Joe Elliott: Calling Def Leppard Hair Metal is ‘Lazy Journalism’
“I’ve given people plenty of opportunities to see beyond that [label],” the frontman explained during a conversation with Rolling Stone. “And I don’t have a problem with bands being that if that’s what they want to be. I have a problem with people that can’t see beyond the fact that although the Sunset Strip was alight in 1985, 1986, 1987, we were in fuckin’ Windmill Lane [Recording Studios] and Holland making Hysteria. We were so far removed from all that stuff. I’m not saying we don’t fuckin’ have hair, but fuckin’ Paul Weller’s got hair! So does Robert Plant, lots of hair! It doesn’t make them hair metal or hair pop. To me, it’s lazy journalism. It’s just lazy.”
Part of the reason Def Leppard has been lumped in with hair metal acts is timing. The band’s third album, the hugely successful Pyromania, came out in 1983, the same year that Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil and Quiet Riot’s Metal Health arrived (among others).
“We never wanted to be a part of any movement, whether it was the New Wave of British Heavy Metal or hair metal,” Elliott revealed. “Our theory was always if a movement dies, everything in it dies. We have to stand alone. There was the Beatles and the Merseybeat [scene]. Those were two different things. That’s how we try and stand.”
Despite his dislike for the term, Elliott insisted he doesn’t get bent out of shape over being called hair metal.
“It’s not like I get angry about it. I just go, ‘Come on, really? There’s more to us than that,’" the rocker declared. “If people haven’t figured that out yet, they’ve been living under a rock. I can’t make excuses for them.”
This summer, Def Leppard will hit the road for the highly anticipated Stadium Tour. Two other acts on the bill -- Motley Crue and Poison -- are among hair metal’s most famous acts. Still, Elliott insisted his band is different,
“On this tour, we’re the only British act. That again separates us,” he explained. “We’re happy with who we are. We just aren’t hair metal.”