JOE ELLIOTT - "When Kurt Cobain Came Along And Tried To Kill Off The '80s, He Wasn’t Trying To Kill Off DEF LEPPARD"

June 16, 2012, 5 years ago

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DEF LEPPARD singer Joe Elliott talks to Vanity Fair on Rock of Ages’ authenticity, Tom Cruise and why Kurt Cobain killed off the '80s. Here are a few excerpts from the chat:

Vanity Fair: Did you have any hesitance about getting involved in a musical movie? There are a lot of people who perhaps don’t think of the 80s as that long ago, and consider the songs that you made, and make, as still real, tough, viable music-the opposite of a Broadway-style musical.

Elliott: "I completely understand what you’re saying. But the point is, it’s been 55, 60 years since BILL HALEY did 'Rock Around the Clock'-it’s actually become part of everybody’s DNA. You know, it’s become part of the heritage of the United States of the America, and spreading all over the world. Rock and roll is now the establishment - it’s not dangerous anymore. For rock and roll to start becoming part of musicals…it’s just logical. The next step, you’re going to find resonances in Vegas, by people like - as you already have seen - MÖTLEY CRÜE, CHEAP TRICK. It just couldn’t become cool. Because our generation, they’re getting a little older, they’ve probably got a little bit more disposable income. Instead of just going to Vegas and throw your money in slot machines, they’re going to go see Motley Crüe. I don’t really see a downside to that. As a consumer, you have a choice to just not go. And I’ve never been a fan of the critics’ opinion, so it makes no difference to me whether they slag us off, slag the play off, or they praise it."

Vanity Fair: Many of the bands that came later in the '80s, after you started, sounded a lot like Def Leppard, but added a lot of fashion and big hair and posing—and you guys never did too much of that. I mean, you did have some hair...

Elliott: "I still do!"

Vanity Fair: What did you think of all of those flashy American bands?

Elliott: "The fact is I’m not saying we were pioneers - but we certainly came before they did, so consequently, because of our success, a lot of these bands were actually manufactured by an A&R; man saying, 'Find me a band that sounds like Def Leppard.' And some of these bands that may have had their own ideas were pushed off course by record companies’ pressure to sound like us. And when something is a copy of something else, it is normally a weaker copy, and that’s just fact. Some of them, you could listen to it and go, 'Wow, that really sounds like us, or trying to sound like us, but totally missing the point.' But I never really spent too much time and energy worrying about it. We just got on doing what we did and whatever happens happens. When Kurt Cobain came along and tried to kill off the 80s, he wasn’t trying to kill off Def Leppard. He could have lived with Def Leppard. What he couldn’t deal with was the hundred of other sound-a-likes. And that was the problem. And that’s why the '80s imploded and started eating itself. There were bands that sounded like GN'R, bands that sounded like BON JOVI, and bands that sounded like us - it was one of those three, copied maybe 20, 30 times. It was just a weaker version. And the novelty wore off pretty quick."

Read more at Vanity Fair.

(Photo above by Joe Kleon)

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