Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott: ‘We had this inner demon of pop wanting to come out’
The bandings frontman picks out sungs from their back catalogue, and explains how they have remained positive through cancer, car crashes and alcoholism
Joe Elliott of Def Leppard has the gaze not so much better of a rock sun, but a character actor playing a stone wizard. The robes are expensive, the whisker carefully emblazoned, but the 58 -year-old’s face- somewhat downturned- is a possibility that of a Yorkshire butcher fus about his Barnsley chop supplier. His physique, reassuringly, is not that of a person who spends eight hours a day in the gym (” I’m not going to go out there wearing a union jack shirt and skin trousers and do a split-jump ,” he says ). He is likewise delightfully fannish still- we discover a mutual affection of the Italian strip Giuda, and sing their strike Roll the Balls to each other.
Def Leppard may have passed into the heritage rock business these days, but that business is big. They are on a massive tour of US arenas, then they will perform Hysteria, the 1987 album that became hard rock’s Thriller, in full across Australasia and the UK. Oh, and a carton organize of all their 80 s registers has been secreted. That’s a whole lot of Leppard to go round this year, and Elliott is in the mood to talk about it.
” We always had this inner demon of papa wanting to come out ,” he says of the single that turned Def Leppard from an up-and-coming metal band into starrings of MTV and the biggest rock band of their period. “[ Bassist] Rick Savage adored straps like Queen and T Rex; I affection T Rex and Bowie and Sweet and Slade. We were always aiming to do something like that, but we could never genuinely pull it together until Photograph. I remember the first time I discover the riff through the studio wall: me and got a couple of the crew led”- Elliott gathers an amazed face-” and when that happens collectively, you know somebody’s hit on something .”
Photograph’s mother album, Pyromania, croaked diamond in the US- platinum sales 15 days over- but to achieve that level of success necessitate putting the band before everything else, even love. Partway through the recording, they had to sack guitarist Pete Willis, who the hell is founded the band, because of his drinking.” It was maintaining us back ,” Elliott says.” We all drink, don’t get me wrong, but when we drank we just told dirtier jokes a little louder. Pete induced problems. He was disruptive and negative. The band had to come first .”
It took four years for Pyromania’s follow-up to emerge, during which time drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a automobile gate-crash( necessitating the building of a custom-made electronic paraphernalium with hoof triggers for specific drum blueprints ), and the band tried recording with Jim Steinman:” Pretty grim. Has anyone actually speak the small print? Bat Out of Hell was produced by Todd Rundgren; it was written by Jim Steinman .” When the producer-songwriter Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who had previously pleaded exhaustion, became available, Hysteria rose and sounded less like a collecting of ballads than a carefully assembled machine to deliver fastens: a hard rock Meccano placed. “That’s exactly what it was,” Elliott says.” Mutt always said:’ Don’t come in with lyrics. Don’t be too precious. Come in with lots of bits and let’s see what we can glue together .”