Thursday, 27th May 2021
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Def Leppard 2021. By dltourhistory

Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott has been interviewed about the bands historic Download Festival shows at Donington Park.

Joe was interviewed by Kylie Olsson ahead of the Download Reloaded highlights special on Sky Arts TV.

Two specials are being broadcast from 9-11pm on the channel on 5th/6th June.

Joe talked about Donington 1986/Monsters Of Rock show, Rick Allen, Download 2019, festival changes, cover versions/YEAH! album, Collection Volume Three, the new Def Leppard studio album and new music.

Joe recalled the historic August 1986 performance at Donington Monsters Of Rock where Rick Allen made his triumphant comeback following his 1984 car accident.

He also went on to discuss the most recent Download Festival headline performance in 2019.

It was also revealed that 'Action' from 2011 and 'Pour Some Sugar On Me' from 2019 will be the two songs broadcast during the upcoming Download Reloaded TV specials on 5th/6th June.

Both were broadcast in the highlights shows from 2011 and 2019.

View the full video of the interview below and photos from Download 2019.

Visit the Tour News section. For more news on future tour plans.

Visit the Album News section for more news on new music (based on band member quotes).

Def Leppard 2019. Screenshot

Kylie Olsson/Download Reloaded - Joe Elliott Interview Quotes - (Transcribed By dltourhistory)

Joe Elliott how the devil are you? So good to see your face.

"You too. It's been a while actually. Backstage at some tent at Donington wasn't it at Download?. The last time I believe that we talked. What a creative day that was trying to negotiate the mud piles and watching rock stars like David Coverdale wearing the coolest wellies you've ever seen. ."

"But yeah I'm OK. I'm good. I'm surviving this strange part of our lives that we're all living through you know. So I can't complain. I really can't."

So where are you at the moment?. Are you in Ireland or?

"I'm away at a secret location where if I told you I would have to kill you I'm afraid."

That is fair enough. So on the weekend that Download was scheduled to happen which was the 4th/5th and 6th of June. SKY ARTS are putting out two special headliner highlights programmes on Saturday and Sunday. So I guess it would be great to hear from you like your memories of playing at Donington and it makes sense to sort of start at the very beginning. So can you remember the first time you ever played?.

Donington 1986 Show

"Yes I can. It was before it was Download. It was the Monsters Of Rock and it was 1986. And it was Rick Allen's first real gig after his accident. After he'd lost his arm. We'd had five warm up shows in Ireland and then the next show we had was Donington. We were third on the bill which was the perfect spot for us at the time. We'd sold like zillions of records in America but Pyromania hadn't been a big album in the UK."

"It's caught up now thankfully. But at the time we were a bit of a curiosity band. You know we'd had a Top 20 album with On through The Night. We'd had a Top 30 with High 'n' Dry. You know so we weren't really a big band. We were a theatre band in the UK. And like I said we were third on the bill to Scorpions and Ozzy Osbourne. And below us was Motorhead a couple of other bands and Bad News. Who were filming the second episode of the Comic Strip series More Bad News."

"They encouraged everybody to throw bottles at them for the filming. And of course sadly when Motorhead went on they carried on throwing bottles and Lemmy made this amazing speech about how I've been in this business way too long to put up with this crap stop now. And so consequently they did and when we went on they didn't throw anything which was nice."

"Yeah thank you Lemmy. But we were this curiosity band for many reasons. One that most rock fans would have known who we were. Some of them will have seen us and liked us. Some of them will have heard of us and never seen us. Bu they were all aware of the fact that Rick had lost his arm. And they were possibly likely aware that we'd sold an enormous amount of records in America with the previous album. Which had started selling in England in bits and bobs. So when we went on we'd made this pact of not making a big deal of Rick situation. 'Cause we didn't wanna use it as some kind of excuse for sympathy or whatever. But it just became blatantly obvious the more the show went on that I had to say something. You know I just had to say something. And I remember leaning over to Phil during one of Steve's solos and going I think we need to say something and he went yeah we do."

"And I kinda, I introduced him and I've used the analogy before it was like a hair dryer. You know you could not only hear the positivity coming from the crowd. You could feel it like a wind. It was crazy you know. And it just gave. I think it was a big relief for Rick. It gave everybody that kind of feeling of positivity that we're doing OK here. And we'd got you know Brian May. Our good friend Brian May from Queen had driven all the way up from London to come and see us perform. That was a great kind of moment for everybody in the band to think that we've got his blessing to have him say I've come all the way up to see you guys. And that was just an amazing thing."

