JASON BONHAM On 'Led-Zeppelin Experience': 'I Plan To Make This The Best I Can'

Pat Prince of Goldmine magazine recently conducted an interview with Jason Bonham, son of the legendary LED ZEPPELIN drummer John Bonham. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Goldmine: How would you then describe the Led Zeppelin Experience, in your own words?

Bonham: It wasn't really what I set out to do with my life. I love the music so much, and every now and again, I will play it with a great group of people, but after you play it with them, whenever you decide to do it, it becomes a little bit bigger than it was the time before. And especially after the great success of the O2 show. So now, with the spotlight on, I said, "Listen, if I'm really going to do this, it's gotta be bigger than I want it to be. Let's do everything we possibly can to make it the best experience they (the fans) can have. And that's when we said ‘Experience, that's it." And that's what it's going to be called "Jason Bonham: The Led Zeppelin Experience". And I started to think, what can I put in a show that no other show can have? And … well, a couple of things: your father was in the band, you played with the band, and I really think the music is so special. I really am a fan. I'm not doing it for the hell of it. I really love playing these songs. And it was very sad when it all came to a close, after doing it once (at O2), and got so close to doing it as a tour. It was great. It was a really wonderful time. So I was repeatedly asked by Annerin (Annerin Productions), who put on the show "Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles". I went to see "Rain" and saw a whole other bunch of ways to do it, to make it a personal journey —?part storyteller, a little bit more theatre. I figured you'd sit down at the start of the show and by the end, you'll be up, rocking out. I want it to be a real cool journey. It's more my life through the music LED ZEPPELIN than any kind of timeline. My first memories. What was the first thing that stood out when I first heard LED ZEPPELIN. My first jam experience playing with them at Knebworth when I was 13. So it's personal anecdotes and one hell of a show, too. I want it to be as special as it can be.

Goldmine: For you to play with LED ZEPPELIN was probably the ultimate honor to [your father].

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Bonham: Yeah. And, if they were OK with it … and more than OK, as [bassist John Paul Jones] said in one of the interviews I've read — which is wonderful — he said, "When we got to 'Kashmir', Jason went out of the box, and went into his own element. He took risks." And that's a tall order to do when you're playing with LED ZEPPELIN and taking it on yourself and taking risks. That's what Dad taught me. That's the style of playing he taught me — be a risk-taker. Dad was pretty solid. He had great grooves and there was occasional moments of sheer brilliance with fills and things, but in general, the sheer brilliance is the simplicity, how much groove, how much feel he had, all the subtleties that we miss. But live, the guy was an explosion. It was like the bubbling of the volcano that would occasionally erupt in the wrong place. It was just so cool.

Goldmine: Don't you think that your father would love to see ZEPPELIN back together, with you playing drums, on tour.

Bonham: Yeah, I know.

Goldmine: I don't know if you're sick of hearing about it …

Bonham: No, not at all.

Goldmine: … but hopefully a reunion will happen.

Bonham: If you had said to me five years ago, "Oh yeah, you're going to do a LED ZEPPELIN reunion in a couple years, aren't you?" I would have thought you'd been mad. At least I've got it in the back of my head now: Never count anything out in your life. Ever. You never know with these guys. You never know anything. I mean, do I see it? No. But I will say after that day (O2), I didn't see it years ago. Obviously, Ahmet's death (Ahmet Ertegun, founder and president of Atlantic Records) had a huge impact for it to be done. He was very, very special to them. But I saw Robert [Plant] recently and we chatted. He said one of the nicest things to me, after reading some negativity about what I was doing … because I am putting a lot of effort into this and I really want it to be right. I mean, I really want people to walk away with the feeling of "I did not expect that. That was better than I ever expected!" And Robert said, "Listen, Jason. You don't need an excuse to do this, you know." And he said, "No one plays drums like you. There was one. He's gone now. There's a lot of drummers who say they can, and they can't. So, you have my blessing as long as you do this with a smile on your bloody face." And that meant a lot to me. At that point then, I basically stopped looking at any negativity. I plan to make this the best I can without worrying about those people.

Goldmine: And Page and Jones … have you spoken to them about it?

Bonham: I haven't had a chance to yet. I'd like to. Obviously. To tell them what I'm doing. This is not my career. It's just something I want to do during this period of my life — at the same time I've got a new band. An album comes out September, "Black Country Communion". The great thing is, while I've got that, and I've got this tour to do, and if it works out, who's to say?! I'll just do the 30 shows and see what people think after that. If people want it, you know, if it goes well, I can't see a problem. But at the moment, I'm just going to do the 30 and then go out with BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION.

Read the entire interview from Goldmine magazine.


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