Phil-collen photo from the Phil Collen website

Interview by Lonn M. Friend for The Rockstar Remedy

Three months before a tour begins, my mind-set totally shifts, like an athlete preparing for competition. I re-crank up my routine, getting into three workouts a day. Wake up at six am, do 30 minutes on the spin bike, then concentrated weight training.

I’m taking no medication whatsoever. I really control my diet on tour. On the bus, we have a George Foreman grill and a big salad bowl. Me and my wife, Helen, will do a large mixed salad, greens, tomatoes and throw a veggie burger on the grill, chop that up and add it to the salad, cover it with apple cider vinegar instead of dressing, which makes a huge difference. There’s no fat content and the calories are way down. My wife likes to stew up veggies in a crock-pot. We try to be as raw as we can. I haven’t had an alcoholic drink in 26 years and I’ve never smoked. I mean, a lot of people change their diet but they’re still drinking wine or having cocktails, which are full of sugar, so detrimental to the health.

I’d say 75% of my diet is non processed – no salt, no sugar. I lift really heavy weights. Right now my weight is about 157 and earlier this year, I bench pressed 380 pounds. So of course, the diet will alter a bit when I’m in serious weight training, more protein. I’ll cheat once in awhile, like this past Halloween we splurged on spicy Thai chili Doritos.

Sobriety has given me a constant, inspired creative flow.

Clear body, clear mind.

I don’t take supplements because I’ve honestly found that if you’re eating the right stuff, you don’t really need them. Least in my case. I’ve been a strict vegetarian for 30 years and a vegan for like three years. I made the change after reading a book called The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. The film, Forks over Knives is based on that book. It really woke me up. No more meat. Ever. I have a great garden. My wife and I grow tomatoes, peppers, vibrant orange and avocado trees – I love avocado but when I’m on tour, I cut ‘em out completely because of the fat. My touring weight is a lean 150. I’ll only eat carbs like pasta on a cheat day. So if I keep strict to the touring diet, I can actually slice up an avocado to top my veggie burger.

Now my metabolism has slowed down a bit since we hit the road a long time ago. You have to change, take control of your diet and workout program to keep doing this at the level we do. We only atrophy because we allow it. You can totally change it if you make the effort.

I’ve known musicians who made the change – started a vegetarian diet without alcohol after years of drinking and eating crap and it really made a difference. But it’s a rare breed. Now I was a drinker back in early days. Me and Steve Clark were drinking buddies. I remember one night stopping and turning to Steve saying, “Hey, man, I keep forgetting shit I can’t do this anymore.” He said, “Yeah, yeah, we both should stop.” But he couldn’t. I was blacking out, driving drunk, all the awful things associated with alcohol – buying stupid shit and not remembering. Getting an earring, not remembering. It was totally acceptable especially in hard rock music; the mantra of “drinking is cool.” But I really didn’t think it was cool, waking up and not remembering what I’d done, especially the driving part that really bothered me. I had to stop cold turkey. I tried the social drinking thing but that didn’t really work. When I completely stopped, that’s when I started working out because I had two or three extra hours in the day not being used up for recovering from the night before.

Phil Collen Website