VR: “Great. Thanks so much, I know you’re busy. I guess you’re way over in Argentina today huh?”
JOE ELLIOTT: “We’re on the Rock N Roll All-Stars Tour, let me start at the top, in no particular order; Ed Roland from Collective Soul, Steve Stevens from Billy Idols band, Matt Sorum, Gilby Clarke, Duff from GNR, Sebastian Bach, Gene Simmons, myself, Mike Inez and Glen Hughes. We’re just in and out of each other’s songs all night long.
VR: “Oh that’s great. Those are some of my good friends over there. Steve Stevens and Sebastian Back, we honored them, they came to my Vegas Rocks! Awards last year. Please tell them Sally said hello.”
JOE ELLIOTT: “I certainly will.”
VR: “I want to get a few questions out. I’ve been wanting to interview you for a long time. I guess we’ll start from the top. So, you’re touring now, you’ll be here in Vegas with Lita Ford and Poison, you’re really popular. How’s all that going?”
JOE ELLIOTT: “We kind of made a game plan, five or six years ago to re-evaluate our position in the music industry if you like, just taking on board, quite sensibly I think, everything that’s going on in the world regarding the technology, the way the music industry has changed for the good of the band. It just became more and more obvious that live was becoming the more dominant part of what bands do these days. The days of yore, whether it be the Beatles, The Stone, Led Zeppelin or Elton John etc they went on tour to promote an album, and pretty much these days, you might promote an album to promote a tour. Just so you can keep that idea in your mind that writing new music is really important to somebody. It appears less and less these days that it is; which is really sad because musicians like ourselves have heads full of ideas and it seems less important that we do and that’s really frustrating. At least it’s counteracted by the fact that people still want to see us live.
VR: “Do you have any plans as far as recording new material?”
JOE ELLIOTT: “I’m constantly writing but I’m not always writing for Def Leppard. Sometimes I write a song and think it’s just not appropriate but it’s a great song. I’ve been working on and off for the last six or seven months with a very good friend of mine, a Canadian songstress called Andrina, we were thinking about an EP but it’s going to be an album because we keep coming up with more songs all the time. Just the two of us doing that; kind of a Plant/Krauss thing but it’s more hunky-dory than blues; Bowie-esq type stuff you know. It doesn’t really fit the Leppard kind of plan. You know if you have a song in your head, it doesn’t have to be abandoned just because it doesn’t sound like something off of Hysteria. I’m constantly writing and just looking for alternative ways to get them out. When Leppard gets into the recording an album mode then everything that your write is in that style, you just get into a room with the other guys and we bash them out as a team and pick the most appropriate stuff and that’s the ways it’s always going to be I think. And when you get things that don’t fit the Leppard thing you hope you have alternative outlets, like Phil has his Manraze project and I’ve got my Down N’ Outz which sooner or later will feature written material, Vivian himself not so much but Rick’s got his artwork, so everybody’s trying to find some sort of artistic satisfaction in the now opposed to trying to imitate the old which for someone who’s been doing this for 30 years is destined to end up.
VR: “Well you certainly made your mark with the history of the band in the past 30 years. We’re just happy that you’re out there doing that.”
JOE ELLIOTT: “No better place than Vegas to do all that. It’s the nostalgic capitol of the world, when you think of the traditional Vegas people like Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis all that lot. In recent years we had Cheap Trick doing the Sgt Pepper thing for a few weeks, Crue just went through for a few weeks, it’s changing, it’s Vegas, it’s becoming more rock n roll.”
VR: “Absolutely. And when you come here in June, anything you do on stage people are going to love it.”
JOE ELLIOTT: “Well it’s a good package. The good thing about this is that we really got back into the evening being an event. When we first started headlining back in 1983 we had bands that were selling records, who were on MTV all the time like Krokus, (CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT HE SAYS HERE, MINUTE MARK 6:26) In 1988 nearly every band that opened for us ended up being multi-platinum acts we had Tesla, LA Guns, Queensryche, Europe all these bands, people knew who they were. When the lights went down at 7:30, they kind of knew most of the material they were going to hear. That kind of went away in the 90’s a little bit. We tried to turn back around and since 2005 we’ve been blessed with having Brian Adams open for us, Journey, we’ve had REO, Foreigner, Styx, Billy Idol, Joan Jett, Poison, Heart just brilliant artists and everyone of them has got a legacy and a back catalog that is familiar to most Leppard fans. It makes for a good night.”
