Def Leppard singer keeps on the Outz

The Fresno BeeApril 21, 2014 

Joe Elliott's Down 'n' Outz is releasing a second studio album of Mott the Hoople songs.

MARYANNE BILHAM/PRESS HERE PUBLICITY

Joe Elliott never intended for Down 'n' Outz to be a proper band.

It was pitched as a fun, one-time performance, a way for the singer — best known for fronting the rock band Def Leppard — to pay homage to his musical idols Mott the Hoople.

"The Further Adventures of ... " is the second studio album by Down 'n' Outz and will be released today. It's a testament to the power of the music, which Elliott makes clear is not his own.

"They're not my songs. I just borrow them," he says.

Elliott formed Down 'n' Outz with members of the English band The Quireboys — Paul Guerin (guitar), Guy Griffin (guitar) and Keith Weir (keyboards), plus Phil Martin (drums) to play the opening slot for '70s glam-rockers Mott the Hoople at the group's reunion in 2009.

"The Further Adventures of … " pays homage by covering songs from the spin-off projects that popped up when Mott the Hoople disbanded in 1975.

Those groups — Mott, British Lions and singer Ian Hunter's solo project — released six albums between 1975-77, Elliott says.

He cherry-picked 10 of his favorites, which the band played for the reunion show. Fans wanted more.

Mott the Hoople was part of the '70s glam invasion. The band was always a bit underground, overshadowed by bigger British bands of the time such as Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones.

Elliott was a fan from the band's beginning. He first heard them on an Island Records compilation in 1971.

It was the voice of singer Ian Hunter that drew him to the band, he says.

Seven years later, Elliott joined Def Leppard, a band that sounded nothing like Mott the Hoople. But he remained a fan, even after the band separated.

"I wasn't the only one who followed the split," Elliott says.

That was evident by the response to Down 'n' Outz's first performance. It was overwhelming, Elliott says: "We had Hoople fans coming up to us in tears."

It was clear there was demand for the music and the band quickly recorded and released a debut album, "My ReGeneration."

The release spawned a live DVD, a spot at the first High Voltage music festival in London's Victoria Park and a run of shows opening for singer Paul Rodgers. Ultimately it led to "The Further Adventures of … "

"We had to keep going, because it was too fun not to," Elliott says.

But Down 'n' Outz isn't a vanity project. That would be an insult to the songs, Elliott says.

"I think they have been critically excluded for 35 years," he says.

Down 'n' Outz looks to correct the oversight. The band's debut had two songs — "England Rocks" and "Overnight Angels" — chart on the U.S. Media Base Rock chart, reaching No. 4 and No. 1, respectively. "Rock and Roll Queen," the first single from "The Further Adventures of … " already is getting airplay in England, Elliott says.

The band will tour in support of the album, though when is up in the air. The members of Down 'n' Outz all have "day jobs," Elliott says.

His includes Def Leppard's much anticipated summer tour, co-headlining with Kiss.

The 42-date tour kicks off June 23 in Salt Lake City. The tour does not stop in Fresno.

The closest California shows are July 2 at Concord Pavilion, July 3 at Sacramento Valley Amphitheater, July 5 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, July 6 at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista and July 8 at The Forum in Los Angeles.

Details: www.defleppard.com/tours/.

 

This reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6479, jtehee@fresnobee.com or @joshuatehee on Instagram and Twitter. Read his blog at www.fresnobeehive.com.

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