DEF LEPPARD last year joined the long list of rockers who have re-recorded their biggest hits in note-perfect renditions. The "2012" versions of "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and "Rock Of Ages" are now available at various digital retailers and last month the band cut five acoustic songs performed during their "Rock Of Ages" tour for a medley released to iTunes.
DEF LEPPARD frontman Joe Elliott tells Classic Rock magazine: "We're trying to wrestle back our career and ownership of these songs. They [Universal] own the originals; we're at loggerheads with them over the digital rights. And as long as they're playing silly buggers, we'll just keep recording them again."
The singer continued: "Until we can come to some kind of humane conclusion to this ridiculous stand-off, we're going to say, 'Fuck you!' We were offered a great deal two years ago and shook hands on it. And then some other twat at the label put a stop to it. It's our life and our music and we're not going to let them exploit us to the extent that they're trying to."
Elliott tells Classic Rock that Universal wouldn't be the major player it is today without the help of LEPPARD's multi-million-selling releases.
"Between us and BON JOVI, we fucking built that company," he insisted. "We built their penthouse sushi bar, wherever it may be, and they just treated us like shit. We can either roll over like little dandelions or we can stand up and punch them in the bollocks. And that's exactly what we're doing."
Elliott previously told The Hollywood Reporter that DEF LEPPARD is in a unique position because they are one of few bands to have veto power. He said, "[Universal] can't release our back catalog, we're not going to let them put a song on a compilation unless we want it there, and they'll never be able to license. They won't be able to do anything without our permission because that's in our contract."
Asked to explain the crux of the band's argument, Elliott said, "We want to get the same rate for digital as we do when we sell CDs, and they're trying to give us a rate that doesn't even come close. They illegally put up our songs for a while, paying us the rate they chose without even negotiating with us, so we had our lawyer take them down.
He added, "When you do your own recordings, you're making about 85 percent and 15 percent goes to iTunes or whichever particular digital domain you put them up. Something along those lines would be fair. But they were offering us the opposite — a quarter of what we get paid on our CDs. So we thought if we can't get them to pay us a decent rate on the digital, then we're going to go in, re-record them and pay ourselves decently. Because we're not fighting against our own back catalog. If we put rerecords up against the originals, nobody would buy the re-records. So what we're trying to create is what they know by making as close as we can, forgeries of what we did in '83, '81, '87…"