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  • Take Aim: Amy Sciarretto vs. Def Leppard's Phil Collen

    Fri, 15 Feb 2013 10:55:53

    Take Aim: Amy Sciarretto vs. Def Leppard's Phil Collen - We acquiesce for a legend

    Phil Collen Photos

    • Phil Collen - LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Musician Phil Collen of Def Leppard
    • Phil Collen - LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Musician Phil Collen of Def Leppard attends day 1 of the 2013 American Music Awards gift suite at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
    • Phil Collen - LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Musicians Phil Collen of Def Leppard

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    We've invited bands and artists of all shapes and sizes into the ring for Take Aim columns with Amy Sciarretto. But when an artist of the caliber of Def Leppard's Phil Collen is available, we no longer play with punches, jab with jargon or stir sarcasm with our words. We acquiesce. We even put the five standard Take Aim questions on hold for him.

    We spoke to the guitarist about the band's upcoming Las Vegas residency and which Def Lep smash was a No. 1 hit before they had ever even played it live back in the day.

    You've lived in L.A. for 22 years, so you are almost a native.

    I was in New York for a year. I've been here ever since. My wife is from Brooklyn. I have all the New York I need. It's a weather thing. When I was a kid, I wanted to leave crummy weather, coming from England.

    Hysteria seems like an album full of hits, yet there are deep album cuts. You are playing the album from start to finish during the Vegas residency. Any songs you had to dig out and relearn?

    There are five songs that Vivian [Campbell] never played, like "Don't Shoot Shotgun," "Run Riot." I'd say "Shotgun" is probably the hardest of the lot; it has stops and starts, and weird timing, and you have to sing while you play guitar. I have been playing it for months. Singing and playing at the same time is hard, and there were so many overdubs, vocals, harmonies. It was a bit of a struggle. But it is a great challenge. You have songs that are 25-years-old and you can breathe a new breath of life into them.

    So you just have to relearn!

    They really stump you. A couple of these are very much like that. "Love Bites" was recorded in 1987, and we never played it live. It went to No. 1 and we actually had never played it. We took a few days off and went to rehearsal in Vancouver to practice. It's the singing part that's so hard. The vocals are the integral parts. On their own, they're fine. But at the same time, there are eight different parts going on. We had never played it live, it went No. 1 and now we play it every night. It is challenging.

    It's crazy that you it went No. 1 and you never played it live!

    It was scary. We went into a room and were like "Oh Shit!"

    Which is your fave song to play?

    "Rocket" sums up Def Leppard; it doesn't take itself seriously, and it has massive and tribal drums, huge guitars, and a melody. If you can sum up Def Leppard in one song, that would be it. "Pour Some Sugar on Me "is fun, since it gets the reaction. The males and females turn into strippers when we play it, taking their clothes off. It's fun to watch.

    Where does that "stripper" reaction come from?

    Strippers! That's where it came from. The album came out and tanked; it didn't recoup until we released that song and it went nuclear. It got picked up since strippers in Florida were requesting it and dancing to it. It's synonymous and makes the association with stripper poles. The funny thing is watching the transformation in the fan's faces when they dance to it live; it's not the fact that they are trying to take their clothes off.

    Why are residencies so big? It's common for acts like Elton John or Celine Dion. But then Mötley Crüe did it. Is it the huge pay day?

    I have been talking about it for years. Cheap Trick used to do it years ago. They would play theatres and do a whole album in a night. We've talked about it for years and years. Everyone does it. Then we get offered it in Vegas. Well, yeah, we always wanted to do it, that's the thing. It is based on Cheap Trick model, not the Mötley Crüe model. Finally. We're getting there. We're finally doing it. Vegas is interesting in and of itself. It's only a four-hour drive. But it is great playing in one place night after night.

    That's less stressful on the band and your bodies. And what else is on the Def Lepp docket in 2013?

    That's all we got going this year. We did a couple re-records, like "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Rock of Ages." With us, since we move at a slow pace when we do record, it's hard to say when something will be ready. We're working.

    Anyone planning to see Def Leppard in Las Vegas? Catch them at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino between March 22 and April 13. Check the The Joint's page for tickets.

    —Amy Sciarretto
    02.15.13



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