Joe Elliott - Uber Rock Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Eamon O'Neill   
Sunday, 23 November 2014 03:00

DownNoutz1

 

As frontman for Def Leppard, Joe Elliott is part of one of the most successful British acts of all time. Conquering America with two back to back multi-million selling albums in 1983’s ‘Pyromania’ and 1987’s ‘Hysteria’, his place in music history is assured. Yet, he’s never one to shy away from paying homage to his heroes, and in a break from Def Leppard’s busy schedule, he’s taken time out to record a second album with his Mott The Hoople loving Down ‘n’ Outz. The band are heading out on the road in December, and ahead of the tour, Joe caught up with Eamon O’Neill to discuss the band, Leppard’s plans for the future and their shady past. Do ya wanna get rocked? Read on.

 

Hi Joe, how are you today?

 

I’m all right, I couldn’t be better, well I could if the weather was. I’m back at home in Dublin now, but I was in London for The Who thing [star-studded 50th Anniversary gig that took place on November 11th at Shepherds Bush Empire] yesterday and I was in the studio last night, and I should go back again tonight if I’ve got any voice left after doing the four hours of promo that I’ve got this afternoon. Somebody’s got to do it baby, somebody’s got to do it! (laughing)

 

Congratulations on the success of the latest Down ‘N’ Outz album ‘The Further Adventures Of…’ which has been getting some great reviews. Was the album a labour of love for you?

 

Well, everything’s a labour of love isn’t it, because you never know what it’s going to do. I put as much work into it as any other record that I’ve ever made. The fact is that there’s probably just a little bit more heart in it, because of the fact that I’ve known the songs for thirty years. You want to do them justice, and there is a yardstick that you’re judging it against, whereas when you think of a brand new Leppard record, it’s all brand new songs so you’re not judging it against anything or it doesn’t have to be a certain way. You can change it if it doesn’t work, whereas with some of these songs, you can’t; they’re not broken. I just wanted to throw new light on them. It takes a lot of the weight off because you’re never going to go, “well, I could rewrite this chorus and make it better”.

 

Your love of 1970’s glam rock is no secret. Do the Down ‘N’ Outz shows give you the chance to live out your childhood fantasies?

 

To be quite honest I’m not really sure whether they do. I never thought of it like that. I mean, I play rhythm guitar [in the Down ‘n’ Outz] which is where I started out as a fifteen year old. Before I joined Leppard I was playing rhythm guitar in a little band and then when I joined Leppard there was obviously no need to when you had Steve Clarke and Pete Willis on guitar. It was like when Roger Daltrey joined The Who and he was a guitar player. So I suppose the fact that I’m singing and playing guitar is a bit like kind of going back to my youth. But it’s not like I slap all the mascara on and dress up like Marc Bolan; I’d do that for a fancy dress party, I wouldn’t do it for a Down ‘n’ Outz gig. It’s just a case of being in a band that’s different to Leppard, and I’m just taking it further than it was ever meant to go. It wasn’t even supposed to be a band, it was going to be a one off forty-five minute performance at Hammersmith Odeon, and we were kind of browbeaten into making an album by the audience in the bar afterwards! And then that album became relatively successful via Classic Rock magazine in the UK and massive airplay in America. So that kind of lead us to the second [current ‘Further Adventures Of…] record, and once we’d gotten that one out of the way I’d already decided that if there’s going to be a third one, we’re writing it [rather than recording cover versions] in that style, and we’ve actually got half of that third album written.

 

Down N Outz 2

 

Have you any idea when that third album will see the light of day?

 

I wouldn’t imagine it would be until at least 2016, because we are very very busy right now in the Lepps, and we’re going to be busy all next year.

 

The band contains a few Quireboys, a Leppard, and you’re now welcoming a Vixen. How did you hook up with new bassist Share Ross?

 

Well, she stood in for The Quireboys’ bass player who couldn’t get a visa and couldn’t do the Monsters Of Rock Cruise, which was sailing around the Caribbean. I asked her to stand in, because Vixen were on the cruise as well, and ‘Griff’, Guy Griffin [Down ‘n’ Outz guitarist] said she had the best groove that he’s ever played with. So I said, well, she’ll do for me, because we didn’t have a permanent bass player. We had Snake [Mark Luckhurst] from Thunder for the Paul Rodgers tour, and he played on half the new album, but Paul Guerin [Down ‘n’ Outz guitarist] and I played bass on the other songs. I wanted to take it in another direction, and I wanted someone who could add in on the backing vocals more. You don’t get more glamorous than a girl, so it worked out quite well really.

