Man Raze (pictured) have been bubbling under for a few years now but the British rock trio featuring Def Leppard axe hero Phil Collen are finally poised to make a breakthrough.
Special guests on Alice Cooper’s sell-out Theatre Of Death tour, the band is gearing up for an assault on the rock senses in 2010 – with Leppard sidelined throughout next year.
Not for the first time this year Collen caught up with rushonrock – and as usual we were all ears…
rushonrock: Do you have a staple Man Raze setlist now or are you still experimenting to find the perfect playlist?
Phil Collen: We never stop experimenting. That’s the case even in Def Leppard – of course there are the staple songs but there are certain parts of the show you change over time. It’s a bit different with Man Raze right now for all sorts of reasons – we’re not a band which sticks to one style and on the Alice Cooper tour we’re the support act and it’s not our stage. We have to be careful to judge the crowd and we can’t do everything we’d like to do. Even at Download we played to the crowd. Some of our dub stuff actually offends rock crowds! That’s something I’m used to – we got slagged off all the time when I was in Girl but that was more to do with our image than our music. But even when we were out on the Hysteria tour with Leppard I remember we did a Rolling Stones cover in front of 18,000 fans in Minneapolis and you could have heard a pin drop. Sometimes you’re just way off when it comes to judging what a crowd will like and what they won’t appreciate.
rushonrock: You’re still seen as a new band in the UK but Man Raze have plenty of gigs under their belt now – are you a tight unit live?
PC: I’d say so. The last gig we did was during the summer when we played a little club venue in London. We had two days to rehearse and realized we only really needed one. We’re doing what we want to do the way we want to do it but it’s a different situation for me. As the lead singer it’s a totally different dynamic and something I’m still getting used to. It’s a slightly different approach but it seems to be working so far!
rushonrock: You’ve know Simon for a long time – how has he improved as a musician since the girl days?
PC: I think all musicians keep improving if they keep playing. If you stop playing and stop listening to new music then there’s every chance you’ll stand still. Otherwise we all progress. All of the Man Raze members have been going strong for along time now. We all bring our various experiences to the table and I think we’re better musicians for it. It becomes a mental thing when you’ve been playing as long as we have. I used to practice every night before I went on stage but now I don’t practice at all as such. I still play every day – I even sit on the toilet with a guitar – but I don’t practice scales and I feel there’s a much greater degree of freedom. I have fun playing the guitar right now and I have periods of contemplation when I’m holding a guitar which suddenly become riffs or whatever. You come across some really cool stuff that way and as you become more experienced the guitar becomes more about the instrument as an art form than the technical side of things.
rushonrock: Do you think Man Raze is the direction you might have gone in if you hadn’t left Girl and joined Leppard?
PC: Yes but not with Girl. That band was more flashy and more of a rock band but we were influenced by the punk sound. Simon used to listen to a lot of jazz stuff and rock guys just thin that kind of music is totally uncool. In Man Raze we can improvise and bring all of our influences to bear. We can go where we want to with this band and the songwriting process is very open and relaxed. There are very few restrictions.
rushonrock: How has the band been received by the rock community?
PC: First of all I think a lot of people still haven’t heard the band so they haven’t been able to form a judgement. That’ s a bit of a frustration but things are changing slowly but surely. Other musicians seem quite impressed and surprised in equal measure. They like the music but don’t necessarily see me – as a Def Leppard guitarist – fronting a band like Man Raze.
rushonrock: Is the Alice Cooper tour the first of a series of support slots or are you planning a headline tour?
PC: We’re hoping to use this tour as a springboard and we’ll gauge the reaction before making any firm plans. The album is getting released again and we’ve just released the video for Turn It Up – it’s all brand new as far as British fans are concerned. If we’d come out on a major label then our time would have come and gone by now due to the problems releasing the record. But we don’t really have that pressure and we can keep going out and promoting the album again and again.
rushonrock: Originally you were only due to support Alice in December but now you’re playing the whole tour. What’s the story there?
PC: We were going to do the end of the Def Leppard tour which wasn’t due to end until November. We were going to open up for Leppard on the last run of Sparkle Lounge shows but we didn’t complete the final leg of that tour. That allowed us to do the whole Alice tour and his people have been brilliant accommodating us. As far as Leppard goes we just really needed a break – as a band we’re taking 2010 off but that means Man Raze can be my priority.