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Joe Elliott - singer, Def Leppard
2000 - On the phone with Philip Anderson

If a band was ever deserving of praise due to endless persistence and determination, Def Leppard would be that band. First, by breaking the age barriers when they introduced their first full album - the members at the time were between 15 and 18 years old. Then they went on to score some major hits, perform at some amazing shows, and as well suffer through some serious hardships. Only one of these hardships would have been enough to end the careers of many other artists but Def Leppard has never known how to quit. They went on doing what they do in order to prove - to themselves, if no one else - that true success means never giving up. No matter how things may go - good or bad - the true test of character is decided in how one reacts during the worst of times.

Def Leppard has been around for going on just over twenty-one years and there is no slowing down in sight. We recently had a chance to speak with Joe Elliott, lead screamer for the band, about his career with the group, some background catching up, and also about his collaboration with ex-British Lions guitarist Ray Majors on Ray's new album - which features Joe's vocals on one track.

As always the consummate professional, we were lucky enough to get the chance to chat with him during some studio time. He was more than happy to share some insights about the inner workings of what he does.

(At this point, we had been discussing song structures and how it applies to what the band does when creating new music.)

K2K: In talking about song structuring... have you ever thought about just writing without any structure in mind?
JE: Well, yeah. In fairness, when you listen to things like "On The Inside," it's structured... I don't think it's possible to write a song that is not structured in some form. Even by being deconstructed, it's constructed in a different way. There's no such thing as an unconstructed song because that would just be musical anarchy. It would just be what you were describing about the Neil Young thing. But there's no way that you can go, "Well, let's do the chorus first." I mean, you can, because... [like on] "Make Love Like A Man" off of "Adrenalize," the chorus is the first thing you hear. But, it's still sections. Every song has sections, whether it would be Public Image, Ltd., the Clash or Faust, there are sections. When we try to write a pop song, we go for standard pop arrangements, even to the point where we will go to the key change at the end, which is really cheesy. It's the kind of thing that "Sugar, Sugar" was based on by the Archies, or the Partridge Family. Even "Crazy Horses" is a good song, by the Osmonds. I've known many bands who have covered that. It's just a great song. I bought it in a brown, paper bag because I didn't want anyone to know I had it.

K2K: My personal Osmond favorite was "Burning Bridges" off of Donny's first album.
JE: I don't know that one. The only Osmond songs that I'm aware of are "Crazy Horses" and "One Way Ticket To Anywhere," which I thought was a good song. It was like, maybe psychologically, the forerunner of "Two Tickets To Paradise" that Eddie Money did. There are many songs that have that riff.

K2K: What I'm kind of finding from you though, is that - as a band - you seem very business-oriented. More professional, I should say, in the sense of thinking things out all the way through. What I was getting at is - do you ever just get together to jam, kind of like on the first album, and then just throw a song together, and not think about where it goes?
JE: Let me tell you something. Every song on that first album was written and rewritten and rewritten and come back to. We'd play them live for six months and then someone would come back and say, "I've got a better chorus for this song." and we'd change it. "Summer Is A Woman" used to be called "Misty Dreamer." There are songs on that album that were written... "Wasted" was written in an evening. "When The Walls Come Tumbling Down" was written over about 2 1/2 weeks. You're inspired by a riff, but you have to turn that riff into a song. I wouldn't say "business oriented" either, but professional for sure. We've always wanted to be visualized, and seen on stage, as a band that go for it, like the Stones, or even KISS, or Mott The Hoople, or the New York Dolls, or Aerosmith, who just get up there and do it. Whether we're in the studio or in the rehearsal room writing songs, we have a sensibility that's akin to Carole King, or Dianne Warren, or David Gates, or Lennon and McCartney, or Jagger and Richards. It's where the song is king. Then we flock the fuck out of it later on. We always have this thing about, "This is a fantastic chord arrangement. We should try to get this into one of our songs." Then we'd [take a piece] from James Taylor's "You've Got A Friend" if we have to.

We are just fans of music, we are not fans of a specific kind of music. We just happen to be a rock band. Until we explain ourselves, sometimes people don't understand why we limit ourselves to just being a rock band. It's because that is what we like doing. When we get up onstage, sometimes the songs that we've been laboring over in the studio - and then you've got studio-head on where everybody is laid back and writing these real clever, clever songs... you get into the rehearsal room to play them... when your real personality takes over, when you're standing up at the microphone, not sitting back in a chair playing guitar... and you actually start performing these songs, they are too weak. They don't fit the format of the personalities within the band. Which is why "Personality Crisis" by New York Dolls would be a much easier play for this band than "Crazy" by Seal. "Crazy" by Seal is a fantastic song to sit and listen to on studio speakers, but I wouldn't want to stand up and play it at Madison Square Gardens. So you get me in front of a microphone and I'll do "Personality Crisis" and I'll give it everything it's got.

It's like, we always tried to make records that would sound good in a live environment. Of course, being from Sheffield, it was either this or work in a factory until we're 65. That stage had to be at Madison Square Gardens, not CBGB's. We weren't going to be a club band. We were going to be the biggest band on the planet. We were going to be the next Who or the next Beatles or the next Stones, or Led Zeppelin. That's what we had to do. We had that bullish attitude. I almost doubted it, that we were actually not good enough to back that up, for a long time. Then it fell into place. By the time it fell into place, everything else was already in place. The only thing missing, and that came from the experience of playing a lot, was learning the craft from people like Mutt, in the studio. The craft on stage came from our own DNA from the age of 12 onwards, watching 200 hundred bands and soaking up all the best of it and spewing out the bits that we thought was cheesy. Then you get up onstage and you become part Roger Daltrey, part Jimmy Page, part Robert Plant, part Davey Johanson, part Mark Bolin, and then part you. Eventually the "you" comes out and you disregard the other bits, but they got you to be somewhere. That's the way that we've always worked. It's a case of - until we don't feel comfortable doing that, then that's the way we always will do it. We've never been a band to stand there and play.

I remember seeing April Wine at Sheffield City Hall and they never broke a sweat in two hours. All these wireless systems and none of them moved. I never saw the point. That was 1981, 82. There were wireless systems. When we go wireless, you couldn't keep us on the stage. We were off into the crowd and onto the PA stacks. We were everywhere. These guys stood in front of their microphones all night. I thought, "What is the point? You might as well be on a lead. You'd have a better sound. You're not doing anything."

K2K: The one thing that Def Leppard gets knocked for is being "over-produced" and slick.
JE: Yeah. That's right. We've made one of the most over-produced records of all time, and also one of the most successful records of all time too. "Hysteria."

K2K: Do you like that terminology used for you though? Over-produced.
JE: I think what that is is a journalist who had two minutes to finish his article when he can't think of a better way of saying it. It's big production. It's huge. It's using studio technology to your benefit. You don't go in and play live and then just take the tapes and get them mastered. You have to create.

