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Interview:
Def Leppard embracing, reviving the past
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

Def Leppard certainly isn’t resting on past glories. But the British-formed rock troupe, which has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide since 1980, doesn’t mind revisiting them.

The quintet has recorded new versions — what frontman Joe Elliott calls “forgeries” — of its ’80s hits “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Rock of Ages” because of continuing disagreements over compensation with Universal Music Group, which owns the band’s recordings. More are coming, and Elliott says re-creating the classics is no easy feat.

“You just don’t go in and say, ‘Hey guys, let’s record it’ and it’s done in three minutes,” Elliott, 52, explains. “We had to study those songs, I mean down to the umpteenth degree of detail, and make complete forgeries of them. Time-wise it probably took as long to do as the originals, but because of the technology it actually got done quicker as we got going.

“But trying to find all those sounds ... like where am I gonna find a 22-year-old voice? I had to sing myself into a certain throat shape to be able to sing that way again. It was really hard work, but it was challenging, and we did have a good laugh over it here and there.”

Elliott and company also find themselves in the middle of a hot pop culture story these days thanks to their involvement with the film adaptation of “Rock of Ages.” As Stacie Jaxx, Tom Cruise — now making headlines with his pending divorce from Katie Holmes — sings “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” And while Elliott is loathe to comment on Cruise’s domestic situation, he has nothing but praise for his performance of Def Lep’s song and for the film in general.

“We started off around the same time (Cruise) did, sliding across the floor in his white socks in ‘Risky Business,’ so we’ve had these kind of parallel careers of ups and downs without ever meeting,” Elliott says. “We met him last year when they were filming ... and lo and behold he’s on stage singing ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me,’ and he made a point of jumping out between takes to say, ‘Look I want you guys to know I’m honoring you on this. I’m not trying to poke fun at you. This is to honor the genre.’

“And I took the man at his word. It’s a humorous tip of the hat to the ’80s. I thought it was very cool.”

Def Leppard, Poison and Lita Ford perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 7, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $39.50-$89.50 pavilion, $30 lawn with an $80 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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