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Axe hero Phil Collen can hardly contain his excitement ahead of this month’s Man Raze shows with shock rocker Alice Cooper – after admitting 2009 is shaping up to be one of his best gigging years for some time.

The Def Leppard star takes his punk-infused side project out on the road with the Coop across the UK in November and he admitted: “I’m totally into that slot. It’s building up to be an awesome year for me as far as live shows go.

“With Leppard we toured all summer with Poison and Cheap Trick across some of the biggest arenas in America. But I’m just as excited about opening up for Alice in the autumn back in the UK at theatre-size venues. I feel really good about getting that gig and I’m loving the thought of it already!”

Man Raze release new single Turn It Up on December 7 and Collen added: “Leppard have done shows with Alice in America and we’re always bumping into him here, there and everywhere. But it’s not like he’s a good mate or anything.

“I know he was championing Turn It Up on his radio show and I think that’s how the support slot came about. We had a chat on the phone and soon we were both itching to get out there together.

“Alice really is a legend. What he does is real, entertaining and timeless. His touring band is always amazing – he picks up the best young guys around and they never play a bum note. It’s not a spoof show or a caricature of rock because the guy is a great songwriter and real star. I saw him years ago at Wembley when the Heavy Metal Kids were supporting. He was fantastic then and he’s just as good now. I’ve always been a fan.”

Look out for a full review of Alice Cooper and Man Raze right here as we check out their Newcastle City hall date on November 27.