Phil Collen Shows His Musical Spots

Def Leppard guitarist talks songwriting and his side project Manraze
  • Photo: Larry Marano/
    Phil Collen
September 02, 2011 -- 10:29 am PDT

Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen recently visited The Recording Academy New York Chapter office to participate in an installment of The Academy's 5 Questions With … series. Collen discussed his career with Def Leppard, the band's new album Mirror Ball: Live & More, songwriting, touring, and his side project Manraze, among other topics.

"With Def Leppard, we've [gotten] better as singers [and] as players," said Collen. "I think it's really important to keep pushing yourself. We're always trying to write new songs and raise the bars at [our] live shows. We push it each year to make it a bit more spectacular."

Born in London, Collen first emerged on the UK music scene in the late '70s with the glam rock band Girl. He joined Def Leppard in 1982, replacing guitarist Pete Willis, and played guitar solos on select tracks for the band's third album, 1983's Pyromania. The album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, featuring the hits "Photograph," "Foolin'" and "Rock Of Ages." The band's follow-up, Hysteria, became their first No. 1 album and netted six Top 20 hits, including "Pour Some Sugar On Me," "Armageddon It" and the No. 1 ballad "Love Bites." Pyromania and Hysteria have each attained diamond certification from the RIAA for sales of more than 10 million copies in the United States — Def Leppard is one of only five bands to have attained such a feat.

The band's fifth album, Adrenalize, was delayed due to the death of guitarist Steve Clark in 1991. The album was released in 1992, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and spawning four Top 40 hits, including "Let's Get Rocked." The band released two additional studio albums in the '90s, 1996's Slang and 1999's Euphoria. Their most recent studio album, Songs From The Sparkle Lounge, was released in 2008, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and featuring "Nine Lives," a collaboration with GRAMMY-winning country artist Tim McGraw. Def Leppard released their first live album, Mirror Ball: Live & More, in June. The three-disc set contains a full concert, three new studio tracks and a DVD. Def Leppard — consisting of Collen, guitarist Vivian Campbell, vocalist Joe Elliott, bassist Rick Savage, and drummer Rick Allen — will wrap a U.S. tour with Heart this month before heading to Australia, Japan and the UK.

Manraze, Collen's side project, draws upon influences such as the Police, Nirvana and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Rounded out by bassist Simon Laffy and drummer Paul Cook of Sex Pistols fame, the trio released their debut album, Surreal, in 2008. Manraze's sophomore effort, PunkFunkRootsRock, was released Aug. 1. Their first U.S. concert will take place Oct. 2 at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood, Calif.

Click on the "5 Questions With ... interviews" tag below for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.

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