Friday, January 11, 2008

Led Zeppelin members noncommittal on future collaboration

In new interviews with two members of Led Zeppelin that appeared this week, the future of the band is discussed as a possibility at a later point.

During the same week that included the 64th birthday of guitarist Jimmy Page, two of his bandmates from Led Zeppelin were quoted in the media on the possibility of extending their onstage relationship beyond last month's one-off concert at London's O2 arena.

"The excitement was there on stage, as it was in the old days," an upbeat John Paul Jones told David Fricke in an interview published in the current issue of Rolling Stone.

When asked about the likelihood of more activity, Jones said it had not yet been discussed. "There is a band meeting in January," the bass and keyboard player said, promising the band members would "start talking to each other soon."

Meanwhile, in an appearance on BBC Television's "This Morning," Robert Plant agreed that while he enjoyed the concert, he explained any future with Led Zeppelin would have to take at least a temporary back seat.

"I don't think I could think about that now," he said. "I've got an American girl with a big violin bow, pokin' across the Atlantic, saying, 'Come on, tell 'em! Tell 'em, Robert!'"

Plant was referring to his current singing partner, bluegrass singer and fiddle player Alison Krauss. He appeared on "This Morning" to promote their album together, Raising Sand, released in October.

The singers and their touring band, including producer T. Bone Burnett on guitar, are scheduled to tour the United Kingdom and Europe this May. They are also expected to announce touring dates in the United States over the summer.

Jones, who celebrated his 62nd birthday on Jan. 3, will also have his own diversion in the world of bluegrass early this year. He is set to produce an album for former Nickel Creek singer Sara Watkins next month. The two toured the United States together over the summer of 2004 as members of a project called Mutual Admiration Society.

For the Rolling Stone interview, Jones reflected on his thoughts before and after the concert that reunited him for the first full-length concert with Page and Plant since the band broke up in 1980.

"I tried to keep the enormity of it all as far away as possible, until the last minute," said Jones. "I sat around playing banjo all day. It calms me down. For every show we've ever done, there is always hype, expectancy. For us, it was just 'Let's get on and do it.' Obviously, it was quite a reception when we did get out there."

Jones was very complimentary in his comments toward the other musicians sharing the stage with him. He said Page "certainly hasn't lost anything" and has "matured but lost none of the excitement along the way."

As for drummer Jason Bonham, who took the place of his late father John, "A lot of the fills were not what his dad did at all. He's as fearless as his dad, that's for sure [laughs]. But he did an amazing job, when you consider that he had to answer to every drummer in the world after that show. With that sort of pressure, to bring all that off was astonishing.

"'Kashmir' was absolutely wonderful, the way he led in and out of the choruses and bridges," Jones said of Bonham.

Plant defined the conditions under which reviving Led Zeppelin would work for him. "It's got to be electrifying," he said. "It's got to be everything that it was in the beginning but at a different stage in one's life."

Drawing in the name of the Rolling Stones, Plant said an endless project lacking authenticity would bore him. "You can't go round and round and round and round, somewhere behind the Stones," Plant said, forming a stop sign with his hand while his face indicated his displeasure at the mere thought. "You just can't do it like that. That's so cheesy. It's a mark of very old men who are really bored to just do it for that reason."

For Plant, making further music with Led Zeppelin may depend on circumstances beyond human control. "To make it right again takes magic," he said.

If the comments by Jones are any indication, the band has been able to recapture some sense of the spirit that existed during its 12-year run with John Bonham on drums.

One week before the reunion concert on Dec. 10, Jones said the band rehearsed its full set. "It was a smaller room, and you could hear everything, which is the only thing I regret about those stadiums — you don't hear all of the subtleties. The groove is much tighter in the small room," he said.

"I can only wish we could play 2,000-seaters forever, because that's where it sounds great."

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