Joe Elliott Breaks Silence On Chuck Billy And Chris Holmes’ Accusations Against Def Leppard

Now it’s clear: Def Leppard doesn’t use backing tracks.

In a new interview with Stereogum, the Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott addressed Chuck Billy and Chris Holmes’ accusations about the band using backing tracks. He said:

“I don’t normally comment on this kind of stuff, but a friend of mine just sent me some link to something on YouTube, a recent posting by, forgive me, I don’t know his name, Chuck something from Testament. I think it is, and Chris Holmes accusing us of using backing tracks.”

Here’s the twist: Elliott isn’t mad. Instead, he is flattered that people think that way because it means something completely different:

“I don’t get angry at this. I’m flattered because their standards must be very different to ours. For anybody that thinks we use backing tracks, it must mean that when they hear us, they can’t believe how good it is for real.”

Def Leppard Uses Some Other Techniques

The singer was clear that Def Leppard doesn’t rely on recorded vocals, but he did admit they use some other tricks on stage. He added during the same interview:

“We don’t use backing tracks. We use effects. God, who wouldn’t? When there’s four people singing, we use effects. There’s no tapes of backing vocals.”

They are not done with only using effects though:

“We use keyboards. We use a few drum loops because, in fairness, two-armed drummers use drum loops, but Rick Allen, to play a song like ‘Rocket’, it’s a cacophony of toms that one arm couldn’t play. So, yeah, we use a triggered loop, which is part of his drum kit, but [U2 drummer] Larry Mullen’s been doing that for years. So have thousands of other drummers to enhance a sound. But backing tracks or playing along to a backing track — we’ve never done that, never. We’ve never mimed to the vocals, or we’ve never had multiples of stuff on tape. It’s literally live.”

What Chuck Billy And Chris Holmes Said

Earlier, Billy talked about the bands lip-syncing and using backing tracks. Billy said that the only exception he lip-syncs is in shows like MTV and nothing else and named Leppard as one of the bands who does so:

 “ That’s not my thing. I definitely don’t lip sync. I think the only time I’ve ever had to lip sync is when you shoot videos for, like, MTV. Of course, those aren’t live. Every band does it. You perform to the track and you lip sync it. So it’s not the most fun, cause it’s not real. So I’m sure I’m much uglier and nastier-looking when I’m singing live than in a video you see on MTV or somewhere out there.”

He added:

“I guess there’s bands out there that probably need help. I know there’s bands like Def Leppard that use a lot of backing tracks, but that’s also backing tracks for that big sound, ’cause, obviously, you can’t get all their voices live unless you brought in a choir. So, there’s an exception to the rule.”

Similar to Billy’s words, Holmes also commented on Def Leppard’s alleged backing tracks. He said:

“I heard Mötley Crüe is doing it. Def Leppard has to sample. You can’t do them eight-part harmonies on the vocals — unless you have other people singing in the background.”

Phil Collen’s Comments On The Accusations

Phil Collen too denied using backing tracks in their shows. In a 2019 interview, he clarified that ‘unlike pop singers,’ they don’t use any backing tracks or fake vocals, except for a few drum loops and keyboard bits.

“I mean, we’ve always used keyboard things and parts of a drum loop, like on ‘Rocket’ — you couldn’t really play that part live. So we’ve used stuff like that. But our vocals are always live, and that’s the big difference — we are like a live-vocal band.”

With that, we now know that Def Leppard doesn’t use backing tracks, but they use enhancers instead.