DEF LEPPARD guitarist Phil Collen recently spoke to Classic Rock Revisited about his side-project MAN-RAZE. An excerpt from the interview follows:
Classic Rock Revisited: Where did the name of the band come from?
Phil Collen: "At first we were going to call it FAY RAZE — you know, the girl from the King Kong movies. Simon wasn't into it and he was right as it was a bit limp. We kept the 'raze' and called it MAN-RAZE. Man Ray was a photographer from New York. He died and was buried in France. It fit us really well. He was very surrealist. One of the great things about London is the great culture that is there. I never took advantage of it when I lived there. I just started getting into it the last few years. I went to a gallery and the first thing I ran into was a Man Ray exhibit. He would have some really surreal stuff and then next to it he would have a shoe. It was really weird stuff. It is debatable if that is really art."
Classic Rock Revisited: There are three songs on your web site that can be sampled. You have "Skin Crawl", "Low" and "Every Second of Every Day". Each song is sonically different from each other. You have a sound but the sound is very expansive. Most bands have a sound theme for an entire album. DEF LEPPARD certainly does. You guys seem to be just playing from the heart and playing only for what the individual song calls out for. It leads to a certain kind of diversity in your music.
Phil Collen: "That is one of the great things about what we are doing. You can't really do this in DEF LEPPARD. I have tried to in the past but it just doesn't work. In 1996, we put out an album called 'Slang'. I loved the album and I loved the recording process on that album. We played totally live on that record and we used real drums the whole time. We recorded it in a villa in Spain and we just went for it. If a song sounded R&B then that was great and if the next song was grungy and dark then that was okay. We had a blast doing it but no one received it. It may have been the wrong time or something. With MAN-RAZE it is more that kind of approach. We have no limitations. If you want to go off on a Hendrix tangent then that is fine. It is really cool and it was so much fun."
Classic Rock Revisited: Are you going to get a label or are you going to go to release it yourself?
Phil Collen: "We actually have not decided. We are going to put out an EP first. I got the first mix and I was like, 'Fuck, this is really cool.' We are going to have three songs and we are going to have three remixes. We have a dance remix of one of the songs. It is really trippy and wide open and out there. We are doing whatever the fuck we want and it is so much fun."
Classic Rock Revisited: Are you looking at any pressures of commercial success or does it matter to you?
Phil Collen: "It would be nice. Some of the songs are really catchy and commercial sounding. It is just great to release this stuff and get it out there. People ask me what it is like singing and playing the guitar and I tell them it's really great. There are not a lot of places anymore that you can decide in a split second if you are going to sing the next verse or just jam out a little bit. You just can't do that with a really structured five-piece or four-piece. With a three-piece you can just go nuts."
Classic Rock Revisited: You stole my next question which was about you singing the lead vocals. I think a lot of DEF LEPPARD fans want to check it out because you are singing the lead vocals.
Phil Collen: "You hear my voice in a lot of the background stuff and with the odd line here and there so a lot of people are familiar with it but this is different."
Classic Rock Revisited: You had no fear about stepping up to the microphone. I interviewed Joe Perry who did all the vocals on his solo album and he was frightened about it.
Phil Collen: "I was not fearful at all. That is kind of strange for Joe. You have to be confident. I have a friend who plays acoustic guitar and is a songwriter but he told me that he had to work on his voice. I told him the main thing you have to have is confidence. Even if you have the shittiest voice in the world but you have confidence then someone is going to like your approach and your honesty. My son is 15 and he plays bass and his buddy plays guitar. They are into KORN and that kind of stuff. I introduced them to CREAM. I said, 'Eric Clapton is not a great vocalist and neither is Jack Bruce. But together they are. It doesn't matter who is singing because when they do it together they are getting their point across.' They were like, 'This is really cool shit,' and they dug it a lot. The fact is that is was quite honest from that point of view.
"CREAM just played live again. Joe Elliott went to see them last week. He said it was unbelievable. He said he has never seen as many bald heads in one place. He said it was stunning. He said the thing that freaked everyone out was that Ginger Baker, who had been disappeared forever, was the star of the show."
Read Phil Collen's entire interview with Classic Rock Revisited at this location.