Def Leppard's Joe Elliott offers glimpse into "Lounge"

Sun May 4, 2008 6:45pm EDT
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By Gary Graff

DETROIT (Billboard) - The title of Def Leppard's latest album, "Songs From the Sparkle Lounge," spurs an obvious question: What's a Sparkle Lounge?

According to band frontman Joe Elliott, it was a special room with recording equipment set up backstage at each of the group's 2007 shows. He says as time went on, "the crew started having a bit of fun with it, putting in sparkly lights, candles, incense -- you name it. It turned into this very atmospheric little work space."

The Sparkle Lounge was the incubator for the songs on the group's new album -- its 14th studio effort and first of all-new material since 2002's "X." Final recording was done at Elliott's Joe's Garage studio in Dublin.

Most of the 11 tracks -- including first single "Nine Lives," a collaboration with Tim McGraw that is being played on National Basketball Association telecasts -- recall a vintage Def Leppard sound, which Elliott says was not an accident.

Q: "Sparkle Lounge" sounds like a kind of default Def Leppard album, something that's almost "easy" for the band to make.

Joe Elliott: Well, yeah, I suppose that's one way of putting it. There was a thought process behind it that we wanted to deliver a specific kind of record, but that specific kind of record was, if you like, a nonspecific kind of record. We weren't going to try to theme it to the point of "Pyromania," where it's got a drum sound that was definitive in 1983 ... (or) "Hysteria," when we had a definite, like, overall '80s sound.

With this one it was a case of, "Let's just hone in on the songwriting and we'll use 2008 production techniques, if you like, to make it sound more like a '70s record." It sounds very complicated, but it actually wasn't.

Q: Did doing a covers album (2005's "Yeah") before this have any impact on "Sparkle Lounge?"   Continued...

<p>Rock band Def Leppard pose for a photo after their performance live on NBC's 'Today' show in New York in this file photo from May 27, 2005. REUTERS/Albert Ferreira AF</p>