An Interview With Rick Allen Of Def Leppard
When you hear the name Rick Allen, you immediately think of the drummer for Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee and mega group Def Leppard. With a long storied career the band and all its members have deservedly so, received heaps of accolades. While most know of their massive musical accomplishments, what is also just beginning to come to light is that Rick Allen is also an accomplished artist. Splice Magazine had a chance to talk to Rick about his art and his upcoming show at the Wentworth Galleries in Boca Raton, Hollywood, and Ft. Lauderdale Florida May 20th to the 22nd, 2021. A Portion of the proceeds from each fine art sale are donated to Veterans programs via Project Resiliency.
Splice Magazine: What brought you to the world of art?
Rick Allen: I loved it as a kid I loved to paint as a kid. You know, obviously, there wasn’t much structure. At that point. I got, I think I got more on the ceiling and the floor than I did on the paper. But, but it definitely, it lit something inside me. I was very passionate about it. Then I discovered photography, you know, my grandfather bought my first camera. And then, of course, you know, discovering music, which became a huge part of my life. But then fast forward to my daughter, my youngest daughter was born 10 years ago. And I started painting with her. And it kind of lit my passion for painting again. And yeah, I, I started working on all these different pieces. I was kind of reluctant to show people. And then my wife, she convinced me to show people and I got such a positive reaction that I continue.
SM: When you first started to show people your art, did it bring you back to a time where you were just starting out as musician? You get that same kind of nervous vibe going?
RA: Yeah, for sure. I didn’t want people to think, you know, I was I was a musician trying to become an artist. You know, I guess I was afraid of what people might think. But then, I think the one piece that changed everything was a piece I did. I did a legend series with Steve Clark. And, you know, obviously, I looked up to him. I miss him every day. I sent a photograph of it to my mother who keeps in touch with Steve’s mother, and she shared it with Steve’s mother. She was very complimentary and shed a tear. But I think that gave me a boost it really, it really gave me the inspiration to continue doing that. So here I am.
SM: What is it about art that you love?
RA: I can be in the moment while I’m doing. You know, I never feel alone, because I’m in the moment. You know, it’s such a such a wonderful open-eyed meditation.
SM: You find it be something very almost transcendental, or very relaxing and spiritual?
RA: Yes, for sure. I mean, you know, I learned so much about the people that I’m that I’m painting. To the point where, you know, once I get finished with the piece, I don’t want to let go of it. But obviously I have to. So, you know.
SM: Do you find any parallels between being a musician and an artist?
RA: Yeah, I think it takes me to that same place of being in the moment, you know, being in my heart. You know, sometimes? No, I mean, most of the time when I play music on stage in front of an audience, it almost feels like I’m only up there on stage for about half an hour. But I think that’s because, you know, I’m so in the moment with it. And, you know, painting seems to do the same thing for me. It seems to bring me to that place of peace. And, you know, as you know, or you might know, I suffer from PTSD. So, any, any kind of anything creative like that, whether it’s music or whether it’s art or anything else. You know, if I’m really in the moment with it, then it feels very healing.
SM: You say you are also into some photography, have you ever thought about incorporating any of that into your work?
RA: I do. Some of mixed media pieces that I do not necessarily the originals. But some of the mixed media pieces that I do I’ll combine painting with photography. And I find that really, really satisfying also.
SM: You’re also creating wearables are what inspired you to go down that road?
RA: Oh, yeah. Actually, that I really loved, I loved the idea of, of jewelry. But the guy that we work with, I guess, maybe during the pandemic, he had a really hard time. So, you know, I saw the, the jewelry, you know, is not there anymore. But I, I’d love to reinstate that and bring the bring the jewelry back.
SM: So how is the pandemic been treating you?
RA: First, I found it quite difficult. But then my wife, she came up with this idea to put this Big Love Benefit Concert together, inspired by one of her songs, Big Love. And it gave me focus, and I started calling my friends up. And, you know, we put this we put this really cool virtual show together. It made me feel like I was being of service because I saw the ripple effect that went out into our industry, and saw how devastating it was, you know, not only to our crew, and all the people surrounding and putting on a show and all the venues, I mean, literally everybody, it’s been so devastating to our industry, that myself and my wife felt as though we need to do something about it. So, we raised a bunch of money we gave, we gave money to Sweet Relief. Not only did they have a musician’s fund, but they have a fund for industry professionals. So, all my all the all the money went out to people that were really hurting.
SM: Did this give you a little time to just relax and step away from the touring industry and spend more time with your family? Did you find any benefit from that?
RA: Yes. Yes, for sure. That that’s been the one saving grace and the fact that, you know, I’m a musician, my wife’s a musician. She’s a wonderful singer, songwriter. And our daughter, she’s, she’s quite an accomplished pianist. So, you know, we found we found things to do. We were able to play music together, we’re able to make art together. I know, it’s been terrible for a lot of people, and I really feel for them. But for us, we, we tried to make really good use of our time. And it’s been, it’s been a really special time spending time together.
