STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Def Leppard’s Rick Allen is calling from his California home on the 25th anniversary of the death of his bandmate Steve Clark.
The co-lead guitarist on the British hard rock band’s first four albums, Clark died from alcohol poisoning in 1991, but not before notably contributing to the song writing for the triple-platinum-selling “Adrenalize.”
Quoting one of his tweets from @rickallenlive, Allen said, “It never gets any easier.”
“Losing anyone that you’re close to is tragic,” he added.
Several weeks after the interview, Allen’s Twitter account revealed that singer Joe Elliot was under doctor’s orders to rest his voice for a month. According to www.defleppard.com, their Feb. 17 concert date with Styx and Tesla at Allentown’s PPL Center will be rescheduled.
“Styx are great. We toured with them in 2008. Fantastic bunch of guys — no drama. It’s refreshing to work with people like that,” Allen said, hinting that he’s witnessed plenty of rocker prima donna behavior over the last 35+ years.
In 2014, Def Leppard was asked by Kiss to tour with them as part of their 40th anniversary tour. “A lot of Kiss fans that were on the periphery about Def Leppard really loved it,” Allen said. “It was nice getting to know the guys in Kiss. Everyone was really cordial and having a good time. And we stay in touch.”
On that tour, Def Leppard’s set was a solid, greatest hits playlist that even revived the ‘90s ballad “Two Steps Behind.” But now, there’s new music in the set, from an album titled “Def Leppard” — most notably the singles “Dangerous” and “Let’s Go,” which was featured during broadcasts of Monday Night Football last fall.
When asked about the band’s consistent concert draw power, despite falling out of musical fashion during the explosion of grunge and alternative rock, Allen quipped that circa 1995 “we were about as hip as hemorrhoids.”
“Nowadays, we’re as busy as ever,” he said, adding that his college age daughter has told him that her friends “think you’re cool.”
If you search iTunes or Spotify for tracks from the album “Pyromania” — which in 1983 made the band an MTV favorite and the leading worldwide superstars of the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” movement — the best you’ll find are live versions from the 2011 album “Mirror Ball.” Search for “Pyromania”’s blockbuster follow-up, “Hysteria,” and you’re also likely to be disappointed. Allen blames Mercury Records, which he said still controls the rights to the majority of the Def Leppard back catalog. “The royalty rates they were talking about giving us is a joke. It seems insane to me the record company continues to let this go,” he said.
When asked for his thoughts on the 2001 TV movie “Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story,” Allen said that the band got to look at the script beforehand, and proclaimed it “very true to how it was.” However, according to Allen, Anthony Michael Hall took “artistic license” with portraying producer Robert “Mutt” Lange as a tyrannical perfectionist. “Mutt wasn’t quite that way. Mutt was really pretty humble, very easy, very approachable,” he said.