Def Leppard's Joe Elliott stopped by the Noisecreep offices recently to chat with us about the band's summer tour with Poison and Cheap Trick, their appearance at the CMT Awards with Taylor Swift and the band's recent appearance at the Donington's Download Festival. As always, Elliott was candid, hilarious and honest. And we even managed to sneak in some fan-submitted questions to this gentle, blond giant.
One such question focused on whether Def Leppard would ever consider going country, because of their recent work with Swift and Tim McGraw.
I've added samples of Nancy Vandal's and The Maine's respective covers of Pour Some Sugar On Me to the Audio section.
Even though some remember the 1980s for the hair bands, the decade also brought some great music that people still love singing along to now.
Plenty of those familiar favorites will be part of the Friday show featuring Def Leppard, Poison and Cheap Trick at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park.
"It's just getting more and more difficult to get new music to people but, on the other hand, people do want to be entertained," Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell recently said via phone.
"We still make new records and slip one or two new songs into our sets. People want to hear the songs," he said, referring to Def Leppard's catalog of countless hits such as "Rock of Ages," "Foolin' " and "C'mon C'mon."
You might expect a member of Def Leppard – a rock band that topped the charts back in the 1980s – to have a hard time saying goodbye to the old methods of selling music.
But not Vivian Campbell, 46-year-old guitarist for the English band whose hits include high-decibel favorites such as "Photograph," "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Love Bites."
Campbell is welcoming the brave new world of digital downloads and format freedom with open arms.
"My personal feeling … is that the album is dead," said Campbell, whose band plays Saturday at Virginia Beach Amphitheater. "As a physical format, it's dead, but also as a concept of a group of songs. I really kind of see it as being an archaic format. I really believe we're back to a point where it's all about the song."
Despite an enviable string of chart-topping albums, Def Leppard once was the unluckiest band in rock 'n' roll.
Drummer Rick Allen suffered a near-fatal car crash in 1984, resulting in the loss of his left arm. Determined to continue performing with Def Leppard, he spent the next two years learning to drum with one limb.
Meanwhile, guitarist Steve Clark struggled with alcoholism throughout the decade. His condition had considerably worsened by 1990, prompting his band mates to grant him a six-month absence from the group. While on leave in January 1991, he ingested a fatal mix of alcohol and prescription pills.
Def Leppard was halfway through the recording of "Adrenalize," the band's fifth album, when Mr. Clark died.
You're in Def Leppard. Your band has written some of the most popular rock songs of all time–tunes like "Photograph," "Rock of Ages," "Foolin'" and "Bringin' on the Heartbreak," to name just a few.
Your album sales–including "Hysteria" and "Pyromania"–are among the best-selling rock albums of all time, with more than 65 million copies sold.
And then the market changes. Grunge and then hip-hop start to dominate the charts, and the rise of file-sharing means that it's all the more difficult for any artist, in any genre, to sell in the numbers of previous eras.
What do you do? If you're in Def Leppard, you respect the music and keep on rockin'.
Def Leppard and Poison provided some good Internet entertainment in the summer of 2008 with an old-school war of words that began with Elliott's blunt comments at a Swedish rock festival.
After that, the last thing we expected was Def Leppard and Poison as traveling buddies, with Cheap Trick, just a year later.
"Yeah, I was actually sitting next to [Joe] at that press conference in Sweden," says Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen, "just talking about substance of bands, and where bands come from, and I think he mentioned we come from a songwriting/producing thing and that Poison was based on an image thing, as was Motley Crue and a lot of other things. It wasn't insulting by any shot, but obviously someone twisted it around. But, it's all fine. Everyone loves each other now and kissing each other, and away we go."
The pop-metal tour of the summer hits the Post-Gazette Pavilion Friday, with Def Leppard, part of the late '70s New Wave of British Metal; Poison, late '80s glam metal; and Cheap Trick, a quirky late '70s power-pop band.
Def Leppard is more than two decades removed from its most popular records, but its accessible rock has aged well enough to keep the group impressively popular over the years. The group came to the Comcast Theatre in Hartford Tuesday night as the headliner on a three-act card, where it powered through a typically slick rundown of hits that began on a pleasantly cool summer night and ended in a torrential lightning storm.
After beginning the show with a video presentation that ran quickly through the band's history and claimed, "that was then, this is now," the band spent its time almost exclusively on then. Only one of its 16 tunes was from its current album, as the group focused instead on the likes of "Rocket" and a slithering rendition of "Rock On."
Always able to do impressive things with meticulously polished studio work, the band didn't always translate them to the stage in ways that measured up, as in an "Animal" ill-served by the raw edges in its chorus. Singer Joe Elliott's haughty bark was augmented by processing on many tunes, including "Foolin'," but not so much that it sounded false.
Def Leppard/Poison/Cheap Trick rolled into the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA Tuesday night performing to a near capacity crowd. The audience spanned a generation, as families brought their children to see the two legendary 80's metal bands that are still at the top of their game today.
