It’s been 40 years since Def Leppard released their first album and the band show no signs of stopping according to lead singer Joe Elliott.
Now, as the band prepare to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame on March 29, Elliott is sitting down for an exclusive interview with ET Canada’s Carlos Bustamante in New York City, reflecting on the ups and downs of the British rock band.
“We’re working hard and it is hard work but when it’s your vocation, when it’s your hobby, when it’s your calling, or whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t quite seem as hard,” he says, adding after all this time with the band, he doesn’t get tired of playing the hits like “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Animal”.
“I don’t have a problem playing the hits because that’s what put us where we are. They can get tedious in rehearsals but never in front of an audience,” Elliott says, calling touring the “best part” of being in the band.
It’s a good thing Elliott and bandmates Rick Savage, Rick Allen, Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell aren’t sick of playing their biggest songs. In addition to their Hall of Fame honour, Def Leppard are about to embark on a Canadian tour and a Las Vegas residency in 2019.
Elliott, 59, is prepared to give it his all, giving the fans exactly what they want when they come to a Def Leppard show.
“You want people to leave the building going, ‘Wow they’ve still got it,'” he tells Carlos. “That doesn’t come by accident. That’s a lot of work. That’s warm-ups, that’s just taking care of yourself. Don’t go to nightclubs until six in the morning shouting your orders for a drink and expect to sing like a bird the next night. Ain’t going to happen.”
Getting injured is a serious issue for Elliott, who has worked his way back from severe vocal issues.
“I hurt my voice. I lost my voice three years ago to the point where I thought maybe I would never sing again,” he explains. “But with insane willpower on my part and fantastic belief in my vocal coach we built my voice back up and it’s better than it’s ever been. So yeah, you’re constantly worried about stuff like that. It can end like that!”
Over the years, Elliott and the band have learned to manage through life’s ups and downs.
“Well, we’re a fantastic example of ‘mind over matter,’ if you like,” he explains. “I mean, we have a drummer with one arm, we lost a guitar player to alcoholism, we lost 2 to alcoholism, one of them died.”
“You can either split up and back down or you can ride it out and give it the middle finger and say, ‘We’ll come back stronger, we just need a bit of time to re-evaluate where we are’. We just had a lot of self-belief,” he adds.
That self-belief means Def Leppard have no plans of hanging up their instruments any time soon.
“As long as I can still stand up straight and hit a note. If I can physically do it and I want to do it then I will,” a determined Elliott says. “I think we all know when it’s time to step away, and you hope — the only thing that you can ever really hope — is that it’s your choice. You know, not after some tragic stroke or heart attack or something like that.”
“You want to be able to walk away and go do something else. Fishing or mountaineering, whatever you fancy,” he concludes. “I just hope that when the time does come that it’s my choice.”
Def Leppard’s Las Vegas residency is set to begin August 14 at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Their Canadian tour kicks off in Halifax on July 12. See the list of Canadian dates below.
7/12/19 Halifax, NS – Scotiabank Centre
7/13/19 Moncton, NB – Avenir Centre
7/15/19 Quebec City, QC – Centre Videotron
7/17/19 Montreal, QC – Bell Centre
7/19/19 Ottawa, ON – Canadian Tire Centre
7/20/19 Hamilton, ON – FirstOntario Centre
7/22/19 London, ON – Budweiser Gardens
7/25/19 Winnipeg, MB – Bell MTS Place
7/27/19 Saskatoon, SK – SaskTel Centre
7/29/19 Edmonton, AB – Rogers Place
7/31/19 Calgary, AB – Scotiabank Saddledome