Monday, September 8, 2008

Jimmy Page downplays speculation over Led Zeppelin recording

Asked over the weekend for his perspective on the possibility of a Led Zeppelin reunion, Jimmy Page said his recent jam sessions with John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham were "nothing as monumental as what people are speculating and projecting."

The question about reported jam sessions by that particular trio came during a press conference about another trio also involving Page. Along with costars and fellow guitarists Jack White and The Edge, Page was on hand at the press conference in Toronto on Sept. 6, one day after the world premiere of guitar documentary "It Might Get Loud" at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Blogger Seán Francis Condon admits to being the first person to elicit a direct answer from Page on the subject of Led Zeppelin during the press conference, after two others tried and failed. But what Page told him in that answer certainly downplayed the reunion rumors aided by the popular press in recent days.

"If you're going to have a reunion, you need four members," Page told Condon. "You quite rightly said that John Paul Jones, myself and Jason -- we had a little sort of jam. It's nothing as monumental as what people are speculating and projecting."

This was the first time Page addressed Bonham's declaration last month that the three had jammed together on more than one occasion in the months following their one-off performance, with Robert Plant, as Led Zeppelin.

In an Aug. 22 interview that aired on on Detroit's WCSX 94.7 FM, Bonham said, "I've been working with Jimmy and John Paul and trying to do just do some new material and some writing. I don't know what it will be, but it will be something."

In the days that followed Bonham's radio interview, the popular press arrived at some outlandish conclusions regarding those words. It was a veritable game of "whisper down the lane" as various media outlets picked up the news and degraded the original message each time the story was told and retold.

By the time the story crossed the Atlantic and became fodder for the British press, Bonham's words were twisted so much as to address two things he really never mentioned: Robert Plant and the possibility of an album. Under the headline "Led Zeppelin trio back in studio," BBC News reported on Aug. 26:
Drummer Bonham told a radio station in Detroit that the songs could be destined for a new Led Zeppelin album.
But lead singer Robert Plant has not been involved in any of the sessions, he added.
Condon, the interviewer who got Page to comment seriously on Led Zeppelin reunion rumors on Sept. 6, has obviously been following the Led Zeppelin reunion rumors. He references that BBC article in his blog post summarizing Page's remarks, and he also refers to Robert Plant's recently noted takes on the prospect of a Led Zeppelin reunion. Condon writes:
Two weeks ago, the BBC reported that Page, Jones and Jason Bonham had been recording tracks for what would be the basis of a new Led Zeppelin album. If true, the release would be the first disc of all-new Zep material since 1979's "In Through the Out Door."

My question to Page was the final one of the press conference, and it was a request to clear up those reports: of the three-fourths recording, of a rumoured tour.

"We're not actually recording, so that's…," began Page, sartorial in a white shirt and black longcoat. "We played the O2. That was our reunion."

The sticking point in all the conjecture has been lead singer Robert Plant. Since O2, Plant has toured with American roots-country musician Alison Krauss, releasing the Grammy-winning collaboration "Raising Sand." In all reports, Plant has been similarly indirect – though he has previously hinted that he has little interest in the grind of a large-scale tour.
A news item by Rolling Stone also quotes Page at the press conference:
"We're not actually recording ... Playing at the 02, that was our reunion and it was one day and it was at the 02 in London. ... And basically that was it because if you're going to do a reunion, you need four members. John Paul Jones, myself and Jason would sort jam afterwards but it was nothing as monumental as people are speculating."
That Page commented on the Led Zeppelin reunion rumors at all is really something. He's been silent on the topic in the two weeks since Jason Bonham's interview. And here Page was at a press conference following a film premiere.

And apparently, reporters were instructed that their questions to Page, White and Edge had better be about the film. That's what Condon said anyway:
Before the conference started, a publicity flak urged reporters to keep their questions to the film, and not to each of the musicians’ personal careers. The message was obvious, and the elephant in the room sat there for a full 35 minutes – though the subject of a Led Zeppelin reunion was broached lightly in a couple of reporters’ convoluted questions that were easily sidestepped.
Cameron French writes for Reuters:
Moderator George Stroumboulopoulos was clearly trying to shield Page from having to answer questions about a reunion, redirecting questions from two reporters on the subject.
Finally, on the third try, Page answered.
Karen Bliss writes for Rolling Stone:
Jimmy Page dodged two questions about a potential Zeppelin reunion Saturday at a Toronto International Film Festival press conference for the documentary It Might Get Loud, alongside fellow guitarists the Edge and Jack White. But upon the announcement of “final question,” another reporter gave it a shot, and didn’t package it as a secondary question with one about the film. Point blank, Page was asked about rumours that he, John Bonham’s son Jason and John Paul Jones are recording right now and that a reunion is on the horizon.
Page was not at a Led Zeppelin event such as the GQ awards ceremony in London earlier that week. There, he was photographed alongside Jones and Plant (not to mention Dave Grohl). Surely, that was the time and place for a question about a possible Led Zeppelin reunion. But the answers garnered there were not enough.

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