 

You’ve recently released a video for ‘One Of The Boys’ from the latest album. It looked like a lot of fun. Was it a reflection of a typical night out in Dublin for you?

 

Absolutely not, it’s a reflection of me trying to hold my acting skills down! I had so many people say to me; “god, I can’t believe you let them film you get pissed [drunk]!” I’m not, I was drinking water! It was all “let’s just make it look like a bit lairy”. They wanted to put some cutaways in it, so I said, we’ll just go down [Dublin’s cultural quarter and drinking hotspot] Temple Bar, and it was great. It was Friday night, I’d got the leather jacket on, the hair done, and not one person recognised me for at least the first two hours, and I was walking down the streets miming the song. Eventually I got jumped on by a Polish kid, but all the Irish just stood there going; “are you going to do that one [take] again?”

 

 

Living in Dublin, do you feel like you’re a local boy these days?

 

Absolutely- It’s been thirty years. I moved here after ‘Pyromania’ had been done and dusted. I came here to write what turned into the ‘Hysteria’ album. We were here for six months in ’84 and then we went over to Holland to record the album, but I kept coming back because I kept missing the place! I liked it here. I was living in London and I hated London. Dublin is absolutely home for me now.

 

You’ve been spotted at a few local gigs. I heard you attended the Last In Line gig in Belfast, the band featuring the original Dio line-up that includes Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell. Did you enjoy that?

 

Yes I did actually, and it was great to see him doing that again because he doesn’t get to play like that in Leppard. We’re more about songs, whereas the Dio stuff is more about riffs and whatnot. It’s just a different angle and it was good for him to get that back out of his system if you like, or put it back into his system, whatever way you want to put it.

 

How is Vivian doing now health wise, and how have the band been coping?

 

He’s just had stem cell surgery, and he was released from hospital about two days ago. So he’s home recuperating. From what I’ve been lead to believe, he’s going to be great, he’s going to be fine. From what I’ve been told it was a successful operation, and there’s no reason why he can’t make a full recovery. With his immune system down to zero at the moment, he just has to stay away from everybody. So he’s in lockdown, but we don’t need him until April. All his bits on the new Leppard album are done, so he can just chill and watch loads of movies all day, or as he likes to call it; his ‘car porn’. He’s into his car porn.

 

Given Def Leppard’s history of ill-fortune, does part of you think, “oh no, not again” when something like that sidelines the band?

 

Well I suppose, but what it means for me, well, that’s just ‘life’. Whether you’ve been in a band or you’ve just been alive for a certain amount of time, stuff happens. You can say “oh not again” when your mum gets ill or when your kid gets ill, or when you get ill. It’s just more highlighted when you’re in a band because people put it in the papers. If you’ve got cancer and you’re the guitarist in Def Leppard, it’s ‘the curse of Def Leppard’ once again. There isn’t one; it’s just life. Take five random people off the street and ask them what happened to them over the last twenty-two years and I think you’ll find they’ll be worse off, or at least equal to what negative things we’ve had happen to us, but they wouldn’t have had anywhere near the highs.

 

Hysteria movie

 

On that note, did you see ‘Hysteria – The Def Leppard Story’, the movie that was released in 2001 that dramatized the bands story?

 

Oh, of course I did yeah. We had to ‘script-doctor’ it somewhat. You should have seen the original script! It was horrendous.

 

So what did you think about the finished movie?

 

Well, I thought that the guy who played me should have been at least four inches taller. He had the wrong hair for the wrong era. My parents never had a dog, and Rick’s mum wasn’t Australian. Phil’s mum wasn’t Irish! (laughing) The guy that played Sav [bassist Rick Savage] was really good though. Everybody picked up on the road markings [being not British] too, because it was shot in Canada you see. The road signs, they were just so wrong, the distances from places like Manchester to Sheffield were just so wrong. On the other side of that, Apollo 13 is probably inaccurate to an astronaut. It doesn’t matter to some, but if you’re a hard core Leppard fan you’re going to go, “really?!” But you know what, nearly ten million people watched the thing on the first showing, which was amazing. There’s not many band’s that have had a film made about them.

 

It has been three years since Def Leppard last came to these shores. When are we going to see the band back in the UK and Ireland?

 

It’s going to be next year for sure. Absolutely we’re going to do a British tour next year. We do have a tentative plan for a tour, so it’s just fitting it in. The album hopefully will be out about May or something like that, so the tour is probably going to be towards September or whenever. But it’s so early right now and we’re just trying to get it all in place.

