Def Leppard Singer Joe Elliott Addresses Iron Maiden’s Punk Sound In Their Early Years

In an interview with The Jeremy White Podcast, Def Leppard lead vocalist Joe Elliott revealed his ideas on the new wave of British metal and the place of Def Leppard and Iron Maiden in it. Elliot also mentioned that early works of Iron Maiden sounded like punk more than heavy metal.

As you might know, the new wave of British metal has been widely described as the emergence of new metal bands while the effect of punk music was declining in the late 1970s. The term was coined by Sounds’ journalist Geoff Barton and many heavy metal bands such as Alcatrazz, Def Leppard, Motörhead, Iron Maiden, Venom, and White Spirit. 

During the recent interview he joined, Def Leppard lead vocalist Joe Elliott stated that they never belonged to the new wave of British metal even though the band was regarded as a part of the wave. Elliot stated that they were put in that genre and tried to get rid of this description many times. He thinks that there were only two new wave British metal bands and one of them is Iron Maiden who consisted of punk sounds in their early works.

During the interview, Elliott shared his thoughts about the influence of punk on rock music. He admitted that the rock was coming back but the genre was still under the influence of punk music. According to Def Leppard icon, Iron Maiden also reflected the effects of punk in their early works as a band of the new wave of British metal.

The host commented on the issue saying:

You started off in the new wave of British heavy metal. You were there with Tygers of Pan Tang and Ethel the Frog, and then Def Leppard and you move away from that and getting yourself sort of away from that pub culture and moving on to that next level and sort of refining your sound, polishing up your sound.”

Elliott responded:

“It’s funny you mentioned that because we didn’t move away from anything. Because we were never in it. We were put there by other people and we would wit kicking and screaming because youth being what it is. You’re like ‘don’t lump me in with that lot. So to me, there were only ever two bands that came out of that movement. There was Iron Maiden. They’ve actually made something of themselves. There was a great potential that fell by the wayside.

To me, putting on those two bands in the new wobbom thing, it’s like saying that The Beatles were part of the messy sound. They weren’t. They were The Beatles. They invented everything. Everybody else followed in their footsteps and their slipstream. Because of the time period, disco was dying on its ass. The new wave was taking over as a pop phenomenon right now. Rather than punk, it was time for some rock music back in. Because 1975 was kind of like that was the last time there was any love for Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. 

It was then the punk came in and kicked everybody up with us. But then, that didn’t last and the new wave stuff was a bit more punk. There was rock coming back in but influenced by punk. I mean, You listened to early Iron Maiden. It was punk especially with Di’Anno was on the vocals. You listened to our first album sounds like ‘Wasted’ and Rocks Off’ were influenced by punk even they were also like punk songs’ short 10-15 seconds guitar solos. These things lasted longer than a Beatles’ song.”

He went on:

It’s an interesting thing that people lumped us into the hair metal thing. All of a sudden, we disappeared at the end of 1983 until we reappeared in August 1987. Something happens in Los Angeles. While we’re living in a windmill in Holland. We got roped into it. I’d be the first to admit that bands like Warrants and Cherry Pies sounded like sugar. There was an overload of that kind of stuff but the fact that is that some lazy media folk would lump us into it even though we were British.

I’ve always wanted Def Leppard to be a stand-alone band and I’ve been accused of being very defensive for decades. It’s not being defensive. I’m just trying to explain it to people that don’t listen. We did the ‘Blondie’Yeah!’ album, we thought that they didn’t listen to what we talked about anyway maybe they would listen when we sang and danced. That’s why you have got ‘Blondie,’ ‘David Essex,’ and ‘Roxy Music.'”

You can watch the interview below.