Joe Elliott of Def Leppard speaks out on 2006.
Joe Elliott a rocker for the ages?
Here is Q&A with Joe Elliot posted at their official website. He talks about last year & what’s coming up for this year. The interview was poosted 2-22-2006.
Let’s start with the past tour…..what was your general impression of the
"ROCK OF AGES" tour?
From our point of view, it was definitely an extremely big success! I was a little sceptical at first about co-headlining with anybody. As much as we did have a lot of fun playing with Bryan Adams, to me it was kind of like ‘OK, does this mean we’ve lost our standing to a point where we’re not capable of headlining’. But once I sucked it up, I got it. I thought it worked fine for Counting Crows and Live — didn’t seem to do them any harm to go out together, and it certainly didn’t do Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson any harm either. No one ever thought any of them weren’t able of going out
on their own. So once I got my head around it, it all worked out fine and from all points of view it was a roaring success!
Were you OK with the fact that you were touring on the back of a ‘Best Of’ album?
Yeah, a bit. We didn’t have no new material to promote (save one new track on the ROCK OF AGES album), so for me, it was a bit like treading nostalgia — which is the one thing that I’ve always promised myself we’d never do! I don’t really want to do that, ever. So we all insisted that we’d do at least a couple of things we’d never do before. In the 85 minutes that we’d get to play our set, we chose to do the two
song from our upcoming covers album. "NO MATTER WHAT" was also on the "ROCK
OF AGES" album of course, and then there was "ROCK ON". So besides all the hits,
we did manage to present some new material as well, which was OK.
Whose idea was it to use the video screen?
We turned it a bit into a piece of theater, by taking that out on the road with us. I really wanted to do something different again on this tour. About a year ago, I saw the Sensational Alex Harvey Band at the Boardwalk in Sheffield, and they used some video screens in a tiny little club, which looked magnificent. And so I thought, how would that look on a big stage then! So we got hold of the guys who did all that video stuff, Red and his brother Bruce, and they put this thing together for us. I think it worked really well. Since it was still a ‘history of the band’-tour, we used a lot of old shots of the band and clips with Steve in it, and at the same time do something new for "ROCK ON". For that, we made a mini video, so the band could have a beer break while I just went out there and sang over a tape…..with the rest of the guys being shown on the video screen. And then at the end they would come in live to play the rest of the song. Overall, I really liked the whole visual aspect of it.
Was there no room at all for any obscure songs?
It was a ‘best of’-set, so we had to play our hits. We couldn’t throw in something like "WASTED". We did try and play "ROCK BRIGADE" on a couple of occasions, but for the few people on the message board who get a kick out of that, there’s still 99% of the audience that’ll go "I don’t know this song!" and that’s one of those moments when you go down like a support band. It’s great to see a handful of faces light up when we play such a song, but they’re surrounded by thousands who wonder what the hell we’re playing. It’s impossible to please everyone at the same time but it’s our job to please as many people at the same time.
After co-headlining with Bryan Adams for a bunch of shows, you turned headliner around September? How come?
In all fairness, and with absolutely no disrespect to Bryan, it was prettyy obvious we had to be the headline act. At the beginning, nobody knew how it was gonna go but judging by all kinds of things, such as T-shirt sales or the reaction on ticket sales, most of the people were coming to see us. Because of that, the band’s confidence went up a lot of course! The promoter’s confidence in the band goes up, people wanna book you back, put you in bigger venues…..and all of a sudden we’re playing the New Jersey Continental Airlines Arena again!
Could this tour with Bryan Adams have worked in Europe?
It’s very different….. He suffers in America the way we suffer in Europe. If this tour would’ve taken place in Europe, we’d definitely be opening for him, no doubt. He still plays stadiums in Europe, but can’t really do that in America.
What about people labeling it the "80s rockers" tour? No denying both Leppard and Bryan Adams did great business in the 80s, but surely there’s more to that?
