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In House With Phil Collen: the Def Leppard Guitarist on ‘Rock of Ages,’ Getting Sober

In House is our series in which we welcome artists into our offices to play some music, chat with our staffers and, generally, just hang out. For our latest visit, Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen came through Noisecreep’s Los Angeles headquarters to chat about the band’s music being featured in the new Tom Cruise feature film Rock of Ages.

Hitting theaters tomorrow (June 15), Rock of Ages finds Cruise playing Stacee Jaxx, the lead singer of a band called Arsenal. The star goes full-on ’80s for the film, sporting a wig and stage clothes that wouldn’t look out of place in a vintage Warrant or Ratt video.

Cruise also handles his own vocal parts in the movie, a task that floored Collen and his Def Leppard bandmates: “We were privileged to actually be on the set and hear an unfinished version of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” that he was lip-syncing to. We were blown away because you know, it’s Tom Cruise. All of a sudden he’s singing this song that you’re so familiar with, and he did all of the backing and lead vocals — it’s all him. We were very impressed. He killed it,” Collen told Noisecreep during his recent visit.

Directed by Adam Shankman (Hairspray), Collen told us he was also impressed by the way Rock of Ages captured the true essence of the ’80s hair metal movement: “It’s very tongue and cheek and makes fun in all the right places. They just happened to choose the Sunset Strip. They nailed it.”

The movie also reminded the Def Lep axeman of the band’s wild period, causing havoc from one arena to the next. Sober for over 25 years now, Collen says he doesn’t miss his drinking days: “I just didn’t like the fact that I stopped remembering things. I can remember borrowing Joe Elliot’s (Def Leppard singer) car and leaving it parked sideways in the street and not remembering anything. Just crazy stuff. For me, it was definitely time to stop.”

Alcoholism claimed the life of Collen’s bandmate Steve Clark in 1991 when the latter was just 30: “The real tragedy is that Steve Clark, the other guitar player in Def Leppard, was my best friend. I stopped drinking and he didn’t and it killed him. So I’m really glad I stopped when I did. I managed to see all this stuff and actually take it in and remember it all as well.”

Catch Def Leppard on tour this summer along with Poison and Lita Ford on the following dates:

Jun. 20 – Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheater
Jun. 22 – Irvine, CA @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Jun. 23 – Las Vegas, NV @ Red Rock Amphitheatre
Jun. 25 – Denver, CO @ Pepsi Center
Jun. 27 – Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center
Jun. 29 – Atlanta, GA @ Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood
Jun. 30 – Tampa, FL @ Tampa Bay Times Forum
Jul. 02 – Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Music Center
Jul. 03 – Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena
Jul. 06 – Cleveland, OH @ Quickens Loan Arena
Jul. 07 – Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy Music Theatre
Jul. 10 – Baltimore, MD @ Merriweather Pavilion
Jul. 11 – Newark, NJ @ Prudential Center
Jul. 13 – Wantagh, NY @ Nikon at Jones Beach Pavilion
Jul. 16 – Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre
Jul. 17 – Hamilton, ON @ Copps Coliseum
Jul. 19 – Chicago, IL @ Allstate Arena
Jul. 22 – Cadott, WI @ Rock Fest

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