Def Leppard has enjoyed a music career that has spanned over thirty years, but this week they are heading to the big screen with Def Leppard Viva! Hysteria.
The concert film sees the band performing a residency in Las Vegas where they celebrated twenty-five years of album Hysteria.
We caught up with Joe Elliott to chat about the movie, the success of the album and what lies ahead.
- Def Leppard Viva! Hysteria will be hitting the big screen this week so what can fans expect from this new movie?
The world film is a bit of a stretch to me; I am a little uncomfortable calling it a film because a movie has actors and scripts.
This is a document of Def Leppard live when we play the Hard-Rock hotel in Las Vegas. We played eleven nights, and we filmed two of them; this footage is mostly from the second night.
It's the entire Hysteria album played from start to finish, live in front of a pretty rowdy audience in Vegas.What they can expect if they are Def Leppard fans is a very good live band playing an album that took the best part of two years to record.
This is completely live there is no over-dubs, and the whole thing is real. It is an honest reflection of what the band is like in the year 2013.
- I was reading that you had never done a residency before nor had you ever played an album in sequence before - so where did the idea for the show originate? And how daunting a prospect was it for the band?
It wasn't that daunting; in fact, it was more exciting than anything else. We were touring the States in 2012 and towards the end of the tour we got a phone call from the management saying that the Hard Rock had been in touch and were we interested in doing a residency? Of course, the first thing we said was 'yes'.
We had seen Motley Crue got through and Guns N Roses had done one, and we felt that it was the perfect opportunity for us to do something like Hysteria.
We had never played an album in its entirety and in sequence before mainly because we would usually be on the road touring a new record, and we didn't want it to be overshadowed by our most commercially successful record.
It would have been unfair on the new material to get overshadowed like that. With this being a one-off situation and going in with no new material, just to play Hysteria, it was easy to say yes to.
- How did you make of performing in Las Vegas - it really has a great rock and roll feel to the residencies in the city at the moment?
There is. It is not the place that people seem to think it use to be. You can draw comparisons with the way that certain people regard Vegas, and compare it to Blackpool nearly; but it has completely changed.
It is all Pirates of the Caribbean and mini-kiss golf courses; it is a very rock and roll town now. We always play Vegas when we are on tour, but you just go into an arena for one night.
For us to go into this pretty intimate theatre and do eleven nights, it just seemed the more glorious opportunity to go and do something different; we had never done a residency, and we have never been in a situation where we would play an entire record.
Furthermore, just as appealing, there as no tour; it was one flight in, a month in Vegas and then a flight out. The lack of travel was an enormous bonus for us as you can put so much more energy into the show by sleeping in the same bed every night.
- I wondered how you found the smaller and more intimate arena? It really did allow you to get up close to the fans.
It was the best of both worlds really. The stage was a bit stage - it was almost the size of anything that we would normally play on - so we were still able to put on what we like to put on a 'big show'. It still looked pretty intimidating.
The audience were right up front like they always are, but they just didn't go on forever, as they often do. It was difficult to adjust to at all; by the time that you have done two or three songs you already feel like you are at home.
- Def Leppard Viva Hysteria is hitting the big screen this week, so what did you make of the concert film when you saw if for the first time? And how have you found some of the early response to it so far?
I haven't seen any of the responses to it yet so I don't know what people really think yet. I have seen it twice on the big screen; it is weird to see yourself that big.
The sound is fantastic; I was as proud of the sound of the film as I am of the visuals, if now more really. It is not just a straight forward and simple album to play; it is a very complicated collection of songs.
There has been a lot of work that has gone into those songs over the years to perfect them live. It is a testament to how good band Def Leppard is that we can pull those songs off and make them sound as good and as big as they do.
It is something to be proud of that you can do an hour and ten minutes on one album, and it works.
- Hysteria is twenty five years old and was the album that really propelled Def Leppard from a successful group to a super successful group - how aware were you that you were making something special during the recording period?
We weren't; I don't think that anyone ever is. If anyone ever tells you that they knew they are just doing the PR thing; you can tell when you have written a great song, but you have no idea if anyone is going to hear it or buy it.
We were just so busy making that record - we knew that we believed in the songs enough to spend as much time, effort and money on it; otherwise, we would have quit and just done it quickly and cheaply.
We were aware that if it was going to become a magical piece of work, then we were going to have to put a lot of effort and energy into it; which is exactly what we did.
So you never really know... Maybe when it is finished, and you listen back to it, and you go 'this is really good. I hope everyone gets it and understands it.' That is more of a realistic way of looking at it.
- Hysteria produced seven huge singles, so are there any songs from that record that you particularly enjoy performing live?
There are not many I don't, to be quite honest. You do get a bit fed up doing them in rehearsals because you have been doing them every day for twenty-five years.
But they never get old in from of an audience. Sugar always goes down well, in America, particularly as it is just huge. In the UK maybe it is Animal that does go down better. They have all got their own merits.
There are few that I don't like, particularly now that we have revisited it in its entirety as you get new feelings for the songs that you may not have played in twenty years. They become refreshing because you haven't played them.
- You have enjoyed a music career that has spanned over thirty years so how would you sum it when you look back at all the success that you have had?
Crazy, I suppose. When you have been around a long time a lot of things are going to happen; some are going to be good, others are going to be really boring and some that are bad.
Looking at the bad stuff, Steve (Clark) passing away, Rick (Allen) losing his arm and Vivian (Campbell) currently recovering from cancer - the good out weighs the bad 100/1.
We don't really look back to be honest, and we think more about what the next move is going to be. It has certainly been an interesting thirty-odd years.
- What have been the major changes in the industry during that time? And how does the music industry compare to how it was thirty years ago?
It doesn't; it is unrecognisable really. It seems that every time you do something you are in uncharted waters. You make decisions hoping that they are going to be the right one.
Back in 1979 even 1989 you made decisions knowing that they were right because there was a blue print that you could read off. Discussing this now I could make a suggestion for something and in three weeks time it could be out of date.
You just have to play it by ear and hope that it works. Nobody really knows what they are doing anymore.
We are just fortunate as a band, having done what we have done, we have already won and there is nothing else to achieve other than maintaining our credibility and popularity. It is not going to be game changing, because we don't even know what the game is anymore.
- You haven't released an album since Songs from the Sparkle Lounge back in 2008 so are there plans to release some new material?
Yeah, when we get some more written. We put three brand new songs on the end of the live album that came out two years ago.
We are constantly writing, and we didn't want to see those three songs just left lying around waiting for an album to be finished; knowing that we might not make one because of the way that the industry is. We decided to put those tracks on the end of that album, so we had something new to play when we were on tour.
We are going to be writing; we have got a couple of things written. Now we are in this holding pattern, we are going to let the movie do its thing for a while, and then we are going to write some new songs.
- Finally, what is next for the band?
Don't know, I absolutely have no idea right now. We have got a guitarist who is just about to have his final chemotherapy session, and hopefully he is going to be fine.
We have another guitarist who is currently in a cast having just had an operation on his finger. So neither of our two guitarists are in any great shape to be making long-term plans at the moment (laughs).
It basically leaves me, Sav and Rick enjoying a bit of time off with the family. If we get creative - which we will - we will write some songs and hopefully that will be a step towards some new music at some stage.
The film is showing at cinemas across the UK from Thursday 19th September 2013. For further info please go to www.defleppard.com
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