K2K: With the amount of production that you do put in, I have always wondered how much of that carries over to the live performance. Is there anything that we don't see added to the shows?
JE: The way that we do it is... well, you take something like "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. There's no way that they can do that middle section live, so they use a tape. Now, we've never done that. What I respect Queen for is that they had the vision, in the studio, to write that song and they didn't say, "Well, we can't do this because we can't possibly perform it live." That is totally restricting yourself. They decided to write a song and take it to its fullest extent, as far as it can go. If it meant Freddie doing a million vocals himself, then that's what he did. Queen could have easily said, "Well, we can't do this." It's like sixty people singing opera. Why not? It's a song. If it takes four people to pretend to be eighty people, that's using studio technology to your advantage.

When it comes to us doing things, people might have listened to it and thought, "How the hell are they going to do that live?" You do alternatives when you play. The song "Hysteria" has eleven guitar parts. What we did is made a hybrid of them into two - the ones that people could really hear and the ones that aren't that important to hear live. Also, what we did do, which is the best thing we ever did, was that we would shit our pants when we heard these finished mixes and we would go, "Holy fuck, this is going to be hard." And we'd have to rehearse twice as hard. It made us a better band, unto the point where - I could pull out a dozen reviews that said, "Def Leppard, whose backing vocals are so obviously on tape..." No they weren't. We have never used tape. Never, ever. The only thing that we've ever used that you could deem "not real" are drum loops, because Rick basically, with one arm, I think moreso than anybody else has got an excuse to use them. Any drummer you see who has headphones on is playing to drum loops.

Now, we've used loops because... on the song "Rock It," there are these Burundi black drum beats - these huge drums with loads of toms. It would take sixteen people playing tom-toms to play that sound live. So Rick sampled those drums into a trigger and that's about the only thing that we cheat on. We sing every word. We don't use anything except drum loops. Sav uses bass pedals if he needs to embellish something when he moves onto acoustic guitar, or the bass goes out, he plays the pedals. That's just like [Led Zeppelin's] John Paul Jones used to do. He played bass pedals and keyboards when he wasn't playing the bass. We utilize everything that we can to get it to sound good. I don't believe that we are that good that people would think we are [a taped band]. I hear the harmonity when we play live. They are good. Everyone in this band can sing. In fact, I'm probably the bottom of the fucking pile. They really are good singers. We rehearse and we work them out. We practice. We sing every day, on tour. We do vocal exercises in the dressing room before we go on stage, every single day. It's the only way we can sound... If we want to sound better than anybody else, we want people to think that we're using tapes. At first, I thought it was an insult and then I understood that it was a left-handed compliment. The more people who think that, the more I can say, "Sorry. You're wrong." I can say that with my hand on any Bible.

K2K: It's funny that we would be talking about this. KISS has been going on the road this time around talking about how "real" they are and then I just found out that they are playing to tapes. One of our writers actually saw and heard when a guitar went out but the sound didn't.
JE: People should know better, or they should do their homework. After you've come and seen the band, maybe two or three times, they stand down in front, in front of Vivian or in front of Phil. Immediately they know we're playing live, because there isn't a gig we've done where somebody hasn't made a bum note or wrong word or been slightly out of tune. We're not the most perfect band. That's one of our biggest deals. We come back to the dressing room and go, "Did anybody hear that hollering on 'Rock Till You Drop'?" and then it was, "Yeah, that was me. I was looking at a girl's tits." You know, that's the way we are. We make mistakes but when we get it right, there ain't anybody better. At least in my eyes.

K2K: When we're talking about doing one's homework... I don't think that people look back to respect or remember that you guys - for the amount of hard work that you've done - have had to work infinitely harder than other bands due to the problems that you've had occur.
JE: All these problems? Only really two. Steve died. Rick lost his arm. Pete Willis wasn't a problem, Pete Willis was a relief. We've had no more problems than anybody else. You want to talk about problems, you talk to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Talk to the Grateful Dead as to why they've had four keyboard players die. We haven't had the problems that Guns 'N' Roses have had. There's four guys who used to be in that band who really wish that they still were. They've got a singer whom they can't deal with. There's a load of people out there who may be over it now, but throughout, I'd say, the mid-90s, were just dying for G'N'R to come back. Believe it or not, amongst all the Nirvana and Pearl Jam euphoria that was going off, there were a lot of people in America who didn't care for it. They wanted G'N'R or Motley Crue or Rolling Stones or something that was alternative to the alternative.

Most problems, other than what I've just mentioned, that this band have had, we've brought on ourselves. Like spending so long in the studio and having to start from scratch. People forget that "Hysteria" was a big-selling record. When it first came out, we had no momentum whatsoever. It was four years since "Pyromania." We had let six million album sales go. We had record companies saying, "You have to have a record out by 1985." Well, in 1985 we didn't have a record. We didn't have anything close to a record. It would have been the worst disaster of all time if we would have released what he had finished by 1985.

K2K: What did take you so long?
JE: We weren't happy with the songs. We weren't happy with the direction we were going in. We had these songs, they kept constantly getting changed. Technology was moving along so fast, and things were moving along so fast that, by the time we had a song finished, early on in the project, eight months later when we would listen to it, it was out of date already. So we'd constantly feel dated. So we were basically refreshing the songs all the way through. The basis of the songs were there, but we'd go back and change bits because the sounds were getting old. There were new ones coming along that were great. We just had the inner strength to deal with it and had the producer who was willing to deal with it, who was pushing us along to actually further it. The opening lines at the beginning of the project was, "Why can't a rock band do an album like 'Thriller'?" The answer was, "There is no reason why." It had six hit singles. Why can't a rock band have six hit singles off of an album. So that's what we tried to do. Luckily we achieved it. So that was like, "Why can't you get to the moon?" It was like, we were looking further than to climb a tree. We wanted to do something that nobody else had ever done. We wanted to make the heavy metal "Sgt. Pepper" or do "Surf's Up" in a more rocky way. We wanted it to be an outstanding record that people could put a Def Leppard record in their Top 100 of their all-time albums and actually sit comfortably there and not embarrass anybody, journalists or band. That's always been the yardstick.

K2K: What I'm hearing from you is that you still have the love of music.
JE: Absolutely.

K2K: I read an interview with Vivian last year. Somebody had asked him a question, like I did to you, about just going in to jam and write a song. He made a comment about "Slang" being your 'alternative' album. He said something along the lines of, "We tried writing for ourselves, but it didn't work and didn't sell as well, so we're going back to what we are, which is formula. It's not about the music, it's about the formula. We have a formula and that's what we do." Is that really something fair to say, as a musician?
JE: Well, I can't really get inside Vivian's head, but I know what he's trying to get across. I think it depends on how the question was worded.

