Interview with Robert
the "LED ZEPPELIN Australian Tour Bootleg"
Robert Plant was easy because he's that type of guy. None of the "I'm
a star so make it quick" bit. Non of the off-stage aura thing that "I'm
so unapproachable so careful what you ask".
The fact is, Plant will talk to anyone who shows an interest in him
and the group. My chance to interview Robert Plant was at Zeppelin's
Gold Record reception held at Melbourne's Southern Cross, but for all
he cared we might as well have been in a coffee-house in India chatting
about what to see next - the Taj Mahal or the Great Red Fort.
Plant and the rest of Zeppelin (Jimmy Page, John Bonham, John Paul Jones)
truly deserve to be on the top rung of the ever changing ladder of international
music scene successes: the group that came within an ace of winning
th 1971 Go-Set Pop Poll. They deserve to be there because the four together,
not only on record, but live, are a brilliant combination of music and
showmanship. I know, and so do 14.000-odd others who soared and rode
high at Kooyong-Melbourne last Sunday afternoon...and every Zeppelin
fan from Perth to Brisbane too.
A RANT WITH PLANT
What's it like playing
to a Melbourne audience?
"I thought they were about the warmest thing I've felt in Australia
yet - warmer even than the climate, really good"
On the subject of Australia and it's warmth, what exactly happened
in Perth when you arrived there?
"Well nothing really happened. I think it's what they call 'all in the
mind'. There was a concert, a very successful concert. At the same time
there was the usual element of people who are part of every corner of
society who decided they'd bring wirecutters and cut their way in, and
I also found that the police over here haven't really sorted out ways
of handling situations like this. I don't know whether they can even
"But anyway, so the whole thing, although we were playing, we didn't
even know it was happening, there were people coming over the fences
and all that and there were people phoning the Mayor and saying this
is too much. There were 8'000 inside, 4'000 outside and I suppose there
were probably two dozen phone calls to the Mayor, so it was about two
dozen to 12'000 in odds. Somewhere someone along the line is worried
that these things can take place. I'm worried about the fact that they
can be abused because the basic idea is to have a wonderful time and
see eveyrone glow, really glow".
Yes, that was obvious today at Kooyong.
"But I don't like violence and I never advocate that people should abuse
authority when it comes to the fact that they lay open o place, a sports
arena or something like that - it's not fair to do it, for people to
bash the place about. But at the same time it's not fair for the authorities
to get so paranoid that they have come to deductions and follow the
usual run-of-the-mill....well, aou know what it is...(right)....and
that part we can't even talk about because we don't even know what goes
through the minds of people who retaliate in the way that they did."
OK, what about Adelaide?
"Well, Adelaide eas....err...err....Adelaide (pause)...well it was a
bit like a short of mid-west cow-town in America. It's a shame really,
because my voice was a bit rough, we'd been travelling a lot and not
sleeping and everything like that and I went on - there we're people
shrieking and shouting and fights ten feet from the stage and I was
getting really upset because this is the last thing any of us in the
group like to see, because we're pretty intent in what we're doing,
especially as we've got a good following here. And there was all that
going on in front of us, and no organised security. Well, there was
a little guy of about 80 with a flash-lamp and that was about it."
"Every time you call to the cops over here 'Get a barrier line so we
can get it off? Or make sure everything's OK, everybody turns their
head's and ignores you."
Forgetting the Australian tour for a mement and back to Robert Plant,
the person, when did you realise you had the power in your voice - or
more important, when did you fully realise you could use your voice
the way you do?
"It was this group that did it. Before I was singing blues and things
like that but it wasn't until the four of us knitted together so perfectly
- the catalyst was the unity - it wasn't until that happened that we
all suddenly realised that each of us had, not superpowers, but had
the ability to come over the top of things - overthe top of everything.
So really it's been knocked out with what goes on around you 'cause
I've sung with a lot of people since, just playing and jamming and it
doesn't mean a thing, a lot of the time it don't mean a thing at all.
There's so much there in this group, and there's always a smile on their
faces as well."
To me, and to a lot of other people, each of your albums is totally
different from the last, yet with a lot of overseas artists who construct
albums - like for example Elton - they tend to get a sameless with their
albums. How do you and the group work from one album to the next and
get such a contrast with each?
"I don't know. I don't really know at all."
Do you sense the contrast yourself?
"Oh, you do when it's finished but on the way through it you don't really
know how it's going to be at all. You know when you start writing that
it's going to be different - you become wiser you know."
"Your whole horizon gets wider and wider and it's experiences like the
ones we've had recently that broaden it one way or the other - you either
get a chip on your shoulder or you just laugh 23 hours a day (laughs)."
