In the sixth episode of Metal XS's interview series of Jimmy Page, the LED ZEPPELIN guitar legend talks about the jam sessions following the band's 2007 reunion. It's no secret that Page, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer Jason Bonham were all geared up for more live work with the band, but following Robert Plant's decision to not join in, the trio were working up original material for a new band.
Said Page: "There's such a currency to LED ZEPPELIN, or the members of LED ZEPPELIN. If I put it to you this way, on the run-up to the O2 concert, the only music that we played was music of LED ZEPPELIN, the past catalog stuff — that's what we played on the way towards shaping up the setlist for that. But we played really, really well. We'd done only one concert. This is Jason, myself and John Paul Jones — we played really, really well together, so it made sense to see what we could do using that same sort of energy with new material. 'Cause we hadn't played any new material at all on the way through — new songs, or whatever — so now, here's the time to sort of do it. But, of course, that's not good enough for other people, 'cause they wanna keep trying singers out. And from my point of view, I think the most important thing is to concentrate on your strengths, not your weaknesses. With the weaknesses, none of us sang, but we could play. So let's concentrate on getting the music together, shaping up these songs so we've got a collection of them, and then we'll see what we're gonna do. But then we kept trying singers and we compromised, and it actually became a total nightmare."
Although both Steven Tyler (AEROSMITH) and Myles Kennedy (ALTER BRIDGE, SLASH) have gone public about their time working with the ZEP members, it seems now that the majority of the work was done before any vocalist entered the picture. Page explained to Classic Rock: "Certainly for Jason, myself, and John Paul Jones; Robert had his Alison Krauss project to promote. It seemed the right thing to go in and start playing new material. I thought we really should play to our strengths here, which was the music. But there were a lot of movements to bring in singers and do this, that and the other. And that would've changed the character too early from what we were doing. I won't say there was pressure, but there was a lot of hinting about this singer and that singer. For me it was more a question of, let's see what we can really do. And I don't think we got a chance to do that. Of course we would've played LED ZEPPELIN material, but you want to be playing some really, really good new music beforehand."
John Paul Jones added that once it was clear that Robert Plant was not going to be joining the exploratory rehearsals featuring the new material, it was never going to be merely a LED ZEPPELIN project with a new lead singer. "Not at all," he said. "That's a total misunderstanding. I said, 'Of course, if we go out (on the road), we're going to have to do some ZEPPELIN numbers.' And there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, we rehearsed 'Carouselambra' (from 'In Through The Out Door'), which we've never done live before, and we had a bunch of new material done. But Jimmy and I couldn't agree on singers. . . I quite liked Myles Kennedy. He's got the range, but his voice is completely different than Robert's. Which was fine by me, because it was going to be a completely different band. But it didn't work out and we all moved on."
John Paul Jones has often made light of the fact that Page and Plant reunited in the mid-'90s for two albums and a world tour without him. He recalled that despite being partners with the pair in LED ZEPPELIN — he found out about their team-up through a third party. "I was kind of disappointed that I found out about. . . I read about it in the newspapers," he said. "I called up somebody who works with all of us at the time and said, 'I see the rumors are getting strong again,' because there's always rumors about reunions and stuff. And they said, 'Oh didn't they tell you?' And I went, 'Well, tell me what?' And he said, 'Well, they're getting back on the road again.' 'Oh, well, OK, [laughs] whatever.'"