"So it was a great gig. I think we played well enough. We one them over, we got good reviews. We felt it was a decent gig. And we had a jolly good time after we came off 'cause I think there was a big relief from everybody that we'd pulled this off. But we always had that self belief that we would. But festivals are festivals. You get power cuts. You get rain storms. You get wind blowing stuff all over the place. Rain coming down making stages incredibly dangerous. But luckily we went on and we were OK. It was good."

Def Leppard 2019. Screenshot

So we've chosen a couple of songs from your performances over the years. And one of the songs that we chose is off the Hysteria album. Pour Some Sugar On Me which was from 2019. What are your memories of playing that year?.

Download 2019

"Well It's obviously the most recent because it was the last one that we've had you know. It was brilliant for us because we'd just, we'd done the huge Hysteria tour of the UK in December of 2018. And I'd been talking to Andy Copping and I said are we gonna follow this up by doing Download?. And it's like I'm not sure mate. You've done all these arenas he says I don't know whether they'd be a demand for it. Or it would be overkill or whatever. And then about two gigs before we finished that tour he came into our dressing room and went I've changed my mind, it's brilliant. You know we should do this. So we were signed up to do it you know 8 months before. Or six/seven months before we did it. 'Cause we loved the idea of, we'd done the big tour and then we'd come back and save one big hurrah for the next year to kind of lick the envelope, sealed and say now you can post it off into the world of history if you like."

".My biggest memories are it's like a typical you hope and pray that it's going to be warm and dry and then you wake up the next morning. And you look out your hotel window and you go ahh no it's raining. Yeah and it was cold and raining. You know this is typical of...I don't know why we're ever surprised because as a kid every single year I watched Wimbledon on the BBC. What did I see everyday. A bunch of little kids pulling that cloth across centre court. Why because it's started to rain in the middle of summer you know. It is what it is."

"We'd had one fantastic year. I think it was 2009. We had amazing weather. 2011 not so much. And 2019 not so much. As a singer the biggest thing was knowing full well that everybody else is getting drowned. So I always feel this obligation to metaphorically drown myself. So that we're all on the same level playing field. Which meant going down on the ramp a lot. Out from under the shelter of the stage. The problem was that the ramp is a slope. And even with the best Converse in the world it's slippy. So you have to really mince that down that ramp and that doesn't look great a lot of the time. So you're kinda, you're mincing, you really are. And I don't really know any other way of putting it. Than being very delicate on one's piggies. As you totter down this thing to try and get close to the crowd, to the end bit you know."

"And even going back up it you gotta be really careful 'cause if you slip you're on a hiding to nothing trying to back up you know. So I was very fortunate that I didn't tumble or fall off. I thought the performance we did that day typified who we are. It was raw, it was tight, it was everything a rock and roll band should be. You know we got that oh they using tapes accusation which we always get which we wear as a badge of honour. But at the same time it was a bit rough round the edges as well because it was raining and windy. And there's really, you're fighting the elements as well as just being able to hear each other and that kind of thing."

Def Leppard 1987.

Hysteria Album

"But it was a good gig and we were really well received. I thought the audience was probably the best audience that we've had as a headline there. And we've now headlined three times. They've all been great, but there was something magical. I don't know whether it was because we did the Hysteria album. And it wasn't just like kind of a greatest hits. It was like a specific show like when Roger Waters does The Wall or Pink Floyd did Dark Side Of The Moon or whichever bands take an album and play it from start to finish. It made it a special event for both audience and band. And that makes it stand out as much as the fact that it's the most recent one. I mean there are elements of the ten years shows that I remember very well but I remember most of this one because a) it was only two years ago and b) it was such a special show."

Now I think you're right about that show and the audience 'cause I walked to the stage with you guys 'cause we were doing some filming and I remember literally standing right on the edge of the curtain as you guys walked out and ahh I still get chills thinking about it. I mean you get that every night almost. But that particular night the audience went crazy and there was smoke, kind of steam and it was just magical. It was a magical evening for sure.