"It's all these different experiences, like when we went to Milan and
we started playing and there were 250 riot police. I mean I'm not a
social deviant. I know you can't change the world without taking 90%
of the people with you and I don't intend to try it, or even be a party
to anything that does try it, if it's not going to consider everybody.
But at the same time we're roped in, you see, so umm, experiences create
a state of mind. Now like on the fourth album, things like Stirway and
Going to California they're all different corners of my brain, you know."
On the subject of musicians and the four musicians involved, it's
obvious to me today that you admire each other immensely - even on stage,
because of the knitting in.
"Yeah it's like magic, it is really like magic."
Yes, but it can be lost sometimes with a group that becomes so sucessful
and has to do so many tours.
"It's because of the different approach each time we play. You see like
dazed & confused has never been like Dazed and Confused was today. Sometimes
it's longer and more extended in one part than another, you know. The
same even with Immigrant Song and the phrasing of the of the drums and
the bass. You can bring movements into phrase with the instruments and
different sounds like that. So it's just like one of those magic coloring
books that you just add water to. You turn the page and you're still
adding water to the coloring book but it's different colors"
Getting back to talking about showmanship, which obviously the group
has a lot of...
"Yeah, but we play like that when we're not playing in front of anybody"
That's interesting, but when you see people like yourselves, Rod
Stewart and the Faces and Elton John, the english group things seems
to have all the showmanship about it and the groups tend to put it over
so successfully whereas an American counterpart on the same level tends
to try and play it cool.
Have you noticed that when you go to America or when Amreican groups
come to London?
"Yeah, and it can become a bit of a drag occasionally"
Like for instance, Elton John complained that when he was at the
James Taylor/Carole King concert, which I was also at, he felt a little
disappointed with James Taylor because he spent so much time tuning
it up. In fact it was almost half the concert. Have you any comments
"Well, not really"
I asked that because I felt that you gave a full thing today - if
the people paid the full price to get into your concert they certainly
got their money's worth and more with what you put on today.
"Thanks, but as for Taylor, I really don't know because I've never seen
him. The only solo artist concert I've been to recently was the Neil
Young one and I really dug that because I like a plaintive voice- Neil
Young, Joni Mitchell and people like that I really dig, but I'm not
going to bother whether they take half an hour to tune up or not, just
as long as by the time they're finished I'm full and I can say, well
that's an experience"
I found your accoustic stuff today really fantastic, really enjoyable.
"Yeah , a lot
of people say you shouldn't do that, you shouldn't, you should keep
to the heavy stuff and all that, but it's an integral part, very important
part. Today was OK, but Perth I Think was the best we've played yet
- we'd just landed and we were full of Bombay and Singapore and full
of travelling, but nevertheless, well, today was warmer.
You could see the people and you could see the colors. Everybody was
grooving and everybody was smiling. Even the elements (meaning the rain)
couldn't hold it back"
Do you play many outdoor afternoon concerts?
"None, that was about the first one we've done for two years, since
Atlanta, Georgia, when it was about 110 degrees ohhhhhg"
You complained about the heat today?
"Well, no, it was about the right temperature, yet everyone
in the audience was putting blenkets over them...funny Australian lot.
No, it was agood day."
With the latest album and the huge success it's enjoying - did you
expect it? I mean, you must think when you're recording an album - is
this going to be a big seller or not? Is it going to have the same appeal,
or a larger appeal to the public than the last?
"Well, you know you're going to get the same old criticism..oh
well, oh well...'cause every critic has got a different opinion of how
they expect you to be - longterm"
How much notice do you take of the British critics?
"Bugger all, really, they a bunch of old queens, you know (we both
This story could get back to England
"Really , well they're not ALL (more laughter). There must be at
least two exceptions somwhere along the line. Oh dear, oh well, I never
speak to them at all. Let's say it was"F" dash dash all. I
don't really know England has got into a state of...errr....I was trying
to talk about the sub-society, the sub-culture and all that and how
it's suddenly got itself its own clas system soirt-of-thing like San
Francisco and now it's rubbing off onto England a bit. There's a lot
of Paranoia amongst the kids there. everyone's suddenly become a critic
and all that. But a critic can only relate what he saw, not how good
it was on his standards, because there's thousands of millions of people
who are going to read that. I mean, I've met so many people who've read
things in the Beat Beat who've said 'Well what a load of bulldust'.
They're just not relating what they say. I've been to concerts like
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and things and they haven't been particulary
Was that at the Albert Hall?
"Yes, but the
electric setting was a bit too crowded and things like that. But nevertheless,
what they gave was the seed, and that was the fire that people really
had to have. It's sort of like going away and going phhhh at the end
of it. It's an experience, and I should imagine especially in Australia
those experiences are lacking because the people here seem to have just
a few more inhibitions than the English because of this business with
.....more to come...