Some 28 years after the world-enveloping success of their ground-breaking Hysteria album, Def Leppard are returning to Perth for a show at Red Hill Amphitheatre on Saturday, November 21, with Live and Baby Animals in support. SHANE PINNEGAR speaks with singer, Joe Elliot.
Having Last toured here in 2011 with Heart, Joe Elliot maintains Def Leppard thrive on offering a show with world-class support acts, and as most Australians know, there’s no doubt Baby Animals will give them a run for their money.
“Good, we like that,” he enthuses. “Because if you look through the history of this band, in the last 10 years or so, we’ve had Journey, Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Styx, Poison, Heart. We always like to take a band out with us that are (a) a good band, and (b) a band that the audience have heard of and know. It’s that old cliché: one and one making three. It’s value for money.
“In this day and age, the competition out there is immense, because touring has become the most consistent part of this fucked-up record industry that we are working in. If you’re going to do what you do, you’ve got to put on a great show, and you’ve got to put on a great evening.”
Despite swearing off albums a couple of years ago, Elliot promises that Def Leppard will release a new one before the tour starts.
“We started on it 14 months ago, just out of… I don’t know… curiosity more than anything else,” he explains. “We weren’t touring, it was like, ‘let’s see if we can write something’. We were going to do an EP – because, 14-15 months ago, we were convinced that the album was a dying thing, and maybe the way to go was an EP – just with two or three new songs, like how we put three new songs on the end of Mirrorball.
“That was the way to go, so let’s come in and see what we’ve got. We hadn’t written any songs together for Leppard since about 2007, when we were prepping for the Sparkle Lounge album that came out a year later. Consequently, when you haven’t written an album for seven years, everybody’s backed up and stuff, they’re just teeming with ideas. We all played each other what we’ve got, and the three songs that we were going to do turned into 12, and then we wrote four more!
“We ended up with a fantastic record, 14 songs that represent us collectively and individually, because everybody brought finished stuff in and we also wrote things together. The variation within the songwriting is immense, but it still comes under the umbrella of Def Leppard, which is always going to be energetic, hard-pumping melodic rock with big vocals and large guitars and drums, and a few other things thrown in for good measure.”
What it won’t be – and Elliot maintains the band never have been – is ‘heavy metal’.
“Seriously, I just think that some people only look at the surface. They see, like, a cake and they kind of forget that underneath the icing there’s some substance, otherwise the whole thing would collapse. Have we done heavy metal songs? Yeah we have. I would suggest that maybe something like Stagefright – or part of it anyway – is heavy metal. The same way that you can say that Immigrant Song is heavy metal, but is the rest of Led Zeppelin III?
“Of course not. When you do songs like, say, Love Bites, or Two Steps Behind, or even stuff like Promises which is just phenomenal pop rock in my eyes, or another song off Euphoria called All Night, which could have been… Christ, it could have been Toni Braxton for what it’s worth, it’s just a great song. We happened to play it on guitars, and people kind of confuse guitars with heavy metal.”