Anybody who has listened to Def Leppard at any point in their life has their own personal, lasting memory of the band during their thirty-five-year career—a group of young, brash Brits greeting the States in rock anthem style with “Hello America,” Joe Elliott’s Union Jack shirt nearly ubiquitous on MTV, or “Pour Some Sugar On Me” propelling them to superstardom.
Rather than relics, Def Leppard has both fully embraced their past and moved into the present—exuding a youthful energy and sounding top-notch. Prior to embarking on a U.S. tour with Styx and Tesla, we had a chance to chat with the band’s iconic lead singer, Joe Elliott.
While Joe may not share the same enthusiasm for the vinyl format as some of our readers and staff, he both embraces its history and sees its place from a musician’s perspective as his side project, the Down ‘n’ Outz, released a vinyl EP for Record Store Day 2015 in the UK. Joe gave us a look at Def Leppard’s past, present, and potentially long future, as only he could.
As we go to press, it’s been announced that the band’s guitarist, Vivian Campbell will be taking a hiatus from the road due to the return of the cancer he’s fought bravely in recent years. It’s in this light that Joe’s comments on the band’s future prove both thoughtful—and prescient.
Hi Joe, how are you doing?
Excellent, not too bad at all.
Good to hear! You’re about to kick off a huge summer tour with Styx and Tesla. How did that combination come together?
These combinations are all suggested tours made on the premise that we want to tour with people that we are familiar with or the audience are familiar with. In other words, kind of like the old ’60s package tours, if you like. I’m a huge fan of these old Fillmore West and Fillmore East—or even the Marquee London posters—with The Who on the same bill as The Move or Amen Corner or Humble Pie, or something like that. Not just bands that are “special guests,” which I hate.
We’ve always said to agents through our management, “Throw suggestions at us who we could go out with.” That’s why every ten years or so, you’ll see us out with the likes of Bryan Adams ten years ago, Journey, Poison, we’ve been out with Styx and REO [Speedwagon] before, Cheap Trick, Heart, you know. These bands are multi-platinum bands.
We toured with Tesla back in ’87-’88 when we were doing the Hysteria tour for most of that tour. When they went away, we went out with bands like L.A. Guns, Queensryche, or Europe. These bands are all selling two, three million albums, so we were always out with well-known bands, and I think it makes a better night. Ticket prices, especially these days, you know, parking, and ten dollars for a beer. You’ve got to make it a value for the money. I think that should start at 7:30, not at 9:00.