DEF LEPPARD vocalist Joe Elliott was recently interviewed by the New Bern, North Carolina radio station 106.5 WSFL.
Joe: “We’ve had two incidents that were of a very tragic nature — notably, Rick [Allen, drums] losing his arm and Steve [Clark, guitar] dying. Without trying to belittle those two episodes, that is all that’s really happened [that’s] tragic. I mean, other things have happened — [producer] Mutt [Lange] had a car crash when we were doing ‘Hysteria’; I got mumps when I was 27 — but these things happen to people all the time. You take five people off the street and put them in a room and say, ‘What has happened to you over the last twenty years?’, and I almost guarantee you that they would have had more incidents of a negative nature than what’s happened to us. Those things were incredibly tragic and hard to get over, and the death of Steve is something that we’re aware of every day of our lives. But there’s been so many ‘up’ things as well, that we kind of feel a little like we got snuck through the back door on that one, because we are very happy people, and most of the time, we’ve always been that way. It puts things into perspective as well.
When you see Rick sweating his ass off for two hours a night for an entire year on tour with just, like, three limbs, you can imagine the aches and pains that he goes through just to achieve what he does. You don’t really walk around, especially in front of him, going, ‘I’ve got a bit of a sniffle today,’ or, ‘I broke my nail.'”
On having to adapt in the mid-1990s in the wake of the grunge movement:
Joe: “It was 1994 by the time we got back together [after having] finished the ‘Adrenalize’tour. We had a lot of stuff to deal with with, like Steve passing away, and that delayed the record. By the time it came out in ’92, we did well, it did great. We were running in parallel lines with this whole new music that was just starting to emerge from Seattle. We said goodbye at the end of the tour, all went home to enjoy the break and soak up what we’d just achieved, but then we realized there was a change in the guard, and NIRVANA, PEARL JAM, ALICE IN CHAINS, SOUNDGARDEN, et cetera, et cetera, were really kicking the likes of the ’80s bands to one side, and we wanted to make sure that we didn’t get lumped in with everybody else and get kicked to one side either. We were going to fight this tooth and nail. Without jumping on the bandwagon, we realized that whatever album we were about to make had to kind of fit into the workplace that was current. Somebody had moved the goal posts from what we were used to, and we had to either play on the old pitch with no goal posts, or go where the goal posts had gone. And that’s a tough one for a band like us, because a lot of people think, ‘What are you going to do now — you’re just going to wear a checked shirt, shorts and start singing about heroin?’ It wasn’t quite that bad, but we obviously had take all that into consideration.”
On how his voice has changed over the years:
Joe: “On ‘Hysteria’, I’d been singing a lot lower. My voice has naturally dropped. I’ve got a very deep talking voice, so a lot of people are amazed at how high I can sing considering how I talk. I’ve been doing a lot of singing which is more this [normal talking] kind of register — things like ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ or even the track ‘Hysteria’, the verses, they’re pretty much down-key. What’s that done, it’s enabled me to rest my high end, which through rest, has improved. Then I can sing in the higher register a lot better, because I’m not doing every song up there. So my voice has dropped in one sense, but I can actually sing higher now, because I’m not hammering it to death all the time. Consequently, my vocal range has improved by actually just going down in register, which is amazing, really. I think that just comes through age and experience and maturity, I suppose.”