VR: “Yeah, absolutely we can’t wait. I want to talk a little bit more about some questions that have been burning in my head. I’ve seen you at red carpets event and people are always pulling you away from me. Getting back to the history of Def Leppard; why did you and Mutt Lange stop working together?”
JOE ELLIOTT: “Just fate, the same way we got together. When I was growing up as a kid I was really into his work, long time before I was in a band. I used to go and see bands that he produced, bands you’ve never heard of like Supercharge, you’ve probably heard of Graham Parker and the Rumour, these are bands in England and I was really impressed with his work. He kind of broke into the big league with Highway to Hell, AC/DC and at the exact same time we just, by coincidence, we’re signed to the same management, so it was that easy for us to say to our manager is there any way we can work with Mutt Lange? And so they invited him to one of the shows, we were opening for AC/DC, he saw us and said “I see something in this band, they’re a very rough diamond but I can help them” We started working together for the better part of 11 years, four albums, we worked with him. But come 93 or 94, we worked with him for 11 years but we wanted to go off in a different direction which is why we did the Slang record which we could have never made with Mutt, we just couldn’t have done it, he would have tried to talk us out of it. We were in a mood where we wanted to do something different, come the album after that, we did work with him on Euphoria we did three tracks with him Promises, All Night and a song called It’s Only Love. But he was only available for a certain amount of time, he wasn’t prepared or in a position to just drop everything and we weren’t in a position where we wanted to sit around for nine months to get back in the studio. In fairness, as Mutt would say, you know what you’re doing, you’ve worked with me long enough, and its rubbed off. I’ve always said Def Leppard is the next best thing to be produced by Mutt Lange. Working with anybody, you soak in some of the work ethic, the techniques and we as a team working with another producer would be below Mutt Lange because we would have to get into his vibe and we tried it, we did a couple songs with Marti Frederiksen about 10 years ago, lovely guy, great producer but not the same Mutt and we ended up going back in and tweaking them in our own direction after we worked with him. Mutt was busy when we wanted him and when he was free we were on tour, it was just bad timing. It’s hard enough to get us all together, we have three guys living in California and two in Dublin, Ireland.”
VR: “Where do you live?”
JOE ELLIOTT: “I’m in Dublin.”
VR: “Oh you do, ok. Now there have been two historic events with the band that I’ve been curious about that I want to get your opinion on. Steve Clark, did you see that coming?”
JOE ELLIOTT: “I saw it coming the same way you see your 85 year old grandmother passing away. It’s inevitable but you don’t really expect it right there and then. With Steve, he had issues, I’ve seen people much worse that survived it but it’s just one of those things. He had been in and out of rehab, doing everything we could. Steve wasn’t the kind of guy you could shout at because he was mournful at what he had done but he couldn’t stop himself. It was very hard to get mad at Steve because he was such a loveable guy. He had heart of gold but he had his own demons and it was difficult to get through to him when he was doing it to himself and the rest of us were still drinking as well but not to the same extent as him, we weren’t in a position to preach. But again it wasn’t , it was reported he had cocaine in his system but he didn’t, that’s absolute rubbish, he had codeine because he had fallen down and cracked his ribs a few days before he passed away and he was just taking pain killers but washing them down with vodka and that was the worst thing he could have done because it put him in such a state of false sleep when he did it, he rolled over to his pillow and just suffocated, he was so asleep he couldn’t wake up. If he would have rolled the other way, he’d still be alive.”
VR: “With that and when Rick lost his arm, did you feel like this was the end our careers and Def Leppard?”
JOE ELLIOTT: “They didn’t happen back to back, it wasn’t the day after each other. We would have thought, as people have joked, it was some sort of curse on the band. But when Rick lost his arm in 84, Steve lost his life in 91 it was almost a decade in between.”
VR: “Well yes but when those two events happened did you feel like this is it for the band?”
