DOWN ‘N’ OUTZ
The Further Adventures of…
Bludgeon Riffola Ltd.
“I think people are surprised that we’re a serious rock ‘n’ roll band.” ~ Joe Elliott
The greatest thing about the Down ‘n’ Outz is they really are that good! Formed by vocalist Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) and Quireboys members Paul Guerin (guitar), Guy Griffin (guitar), Phil Martini (drums) and Keith Weir (keyboards) with Ronnie Garrity (bass) of Raw Glory, they only intended on playing one night at London’s Hammersmith Odeon to support the 2009 Mott the Hoople reunion. It ended up being such a gas they just kept going and recorded a full length LP My ReGeneration (2010) which became a run away hit with three top singles. As an enormous fan of Mott the Hoople, Elliott wanted to create a set of songs from Mott’s splinter groups including British Lions, Mott, and Ian Hunter. It was his way of reintroducing the repertoire to a new audience and giving the catalog a chance at a second life - a nod to Hoople, but not a cover band. Their wild success took everyone off guard culminating in an appearance at the 2010 High Voltage Festival and a spring 2011 UK tour with Bad Company/Free vocalist Paul Rodgers.
We caught up with Mr. Elliott fresh off the 2014 Kiss/Def Leppard summer tour as he was rallying the Down ‘n’ Outz troops for a December romp through the UK in support of their new disc The Further Adventures of… “The biggest thing to clear up is we’re not a ‘tribute’ band,” affirms Elliott. “I didn’t set out to do a Mott tribute. In 2009 I got a phone call from Trudy Hunter (Ian’s wife) saying, ‘You know the guys are gonna want you involved since you’ve been their cultural ambassador for 30 odd years.’ They wanted to know if I could open for them on the last night of the tour and, though flattered, I thought, ‘How’s that gonna work? I can’t get Leppard to do it.’ Luckily a guy called Mick Brown, who was promoting these shows, also looks after The Quireboys.
“Mick volunteered the Quireboys to me, which was perfect because they are by definition that style of music. Like me, they’re influenced by Mott, Humble Pie, The Faces, The Stones and it’s very different than what Leppard does.” When it came to the set, Elliott envisioned it from the other side of the stage. “That’s when it came to me to do post-Mott material. I told the boys, ‘we’re gonna play Ian Hunter stuff, British Lions, the two Mott albums with Nigel Benjamin. That way we’re not treading on Mott the Hoople’s toes. But if there’s any splinter fans in the audience, they’ll totally get it. If they don’t, I’ll totally get it and have a blast doing it! It was literally a request to open for them as a one-off performance. This is where it all went weird. None of us once thought of recording the songs. It just never got said because it was never in the pot to do.”
“It was only after the show, when we were in the bar at the Hammersmith [having a few pints of beer] that all these kids started asking if we were going to make a record. One kid was literally crying saying, ‘I can’t believe I just heard ‘Overnight Angels’ and ‘Shouting and Pointing’ on the same stage, on the same night, by the same band. Please, please record them!” The band then decided to record an album, produced by Elliott and Ronan McHugh, which was recorded in Elliott's personal studio with basic tracking done at Moor Hall studio Bedfordshire by engineer Chris Corney. My ReGeneration was pressed and distributed (for free) through Classic Rock magazine. “All of a sudden, we’ve got a Top-5 song in America with ‘England Rocks’ right in the middle of the British petroleum spill in the gulf,” continues Elliott. “Being British, we couldn’t have picked a worse time. Two months later ‘Overnight Angels’ hit number one on American rock radio and was the most played song in the US for nearly two weeks!
“Of course we all went our separate ways as both Leppard and The Quireboys had loaded schedules. I reported back to them, ‘You’re not going to believe what’s happening…all of a sudden we’ve gone global!’ When we finally got together and played the 2010 High Voltage Festival, 7,000 kids down front were singin’ along they knew all the words. It was then I felt we’d done what we set out to do by reintroducing these songs to a new audience. They’re not my songs, so I can brag as much as I like - all I did was borrow them and put a new coat of paint on them. Now they’ve been heard, people were listening to them and going back to check out the originals.” In April this year (2014) the Down ‘n’ Outz released their second long player, The Further Adventures of… followed by the video for “Rock and Roll Queen”. This time, the band dug deep into the Mott the Hoople catalog cherry-picking essential classics.
