Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott spoke with Steve Baltin of Forbes. Excerpts from the interview appear below.

Baltic: …For me, I got into Def Leppard during Pyromania, so that will always be the seminal album for me.

Elliott: I got into David Bowie during Ziggy Stardust and then backtracked to Hunky Dory, which I adore, but I still can’t get past the fact that I discovered Hunky Dory because of Ziggy Stardust. I discovered Man Who Sold The World because of Ziggy Stardust, then I bought Aladdin Sane, which I loved to death, but I only bought it because I got into Bowie on Ziggy Stardust. So everybody has got their anchor to whatever artist you love. When I look at a band like the Who, I don’t have a specific record because the Who were a band that was already there and then I started to buy their records, so it’s a toss-up between Who’s Next, Quadrophenia, Tommy and all that kind of stuff. It all depends who you’re talking to, I speak to worlds of musicians in band[s] who prefer High N’ Dry to anything we’ve ever done before. It just depends when you catch people. From a commercial point of view, from an artistic point of view, from a pushing the envelope point of view I think Hysteria trumps all of them up to that point.

Baltin: Do you feel more attached to that album because it was just so hard to make it?

Elliott: It just took a long time to make it, so it was drilled into our DNA. I made a couple of albums for my side band, the Down N Outz…It was painless, it was easy…But Hysteria we were on it every day for two years, longer even. So it becomes way more engrained in your DNA than say even Pyromania. The first album took three weeks, High N’ Dry took about three months, Pyromania took about nine, Hysteria took two and a half years. Adrenalize probably took two. Those records, because you are on them day in, day out, stick with you, they give you more stories, they give you more things to talk about. If somebody said to me we’re gonna spend half an hour talking about High N’ Dry I would run out of things to say because I don’t remember. With Hysteria it’s all those things because of the time factor involved in recording it and because of what it became. I’m not musically comparing it to Hotel California or Rumours, but, to our audience, it’s that kind of record that has lasted the test of time.

Baltin: Def Leppard went through so much and came out the other side. After seeing what happened to Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell is there any advice you have for artists on how to deal with the music industry and fame?

Elliott: Musicians face pressure from outside of your own brain to deliver all through your career. It’s hard for kids and then it gets harder in your thirties because you have a legacy to follow and then it gets harder in your forties when you have family commitments or whatever. I don’t give advice because what works for me wouldn’t work for you, wouldn’t work for Chris Cornell, wouldn’t work for Chester Bennington, wouldn’t have worked for Mama Cass, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, nor anybody else who died by the age of 27. It’s nothing new. It didn’t work for Steve Clarke. The path to Rock N’ Roll glory is littered with casualties, absolutely. It’s not like the great Joe Elliott speaks and everybody goes, “I want to stop taking drugs now.” When you look at our band we’ve got two casualties, we lost Pete Willis to alcohol, but he didn’t die. We lost Steve Clarke to alcohol and he did. Then you look at somebody like Phil Colleen who’s 30 years sober, 26 years a vegetarian or the other way around, now a vegan, he’s like the fittest almost 60-year-old man you’ll ever meet. We’ve conquered a lot of negativity in our career to keep going, having watched some people, including our own, fall by the wayside. So advice, to me, is a minefield of a word. And it’s not something I readily throw out there because it doesn’t always work with whoever’s reading or listening to what I’ve got to say.

Read more at Forbes.

Def Leppard released their special 30th anniversary editions of Hysteria on August 4th. Additionally, guitarist Phil Collen recently told Jones’s Jukebox, on Los Angeles radio station KLOS, that the band will probably hit the road in 2018 for a special tour that will include entire performances of Hysteria every night.


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  • Rattlehead on

    I understand Joe’s point of view regarding Hysteria. But, purely for my tastes in music, I much prefer the much harder rock edge of High N Dry.

    The band has had a lot of tragedy in its existence, yet they were able to overcome them and become one of the most successful rock acts. Hysteria hugely catapulted them to success and they should be proud for creating an album that has sold over 25 million albums worldwide. And considering that was the first album after Rick Allen’s tragic car accident….wow!!!! Kudos to the Leppard boys!!

    But I still enjoy High N Dry vs. Hysteria.

  • Doug R. on

    Hysteria from beginning to end, I’m there! 🙂 Cheers! 😉

  • Keith G on

    From Joe Elliot’s point of view, I completely understand his comments concerning HYSTERIA. That album turned Def Leppard into superstars, sold 25 million records, made them all multi-millonaires, etc. And to work on something for over two years is of course going stick in your mind. But, for me, HIGH AND DRY is always going to be the seminal Def Leppard album. It just has that hard rockin’, loose vibe to it that started to slip on PYROMANIA and was completely gone on HYSTERIA. Don’t get me wrong, the quality of songs on HYSTERIA is first rate. You can tell that they were shaped and polished to perfection. For me, that’s one of the problems of the album. The songs on that album have been so polished that they lack any kind of edge. Hell, even “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, one of the harder edged songs on the album, is lacking in that arena when compared to anything off of HIGH AND DRY. And I completely understand that I am in the minority in saying that. Def Leppard went for different audience with HYSTERIA, and they succeeded. Kudos to them!

  • gregg forbes on

    Pyromania/high n dry/on through the night

  • Greg in H2Otown on

    You’d run out of things to say about High ‘n Dry because you don’t remember writing and recording much of it Joe, the whole band were flaming alkies back then. Only reason Steve Clark wasn’t kicked out was cuz he was a professional alcoholic, he was able to handle it, unlike Pete Willis. As far as fellow musicians preferring High n Dry over Hysteria, it’s pretty obvious why. HnD had guts and balls. Pyromania is Leppard’s Permanent Vacation, A hit machine. Not my cup of tea.

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