Kicking off the nights festivities at 6:45 P.M., Cheap Trick hit the stage for a colorful set, as guitarist Rick Nielsen dressed in a pink suit and 5 neck yellow plaid guitar cranked out the catchy riffs of "I Want You To Want Me", and "Surrender". Singer Robin Zander sporting a white hat was in good voice. Highlight of the Cheap Trick set was their hit ballad "The Flame".
"Rock of Love's" Bret Michaels and his band Poison hit the stage at 8 P.M. performing a 60-minute set of pure infectious pop. Opening with "Look What The Cat Dragged In", Poison delivered a high-energized punch featuring Bret Michaels in pretty good voice for having suffered from the major Tony Awards incident a few weeks ago.
What in tarnation is going on with Def Leppard?
Last year, country superstar Tim McGraw sang with the British band on the single "Nine Lives." Taylor Swift, the omnipresent teen sensation, sang with the band on a "CMT Crossroads" performance in 2008, joining singer Joe Elliott and company for versions of "Photograph" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me."
It's not that Def Leppard has traded its Union Jack motif for cowboy hats. It's only country musicians acknowledging the pervasive influence of Def Leppard.
"There was never any intention of Def Leppard going country," guitarist Viv Campbell says in advance of Friday's concert with Poison and Cheap Trick at the Post-Gazette Pavilion in Burgettstown. "Nor are we influenced by it any way."
According to Campbell, Swift's affection for Def Leppard came by way of her mother's passion for the band.
Who would have thought 32 years ago when British heavy metal band Def Leppard formed in Sheffield, England, that they would end up performing on a country music awards show in Nashville?
But there they were last month on the CMT awards performing their hit, Pour Some Sugar On Me, with teenaged country music star Taylor Swift alongside them. The two acts had been nominated together for their collaborative work on the CMT Crossroads series.
Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell said he's sure some people in the audience were scratching their heads.
"It was a little bizarre but the industry is changing so much," said the affable musician down the line recently from Nashville, the day after their CMT performance.
"Country music is heading more mainstream and other genres are collaborating and getting involved. It's kind of surreal in a way. It's a little strange. The music industry is a continually moving target. It used to be a fixed target and now it's just whatever goes. And Taylor Swift, for example, has nothing to do with country music. She's definitely pop. If you took away the violin and the banjo that she employs, in my opinion, there's nothing country about it."
As Friday night's triple bill began at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, fans were treated to something they rarely see these days – the sun.
But that solar energy didn't warm up the crowd for Cheap Trick. Many were either still filing in or hanging out in the beer garden for the band's 40-minute set.
Singer Robin Zander's vocals were muffled on some songs, but the sound did improve as the set went on. He just didn't seem that into it, even stepping off stage during "Dream Police."
It was guitarist Rick Nielsen who helped salvage their performance. He is entertaining to watch, with his shiny purple suit, bow tie and multi-necked guitars, but he just couldn't carry the whole set.
"Don't need nothin' but a good time," goes that old rock chesnut by '80s glam-metal outfit Poison.
Well, look no further than Saturday night's trio of British heavy metal veterans Def Leppard with opening acts '70s pop-rock outfit Cheap Trick and Poison fronted by Bret Michaels of Rock Of Love Fame at the Molson Amphitheatre for a perfect example of that.
The three name acts drew a nearly sold-out crowd with Poison's party-hearty, fun vibe surprisingly giving more polished headliners Def Leppard a run for their money.
Cheap Trick got the four hours of music off to a start with a sturdy if uneventful 40-minute set which included their most famous hits I Want You To Want Me, Dream Police, and Surrender along with some suprising covers like Elvis Presley's Don't Be Cruel and The Beatles' A Day In The Life (they are going to be performing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band at the Hilton in Las Vegas starting in September backed by a full orchestra.)
Sugar poured? Check. Roses inspected for thorns? Yup. Flame produced? Oh, yeah.
Def Leppard, Poison, and Cheap Trick made for a mostly hot, sticky sweet triple bill last night at the Comcast Center.
It wasn't exactly a hat trick – we'll get to Poison in a minute – but it was one of this summer's smarter package tours. The three bands – all pop at their cores, with varying degrees of power chords applied – took the all killer, no filler approach. They hit the stage, knocked out the hits, and quit while they were ahead.
While it can be difficult to watch the mighty Cheap Trick doing a 40-minute opening set while the sun is still out, the Chicago power pop pioneers certainly exhibited more oomph than they have in recent years.
Def Leppard's music is a steady-enough presence on the radio that the band members never have been too far removed from hearing the songs the way they recorded them.
Old live performances, though, are a different story. A recently released expanded deluxe edition of the band's 1983 album "Pyromania," for example, includes a bonus disc of music from a show that year at the Forum in Los Angeles.
"We played 'Photograph' probably twice as fast as we play it now," guitarist Phil Collen says by phone from outside a Starbucks in Cleveland. "It was all excitement, piss-and-vinegar. It was our first headline tour."