It’s more that we just weren’t that big in the 90s. But from that era, there’s only Pearl Jam left! There’s no Nirvana, no Alice In Chains, no Soundgarden. All the ones that were gonna be the ‘next big thing’, didn’t even last a decade. So all of a sudden we come out of that cloud that was the 90s, and now were survivors. Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols said that one of the reasons we are still around is because we got pedigree. Doesn’t matter if people like us or not, they accept the fact that we survived. That also goes for Duran Duran, Iron Maiden and, in a slightly different way, INXS. It goes for any other band that have been around as long as we are, and are still doing it. Suddenly it’s cool again to like all these bands. When they put us on the Spike TV awards show, we were probably the only ‘white’ band on there, and we were well accepted. On the VH1 awards show, we had the big finale thing. Jimmy Kimmel loved us on his show. It’s great!
You changed management in the middle of the tour. Was that good timing?
It was very stressful! It turned out to be really hard, since there’s a lot of history with (previous management) Q.Prime. As much as there’s been a lot of frustration with the way they wanted to promote the band, I think that their version of us had grown apart from our version of us. Doing the whole switchover thing to HK Management was really difficult. One or two of us are not necessarily as brave to make a massive decision like this in the middle of the tour — you don’t need the hassle. It wasn’t overly pleasant to do it, but we dealt with it.
On to this year, then. What are your plans, expectations and hopes?
The only thing that’s really set in stone is that we’re having a photo shoot for the new album next week and after that, we’re taking some time to get away from all this. Even though it’s been quiet since the tour ended, we have been working so we need a little time off, write some songs and then collectively get together after that. The idea is, we got this covers album pretty much in the can already. We can start working on the next one so we can leapfrog ourselves. And instead of having lots of downtime, by the time we go out on the road on the next tour, we might have got half of the next album written — some of it even recorded, who knows! With that, when we go start working on the next record, we’re a step ahead of ourselves. Put it like this….. with the Bryan Adams tour, we had two identical stages. When we were playing a show, the stage for the next show was already being set up because if we would have only one stage, there wouldn’t be time to disassemble the stage, ship it to the next town and build it up there within one day. So when we were playing one show, the other stage was traveling or being set up in the next town already. Basically, the Friday stage would be used on the Sunday gig. The Saturday stage would be used on the Monday show, and so forth. We’re trying to do that with the albums as well now. Does that make sense…..?
What keeps you busy during your time off?
I’m still catching up on archiving a lot of the stuff we might want to use if we ever get around to doing a box set. Lots of audio and video that needs to be transferred to CD and DVD…..that’s taking a lot of work. And well, I’m a married man so there’s someone else who demands my time every now and then, haha. But I’ll probably also be making demos and all that.
What’s the current status on "YEAH!", the long-awaited covers album and the subsequent tour?
I think it’s still scheduled for release in May, so organizing promo might be starting around March already. It’s not gonna be full-on right away, but more like a day here, a day there, a weekend here, a week there….. We’re supposed to be going out on the road in the summer, but keep in mind that there are places where we can get too soon. For a band to play a town where they just played some 4-6 months ago, you have got to be U2 or Green Day, for people to want to see you again so soon. For us to go out this summer, it’s gotta be something really special, so we have to make a big deal prepping this properly.
Will European fans get to see you this time as well?
It’s not that we didn’t want to play Europe — there was simply no demand. Easy as that! Nobody came to us asking us if we’d be interested in playing these festivals. Or well, the only festivals that we were offered, we’d be the headliners. But we’d prefer the festivals where we’d be the smallest band on the bill, you know? I’ll do daylight shows, I’ll play for 45 minutes, no problem — as long as it’s in the right environment.
How about England? They’re waiting for you.
Well, that just didn’t really work out in 2005. We might have played there if it wasn’t for the management change. But since that happened, we had so many things going on, that we kinda made the decision that we’d rather go there on a larger scale in 2006. We didn’t tour for the (UK release) "BEST OF" because if we did, it would’ve been in November 2004 and back then, there was just way too much traffic around by other artists. And by the time we went out on the "ROCK OF AGES" tour, we would be promoting a different version of the album in Europe, had we gone there too. America would then be wondering why we’d be in Europe when the current album was out in the States! But in all fairness, on the 2002/2003 "X" tour we did no less than 20 shows in the UK — that’s more than we did on the previous three or four tours. What we want to do the next time around? Everybody’s calling us ‘the last big arena band’. So we want to play arenas again! Then again, that’s what we want, but it’s not always just up to us since politics, business and timing doesn’t always allow everything…..but I think it’s safe to say that Britain will be part of the tour. We’ve got a good following there and we’d be fools to ignore them!
Pour some Sludge on Me