ANNOUNCING THE GLOBAL STREAMING CONCERT EVENT OF 2021: THE BIG LOVE BENEFIT CONCERT
At a time in which the music industry is reeling from the loss of touring and live performance leaving career musicians and music industry workers to struggle through this crisis while facing an unprecedented loss of work. Rick Allen of Def Leppard and Singer-Songwriter Lauren Monroe host a virtual benefit concert with all proceeds to benefit the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund which provides financial assistance to musicians in need. On Saturday, January 23, 2021 at 9pm EST / 6pm PST, the first Big love Benefit Concert, BIG LOVE BENEFIT CONCERT, will stream globally on nugs.net. Tickets on sale 12.16.2020.
Ticket Link: 2nu.gs/BigLove
I was fortunate to be able to have a chat with Rick Allen and his wife Lauren Monroe to discuss the concert and all things Def Leppard also.
ANTIHERO: This is a surreal time still for the world, as we try to get through a global pandemic. How has the last year been for you both – professionally and personally?
RICK: It’s been a needed break to focus on home and family. Working on all of the projects that get put off at home because we travel so much. Spending more time with my youngest daughter who is homeschooling now has been great. We also added a new addition to our family, a little rescue puppy that has kept us all busy. I’ve spent a lot of time working in my music and art studios and practicing. Working on my acoustic playing and creating new art and photography. I’m looking forward to sharing my paintings and prints over the next couple of months. Being outdoors and taking photographs keeps me feeling well during these lockdowns. Also keeping in touch with wounded warriors and supporting benefits raising funds for at-risk communities keeps me reminded of what is most important. Being of service always helps me and of course, Zoom calls with my parents in Sheffield keeps me connected to them.
LAUREN: Thankfully, it’s been a busy time here, we’ve had the mindset that this year is a big set up and preparation for 2021 and 2022. Fortunately, we have been focused on creating playing music, and helping raise funds for so many people in need during this crazy time. I’ve also continued working with clients in my healing practice virtually which has been great. So much anxiety and depression for people. I’m continuing to do that which also keeps me grounded. This summer we released the Big Love EP and have been promoting that and supporting charity events with the big Love message to bring people together. Focusing on the benefit concert of the 23rd and the release of my new album in February so there’s a lot going on.
ANTIHERO: Have you found that the enforced time has fueled or stifled your own personal creativity? Has this had any impact on your own personal mental health?
RICK: There are inspirational days and then there are days where I fight the cloud over my head. Creating structure isn’t something that comes naturally but I’m finding that the more I can structure my day in-home projects, music, art, and being outdoors and enjoying family, the happier I am. What has really been fantastic is reaching out to old friends Tommy Shaw, Wynonna Judd, Matt Sorum, Billy Idol, in putting together The Big Love Benefit Concert coming up on the 23rd. It’s giving us all a way to help our crew and others in the industry it feels really supportive for me as well. It’s a new life not being on the road but I’m finding more ways to feel good and stay connected with friends and other musicians who are going through the same thing.
LAUREN: It’s interesting juggling the creative and the mental aspects of family life and working your craft. I’ve taken on a few new roles within video production, editing, and directing the videos I’ve created for the benefit show. It’s been a great time to learn and throw myself into the deep end of tackling new skills. I’ve been a percussionist for many years playing the djembe and other acoustic drums but I’ve now starting play toms which have been a great addition. I steal any spare moment to write and be in that magical songwriting space, it’s my favorite place to be and like a life raft within the sea of world chaos we’ve all been living in.
ANTIHERO: We are here to discuss the forthcoming Big Love Benefit Concert. Lauren, can you please outline the origins of your idea and the actual process in ensuring that it came to fruition?
LAUREN: The Big Love Benefit comes from the message behind the Big Love Song which I wrote back in 2016. A song of unity, a call for compassionate tolerance, and a greater awareness of human suffering that needs to be seen and cared for. I’ve always attached my performances to a cause to bring awareness or raise funds, especially suicide prevention and trauma recovery.… it’s my path as a healing artist. Creating this first show is a step toward creating a series of concerts to help community charities to educate others, encourage empathy or raise money to help. When we heard about 10 stagehands that have committed suicide this year, we went straight to work organizing this event to try to help. Sweet Relief does amazing work and will use the money we raise to assist music industry professionals with financial relief and mental health support. There has been such an outpour of volunteers and partnerships that have been built in creating this project. It’s been a huge blessing. I hope everyone can help by buying a ticket and supporting the show. There are limited VIP tickets as well where you can have an After-show Meet and Greet with Rick and Myself. We are looking forward to meeting viewers from all over the world. Very excited about that.
ANTIHERO: Was it difficult to put together in terms of organization, selection of artists? Have the current COVID-19 restrictions made operating this event more difficult from previous events? What additional safety measures did you have to take?