SM: I read that you’ve actually also used the drumsticks to create your artwork. I mean, what inspired you to do that?
RA: It was actually a company. That was some of the first pieces that I came up with, I worked with a company called Scene Four. And what we did we use light sticks. And then we use long exposure photography. And it was quite abstract. But I found that I could extract meaning from a lot of these pieces that I that I saw. So that was that was exciting. That was before I met with, Wentworth galleries. And then once I met with Wentworth galleries, then my artwork took a different a different direction. It was more a reflection of my life experience and, you know, things I experienced growing up in England, and then things I experienced when I first came to America, and then I think one of the foundations of what I do is the Legends Series, which is basically all the musicians that inspired me growing up.
SM: Do you have any other Series like the Legend Series coming up?
RA: More recently, I did Johnny Cash. And then I did a really cool Kurt Cobain, who I think changed music forever. And then then I did a couple of pieces of Eddie Van Halen, which, you know, they got a fantastic, very positive response. So, you know, I really looked up to Eddie, he, you know, he was he was somebody else, I think between him and Jimi Hendrix. I think they changed guitar playing forever.
SM: There’s no doubt about that. They’re just to the two of the greatest to ever step foot on this planet.
RA: Yeah, for sure.
SM: Is there anything you’ve learned from drumming in that mega band that is Def Leppard that you’ve applied to your artwork?
RA: Um, yeah, I mean it’s nice to get an emotional response out of people. you know, you know, When they hear something, or when they see something there’s some sort of an emotional response, some response in the in them that that brings up, you know, their own feelings. I love to hear how people feel when they experience the art, and I think that’s one of the most important things for me is to know what people feel, you know?
SM: Yeah, indeed, it is. That feedback, you know, just drives you further.
RA: Yeah, I mean, same with photography. You know, if you if you take a picture that brings up an emotional response in people then, you know, then then you’ve done something really good.
SM: So, tell me about Project Resiliency.
RA: Okay, so years ago, myself and Laura, and we put Raven Drum foundation together. It was to help people that are experienced, or were experiencing traumatic events in their life, or they were still reeling from the effects of any kind of traumatic events. And then in 2006, I went to visit Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and I just saw so much suffering. So, after my visit there I called Laura and I was very emotional. I said, you know, it’d be great to focus something more specifically for our wounded warriors. And that’s when we came up with Project Resiliency. Yeah, it’s been a great great match. You know, I see a lot of the same things in them that I see in myself. And I love the fact that I can inspire people. And now I have I have some very meaningful personal relationships with a lot of our wounded warriors these days.
SM: I imagine that is how you also got involved with the Wounded Warrior Project as well.
RA: Yes, I mean, that’s, that’s a that’s a part of. Yeah, I have, I have a lot of really special friends. Yeah, it’s great to be of service, you know, it makes me feel, it makes me feel whole, you know, to feel like I’m making a difference in somebody else’s life.
SM: How did you get involved with Wentworth Galleries? How did that partnership come about?
RA: They came to me. I think somebody was in one of their galleries and they mentioned something about one of the pieces that they saw, the light art that you mentioned, and these people, they said to the gallery owner well, you know, you should get Rick in your gallery. And they got in touch with me, and that’s when our relationship started.
SM: How do you find these showings going? I mean, how does it feel when you’re there?
RA: Oh, it’s fantastic. It’s such a different way to meet people. You know, normally when I’m backstage at a Def Leppard show, you know, it’s very brief the meet and greets, you know, you shake somebody’s hand you talk for, you know, a few seconds Hi, you know, how’s it going? And then you take some photographs. Whereas when I meet people in the gallery, situation or setting it’s a lot more personal. I’ve made quite a few friends just being around the galleries. You know, a lot of people have started collecting my work now. So, I’m really blessed to be able to do that.
SM: Well, I have seen some work online. It’s stunning. It’s beautiful stuff.
RA: Oh, cool!
SM: It’s been an honor just to talk to you and to acknowledge the wonderful work that you’re doing. Not only with our veterans, but the beautiful artwork, and of course, your music. It’s just amazing.
RA: That’s cool, man. I appreciate that.
SM: Thank you very much for your time. I do appreciate this phone call and good luck with your upcoming art show.
RA: Thank you very much.
IN GALLERY APPEARANCES BY RICK ALLEN
(artist will be in attendance at all three showings)
THURSDAY, MAY 20 7-9 PM
Wentworth Gallery at Las Olas
Address: 819 East Las Olas Blvd.
FRIDAY, MAY 21 7-10 PM
Wentworth Gallery at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Address: 5804 Seminole Way #103
SATURDAY MAY 22 6-9 PM
Wentworth Gallery at the Boca Raton Town Center Mall
Address: 6000 Glades Road #1089
All Artwork on Exhibition is Available for Acquisition
Masks are required in all Wentworth Galleries
Wentworth Gallery Will Be Following Latest Covid-19 Safety Procedures