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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.
Def Leppard On Their Early Days/Steve Clark/Pete Willis (Audio)

Saturday, 23rd July 2016

Def Leppard 1980.
Def Leppard 1980

Def Leppard members Joe Elliott, Rick Savage and Phil Collen were interviewed by Redbeard and mentioned their early days and career.

They were interviewed by Redbeard over the years for his In The Studio show and another edition has been compiled to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the High 'n' Dry album.

The show combines bits of previous interviews about both the 'Pyromania' and 'Hysteria' albums so you may recognise most of it. All the interviews were conducted many years ago and you can hear that especially in Phil's voice.

There was never a specific show all about the 'High 'n' Dry' album. In fact most of this is from a 'Pyromania' album show done after 'Hysteria' was released.

The following full songs are included - Rock Brigade, Bringin' On The Heartbreak, Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop), Photograph, Too Late For Love, Rock Of Ages and Foolin'.

They talk about recording Pyromania, how their lives changed with success in the 80s, early years in Sheffield, musical influences, their school days, Joe getting sacked from an early job, working and rehearsing in Sheffield, working with Mutt Lange, the Pyromania album, MTV, dealing with success, working with Mutt Lange, and Steve Clark/Pette Willis.

Listen to the full 51 minute show via the radio link below.

Visit the Album News section. For more news on new music (based on band member quotes) dating back to January 2011.

In The Studio - Interview Quotes

Growing Up In Sheffield/T. Rex/Mott The Hoople

Joe Elliott - "Where I actually grew up all the neighbourhood kids were about 15 years old when I was like 9 or 10. And when I was like 9 I was listening to Aqualung by Jethro Tull. Court Of The Crimson King by King Crimson. Thick As A Brick, all that kind of stuff. As well as Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells A Story. But then when I started to try and develop my own kind of pop taste as well. I mean I did like those but I had no option but to because they were all I was listening to."

"The first thing that really blew me away completely was T. Rex. With a song called Get It On. I saw them on Top Of The Pops and I thought. I saw Marc Bolan and he had all this long curly hair. Women's shoes on believe it or not. And like all these scarves and velvet trousers. I mean probably looking back now looked a right idiot. But I just looked at him and thought wow, what a guy. I wanna be him."

"And then it was about a year after that I got into Mott The Hoople big time. And ever since like Ian Hunter's been my all time hero."

Joe Getting Sacked From His Job

Joe Elliott - "They kicked me out for playing cricket down in the basement. With a baker lite knob. Which is like a very heavy, like a top of a gear stick. It went through a window. They weren't too impressed. Well they didn't fire me they just came downstairs and said there's opportunities for you to kind of leave. I think you should take them. So I did. They handed me five hundred quid which paid off my part of the PA. 800 dollars maybe. And that was the Friday and the following Tuesday I got a job as a van driver. Which also came in very handy because I could take the van home at night."

"But the vans came in handy because when you're in a band you see you can throw all the gear in the back of them and go and do a gig. And you don't have to rent a van. So it's like I was getting jobs that were based around the band. But we all had the jobs to pay off. The good thing about it was that we were working at like 8:30 till 4 in the day or 7:30 till 5 or whatever hours we had earning money. And then from - you would go home and have something to eat and then 6:30, 7 o'clock till maybe midnight we'd be down at this old Spoon Factory rehearsing."

"And we had an income of maybe 250 dollars a week between us which would pay for - Yeah I was on 16, 17 pounds a week when I started at Osbournes. Which is about 30 dollars a week. It did go up. It did get higher the older you got. But it wasn't much money - maybe 300 dollars a week. Which would pay for your board and you know your cigarettes and your booze. And pay off your ten quid a week for a guitar or a PA or whatever we bought. We'd be down there till midnight and then we'd have no money so we'd be walking home in mid winter. Seven or eight miles and then getting up at 7:30 to go to work."

"You know every band that's ever made it as done that. That's part of the thing that you have to go through. That's your apprenticeship. That makes you appreciate what's happening now. Is remembering what it was like. You always have this affection for it because you know that you'll never go back to that."

Working With Mutt Lange On High 'n' Dry/Pyromania

Joe Elliott - "He knew that we were then very restless and impatient and he knew that there was a certain energy that he wanted to capture of this young energetic, fast, hard rocking band. But at the same time he wanted to take us one stage further than Tom had done. So there's like this compromise going off that neither of us knew about. It's like he'd be trying to lean us in one direction but trying to not loose the energy by not making us keep doing it over and over again to get perfection. So it's like he'd compromise himself a little bit standard wise. And we were compromising ourselves energy wise and we ended up with this. This very energetic but pretty much better than the first album. High 'n' Dry."

"And then by the time we'd finished touring and got back together and wrote the songs for Pyromania. With Mutt there in the room this time while we were piecing the album together. Which is why he got writing credits on the last two albums. Is we why doing pre production for High 'n' Dry we had the songs and we just turned up with them and we did them. And little changes that got made didn't warrant any major credits or anything. And everybody was quite happy with that. But with Pyromania it was basically six people sat round in a circle facing each other. Bouncing ideas off."