 

Def Leppard

 

Your most recent tours have seen Def Leppard team up with the likes of Kiss, Mötley Crüe and Whitesnake on co-headlining jaunts. Is this how you envisage future Def Leppard tours?

 

You know, when we were on the ‘Hysteria’ tour in the States, any band who opened for us had already sold a million albums, be it Tesla, L.A Guns, or Europe. It just makes for a better night, and I like the idea of it, with the poster not just saying ‘plus support’. It’s like this band ‘Support’, they don’t half get around a lot. We like it, because people want to see value for their money and if they see ‘Leppard and Whitesnake’, ‘Leppard and Kiss’ or ‘Leppard and Mötley Crüe’ against some other band and somebody they’ve never heard of, maybe we win their hard earned cash. I just think that by putting two ‘name’ bands on one bill, one and one makes three. It ain’t great mathematics, but it’s brilliant musical mathematics.

 

During your Las Vegas residency you performed as Def Leppard tribute act ‘Dead Flatbird’, performing some of your lesser known early songs such as ‘Good Morning Freedom’ and ‘Mirror Mirror’. Would you ever be tempted to play some smaller shows in just that format?

 

A lot of people have been asking that, and it’s something that could happen one day, absolutely. But it would have to be for a real good reason, because it’s a lot of effort and a lot of work to play in front of two-hundred people. I mean we could sell the tickets for a premium and give it to charity, but it would have to be really worthwhile. It’s more likely to happen again in Vegas.

 

What was it like playing those almost buried songs after such a long time?

 

It was great. We hadn’t played ‘Good Morning Freedom’ for thirty-five years. I suggested we did it and they went off and learned it. I played it to Phil [Collen, guitarist], and he went; “it’s like Mötorhead without the warts!”

 

Def Leppard 2

 

There are other early songs that have never officially been released, such as ‘Warchild’ and ‘Heat Street’. Would it be fun to record or play those live?

 

We did those at Fairview Studios in Hull where we did the [debut 1979 release] E.P actually. We did them in like an hour, at ten o’clock in the morning when we were barely awake, so they’re not that great. But the songs weren’t too shabby. I thought ’See The Lights’ was one that could have done something or ‘Glad I’m Alive’; that would be my favourite because it’s got that mad sort of tribal drumming thing going on. Yeah there’s a few knocking around, and they might end up on a box set one day.

 

You can catch Down ‘N’ Outz at the following venues throughout December;                        

 

5th Dec – Bristol (Bierkeller) - http://smarturl.it/DNODec5
6th Dec – Trecco Bay (Planet Rockstock) - http://smarturl.it/DNODec6
8th Dec – London (Garage) - http://smarturl.it/DNODec8
9th Dec – York (Fibbers) - http://smarturl.it/DNODec9
11th Dec – Sheffield (Corporation) - http://smarturl.it/DNODec11
12th Dec – Wolverhampton (Slade Rooms) - http://smarturl.it/DNODec12
14th Dec – Newcastle (Riverside) - http://smarturl.it/DNODec14
15th Dec – Glasgow (Garage) - http://smarturl.it/DNODec15
17th Dec – Belfast (Limelight) - http://smarturl.it/DNODec17
18th Dec – Dublin (Academy) - http://smarturl.it/DNODec18 

 

Tickets for these dates on the tour are on sale NOW!!!!

 

WIN ONE OF FIVE PAIRS OF TICKETS TO SEE DOWN ‘N’ OUTZ LIVE IN LONDON

 

Thanks to our friends at MAMA, Uber Rock has five pairs of tickets to give away to five lucky readers for this London date at the Garage in Highbury on Monday the 8th December 2014.

 

Down N Outz Tour Poster

 

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning yourself one of five pairs of tickets to the show is answer the following question

 

The first two albums from the Down ‘N’ Outz have involved the band recreating the songs of which legendary UK rock band?

 

a) Venom

b) Trigger McPoopshute

or

c) Mott The Hoople

 

Email your answer (headed ELLIOTT COMP) to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it along with your name and address, and fingers crossed you never know you may just be a lucky winner.

 

All entries are to reach us by midnight on Sunday 30th November 2014 (UK Time).

 

Usual Uber Rock terms and conditions apply. You will pick your tickets up from the venue on the night of the gig. Five lucky winners will each get a pair of tickets for the gig and the winners will be notified directly by Email. We do not provide hotels or travel as part of the prize that extra cost is down to the lucky winners to pick up.

 

For more information visit:

 

http://www.downnoutz.net/

http://www.defleppard.com/

 

To visit the Down 'N' Outz store on Amazon - CLICK HERE 

To visit the Def Leppard store on Amazon - CLICK HERE