K2K: The question was, "Do you write music for yourselves?"
JE: If we'd have sat down and said, "Oh, this is what the front row wants."... What I think he's trying to get across is... What we did with "Slang" was we tried to make a record that didn't sound like anything that we had made in the past. It was 1994 when we started it. It was 1995 by the time we got going. We were aware that what was going on in the industry at the time was so removed from what had made us successful. It would have been as warranted in the music business as another Dokken album. We knew. We actually sat down once... We [Phil Collen and Joe] were having dinner while we were making "Slang" and he said, "You know, it's a real shame that songwriting has gone out of fashion. I'm too good to play my instrument." If you actually listen to a lot of the bands that came out in the 1990s, the couldn't really play very well. They were more akin to The Clash than to Van Halen. But they went more for the feel. It was more of a Neil Young thing than it was a Van Halen thing.

Once you have enough of that thrown down your throat, that becomes the yardstick and everybody's standards drop, and people forget. They want to hear new stuff, but the new stuff is not as good, or maybe they thought some of the older stuff was overdone. I don't know. That's down to individuals. What we did when we did "Slang" was we tried to make an album that was more like a mid-period Led Zeppelin record with a bit of unusual stuff added into it. Like when we did "Breathe A Sigh," it's very much... Boyz II Men could have done that song. We did "Slang" and it's very hip hop. Then when we did the song called "Truth," it's almost like a pop version of Nine Inch Nails. We did, on that record, what we've done on every album. We listened to what was going on at the time and we stole the bits that we thought were relevant. When we did "Pour Some Sugar On Me," it was only written because Run DMC and Aerosmith had done "Walk This Way." All of the sudden, rock and rap did mix, so we wrote our own.

When it came to doing "Slang," the current music trends and the things that you could steal from weren't from the same bag that we'd been able to choose from before. It was such a radical explosion. It was very similar to when punk took up in Britain. It just blew Supertramp and Rod Stewart and all that rock right off the planet. Yet, as it happens, the biggest selling album in Britain in 1979 was "Breakfast In America." So there were always people there, but the one's that wrote - the Charles Shaw Murray's - what's happening in the Clash and the Buzzcocks, they didn't want to know about Supertramp. Supertramp would sell records, but they wouldn't get front page. Sid Vicious got the front page because he would get his nose broken on stage. Things like that. It was better press. That's what it all came down to. It was, "This is better copy than the bearded twat on the piano." That's what we were up against in 1996. Rather than go, like bands like Styx did when we came along and they rolled over and died, we stood up to the challenge and said, "Fuck you lot. We can do better than that." So we used Indian string arrangements on "Turn To Dust." We used dulcimers on "Where Does Love Go When It Dies." We used hip hop rhythms on stuff. We did one song with the drums in the swimming pool so we'd get the John Bonham sound. We literally stole from "When The Levee Breaks."

K2K: How well did that album sell?
JE: Worldwide, about 3 million. In America it did nothing. In Japan and the Far East, South America and Europe, it was great. Some people got it and some people didn't. Classic Def Leppard fans - conservative type Def Leppard fans would go, "Not really them is it." People who were craving for us to do something different were going, "Whoa! Yeah! Yes!" It was our Led Zeppelin "III." I've read all the back stuff that Plant had said. Everybody wanted Zeppelin "II" again, which is exactly why they didn't do it. We like to be awkward as musicians sometimes. We want to throw people a 360°. That was our 360°. It was us expressing ourselves. We had done three albums that were major epic studio things. We were using studio embellishments to make them bigger, larger than life. We were making albums that were akin to a Steven Spielberg movie. Then, all of the sudden, we wanted to make "Trainspotting," just to say that we've done it. It was an experiment. I'm not going to say that it was a failed one because I enjoy the "Slang" record immensely. I stand by it 100%. I can understand why some people didn't get it. It's very, very different. It's more punky sounding. The rock still sounds more like it could have been done by Aerosmith or New York Dolls. "Breathe A Sigh" sounds like it could have been Mariah Carey or Boyz II Men. It's a very mixed bag of stuff. It's just very, very different, but it just didn't appeal to the average Def Leppard fan.

What you have to understand is, when we went in to start doing this new album, it wasn't a case of, like, you could smell the burning rubber from the backpedaling from having to make a copy of "Hysteria." What we did was, we went in there seven years after we last wrote standard pop songs. Most bands don't even last that long. Those seven years, for us to be away from our standard sound, was maybe actually refreshing for us to go - I don't like to say "go back" - but move into that territory once again, and write songs that we'd written that were based on the classics that I had mentioned before.

K2K: We could call it "renewing it."
JE: Yeah. U2 had just done exactly the same thing and they get razed for it. They just have done an album that sounds like "The Unforgettable Fire." It's got bits on it with the classic edged "chika-chika-chika-chika" guitar. The critics love it. They all say that they've gone back to their sound. When people were saying that we had gone back to our sound, they were saying it with a negative connotation. When they were saying it with U2, it was with a positive connotation. Now that is what I find, within the industry, is to be bigotry towards the fact that we are just a rock band and U2 is supposed to be the saviors of the world. You know what I mean? And fine. U2 has that on their side, and more power for it. I don't knock U2. I knock the guy who doesn't give us the same amount of credit for exactly the same thing.

K2K: On the other hand, how many albums did the last one sell for you?
JE: It sold almost three times, in America, than "Slang" did.

K2K: So, in other words, who cares what the critics think.
JE: Exactly. I don't care. I'm just aware. I don't care whether it's raining, but I can explain to you for an hour how it's miserable because it is. It's just something I'm aware of. I'm not holding any bitterness towards anybody. I also understand that sometimes, if a journalist is given six albums to review in four days, he can't possibly get his chops down to the whole meaning of what somebody's spent 18 months doing. He's given, by his editor, 48 hours to review Alannis Morrisette's next album. At the same time, he's got to hoover the apartment, feed the cat, do his laundry, whatever, and be listening to this record. I don't believe that anybody ever sits down, locks the door, turns the lights off, puts on headphones, and goes, "Right. I'm going to listen to this uninterrupted."

(We got into talking about how different reviewers may or may not listen to albums all the way through, if at all. This takes us to a discussion about the late, legendary Lester Bangs.)

JE: The guy at least had the balls to stand up, six months later, and say, "I got this totally wrong." I just don't like these idiots who buy a pen, and then they think they're journalists. That's like me giving my guitar to my fucking babysitter, if I had one, and saying she's a guitarist.

(This brings us to talking about a certain nameless writer who is known for changing his mind about reviews when and if he decides to like an artist personally, or dislike him.)

K2K: I thought, "How can you change your mind just because this person was nice to you?" He has no spine in his body.
JE: Well most of them don't. Unfortunately, that breeds a type of musician who will not be himself in front of certain journalists, to gain further popularity. Everybody does it. We're even guilty of it. You do things that you don't feel comfortable doing. The one thing that we don't do is, when photographers say, "I want you to stand with your fists out." We just tell them to "Fuck off." We do meet-and-greets. I have to go shake hands with twenty people whom I've never met just because they happen to be Def Leppard fans. It's not always a pleasant experience, even for them. If I'm in the middle of vocal warm-ups and my voice is a little bit ropey and I know that that 25 minutes is going to fuck my gig up, I'm not happy doing it. It's not that I don't want to meet these people, it's just that it's an interference to the most important part of my day - which is two hours on stage. Sometimes you have to do it. But I've never sucked up to a journalist and I never will, because I don't care what they write. It's like you said, it doesn't really make any difference. If they're at least honest enough to put my opinion across, they can say what they want about me.

