre-purchase special VIP ticket packages for this show by logging onto Facebook. You can also get a free download of their second single, “I C U in Everything”. Phil hopes that Manraze will be able to do a U.S. club tour next year.

Phil has been in the music industry long enough to see many trends come and go. I asked him what artists need to make it in the music business today. He told me, “Def Leppard is like a family, and I knew the guys before I joined. To be successful, its more about the people in the band and their motivation to be in the band.” His advice for musicians trying to make it are to first, be true to one’s self and second, have the motivation to do it. He said, “It should be about amazing, artistic fulfillment, not just about a career and money.”

There is no doubt that Phil has had some amazing experiences over the years. “My most exciting moment is when Pyromaniaexploded and we toured in support of that alum,” he said. He also talked about how after the accident, drummer Rick Allen came back to the band and they played at Donington. He remembers how the fans were standing up and crying, and what an amazing experience it was for both the band and their fans.

Def Leppard has many great things planned for their fans. After the U.S. tour, they will be going overseas. Phil is excited that Tom Cruise will be starring in the upcoming movie, Rock of Ages, from the Broadway musical. He also said that the band will also maybe work on a new song or two.

Def Leppard is one of the biggest rock bands in the world. To date, they have sold more than 65 million records worldwide, and both Pyromania and Hysteriaare Diamond certified by RIAA. They are currently on a world tour after releasing their first official live album in 30 years. The band will be in Denver on Monday, August 29th. For tickets: http://www.ticketmaster.com/Def-Leppard-tickets/artist/734898




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