Why Def Leppard is ripping off Def Leppard

Joe Elliot with Joe Elliot

The heavy metal rock band Def Leppard, which started in 1977, recorded their music long before recording contracts mentioned digital rights. Now they're in a dispute with the rights holders. But the band has a solution (from an NPR interview with Guy Raz):
GUY RAZ: Why can't I download your original songs off iTunes?

JOE ELLIOTT: When we signed our record contracts, Noah was still sailing the arc off into foreign climes. It was 1979 and there was no such thing as "digitally." It wasn't written into the deal and consequently they [the band's label, Universal Records] have no rights for a digital release.

They can only release them digitally with our permission because that's written into our contract. We're trying to wrestle back all control or as much as possible. We're not enjoying it — but they've got to come to the table with some kind of reasonable proposal, which they haven't done, so we shall go in the studio and have a bit of fun...

GUY RAZ: You guys are covering yourselves.

JOE ELLIOTT: Yeah, we're just basically doing re-records — it's as simple as that. We're making them available on iTunes, but what we're trying to attempt to do — and it's down to the listeners to decide whether we achieve it or not — is give them something that sounds like the original....

The thing is, imagine a Picasso, or something, and somebody down the road buys this Picasso for $20 million and then they find out it's not a real one — that's what we're trying to achieve here. Whoever did the fake painting studied the original inch by inch and we had to — second by second — go back and listen to that thing.

Cause you sing it differently live every night and it just drifts away from the original. Plus you take into consideration the atmosphere of a live gig and you do it differently. To go back in and recreate what's in everybody's DNA is near on impossible. It's a challenge if nothing else and, like I said, it's a business decision...

GUY RAZ: How did you capture your sound — your 28-year-old sound?

JOE ELLIOTT: It's a headspace. It's like acting. I dare say that people like Pee Wee Herman don't actually talk like that in real life. You train your brain to try and recreate, remember how you were singing back in those days. It's a learning curve, it really is. It's like going through a history book. But we had more fun than not. It was actually kind of comical trying to do it all — myself and the engineer spent more time laughing than crying.
Def Leppard's Joe Elliott On Covering Def Leppard, NPR Music>>

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