I must admit, when I was at [photographer] Ross Halfin's house once, he's got Enemy, Sounds, and Record Mirrors and Discs going back to 1964, 1965. When you used to buy them back then, they were like information booklets more than anything else. It would be, "The Hollies have a new album out. It's called 'blah, blah, blah' and it's on the Parlaphone label and it's released on the 11th of December. Interview with Alan Clark, page 12." Now it's, "See the old, fat fuck. Meatloaf has got a new album out. Who cares? Review, page 31." Now they put their opinions on news articles, not just on the reviews. People have been doing bad reviews since newspapers have been invented and you have to accept that. It's a critics opinion.

To be quite honest, I only read Q Magazine because they're humorous, even when they're slagging people off. They used to have a column called "Who The Hell Does Such And Such Think He Is?". Normally they used to pick on a journalist, or Cedar Stringfellow, or some fuck. They very rarely did it with musicians. They did it with Cliff Richards and with somebody who was overly opinionated. But they normally did it with people like Margaret Thatcher. I read Q Magazine every week. I think it's a great magazine. For example, you can go through the review column and there will be an album by W.A.S.P., they get a four-star review because it's been reviewed by Valerie Potter. Valerie Potter is a rock fan. Then they give a four-star review for Tom Waits, done by somebody else. They guy would have given the W.A.S.P. album one star, but he's a Tom Waits fan. So what they do is portion off their reviews to open-minded journalists. They don't give a Tom Waits album to some guy who's a speed-metal freak and vice versa. So if a speed-metal album is given one star by somebody who likes speed metal, you can probably believe that it's crap. It's not, like, one journalist reviewing twelve different types of music. Or even if it is, they've got journalists on board who are brave enough to be able to sit next to another journalist and say, "Actually, I like Def Leppard." or something ridiculous, like Boy Zone. Somebody who could potentially give a five star review to Elvis Costello and Van Halen is a good journalist to me. Somebody who can't be bothered to listen to a Van Halen record because he likes Elvis Costello can go to hell.

K2K: Actually, it's funny that you should mention that. I didn't review it, but my review of the last Van Halen album ["III"] would have been - Eddie doesn't feel like playing guitar anymore and Gary Cherone is totally drowned out by everything else.
JE: Hmm... Well, my review of that album, and fortunately I'm a Van Halen fan and I believe that I'm a fair-minded listener, is that it's absolutely the worst record that they've ever made. I can't believe that record. It's just the worst.

(We then got onto talking about a previously article that I had written predicting David Lee Roth's return to Van Halen and all the hate mail that that got. From there we talked about the fact that everybody in fact would like to see Dave back in the band and that the tour would sell out in twenty minutes.)

K2K: The only thing that is sick is that there are a lot of people, mainly in the Midwest of America, who are going to go to that concert believing in their minds that they are 20 years old again, that all the women are going to be hot teenagers, and that the men themselves are not old and fat.
JE: Yeah, well that's true. That happens everywhere. I mean, that's always the way. My point is that there are certain elitist bands within the industry that can't do a thing wrong. They will do the exactly the same thing as another band who can't do a thing right. For example, let's say Grand Funk Railroad reforms with original members, it would be, "Oh come on. Give it a rest." If Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young get back together, it's like the second coming of Christ. To me, they're both going the same path, but it's good if it's CSN&Y... That's what happens.

K2K: Going back to talking about Def Leppard borrowing songs... What is the most original, actual Def Leppard song that is the least borrowed from anyone else?
JE: Uh... least borrowed... probably "Photograph." I can't think of any songs that it sounds like.

K2K: And that was one of the biggest sellers, if not 'the' biggest.
JE: Yup. Umm... "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad," which was one of our biggest ever singles in America. It's the ballad off of "Adrenalize." "Let's Get Rocked" is pretty original, as comical as it is, and as ridiculous as it is. I've said in the past when the critics were saying, "I can't believe that a band would do this." I have a line in the song, "I suppose rock's out of the question." They missed the point that it's supposed to be funny. I've said in the past, of that song, actually listen to that song. Strip all of your negative things away and listen to it and tell me that Prince couldn't have done that. I would say, "You're lying." to anyone who says he couldn't have. It wasn't a rip-off of Prince, but I don't see it a million miles from "When Doves Cry" or "Little Red Corvette." It's a basic, structured-down me singing over drums and bass. It's just that our drums and bass were a million times bigger than Prince's. It was way more bombastic. I think that is the shield that most journalists can't get through. They just see this over-produced, big, massive sound. In fact, that was exactly what we were trying to achieve. Don't knock us for it because that is what we want. If you don't like it, that's fair enough, but at least try to listen to it in the way that it's been done.

There's a lot of songs that we do that are based around the idea that we really need a "Satisfaction" on this album. We pull that title out of the air. Like you turn on any AM radio anywhere in the world and you'll hear it within a day. It's not like we have to rip off the riff, it's catching that energy and the attention of that song. That's what we do. No architect has ever built a building without blueprints. No journeyman ever took a journey without a map. Except for our forefathers, but they kind of knew what direction they were going in. You have to have a game plan, otherwise you're not going to get anywhere. It's good to have a reference point. You hear an album and you think, "That's how I want my music to go." and that's your reference point. You're not going to rip the entire album off. But you're not telling me that Malcolm McLaren didn't suggest to the Sex Pistols that they listen to "Too Much Too Soon" by the New York Dolls and "Raw Power" by Iggy Pop, and "that's the direction you guys should go in." Glenn Matlock and Steve Jones already knew that and were already ripping off Stooges riffs and rewriting them backward.

It's a reference point. That's what all things are. Listen to classical music. Some Mozart sounds like Beethoven or vice versa. It's like yawning. It's catchy. Somebody laughs, everybody else laughs. Somebody yawns, everybody else yawns. You hear a song, everybody starts ripping it off. What about Creed? That's the next Pearl Jam. That's why we got sucked into the mire, because there were nineteen other Def Leppards. That's another reason we made "Slang." We had to get away from the copycats. It's like our career was mirror-imaging Led Zeppelin's. Plant said, "We stopped doing all that stuff because everybody else was doing it on our behalf." When I heard "Cherry Pie" by Warrant, I couldn't believe my ears. "That's us!" We've all done it. We'd have never written "Rock Of Ages" if we hadn't have heard "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" by Joan Jett. But we didn't steal her entire sound. We took that one song and thought, "This is very anthemic. We could get away with writing songs of this standard and style." And that's what we did. It doesn't particularly sound that much like her, the chorus a bit. The actual structure of the song is nothing alike. We'd feel like thieves if we stole 100%. We take ideas. We use phrases. Every word that we speak, somebody taught us. We didn't invent it. There are no cliches that don't belong to somebody else. I've said it before, we are walking a very well-known path but wearing a new pair of shoes.

