Def Leppard frontman says: "We make rock music that women like"

The veteran rock band received "bizarre requests" on what they could wear the last time they played in Singapore in 1996

British rock band Def Leppard's (from far left) Rick Savage, Rick Allen, Joe Elliott, Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell.
British rock band Def Leppard's (from left) Rick Savage, Rick Allen, Joe Elliott, Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell. PHOTO: LAMC

The frontman of veteran British rock band Def Leppard remembers distinctly the last time they played in Singapore, in 1996.

"We had some bizarre requests from the Singapore Government on what we could and couldn't wear. It was a strange time," Joe Elliott says in a telephone interview from Japan where they were on tour in support of their recent and 11th, self-titled album.

"Your shoulders had to be covered, you had to be covered from the knees up. Vivian figured out that he could legally wear a dress, so he had a photographer take a picture of him wearing a dress," he adds, referring to band mate and guitarist Vivian Campbell.

The quintet includes guitarist Phil Collen, bassist Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen.


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The 56-year-old singer was speaking ahead of the band's return to Singapore to perform at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre tomorrow.

While Def Leppard might not make songs that top today's mainstream charts like they did in their heyday in the 1980s and 1990s, their influence is clearly heard in contemporary pop music.

That is an achievement to be proud of, says Elliott.

"I think we have influenced pop music more than we've influenced rock. You don't find rock musicians admitting to be influenced by Def Leppard, I haven't heard of any," he says.

"Taylor Swift, Pink, Lady Gaga... these people have quoted us as being influences, even Jewel and Alison Krauss. Our music is not straight heavy metal, it's got pop sensibilities about it. It's the kind of rock that women as well as men like."

Formed in 1977, the group quickly became front-runners in an upcoming batch of new rock bands at the time dubbed the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

By the time they released their third album, Pyromania, in 1983, they were already dominating play- lists around the world.

On the charts, the album was second only to Michael Jackson's Thriller, widely regarded as the best-selling album of all time.

Despite a tragedy - Allen lost his left arm in a 1984 car accident and has since mastered how to play the drums with only one arm - their next album, Hysteria (1987), did even better.

With signature tunes such as Pour Some Sugar On Me and Love Bites now considered as rock classics, it became their best- selling album to date.

Over the years, the band have sold more than 100 million records all over the world.

These days, Elliott says the band members, who are married with children, are careful to balance music with quality family time.

The new self-titled album released this year was recorded in batches and their tours were scheduled with plenty of breaks in between for them to go home to their families. "The older this band are, the more we have to manage time properly and that's what we do," says Elliott, who adds that their fans can expect a lot more new material from the band in the future.

"We do it because we love music so much, we have so much songs inside us that we haven't written yet and we want to keep on writing them."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2015, with the headline 'Def Leppard return after 19 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe