Def Leppard Came Close to Breaking Up 20 Years Ago
Joe Elliott said Def Leppard aren't likely to break up any time soon, but he admitted they came close to at least considering the move around the turn of the century.
The British band has enjoyed a resurgence since that period, winning induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and preparing to release what the singer described as “a truly great record” in the form of Diamond Star Halos, which arrives in May just before their Stadium Tour with Motley Crue, Poison and Joan Jett.
Asked by Rolling Stone if there would ever be a Def Leppard farewell tour, Elliott replied: “I think it would be, in fairness, something that we find out was a farewell tour after we’ve done it. We’re very fortunate that we don’t have to announce a farewell tour to sell some sleepy tickets, which is what a lot of artists do. They’re selling really well, as it happens.”
He added that "we haven’t even contemplated packing it in. We might have 20-odd years ago before it all started kicking back up again. Not collectively, but individually we were like, ‘What are we doing?’ But we rebranded. We woke up. We poked the bear and were like, ‘This is not the way it has to be.’ And we started rebuilding from the ground up. And we haven’t gotten anywhere close to where we want to get. I can’t see us saying, ‘I think we’re done now.’”
He compared his band to the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and other artists with lengthy careers. "All these bands have a reason to carry on," he said. "It’s not just money. It’s all they know, and it’s what they really like doing. Why would you want to stop when you can play to thousands of people every time you go on the road? It’s what we craved as kids. It’s what we wanted.”
Elliott and bandmate Phil Collen recently discussed how much they enjoyed the process of making Diamond Star Halos remotely, saying it was unlikely they’d record in the “standard” manner ever again. In the new interview, the singer said, “This is the most focused, enjoyable album that we’ve ever made … it broadened our horizons of what sort of material we want to sink our teeth into. ... I believe this is a quantum leap for us. And 45 years into this band, that’s a hell of a fucking statement to make. But I’ll hang my hat on it because I truly believe that we’ve made, from where we are on our careers now, a truly great record.”
Asked what drove them to keep writing and recording while other musicians have stopped, he responded: “Honestly, it’s not a case of what drives us. It’s what doesn’t drive them. Maybe it’s because of our tradition. When we signed in 1979 to Mercury, we signed having been raised on other artists for the previous decade. And when you signed a record deal, you signed for four, five or six albums. You were in for the long haul. That’s what we did. We signed for a six-album deal. We were in the exact same footsteps as Elton John, who signed to the same label in 1969. It was just our thing to keep going.”