K2K: Just to get some old questions out of the way... When is the 25th Anniversary of the band?
JE: Well, you'd have to tell me when it's technically day one, because if it's the day that your first album comes out, then it's in 2005. If it's the day that we formed, which was in my bedroom in my mom and dad's house - when we got together and we picked the name, and it was six weeks until our first rehearsal - I got the job because I had a good record collection - that was Sept. 1977. So we're looking at just shy of two years. To the world out there who care, Def Leppard started in 1979. We released our first EP in England and it got us our record deal. In Sounds Magazine, and independent record - which me and my mom glued the sleeves together for - came in above "Another Brick In The Wall" as best single in 1979. So I would say it would have to be mid-1979 as the true English starting point. We almost run parallel with U2. Their first independent EP came out within six months of ours. It's arguably. It's 2004 or 2005.

K2K: What's the title of the first EP?
JE: It's just called the Def Leppard EP.

K2K: How many pressings did you make of that?
JE: 1,000. It's selling for $1,500. in Japan. I've got three left.

K2K: Will you ever include it in a box set?
JE: That's the whole point. If we do a box set, one of the - how ever many - CDs are in it, the rare and unreleased collectible CD things, the first three tracks on there will be the EP.

K2K: What songs are those?
JE: Three songs. "Get Your Rocks Off," the original version. "Ride Into The Sun," the original version again, because we did it as a B-side in 1987 when we rewrote the lyrics. It ended up as a remix again in 1993 for the "Retro" album. And "Overture," which we rerecorded and put on the first album, but I prefer the EP version. All within a weekend, in Mick Ronson's hometown. Did it on a Saturday morning. We left the at a quarter to four on a Sunday afternoon. We took £150., which I borrowed from my dad and I got £1.50 change. It cost us £148.50 to do it. We had 1,000 printed up.

K2K: Did it sell out right away?
JE: What we did was - Me and my mum glued 1,000 sleeves together. [For] the first 100, I photocopied the lyric sheets at work, during my dinner hour, illegally, folded them up, slipped them in the thing, and the first 100 went with lyric sheets. They are the ones that are going for $1,500. But unfortunately, what you're getting now is photocopies of photocopied lyric sheets. We gave 100 away. We sent them to Radio One, John Peel, Sounds, Melody Maker, Enemy, Record Mirror, local radio stations, you name it. Anywhere that we could. We gave them to people who helped our career. We gave them to owners of clubs so we could get in and not have to pay, because we didn't have any money. We did all that horrid stuff.

John Peel played it on the radio. I jumped up onstage - it was during a DJ session at Sheffield University. I jumped up onstage and I dropped it in his hands with my phone number in it. He phoned me the next day and said, "I liked it." You've got to remember that this is right in the middle of the punk exposure, actually just after it. It was so not like what John Peel would play, but because we'd done it ourselves, he was kind of intrigued and he liked it. He played a song every day for a week. He'd play two of them twice, three of them twice. Of course, by then, we have people - I had managed to get Sounds to put an address where they could get copies where they were selling them for £1. Yeah, they were selling really fast. We were selling them at the gigs. We were selling 30 or 40 copies at gigs.

K2K: Why didn't you ever reprint them?
JE: We did. What happened was, there was two record shops in Sheffield where I took them to. One of them was Virgin who wanted 25 pence per copy to sell them, then there was Revolution Records, which was an independent record shop who gave us the straight £1. and did it as a service because we were a local band and [the record shop owner] thought it was the right thing to do. He became our manager. We went ahead and had 17,000 printed up. The original was 1,000 on the red label, the next 17,000 - don't ask me why 17,000, I mean, God only knows why we didn't go for 15 or 20,000 - was on the yellow label.

K2K: I had only heard of the original 1,000.
JE: There's a yellow label. I was on Bludgeon Riffola, which is what we still keep to this day as our record label in Britain. The second lot came out on MSB1, which was the management's initials, on a yellow label. Between getting that printed up - and they sold out too - and that we got front cover of Sounds Magazine with no record label, and the middle spread with no record label, because our manager coaxed Jeff Barton out of London up to see us playing in Sheffield. He got drunk and gave it a very favorable review. He stayed at our mom and dad's house and the whole bit. Sandwiches and tea - We looked after him really well. We got great reviews and all that kind of stuff off of him. And of course, this just made all the record companies think that if we could get front cover without a record company, there must be something here. So eventually, it came out in January 1979. That's when we started selling them locally. By August of 1979, we had signed a record deal. We had signed the record deal on the day after Led Zeppelin played Knebworth. We drove down from Newcastle Mayfair, where we'd just done a gig on a Friday night. We drove down to Knebworth on the 4th of August, we drove straight down. We got down there on the morning of the 4th. We went to see Led Zeppelin. We went back to Sheffield on that Sunday afternoon. We signed the record deal at Rick's parents' house because his dad had to sign for him because he was 15.

K2K: How old were you?
JE: I was just [turned] 20. That's basically how it all started out. The EP got everybody's attention and we got the deal.

K2K: What song is it that you would say "broke" you in America? Is it "Wasted?"
JE: No, it was "Hello America" I think that actually broke us. The first person actually, you know this because it was in Portland, OR... there's a lady DJ at a rock station in Portland, OR. She was the first person to play Def Leppard on American radio. She started playing "Rock Brigade," I think it was. "Rock Brigade" started getting tiny little bits of airplay, like everybody's first record does. When we opened up for Pat Travers - the first gig we did was in Santa Monica, CA - the lights went down, we walked out onstage, and I heard somebody shout, "Wasted!" I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that somebody in America actually had heard one of our records.

K2K: Oh, I can tell you that by the time we saw you with Pat Travers on that tour, we were already total Def Leppard freaks.
JE: I remember when we played Portland, OR, with Pat Travers. There was, like, 11,000 people there. It was the first time I had seen lighters. It was astonishing because we went down really well.

K2K: Do you remember playing in Oakland, CA on that tour?
JE: Yes I do, because we went to a club afterwards. I remember the Oakland thing, but not the gig. We went to a club afterwards and Travers got up to jam. Pete Willis was so drunk that he just wandered up onstage and then got to be escorted off. Awful.

K2K: Are the stories about his drinking exaggerated or are they true?
JE: Oh no, they are definitely true. Pete was a really nice guy when he didn't drink, and he was a really good guitar player. Pete probably still is a really good guitar player, and he probably still is a really nice guy when he's sober. The problem is that he was very rarely sober after 7pm. When he was drunk, he went from 5'2" to 8'2". He would be picking fights, setting off fire extinguishers, he's be drunk before he'd go out onstage. He'd throw the best shapes you've ever seen, but played the lousiest guitar you've ever heard. He would start fights between the band. He would be obnoxious and uncooperative. Just generally hard work to be around. He'd alienate himself. We didn't hang out with him until he was sober.