"There was a lot of steam. That was the first thing I noticed. And that brought back memories of '86 because you look at the inside cover of the Hysteria album there's a photograph of Steve and Phil wearing kilts. It was the encore of the gig in Nuremberg I think [actually Mannheim] and there was steam coming up off the audience there. So it's almost like full circle back in that kind of territory. The festival territory where anything goes because anything can happen. But you know you're right there was a magic moment where we went on. The reception when we walked on was huge. That was doubly special for us because it's a festival. You say yeah we hear it every night. When we're touring and headlining a show of course it's logical that you're gonna get that. But when you're playing at a festival. Not everybody is there to see any one specific band."

"So to get a reaction the way we did was almost like it was our show. And it wasn't because there was some amazing other acts on as well. But the overall impression you get from the stage is the majority of that crowd are really into us being the headline act. And that was a very special feeling because there's always been this kind of cloud hanging over Def Leppard about how popular we are in America compared to how popular we are in the UK. But it's a myth because it's never been like that. I mean you think back to 1996. I was just talking about this a couple of days ago with someone. In 1996 when you can say things were starting to change for the worse if you like. Just released the Slang album. Good reviews, wasn't a great seller but we sold two nights out at Wembley. The same time that KISS reformed with the makeup and barely sold out one."

"And with no disrespect to KISS intended at all I'm just saying. The crowds for us have always been strong. You know it's just how it's received in the media and how that gets passed down to people going ooh apparently it's not going so well and all that kind of stuff. We turned that all round over the last 12 years or so and it's just turned into a different beast. And 2019 was like the pinnacle of that said beast because it really was like we've put a pin in now. We're here to stay sort of thing you know. It's up to us we can take this as far as we want because we have an audience that appear to wanna go wherever we're going that's all a band can ever ask for."

Def Leppard 2019. Screenshot

100 percent, Yeah for sure and I guess Download must be in a way like a good marker of where you are and 'cause it is like the ultimate rock festival in that sense.

"Oh it certainly is, there's no doubt. I mean every country will claim you know Brazil will say Rock In Rio was the show. And HellFest in France or Sweden Rocks in Sweden is the show. they'll all claim but you know being British we have this kind of affinity to Download because a) as we've mentioned earlier I was there, most of us were there as guests in 1980. We played there for the first time in 1986 and then when the franchise name changed we came back all those years later."

"You know it was 2009 So it was 23 years. If that's not a slow burn I don't know what is. And If I remember rightly. I'm told, not that I've ever seen it and I've never really followed it up but my intro speech for Rick that day which was a pivotal point of the show was completely off the cuff and supposedly 11 minutes long. And I'm like really? it didn't seem that long as I was doing it. Because it was 23 years of heartfelt pent up, not from frustration. But pent up emotions that needed to be said on the hallowed ground where he made his comeback. Us and our audience had been on an immense journey ever since. All sorts of things."

"You know the comeback of Rick then Steve losing his life. All the ups and downs of the music industry and surviving them and coming back. There seemed to be some kind of bond that started probably in 2009. So much so that we were asked to come back and headline again two years later. I mean who does that you know what I mean. It was just crazy. So you know our relationship emotionally with Download is pretty strong."

Yeah it is for sure. The crowds do love you they really do. Joe like you say you were there for the first one. And then essentially there for the last one although there will be one next year. How has it changed over the years?.

"Still got portaloos. Nothing's changed there. Still have to queue to get in them unless you're the headline act where...Def Leppard only, do not use this toilet. The catering got better. The mud didn't You know I mean there's waterways. But I think in fairness it doesn't matter how well the promoters team build the backstage area part of the fun if it's muddy is seeing how everybody manages to get round it. I mean it is you've got to admit. You can't take yourself too seriously but when you're observing bands going to the stage and they're wrapped in towels on the aback of a golf trolley because they don't wanna get their stage clothes drenched in mud. And you're thinking ahh you big wuss. And then you go and do it yourself. As I said there was these two big long corridors of dressing rooms and everybody's in them. You know there's Slash and Myles Kennedy in one and there's David Coverdale and Whitesnake over here. And there's us there. there's everybody here there and everywhere."

"And I went over to see David just before I spoke to you I believe in your little interview tent and I went up to see David and he's dolled up to the nines from head to shin and below there it's all farmer Giles you know. And because we weren't getting ready to go on yet I'm still in mud covered Converse or I think Doc Martins or whatever. I didn't have any wellies. But again it's all part of the - you're experienced of doing this by then and things like that don't become a problem. They're just part of the fun. They're the bits you remember, You don't remember the good stuff. You remember the weird bizarre stuff. They're the things that spring to my mind you know."

Def Leppard 2020.

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