def-lepp-collenAxe slinger Phil Collen is no stranger to rushonrock and we’ve bagged another exclusive chat with the Leppard star ahead of the band’s festival-closing slot at Download this Sunday.

Set to be one of the busiest men at Castle Donington, the former Girl man is playing with side project Man Raze the night before in the week the punk rock three piece re-released their sparkling debut Surreal. Expect the sweat to be pouring off that finely toned torso come 10.30pm on Sunday…

rushonrock: is closing Download 2009 a big deal for Def Leppard?

Phil Collen: Doing Castle Donington and the Monsters Of Rock in 1986 was a huge career highlight for me and the rest of the band. Rick [Allen] had come back into the fold after his accident and nobody knew what would happen. It turned out to be a very emotional day and it choked everyone up – it was really interesting because we didn’t think the British rock public liked us that much. We were just looking to make sure Rick came through the gig unscathed but in the end there was this massive outpouring of emotion both on stage and off it. It was really special and the fact that we haven’t been back to the place since then makes this weekend a huge event for the band. deflep2

rushonrock: Have you ever topped such an incredible final day festival bill?

PC: The line-up for all three days is amazing but Sunday is very special. We’ve played with a lot of those bands over the years. We know the guys from Tesla very well and we’ve toured extensively with Journey and Whitesnake in the last few years. We know all the guys from those bands so well and the guys from ZZ Top are good friends. The Sunday bill is great if you’re part of it but I’m looking forward to it as a fan!

rushonrock: Glad to see Tesla back firing on all cylinders?

PC: It’s great to see them back and we’ve enjoyed their company over the years. But we also love the guys from Black Stone Cherry after they joined us on the Whitesnake tour last year and it’ll be great to see those boys again. It’s going to be a classic rock love-in. We’re going to be hugging everybody and it’s going to be non-stop back slapping and hand shaking. Can’t wait.

deflep_pyromaniasleeverushonrock: Pyromania and Adrenalize are reissued as deluxe editions this week. What’s your verdict on those definitive Leppard records?

PC: Pyromania is a record which stands the test of time, no doubt about that. We didn’t think we’d ever celebrate that album again. It was done and dusted as far as we were concerned and revisiting it this year has been like opening up a time capsule. You’ve got the LA Forum gig as part of the package, new notes and some great Ross Halfin shots we’d never seen before. As far as Adrenalize is concerned it came out the week of the LA riots and the world was changing. But that record was pretty dominant at the time and we more than  did ourselves justice with it.

rushonrock: Do you take a back seat with the deluxe editions or is the band instrumental in what’s put together? deflep_adrenalizesleeve

PC: we play a pretty hands-on role and mainly because it’s just as interesting for us as it is for the fans. We don’t remember all that happened 26 years ago and it’s amazing what you come across doing something like the reissues. I think it’s more interesting for Joe because he documents just about everything Leppard ever does – when things like the deluxe editions pop up he produces all kinds of things from out of nowhere. He’s like a computer.

rushonrock: You make him sound like a bit of a trainspotter…

PC: Well ,every band needs someone like that and it’s great having him in that role. The rest of us forget we’ve done versions of this song or that, where we’ve recorded them and who we’ve recorded them with. But Joe’s like Leppard’s librarian. It’s pretty cool and doesn’t make him boring at all!