K2K: We all know somebody like that, don't we.
JE: Yeah. The difference between Pete and Steve - Steve used to drink way more than Pete, but Steve was a nice guy. Until he died, it wasn't really a big problem. It was only maybe eight months before he passed away that he actually lost the ability to perform. He never got drunk on stage, he'd get drunk afterwards. But he'd end up with the shakes that wouldn't clear up until 8:55, if we were going on a 9pm. He was just going through a stage that was so unworkable when we were doing the "Adrenalize" album, that we just had to say, "Look Steve, we're not firing you, but go away for about six months and get yourself sorted out." We just worked as a four-piece and we ended up doing the whole thing as a four-piece.

Pete, yeah, sometimes he was funny, most of the time he was annoying. He's the only time I've come close to physically beating the shit out of somebody. With Steve, he'd just fall over you, and started crying and hugging you, and telling you how much he loves you. I think Steve just had a real problem with the pressures. Pete had exactly the same problems, but he dealt with them in a way more obnoxious way. Nobody liked him. The management hated him, the record company hated him, people who met him hated him. He was drunk, then the next day they'd see him, it was, "Wow, he's OK when he's sober." Yes.

K2K: Do you still keep in contact?
JE: Not very often. He's married to my best friend's sister, so I hear what's going on, but I haven't seen Pete since he came to see us at Sheffield Arena about four years ago.

K2K: Was it ever considered to have him come back?
JE: Never. You can't go back like that. No.

K2K: Have you ever jammed with him since?
JE: In fairness, when we played Sheffield City Hall in 1987, Phil actually suggested that we get Pete to play "Get Your Rocks Off." But Pete wouldn't do it. He was scared. He's got this immense stage fright. The only way that he could get over it was to get drunk, so then the problem starts again. He formed a new band called "Roadhouse," and he got a record deal with our label. The day that the album came out, they fired the singer, and when they went on tour to promote the album, Pete stayed at home because his wife was pregnant and they got a replacement guitarist in.

So, anybody that was remotely interested in seeing this band was going to go because Pete was in it. He wasn't even in it. He didn't do the tour and he fired his singer on the day his album came out. So imagine what the record company thought about that. Dropped him like a stone. He's a self-destruct button. He brings it all on himself. He can't blame the industry or bad luck or bad timing, which we can all do when things don't work. Everything that went wrong was totally and utterly Pete's fault, and he accepts that. But recently he's been getting pissed off at being blamed as a bad guy. But as I kept saying, "You know what? You can't unwrite history." Attila The Hun and Adolph Hitler are never going to have good things written about them, because you can't look back and tried to find a reason why they were the way there were. Nobody would want to read it. Nobody wants to know about Pete's good stuff. Whenever I get asked about Pete, the only thing that I ever get asked is, "Was he as bad as he really was?"

K2K: Well, if you have something good to say, I would like to hear it.
JE: Well I've said what there is good to say about him. When he's sober, he's really OK, he's a nice guy. He was always the odd one out, but he was a nice enough guy. He was a great player, a fantastic rhythm player. He had a brilliant right hand. He could do "chuk-chuk-chuk" and never go out of time.

K2K: Who did most of the leads then? Steve?
JE: It was 50/50. It always was. You can tell the difference. Pete's stuff is way more funky. Pete used to want to be Pat Travers. If you listen to the first album, there's a lot of "wah" stuff in the Pat Travers' style. The stuff that sounds like Brian Robertson and Jimmy Page is Steve. The open "wah wah," the manic "wah wah," that's Steve. Like Steve does the solo in "It Don't Matter," which is great. The end solo, in "Answer To The Master," there's a breakdown section, that's Steve, and the solo following that is Steve. The other lick is Pete. Pete wrote that. He wrote that and played it. Steve couldn't play it. He would always say, "I can't fucking play this shit." That side of the songwriting that we were dealing with then, with Steve and Pete, was the side of the songwriting that none of us were really interested in.

K2K: That's why it's my favorite album. I could never figure out how to play half the stuff on that album back then. It was always a challenge.
JE: Yeah, well the thing is, you can't figure it out because it was written to be clever. What I mean by that is that Pete really wanted everybody to know what a great guitarist he was, not what a great songwriter he was. So, consequently, we had all these really difficult riffs, like the riffs to "Get Your Rocks Off." Steve could never do that. He could play a version of it. His fingers just couldn't get around it. I tell you, on the stage, and on the record, it wasn't that important that those "diddly-diddly's" were in there, but it was important to Pete. That's all well and good, but it was detrimental to the song and detrimental to the furthering of the band. It was always a sticking point as to why everything has to be so precise in the riff department. It's like, other riffs are all good and well, but "Smoke On The Water" is pretty simple to play and it's the most memorable song. Things didn't have to be so bloody complicated. We were verging on going jazz rock. It was like, "Fuck that!" I wanted to be Hanoi Rocks, not Santana.

K2K: I still appreciated it as did others.
JE: It was a learning curve. To me, the better riffs, the way better riffs were on "High And Dry." The reason was, when we came in with complicated stuff, Mutt stripped it down to the bare bones. He said, "Take the fat off and just leave the meat." So, we slowed stuff down to have a better groove. We slowed stuff down because we really dug what he did with AC/DC. We loved "Let There Be Rock" and "Powerage," but they don't compare to "Highway To Hell" and "Back In Black." The arrangements. Listen to "Shoot To Thrill" or to "Highway To Hell," the simplicity of it, the openness. A guy who's had six weeks worth of guitar lessons could play it, but the fact is that he can get his fingers around the chords, but he can't get his fingers around the feel. That is something that you're born with or you work very hard at. AC/DC were the tightest outfit on the planet and we wanted AC/DC meets Queen as our blueprint. We wanted the power and the groove of AC/DC and the harmonies and production qualities of Queen. The power and the melody. Beach Boys meets Black Sabbath, whatever opposites you want to take and meet in the middle. We knew that we could do that. To a non-musician, there isn't a vast difference between "Tie Your Mother Down" and "Highway To Hell." They're just rock songs that groove along. Guitar riffs over drums and bass. But AC/DC would never put the harmonies on that "Tie Your Mother Down" had, or any other Queen song.

K2K: I have a thought about Metallica. They did an exceptional album with "Ride The Lightning," but I always felt that there could have been a bit more if they had added vocal harmonies. They should go back and rerecord that album with a new mix.
JE: I think that the way way they look at it is that harmonies are for faggots.

K2K: But they do them now.
JE: Yeah, but they do them low and with so much attitude that they don't sound like harmonies. The fact of the matter is, and I know this because we've shared the same management for 16 years, "Nothing Else Matters" is one of the best vocals I've ever heard. Not just by Hetfield, but by anybody. The verses, he sings them. He absolutely sings them. And I know that they had a problem with that in the early days because, "Well, all our rock fans are going to think that we've gone soft." But he's not all, "BLEAGH!!" on every line, but only in the choruses at the very end. But he sings, and it's good. That's one of the reasons that that album has sold 12 million. People who don't like heavy metal have got that one album in their record collection. It just caught their attention. The same reason that I've got one New Age album in my record collection. I've got Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" in my collection because it just caught my attention. It's the same thing with Metallica. There are a lot of people who bought that record who don't have any other Metallica records. It's just very well done.

