Def Leppard has finally given Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon and seven other digital music platforms the OK to Pour Some Sugar on listeners: The British hard rock act’s entire catalog will be available to stream on Friday.
What took them so long?
For one, streaming hadn’t yet been invented when they signed their last record deal, and two, they weren’t hurting for money.
Thanks to non-stop touring and steady sales of their back catalog over the course of the last decade, singer Joe Elliott says, “We were doing OK and we weren’t really missing anything.“
Plus, Elliott, 58, and his bandmates also wanted to wait out “the digital streaming thing” a little and get a better sense of whether the business model was here to stay or a short-term fad. (He notes that Def Leppard were also iTunes holdouts who didn’t put any of their tracks online until their first live album, 2011’s Mirror Ball.)
“We just had to get our heads around it,” he says, citing the “same suspicion anyone has about anything new. The promise of what it can be and what it is is sometimes massively different.”
For example: “You start reading all these stories about (Lady) Gaga and Taylor (Swift) and 10 trillion listens and then they get a check for 50 bucks or something,” he explains. “And you think, ‘Well, it’s not really that big a deal.’ ”
But after the band came off the road in June 2017, they decided the time was finally right.
“Given a bit of time to sit down and think about it and read and do the research and listen to the right people, things just fell into place,” Elliott says.
And given that Def Leppard is set to co-headline a nearly 70-date tour with Journey this summer, “the timing’s just perfect.”
He adds, “Plus, it’s just more of an event when you do the whole (catalog) in one gulp and that’s something that we were extremely keen to do. We didn’t want it coming out in dribs and drabs.”
To Elliott, releasing an incomplete streaming catalog would be like leaving seminal material out of an old-fashioned box set: “That’s just wrong!”
Fans need not worry about hearing classics like Animal, Photograph, Rock of Ages or Love Bites on tour: Elliott says Def Leppard has never been one of those bands who torture ticket buyers with new material because they’re sick of playing the hits.
“I say it every day, but if you can’t handle the responsibility of writing a hit, then don’t write one,” he explains. “Because if you write a hit, people are going to want to hear it.”
Elliott explains a phenomenon he calls Pete Townshend Syndrome: “He’s got to play My Generation and I’m sure that when he’s in the rehearsal room, he’s going ‘Oh, not again!’ But do it in front of 80,000 people who go mental and all of a sudden, it’s a joy.”
When might fans see a follow-up to 2015’s Def Leppard?
“I don’t know what we’ll do, because we don’t make records every year,” he admits. “We don’t make records every three years. We’ll make a record when we feel like it.”
And the band, which now releases its music on its own Bludgeon Riffola label, no longer has album deadlines or sales expectations to meet.
“Are we chart bombers any more?” Elliott asks. “Probably not, but we’ve joined a fantastic, elitist group of fellow non-chart bombers like McCartney and Billy Joel and the Rolling Stones. We don’t have hits anymore, but we’re still selling stadiums out everywhere.”
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