“Eric Clapton did Me and Mr. Johnson a collection of Robert Johnson songs and just recently an album full of JJ Cale songs,” says Elliott. “Lots of people have done whole albums covering other people’s material. With The Further Adventures of…, it’s a tip-of-the-hat, a thank you to Mott the Hoople. This is where I came from and I’m showing the whole world. When you tune into your local classic rock station it’s got a tragically short 400-song play list. You end up hearing ‘Show Me the Way’, ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and ‘Walk This Way’ everyday for the rest of your life. As great as those songs are, they could do with a break. It would be nice for something else to get a spin. I found out recently our version of ‘Rock and Roll Queen’ had more spins on American radio than Mott’s version in 45 years total. That’s when we were like, ‘job done!’
The Further Adventures of… hosts no less than 10 Mott the Hoople classics reaching as far back as 1969. The 1973 Mott disc shines the brightest with three song pulled from that album alone. “We’ve shined the light on these song because we like ‘em,” says Elliott. “By the time the whole success of the first album kicked in, it became pretty obvious to all of us that we needed to make a second record. This time, because we weren’t tied down to opening for Mott the Hoople, we could actually go into the Hoople catalog. It took about two years to record The Further Adventures of… purely because we couldn’t get together at any one time. It took about eight weeks total after stealing a week here and there. It’s hard work, which is why it will always be a side band. When we do it, we do it with the same energy and vigor as we do in our day jobs.”
One of the biggest surprises was the inclusion of the original Down ‘n’ Outz track “The Revenge of the Shipwrecked Hedgehog” which has, not only the sound, but the spirit of ’70’s-era Hoople. “I have a head full of songs that don’t fit the Leppard format,” says Elliott. “Especially when I sit down at the piano and write them. I started writing songs that would fit within Down & Outz. I want this to be a proper band, a legitimate thing. I’ve actually got about half the next Down ‘N’ Outz record already written and the band is coming up with stuff all the time. So, our next album will be all original music. It’s gonna be a very 70’s kind of thing; a cross between Mott The Hoople, Bowie, Roxy Music, Cockney Rebel, maybe a little more art rock. The piano will be the thing that separates it from straight forward Status Quo-type boogie. I would like to stretch musically, make it a bit more varied.” In the mean time, the band is hitting the road. The Down ‘n’ Outz 10-date UK tour starts 5 December 2014 in Bristol and finishes in Dublin.
“We’ve been asked to tour the states but we just don’t have the time right now. We will one day. I’d like to do a stadium tour with Bon Jovi or Aerosmith - get in front of as many people as possible. We’re a fun bunch to see live and I couldn’t find a better band than the Quireboys to play this kind of music. Phil Martin’s left the Quireboys but he’s still the drummer for the Down ‘n’ Outz. We’ve never really had a permanent bass player. We used Snake (Thunder) on the last tour. We even used Rick Savage at the Sheffield show we did for a friend of ours. Recently we recruited Share (Pedersen) Ross of Vixen. She was recommended by (Guy) Griffin. The Quireboys did a rock cruise about a year ago. Their bass player couldn’t get a visa so they borrowed her. Guy said she’s the best groove he’s ever played with. She’s our age and knows who Hoople are.”
With dedication to their craft and universal success straight out of the box, the Down ‘n’ Outz champion the best in classic British rock. They are indeed 100% Rock ‘n’ Roll!
DOWN ‘N’ OUTZ 2014 TOUR DATES
5th Dec Bristol (Bierkeller)
6th Dec Trecoo Bay (Planet Rockstock)
8th Dec London (Garage)
9th Dec York (Fibbers)
11th Dec Sheffield (Corporation)
12th Dec Wolverhampton (Slade Rooms)
14th Dec Newcastle (Riverside)
15th Dec Glasgow (Garage)
17th Dec Belfast (Liemlight)
18th Dec Dublin (Academy)
Website: Down ‘n’ Outz