K2K: James made a good point, that I've always liked, to all the people who called them "sell-outs." He said, "We've grown up. Why don't you?"
JE: The difference between Metallica and us is that, I think they like their first album more than we like ours, which is why they'll play more off of it. I'm sure that there are certain songs off of that first album that they go, "Oh God." maybe because they've played them too many times or maybe they're just embarrassed by them now. The fact of the matter is that we don't like our first record. And I totally accept and appreciate anybody saying that I'm full of shit, but they have to accept my [opinion]. It's my record. I made it. I don't like it anymore. You buy a shirt and say, "I can't wear this anymore."and people think it looks really good on you. You're sick of it. You don't want it anymore. You want a new one. It's the same with music. Maybe in three year's time, we'll all hit a spot where we'll go, "Why don't we do 'Hello America' or 'Overture' again?" We might all go, "Yeah, let's do it." But until that moment happens, it's been jettisoned.

It was good for its day but it didn't last. It didn't stand up. It didn't come close to Van Halen's first album. It didn't come close to Boston's first album or the first Montrose album. It's like, my singing is terrible, the production is weak. We speed up half way through the songs and change directions. It was out of our hands. We dropped out guard for a moment and let people dictate how it should be. We were signed to a big, major record label and we thought that's the way it was. It was only afterwards that we thought, "Bullshit! We got this far on our own. We shouldn't let these people take over." We tried to get Mutt to do our first album but we couldn't get him, but we managed to get him for the second. As soon as we got Mutt, the decision was, "Nobody interferes with this record except this guy." That was it. If they don't like it, we'll take it somewhere else. We didn't have to do that. To this day, we have never had an A&R man interfere with our music. They can bugger off.

K2K: I respect your opinion, but still I was wondering about that comment you made on VH1. (Joe had made reference to the fact that the band didn't need the first album because it was "like a booster rocket" that dropped off and wasn't needed anymore. Also he said that it wasn't worth playing anything off of that album for "the 12 of you out there who like it.")
JE: The only way that I can really describe it is, and I know it's not a good comparison, but imagine if you go on to your parent's and your mom pulls out a school annual, from when you were 12, and there's a review that you did, and you think, "Holy shit. This is really embarrassing."

K2K: Yeah, but as a musician, I've got music from when I started playing that I may not like now, but I do think it's workable and should be released just so that it's out there.
JE: Well, that's where the comparison is equal. I can tell you right now that if the incentive, and I don't mean financial, to rerecord that first album ever reared its head, I wouldn't object. The only way that I would ever feel comfortable listening to that record, sober, is if I rerecorded all my vocals and we remixed it and all that kind of stuff. And I dare say that if they were both in the band, Steve and Pete would want to redo some of the stuff and Sav would want to redo some of the stuff, and Rick would want to redo the drum sound. I have rough mix tapes of that first album that shit all over that finished version, because Tom Allen tried to make it sound too American-radio friendly. He took all the power out. He just took all the energy out of the record. On "High And Dry," we went probably over the top, because we were so intense on making a record that was so much more in the direction that we wanted to go. We wanted all the power there and all the energy of the guitars and the drums to sound massive and not polite. We didn't want to sound like REO Speedwagon. We wanted to sound like "Cashmiere" and "Rock And Roll."

K2K: For your age at that time, you were a huge inspiration for all of us growing up.
JE: Absolutely! I couldn't agree more. The one good fact about that record is that it inspired a whole generation of people that it is possible for five kids 15 to 19 to actually make a concisive attempt at an album with songs that were are original and very unique, as much as they may be faulted, they were very unique. There were bits that sounded like certain bands. There were obvious influences. You can hear Rush, UFO, Thin Lizzy, and Judas Priest. But overall it sounded like a new act. It was, for its time, what Nirvana was in 1991. It was very much based on previous works. Nirvana was very based on nothing that had gone past that the Americans were aware of.

I listen to Nirvana and giggle when people say, "so unique." I pull out some punk from 1977 and go, "Really?" Have you heard Killing Joke from the 1980s? It's "Come As You Are." You can't blame them because they didn't know it existed, but I do. It's the same way that when a kid at 16 heard "On Through The Night" and thought, "Ah, this is so unique and fresh." when kids into Judas Priest have a snicker on their face because they know full well that we ripped off half of "Sad Wings Of Destiny" album. The intro to "Overture" is a rip-off of [Boston's] "More Than A Feeling." "It Don't Matter" is a total hybrid of every Thin Lizzy pop song ever written. That's what we did, but we disguised it better than anybody else. That in itself was an amazing talent for a bunch of guys whose combined age was less than two members of Aerosmith. This is why, for all that people maybe laugh and joke about them, I was very impressed with the very first Silverchair album. I was very impressed with the Hanson album. "Mmmm-Bop" is one of the best pop songs ever written, and they wrote that themselves. It wasn't written by a bunch of songwriters. It was a 10 year old drummer, a 12 year old keyboard player, and a 14 year old guitarist. It was a fantastic achievement. Great structure, great singing, great performance. Brilliant. Really, really good. And the following songs could have sat on any Black Crowes album. You know, it's very, very good.

K2K: I absolutely recommend that first Hanson album.
JE: I love good pop music. I like it when somebody like Neil Young will say in the press, "Why is everybody laughing at Hanson? They're great!" What that does is like the Emperor's New Clothes. Pretty soon somebody's going to go, "He's not wearing anything." And to hear the opposite of that... everybody in these metal bands who want to beat Hanson up... for somebody as credible as Neil Young or Lou Reed say that. Lou Reed, for example, will turn around and say that Duran Duran is one of the best pop bands he's ever heard. I think it's fantastic that they have the balls to do that, because people will listen if they like them. If I say it, nobody's going to listen. If Neil Young says it, people go, "Hmm..." That's why we go back to the Lester Bangs thing... I have much, much, much respect to anybody who can stand up and say, "You're all full of shit." The fact is that youth is a major factor in why [Hanson's first album] was so good. We all have to admit that if "On Through The Night" had been made by seasoned veterans of 32 years old, it wouldn't have done shit. My point is that it does get judged for its youth, not for its content and how good it is.

My big argument back then is that back then people would always say, "God, you guys are so young." I would get so annoyed at that. I would say, "That's not the point. Listen to the music." Then when people started saying, "You're old." I would say, "You know what? We had the same problem when we were young." So, nobody's listening to what we're doing, they're just looking at our birth certificates. That's bullshit.