LAUREN: It surely has had its challenges but thankfully we have had a great team including our Raven Drum team, Sound Image, and participating artists who really care. We have live performances from the Sound Image Stage as well as in-home and studio prerecorded performances from artists which are really wonderful. Viewers will get a varied experience of intimate songs and stage performances from artists as well as emotional testimonies from the crew. A small audience of VIP Donors makes it all come to life for us performing on stage. All COVID Compliant and extremely cautious of everyone’s safety.
ANTIHERO: Was it necessary to have any rehearsals?
RICK: We’ve had 2 rehearsals with the Big Love Band, and Lauren and I have been practicing for a while now…figuring out arrangements and trying different things. We pulled together musicians from Lauren’s new album being released Feb 26, “Under The Wolf Moon” Just fantastic players. Mai Leisz is one of the best bass players I’ve ever played with, she usually plays with David Crosby, she’s a huge talent.
ANTIHERO: Outline briefly the ticket/pricing structure, and where the funds will be going to and why?
RICK: General admission tix are $15 USD, and Limited VIP tix with after-show meet and greets are $25 USD. Lauren and I looking forward to meeting viewers from around the globe after the show. Very excited about that. Funds will be going to Sweet Relief Musicians Fund to provide Financial and Mental Health Support to Back Stage Professionals who have been out of work since March and are still without work until venues reopen. Summertime concerts are still up in the air with the spike in COVID cases here in the states, so who knows when everyone can return to work again.
ANTIHERO: I understand that there is also an auction. Tell us about some of the donated items and how people can actually bid on those.
LAUREN: The auction will go live on Charitybuzz.com on January 11th and will include a gorgeous Yamaha drum kit signed by Rick, a drumstick signed by Rick, an electric guitar signed by Metallica, Private Zoom Meet and Greets with Rick, and with Florence Welch of Florence and Machine and more.
ANTIHERO: Discuss the input of the US government in the current climate to supporting the arts/entertainment industry.
RICK: We are keeping our fingers crossed for the Save Our Stages bill to bring relief to the industry. That is all the help that we have heard of so far. That is why we are acting to help raise funds.
ANTIHERO: Do you create music at home together, and what plans do you have in terms of playing live/and on a record together?
RICK: We play music together at home all the time. Now we’ve gotten to play almost every day and it’s great.
LAUREN: I’m always happy to have Rick play live with me and be a part of a recording when he can so it’s been great having him home more. We’ll continue to do that even after concerts resume and tours are happening again whenever we can.
ANTIHERO: Rick, has working on Lauren’s music releases inspired you to create music on your own solo record? Perhaps in a different musical genre from what we associate with Rick Allen and Def Leppard?
RICK: Working on Lauren’s music has pushed me into honing my acoustic drum skills. With DL, I’m on this monster of a kit with a lot of electronic components to play hard and loud. With Lauren’s music, I’m really challenged by all of the subtle nuances and dynamics that her songs demand. It’s harder than it looks, especially with one arm but I’m really enjoying it. We created a meditation release together called Oneness Chant a number of years ago and it’s really popular in yoga classes and things like that and I’ve worked on soundtracks for a couple of indie films. I’m always creating loops and exploring ideas, so we’ll be delving more into those areas again soon as well.
ANTIHERO: Rick, I recently completed reading Phil Collen’s book, have you ever thought about doing a book? Perhaps encompassing your charity/foundation and external pursuits outside of Def Leppard, e.g., your art.
RICK: I have been asked a few times to author a book from publishers, but they all want a rock and roll tell-all book and that’s not something I’d like to do. I’d be interested in telling my story, the challenges, the triumphs, and what resiliency means to me…a book to help others. I suppose one day I will focus on that.
ANTIHERO: I guess in the current situation it’s tempting fate to ask you both regarding your plans for this year? please outline what you have provisionally lined up.
RICK: Well. We are waiting to hear if the tour will happen, but I am also planning on sharing my newest art pieces through Wentworth Galleries and offering my photography to fans. I’m working on a master class series that I hope to offer before the summer. That will be a new adventure for me.
ANTIHERO: Rick, I have read a little bit regarding the new Def Leppard Vault project, can you please explain what that is about?
RICK: It’s the first time we ever went through all of the memorabilia we have accrued over the years. It’s quite a collection. We all thought that this was a good opportunity to share rare items like photos, clothing. posters and tour related merchandise with our fans since we haven’t been able to play for them.
ANTIHERO: Finally, I am sure that you both have done many interviews over the years. If the roles were reversed who would you like to interview? Perhaps a personal inspiration or role model, maybe not even a musician.
Rick: Depok Chopra is someone I have always wanted to have a conversation with.
Lauren: I wish I could have spoken with Tom Petty or Jim Morrison while they were on earth.
ANTIHERO: Thanks again for taking the time to chat to me.