Thursday, May 27, 2010

Robert Plant backs Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience

Speaking by phone from Wales to a radio show in Florida this morning, Robert Plant made some friendly banter with Jason Bonham, who was on a separate phone line.

The two musicians were last seen onstage together during the Led Zeppelin reunion concert on Dec. 10, 2007, when Bonham took the place of his father, drummer John Bonham, and played along with Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones.

Both musicians were given some time to discuss their own projects, Plant kicking things off alone in a first segment by discussing his upcoming album and tour. When Bonham was patched in following a commercial break, the hosts of "The Paul and Young Ron Show" sat back and listened as Plant and Bonham playfully bantered back and forth.

"The whole deal with Zep was that the four of us were always pushing and re-crafting that whole game that we were in. You can repeat something for so long but not forever. I think the whole adventure with Led Zeppelin has carried on in my spirit. I carry a flag for invention and making something quite exciting and unusual."
Robert Plant

Plant explained to the hosts that Bonham, who was just a school-age kid in the early 1980s, played drums on some of Plant's earliest studio demo sessions as a solo artist. Bonham remarked that it was while Plant was taking him to school that he was recruited to come along to the studio to sit in on drums. Their chummy exchange set the tone for the rest of the interview, during which they supported each other's upcoming projects.

"I'll be there at your show, Robert," said Bonham.

"Well, I'll be there at my show too," Plant joked.

The interview did include the first endorsement by any member of Led Zeppelin of the upcoming tour called Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience.

Bonham said that by giving this interview, he hoped to be "putting the record straight because a few people have, kind of, made certain comments which were very nasty."

He said he'd been asked numerous times over the years to assemble a band to play Led Zeppelin songs but saw fit to do it only this year, given the significance of it being 30 years since his father died.

"I'll do 30 shows," he said, "to commemorate the 30 years he's been gone, with some interaction from the screens and some home movies and some footage of basically me growing up with the boys and with my dad, mainly."

When Plant was asked how he felt about Bonham's tour, at first he first said, "He's a bit of a scoundrel, and I don't care what he does so long as he has a smile on his face."

Bonham said of his father's three surviving bandmates, "I still look for their approval in everything I do and the way I play."

After Bonham stressed again that the tour takes place only this year and for a limited run of shows, Plant interjected, "I don't know why you don't do it whenever you feel like it, to be honest, because we all do whatever we want to do."

He then complimented Bonham's drumming. "There's nobody that can play the songs like you do," said Plant. "Some people claim that they can."

As soon as Bonham mentioned another project of his, the band now officially renamed Black Country Communion, Plant started to laugh. He said he likes "the idea of calling from the Welsh mountains to talk about my tour and end up promoting your project."

Castronovo and co-host Ron Brewer joked about the birds tweeting away in the background, and Plant said he was on the Welsh border not far from the "misty mountains."

The radio personalities said they were looking forward to Plant's concert in Miami on July 31.

Plant said he calls his backing group the Band of Joy to reminisce about the good times he spent in a band of the same name before Led Zeppelin, also with John Bonham on drums. "It was a group that existed in about three or four different guises over a matter of two years," said Plant.

He pushed the clock forward about 43 years and said, "About three months ago, I was looking for a name for my project, and I just thought, I'm excited, it seems like a good place to be, it's fresh, we had nothing to lose, nothing to gain."

The connection between the two bands is not just the name, said Plant. "The actual reason is because it's a state of mind, you know. I'm singing really good. I think I was really lucky to work in amongst that whole deal, with the American musicians. It was such a kind of ... breathe."

Asked what music his band would be performing live, Plant revealed, "It'll be stuff from -- ride the wave through time. I'm gonna visit some of the Led Zeppelin stuff that I haven't touched before, and some that I have, and then I'm gonna be working on the stuff that I've done on this album."

He said he feels lucky to be singing alongside Patty Griffin. "The female voice," he said, "is very important to what I'm doing now." However, he cautioned, "This is not at all a kind of Raising Sand Two. It's a bit tougher than that -- certainly a bit stronger."

He said the guitar sounds of Buddy Miller and Darrell Scott offer a lot to the mix, as well as all their combined vocals. That would dictate what songs they would play in concert other than what's on the album.

"When I get together with all these voices and the strong guitar sounds, I'll have much more of an idea of how it will end up," said Plant. "But it will definitely be an R.P. show, so there will be songs that you haven't heard before, and there will be a lot of songs that people know."

For once, Plant was able to get through an entire interview without being asked about the possibility of a Led Zeppelin reunion. He didn't have to field any questions on that topic because he addressed it in his own way.

"The thing is, I don't spend my life and my career trying to make it nice and comfy," he said. "The whole deal with Zep was that each member, the four of us, were always kind of pushing and re-crafting that whole game that we were in because, you know, you can repeat something for so long but not forever. So I think the whole adventure with Led Zeppelin has carried on in my spirit. I kind of carry a flag for invention and making something quite exciting and unusual."

Both portions of the interview happened during the 8:00 hour of "The Paul and Young Ron Show," which airs weekday mornings throughout South Florida.

Castronovo and Brewer remarked that they were excited to have Plant on the show because he rarely gives interviews and he is the most famous musician to have appeared. One listener from Sherman Oaks, Calif., called in to say she'd be waking up early on the West Coast to listen to Plant's interview live online, they said.

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