K2K: It's funny, I never thought about how old you are now, but that's because we're about the same age.
JE: The parachute that we have is that Aerosmith and the Stones are still doing it and they're 15 to 20 years older than we are. Have you also noticed another thing? Solo artists don't get this grief. Sting, Tom Petty, Neil Young, even Billy Idol, Eddie Money, John Mellencamp, they don't get this age shit. It's only bands. So far, the only way around it is if you're so big that you're beyond criticism, like Aerosmith two years ago. They could get away with murder and they're in their 50s. Steven Tyler's writing lyrics that would embarrass a 15 year old. I'm not saying that as a slag of Steve. He's not attempting to grow up and I respect that in him. He's not trying to be a politician. He's writing sleazy, Jaggeresque lyrics about shagging and how many dicks sucked and blah, blah, blah. He can still do a "Living On The Edge, " and a "Jaimie's Got A Gun," which is a pretty radical subject. But he can still write "Eat The Rich" and belch at the end of the song. That's what rock 'n' roll is, it's being obnoxious.

K2K: When we're talking about age and the current punk stuff... how old do these kids think the Dead Kennedys are? Or the New York Dolls? Or MC-5?
JE: The Dolls are older than me. The Clash are five years older than me. The Pistols are four years older than me. It doesn't matter how old you are.

K2K: People forget their roots.
JE: Yeah. Townsend's bald, but he does the windmill and people go mental. It doesn't matter.

K2K: Can you tell me about an old song of yours called "Medicine Man?"
JE: "Medicine Man" was a song that we wrote while we had some down time in England. After we had done the first American tour, we went back to Britain to play the Redding Festival in August. We wrote the song and we wrote "Lady Strange" and we did them both. "Lady Strange" got changed somewhat, but it's pretty much the same song.

K2K: I remember you doing "Medicine Man" on the Pat Traver's tour.
JE: "Medicine Man" was written on down time. Your memory's better than mine, I thought we wrote it after that tour. Basically, what happened was that we played it live a bunch of times. We took it into preproduction for the second album and Mutt didn't like the finished article, but he liked bits in it. So we changed the music to the bridge and the lyrics and the top line and everything got rewritten. But the intro and the riff were used. It became "Rock Till You Drop."

K2K: Is there a version of "Medicine Man" out there?
JE: There's a bootleg version of it on some CD. If you ever get a chance to pick up a Def Leppard bootleg that has us from the Redding Festival in 1980, it was a radio broadcast, so it's a relatively decent recording. It's not the best performance you've ever heard. I was fucking flat as a pancake. Whatever, it's there. You've really got to look in bootleg shops. Internet is always good for that stuff, E-Bay and stuff like that. I've bought shitloads of Mott The Hoople stuff off of E-Bay.

K2K: How was it touring with Pat Travers and also with Blackfoot?
JE: We were young and we were very accommodating as an opening act. They gave us one light, we didn't ask for two. We didn't fight with any of these bands - we did fight a few times with Blackfoot, but most of the time was with the production manager. The bands we got along fine with. Pat Travers was going through a bad cocaine period at the time and a little difficult to get to know. After the tour finished - you know, we had the usual pie fights on the last night of the tour and all - Pat was good to us. We always got a soundcheck, he didn't fuck with us, he didn't pull the power on us if we went down well, so he was alright. I had gotten on really well with Mars [Cowling], the bass player, a really nice guy, and with Tommy Aldridge. I got on really well with Mars and, when we got back to Florida in 1983, after we had gone ballistic with "Pyromania," we were headlining some arena, Travers came down with his girlfriend to say "Hello." He walked down to the dressing room and said, "Hi guys. I just wanted to come down and say Hi. This is my girlfriend. Introduce yourselves. I don't remember your names." Fair enough. I'm sure that I've done a similar thing where I've forgotten everyone's names, but I would at least have the sense to check a CD sleeve before I went to a gig. I wouldn't say something as throw-away as he did. But Mars came down to the hotel and, "Do you want to go out on my boat?" and off we went. It was a totally different kind of thing. And I like Pat Travers, I'm not knocking him.

K2K: Yeah, unfortunately he had still been trying to kick that coke habit for the next ten years.
JE: Oh, I know. But with songs like "Stevie" and all that, I loved "Makin' Magic." I thought it was a fantastic record. I'm really pissed off because I lent my copy to Pete Willis and it was scratched so badly that I can't play it. I can make a DAT of it and have to listen so that it can't get any worse or ruin my needle. I have to listen to this crackling copy. Believe it or not, in Japan they re-release everything, but they haven't released the first two Travers albums. I've actually asked them to go into the vaults and make me a copy on a multi-track. Travers was fun. Blackfoot was a really strange bill. It was the only bill going that summer and you talk about wrong... Southern rock boogie band and this glam, pop metal, British scallawags. When we went down South, talk about a mismatch. It's like the ex-boyfriend turning up at the wedding. It was really not a great bill for us because there were all these "Ya-hoo" cowboys looking at us wearing red spandex trousers and whatever the fuck we were wearing. We were these fag English guys, you know. It was a weird tour. They had a brown P.A. and I could never get my head around that. I mean, black. Edgar or Johnny Winter with a white one, yeah, that's a statement, but a brown one. It was like some radio from the 1940s. It was old, falling to bits. The band was great but the whole production was so Mickey Mouse. Ozzy was a lot more fun. We went on to Ozzy from Blackfoot and it was a total relief.

K2K: So to bring everything around to today... How many different side projects have you done guest vocals on?
JE: Me and Phil did guitar and vocals on an Alice Cooper tribute album last year. We did "Under My Wheels." In 1991, I sang half lead vocals and backing vocals on Ronnie Wood's solo album, "Slide On This." Before that, I did a couple of vocals in Holland on a couple of albums. There's a girl called Laurie Speed. We did a song called "Those Faces" that me and Phil did backing vocals on. I did a song called "Lonely Road" with a band called Ricky And The Frog, but it never got released. Other than that, the Mick Ronson stuff in 1993 is the only other stuff that I've worked on.

K2K: How did you get involved to do the one guest vocal on the latest [ex-British Lions guitarist] Ray Majors CD?
JE: Ray phoned me up. My connections to Ray are the fact that I was a huge fan of Mott The Hoople and the spin-off, Mott, of which Ray was a part of. Then obviously British Lions. I kept following the career as it splintered more and more. How I met Ray, me and Phil went down to his place in 1982 when we were doing "Pyromania." Then I didn't see nor hear from him for years. Then I saw him last year or in 1999 at the Mott The Hoople convention. He did an acoustic set with [ex-British Lions vocalist} John Fiddler. We were backstage talking and all that stuff. We kept up on the phone and one day he said, "I've got this song and I think it would sound good if you sang it." I said, "Wow. OK. Send me the tape." Then I lived with it for a month and finally listened to it and went to do it.

And about there is where the tape decides to end and we go on to discuss some other projects. Keep an eye out for the Ray Majors CD as well as the next Def Leppard CD, whenever that project is finished.

For more information about Def Leppard - http://www.defleppard.com

Written by Philip Anderson / Photo © 1984 Philip Anderson

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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