Garry Sharpe-Young of Rockdetector.com recently conducted an in-depth interview with DEF LEPPARD frontman Joe Elliott. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
Rockdetector.com: You are obviously all fortunate enough to be comfortably well off for the rest of your lives now. Is the drive to make music still as strong with you all as it has always been?
Joe Elliott: "Yep, big rich twatty rock stars! Compared to some rappers who've been 'on the scene' 15 minutes, we're minnows… but I won't be back in the factory any time soon! As for the music, it's ALWAYS been the focal point. We were never into it for the money. We wouldn't have spent three years recording a very expensive record, 'Hysteria', if we were! When I saw Marc Bolan and David Bowie on 'Top of the Pops' I didn't shout, 'Wow! I want to be him for the money.' It was for the glory of it and a way out of dreary old day job land. That wasn't for me, the music gave me a motivation."
Rockdetector.com: I'd like to pick up on some of the later DEF LEPPARD albums. For example, "Slang". This album was released during strange times in the music business. Many fans find it your most engaging work to date with a lot of "dark" songs. Personally, there are tracks on "Slang" which rank very highly on my particular favourites list. Looking back, how do you feel about the album now?
Joe Elliott: "Viv [guitarist Vivian Campbell] doesn't like it all that much these days. After all, it was his first with us and he wanted the LEPP thing a bit more. Happily for him, it's back, so you move on. I have some great memories of the recording and writing sessions. For the rest of us, it was very liberating, but like all our albums, some of it works and some of it doesn't. Trust me, there's stuff on 'Hysteria' I'd do over … I love the title track, 'Pearl of Euphoria' is nearly brilliant and 'All I Want Is Everything' was the first song I think I really felt good to have written. It all fell into place at the right time."
Rockdetector.com: Which leads us onto 2002's "X". I don't think I saw this question being asked but, with your track record for writing hugely successful songs, why did the band decide to work with outside songwriters at that point? The reason I ask is two-fold, firstly because why would a band that can write million sellers need songwriting input and secondly because I think the "X" songs you did write were actually much stronger.
Joe Elliott: "Well, it wasn't a conscious decision to do that, it just worked out that Phil [Collen, guitar] was hanging out in Los Angeles with [Swedish producer/songwriter] Andreas Carlsson, you know, just coffee, bite to eat, shootin' the shit, that sorta thing, when Andreas said, 'We should write a song together.' Something we all say from time to time but very rarely do. Anyway, it didn't happen, but Andreas did call us about six months later and told us he had a song, 'Unbelievable', that he thought sounded like us! So, long story short, he sent a copy over, we played it, liked it, recorded it!"
Rockdetector.com: How about "Long Long Way to Go", because LIONEL RICHIE also had a stab at that too, didn't he?
Joe Elliott: "Same thing with 'Long Long Way to Go'. We like to think we can tell a good song from a so-so song whether it be rock, pop, blues, rap, whatever... Again, for no reason other than curiosity, it was sent to us and we really dug it, so we recorded it. Apparently so did Lionel Ritchie! Let's not forget here that we DID write the other eleven songs on 'X'!"
Rockdetector.com: On the [upcoming] "Yeah!" [covers] record, are there songs you felt needed to be treated "faithfully" and any songs that might sound completely different to expected?
Joe Elliott: "Absolutely. Some of them are so close in intention if nothing else, that they're almost forgeries! Example, wait till you hear Viv's solo on THIN LIZZY's 'Don't Believe A Word'! If anybody ever heard Phil's CYBERNAUTS solo on 'Moonage Daydream' they'll know what I mean. Others we messed with, like DAVID ESSEX's 'Rock On', or THE KINKS' 'Waterloo Sunset', which you might have heard, differs from THE KINKS' version somewhat. We treated them all on a song by song basis, basically having fun, either doing them and being able to giggle at how similar they were or changing them and saying "wait till they get a load of this!" Most people in studios behind closed doors behave this way, you know!"
Read the entire interview at Rockdetector.com.