Def Leppard were eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for over a decade before they appeared on a ballot this year. Once they were added, they won entry on their first attempt. “It’s not one type of music [being inducted this year], which I think is a great reflection on people’s taste,” lead singer Joe Elliott told Rolling Stone. Before taking the stage at the Barclays Center on Friday, Elliott and his bandmates spoke about their longstanding connection to Queen’s Brian May, a new album that’s in the works and why they’re still standing while many of their peers have retired.
How does it feel to actually be here?
Joe Elliott: It’s amazing to be here. We’re kind of doing the rounds. You can tell we’re going from place to place to place and we keep seeing it over our shoulder — oh, there’s Rod Argent, there’s Colin Blunstone, there’s Phil Manzanera. We see each other all the time. To see these other people, it just adds flavor to it that we don’t normally see.
I was reading an old story on the band, and you were talking about Brian May and talking about how you wanted to be like Queen. What does it mean to have him here, and what was his influence on you?
Phil Collen: We are still the hugest Brian May and Queen fans. You know, I’m so pleased that the movie was such an amazing success. We love everything they do. They inspire us to no end. I listen to this stuff all the time, and it’s amazing. So to have him there actually honoring us is, it’s huge.
Any great moments with him so far?
Joe: Not yet. I mean, we’ve known Brian since 1981, when we first met him. But we got to know him in 1983, so we’re [at] 36 years. He’s been in and out of our lives. I think it was 1999, he did the Hollywood star thing? And he even did a foreword on an album that we put out. He’s been on the inner sanctum of this band for years and hopefully for many more years to come.
Everyone else is falling off. There’s a lot of other bands who are not doing it.
You played Madison Square Garden this last year, and you played Wembley just recently. What is it like to be in that position at this point in your career?
Phil: We are having an Indian summer and it’s because we have this integrity. We never stopped actually in the 40-odd years that the band’s together, we just keep going through thick and thin, all the bad stuff, good stuff. And I think that shows, and we’re just enjoying this Indian summer.
Why do you think that’s happening right now?
Phil: Everyone else is falling off. There’s a lot of other bands who are not doing it. And to be quite honest, a lot of other bands don’t put the effort in. You’ll hear later on. I’ve got to say we’re really badass. We actually just improve all the time, and that’s because we are consistent and we love what we’re doing. The songs are great, we craft and we spend a lot of time. We used to get a lot of flak and shit for doing [that] and spending so long. But the reason we did that is so that we are here now.
What are you working on right now?
Phil: New album. We’re constantly working.
The last thing is: The Queen film you were talking about, does that bring to mind doing a Def Leppard movie?
Joe: We were subjects of a VH1 movie 20 years ago that was the biggest pile of shit ever made. I doubt very much anybody would be really interesting in making another one. We’ll see. We’re open to anything. Somebody comes along because we want to make a movie about you guys, why not?