JOE ELLIOTT: “Why would you. If you take any five random people off the street, put them in a room and ask them what happened to them in a 15 year period, it would be no better than ours. Their highs would be no wear near as high as ours; you just have to look at it from a logical point a view. People focus in on those two incidents because they‘re so negative and they forget about the 100 million records that you’ve sold and all the times that it went right. When things go right no one cares, it doesn’t make good copy. That’s why Steven Tyler falling off stage gets more YouTube hits then him singing a song; because people like misery.”
VR: “What has been the highest point of your career, your proudest moment?”
JOE ELLIOTT: “Probably when Hysteria hit #1 after 49 weeks, it was literally three weeks shy of being a year when it worked it way back to the top. It looked like it wasn’t going to get past #10 but then it started to build and build and it made it. Live Aid in Philadelphia playing for a million people was pretty special. Playing Don Valley Stadium we were the first ever band to play our home town, a brand new stadium in our home town we played to nearly 50,000 people in 1993. Playing your home town is just an amazing feeling when you do that. It was an amazing moment, when you walk on stage and your entire career flashes before your eyes. But going back to your original point, when Rick lost his arm I dare say that every one of us said well that’s the end, how can he possibly play drums. Once he convinced himself that he could do it, we made a pact to say if he can do it great you know, we basically said if he’s not going to be in the band anymore, that’s his choice and he turned it around. We were making an album that taking so long, he had time to learn. Steve died when we were in the throes of making an album, when your making an album versus being on the road, you’re in a different head space and he’s been given a six month leave of absence so we had effectively been, right up to Steve dying, for the previous four months or so, a four piece. And when you’ve been a four piece, for four months, you’re working and working you just think that’s the way it is, we were hoping he’d come back but he never did but you carry on as the four piece. You have a void to fill because you know he’s never coming back, you have to learn a new normal. We had a year where we stuck together as a four piece and only after that album was completed did we start thinking about a replacement.”
VR: “I’m glad you guys are still carrying on. The one thing you talk about is how many awards is Lady GaGa going to get and we’re putting you on the cover of our May or June issue of our Vegas Rocks Magazine. We are also having our Vegas Rocks Magazine Awards again this year in August and I don’t know what your schedule is, I’ve asked Phil and I’m going to ask your management too but we wanted to honor you this year with the big award we have. We have David Coverdale coming this year; a lot of your friends have come other years. Does your management know your schedule for the end of August?”
JOE ELLIOTT: “To make your life a little easier just go to and click on tours, you’ll see all our dates. I know that, depending when in August it is, we have a break between the first and second leg of the tour.”
VR: “Yeah it’s August 26th.”
JOE ELLIOTT: “We’ll be on tour; we don’t finish until mid September.”
VR: “Oh ok, well that clears that up. Every year we’re trying to get you out here to honor you.”
JOE ELLIOTT: “Every August, we are notoriously on the road. It’s usually June, July and August.”
VR: “Phil didn’t know when I asked him and he said sometimes you have a break but one of these years we really want to honor you as one of the voices of rock so I was hoping you’d be available.”
JOE ELLIOTT: “Sadly I won’t but that would be very nice.”
VR: “Do you want to comment on that, that there are more artists getting more awards than you these days?”
JOE ELLIOTT: “To be quite honest, the older I get the less I really mind one way or the other. I’m traveling around right now in hotel rooms and on airplanes with the guys from GNR who just got inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, it was all a bit of a circus, they did it for their fans but it was such a nightmare for them because of the different line ups, who’s going to be there, who’s not going to be there. You know, I don’t know how important they are. To me, if people keep coming to see us, that is the biggest award I could ever achieve. The people still care, still want to see you play.”
VR: “Ok great. Well we’re all proud of you. One of these days we’ll get you out here to Vegas and honor you guys.”
JOE ELLIOTT: “I appreciate that. Thank you very much.”
VR: “Hopefully when you come here in June I can have you sign the issue of Vegas Rocks with you on the cover.”
JOE ELLIOTT: “Sure, that’s be great.”
VR: “I’m friends with Lita and everything. Tell Steven and Sebastian that Sally Steele said hi. Thank you so much for your time.”
JOE ELLIOTT: “My pleasure.”



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