"And so it was like we'd sat down and said listen On Through The Night had done so many copies and been reasonably successful. High 'n' Dry was a much better album and was slightly better. This is the third album. Which is you know on a lot of bands cases is the major album. And it's a kind of make or break album. So we decided we'd really make the ultimate rock album. So we put a lot more effort and energy into, not the recording of the record, but into the actual songs. So once we knew the songs were great and the arrangements were perfect and the lyrics and the hooks were there. Then it was a case of just putting it together."

"Which is why we then at that stage of our careers could understand a little bit more Mutt's way of thinking of like doesn't matter how you get there as long as you get there in the end. We've got the song. Let's do whatever we have to to get the thing perfect. Or as near as our version of perfect. Which we did to a certain extent on Pyromania."

Mutt Lange

Joe Elliott - "I was really having a bad time trying to sing a song. I can't even remember which one it was now. I mean that's how insignificant it has become. But at the time it was major headache. And we didn't have a row but I just said listen I can't do it. And he said well OK you can take that defeatist attitude if you want but if you wanna be one of the bog boys. You should just sit down and think about it, come back and try again. You wanna be better and bigger than Lou Gramm. You wanna be better than Robert Plant. You wanna be up there with the big boys. You gotta work it. You've got to say 'Yes I can do it!'. No matter how long it takes you. Lo and behold the next day I went in and did it twice as good as I thought I could."

Phil Collen - "As far as guitar things he used to make me do things that I couldn't physically do. And he'd just sit you there and you'd get it you know. Amazing guy."

Joe Elliott - "He really is like the most easygoing slave driver."

Phil Collen - "What a great way to put it yeah."

Joe Elliott - "That you'll ever meet you know. He very rarely loses his temper. He'll never lose his temper with you. The only time Mutt will ever lose his temper is if we lose it first. Then he'll have a go back. But he'll never turn around and say oh this is stupid you've been doing it for too long. He'll just keep going until you get it. You know he'll suggest let's just take a break and to the extent sometimes you just get in the car and drive to the other side of the country. Just to go and look at a tree. He's big time into gardening now. He loves his gardening. You know and then you'll come back and in 20 minutes you'll nail what you've been trying to do for three hours before it. It's just that time away from it helps. And he knows exactly when to bring that in. We don't have any rules. There's no rules. It's just we just go in there and you kind of - it's like the blind leading the blind but they really know where they're going because they've got this in built radar."

Phil Collen - "That's his thing yeah."

Def Leppard 1980.
Def Leppard 1980

Pete Willis Leaving In 1982/Steve Clark Staying

Joe Elliott - "They weren't that different. Pete Willis was given a hundred chances before he was fired. Over a shorter period of time. In a nutshell Steve was a nice guy. Pete wasn't. And no disrespect to Pete, when Pete was sober he was funny. He was a great guitarist. When Pete drank and he wasn't very tall. He was five foot two or something. Five foot three. He wasn't very big. He had a couple of beers and became six foot tall, invisible and bulletpoof. And consequently he would be hindrance to himself and an annoyance to other people. But you know he got himself into a lot of trouble. Did a lot of silly things. And he was his own worst enemy."

"Steve on the other hand, when he drank, became all kind of luvvy and cuddly and stupid. Yeah he was definitely a 70s rock star in an 80s band. He was Keith Moon. He was Ronnie Wood. He was all those kind of people all rolled into one. And when somebody constantly whether they're sober or drunk comes in with magnificent songs. You tolerate them a lot more. And when they consistently own up and apologise for what they did the night before. You're more forgiving. And he was you know, it's just why are some people friends with you - you know why are some people your friend and some people just acquaintances. Steve was - he was just a diamond geezer as they'd say in London. You know he really was. He was a sweetheart. And that was the big difference really."

"And he contributed to the group way more than he would give himself credit for. Consequently in those kind of situations you tolerate it a lot more."

Rick Savage - "Also I very rarely remember Steve going up on stage trying to perform in front of an audience the worse for drink. And as much as I like Pete when he was sober, I can't say the same thing for him. I really can't you know. And it's a question of respect to yourself. To your band members and also more importantly to your paying public. You know Steve liked a drink. Nobody knows that more than us. But he did it after the show. He never compromised what he had to do on stage. And I think that that also said a lot about Steve and you know in an opposite effect I suppose it says a lot about Pete as well you know. Pete was given a lot of chances. He really was and he was starting to become detrimental to the actual unit."

"Steve never was that way. Steve had his own problems but they were his own problems and as much as we tried to help him within those problems. They were very rarely detrimental to the actual group and the progress of the group. It got to a stage unfortunately with Pete that it actually was. He was actually hurting a lot more people than himself. And it never really got on those levels with Steve."

Joe Elliott - "Not until right at the very end."

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