Joe Elliott is one of the most recognizable and accomplished artists on the planet. As the voice of Def Leppard he’s led the band through triumph and tragedy to become one of the most successful rock bands of all time. Elliott moonlights in a side project called Down ‘n’ Outz where he shares his passion for Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople alongside fellow musicians from the London Quireboys and Raw Glory.
The band was formed to open for Mott the Hoople on the last night of the ensemble’s tour at London’s Hammersmith Apollo in 2009 . After a successful debut album called My Regeneration, Down ‘n’ Outz return with their follow-up, The Further Adventures of…
I was fortunate enough to get some time with Elliott on the phone last week to chat about the new Down ‘n’ Outz record, the upcoming tour with KISS, and some fun moments from Def Leppard’s incredible legacy.
I’m a huge fan of Mott the Hoople and I love all of the songs on the new release. How did you go about choosing the songs for this specific record?
It’s pretty easy really. I couldn’t do Hoople songs on the first Down ‘n’ Outz album because it was a case where we recorded the songs that we played live when we opened for Mott. I wasn’t going to play Hoople songs only though—I thought that would be disrespectful and quite ridiculous. On this album, I could go anywhere I wanted. If I was creating a playlist or some “desert island disc” situation, these are pretty much at the top of the list. So, it wasn’t that difficult having lived with these songs for the best part of 40 to 45 years—they prioritize themselves in your mind.
I mean there isn’t really a bad song in the whole catalogue in my eyes anyway, but certain songs…they are just inappropriate and I wasn’t going to go with the obvious things like “All the Young Dudes” and you know, “All the Way from Memphis.” I wanted to dig a little deeper and shine a brand new light on some lost gems.
Why do you think the Mott or Ian’s solo stuff wasn’t bigger in the States?
The usual thing, the songs were always good, the production was always right, but most of the time when an artist doesn’t really break huge they have some form of bad luck—which is any combination of management, record company staff… I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve read about an artist who gets signed to a major label by a big fanatic and by the time they get the first album recorded, that person has either quit or being fired.