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JPJ Interview in Dec. 97 PopSmear

Stairway To Heaven or Their Satanic Majesties Request
by Tyson Meade

First of all the phone rings. John asks where he's calling. I say Oklahoma. He's says he's never been here. I tell him he was here twice in the Seventies, '77 for sure. He says "Oh," then the official interview commences...

Tyson: First of all, I want to tell you you're my favorite member of Led Zeppelin.
John: Oh, thank you very much. What a good start to an interview. [laughter between both parties]

Tyson: Yeah, I have a ton of questions and some of them are totally kind of gooey and some of them are about some of the people you've worked with...uh...you've...really run the gamut from the days with Led Zep!
John: Right. [somewhat in resignation]

Tyson: Let's start with Diamanda. How did that come about?
John: Well, I was really into her music, and a mutual friend, David Snow, said we're a lot alike and I was like, "Well, okay!" So I met her when she was coming through London for an evening and we found we had tons in common, believe it or not, then she went to New York and recorded some stuff. And I worked a lot on the working [basic] tracks in England which she wrote lyrics for. She just then came over, stayed at our house, and we recorded it. Took a month.

Tyson: Yeah, that first song on the CD reminds of something from, like, "Physical Graffiti" but with this total maniac singing. [giggling on both ends]
John: Her vocal track, that was one take. It was scary, we were all shaking by the end. [laughter]

Tyson: Yeah, that's exactly...'What time is it?' [my lame Diamanda imitation] okay, I heard...were you all, this is like a nasty Hollywood rumor, but were you all romantically linked?
John: [laughter] Gee, I've heard every sort of question in the last ten years. Romantically linked? To each other you mean? [laughter and 'Oh, oh, whoa!' voice cracking like Mr. Haney from Green Acres]

Tyson: Uh, yeah!
John: Uh, not really, uh, no! What a thought! [laughter] That's hilarious.

Embarrassingly enough, I think he thought we had left Diamanda and were talking about Led Zeppelin again. Uh oh!

Tyson: You did that album with the Butthole Surfers. How did that come about?
John: I don't know whether [the Surfers] thought it was a good idea. They sort of put us together. It may have even been the record company. I'd heard loads of tapes from loads of bands and I hated them all, and suddenly this weird noise came on this tape with all this sort of swirling electronics, all totally fucked up. I thought it sounded really twisted. I thought I would like to do that. Everyone said, 'You're MAD! [Resignaton] 'Oh yeah, well, here we are boys. I'm going to Texas.'

Tyson: I'm going to say names, and then you can give me answers, short or long. What do you think of these bands?
John: Okay. [true hesitation]

Tyson: If you don't have anything one way or the other, that's totally cool, too. I'd really like to know your take on Oasis.
John: Oasis? I guess they're a good band. I just get the feeling I've heard it before somehow. There's nothing new there for me. I got their album because it was everywhere, so I thought, 'Gee, I might oughta listen to this,' and I listened to it and it was like, 'Oh, it's all right.' There's nothing special there for me.

Tyson: What do you think of the new thing like Aphex Twin where it doesn't involve a band? The electronica movement?
John: I love a lot of it. I think it's just a bit of a dead end. I like a lot of their techniques, but I don't know how sustainable they are. I really like drum and bass. But again, I just really miss that live input. Which is what I'm working on. I'm working on my solo album at the moment. Basically, it's instrumental rock. It's blues-based rock. Very powerful stuff. Power trio type stuff. But there's going to be a lot of computer involvement as well, but not on the rhythm side, in the ambient and sound side, a lot of processing. A lot of weird shit on it. A lot of live stuff on it, too. I want it to be exciting. Also I want to be able to go out and play. I want to tour on it as well.

Tyson: Did you work with Bowie? [obviously reaching]
John: No, no, well I did before he was Bowie. [laughter]

Tyson: When he was David Jones?
John: David Jones and the Lower Third. I think I did some of those records. I hooked up with Donovan. I did "Mellow Yellow." That was mine. I even worked with Herman's Hermits. I did orchestral arrangements in those days.
Tyson: When I heard I was going to interview you I was going to say 'You are my favorite Rolling Stone.' That would be funny to say, but, uh...
John: That's kind of weird [laughter] - favourite Rolling Stone? Your favourite Led Zeppelin member was a much better choice.

Tyson: I've got some names here, like "This Is Your Life." Just say whatever.
John: Okay.

Tyson: Angela Bowie.
John: [long pause] Angela Bowie?

Tyson: Yeah.
John: Uh huh. [long silence] What am I supposed to say about Angela Bowie for God's sakes?

Tyson: That's probably good enough [much laughter]
John: Try me on another one.

Tyson: The mic came loose from the phone. Actually it's a suction and it doesn't help that the cat pounced on it and knocked it loose.
John: Kick the cat, kick the fucker, or uh, kick the cat, lick the fucker.

Tyson: Sorry, but, uh, somebody gave me this one. You don't have to say anything. Red snapper.
John: Red snapper! Oh dear, oh, oh...one of those things you do. [laughter] You've been on the road, things happen.

Tyson: Do you have any favorite new toys?
John: All my favourite new toys are in the studio. My favourite new one is a KYMA. I'm going to use it on stage to generate sound. It's like a real time computer processor.

Tyson: That's a good answer.
John: Oh, okay, well there's one good answer in forty minutes! [laughter]

Tyson: No, they've all been good answers. No, for me these questions are basically, I live in a village and I tell the other villagers I'm talking to John paul Jones and they're like, 'Oh my God, you're talking to John Paul Jones!" Okay, I think I have one more and it pertains to the Rolling Stones. If they said tomorrow, 'Hey John, join our band!' what would you do?
John: I'd reply, 'Thank you very much but no! I've got my own thing.' I don't wanna play "Jumpin' Jack Flash" for the next forty years, as good as it is. My stuff is much more interesting to me. I like the Stones. It's great to see they're still doing it, still out there. They're doing better than anybody, what they're doing.

Tyson: I agree with you there.
John: So you wouldn't join them then either?

Tyson: Ya know, I don't really know how to play bass. I really don't.
John: That's a good answer. That's what you can say, 'Look, I don't really know how to play bass. Call John Paul Jones.'
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

February 7, 1962 - Deborah Bonham, sister to John, was born in Redditch, Worcestershire, England
February 23, 1966 - Warren Grant, son of Peter, was born.
February xx, 1969 - Led Zeppelin enters the Billboard Top 40
February 16, 1969 - Led Zeppelin wrap up their first American tour in Baltimore, MD.
February 07, 1970 - Edinburgh gig cancelled after Plant receives facial injuries in a car accident
February 28, 1970 - The band performs as "The Nobs" in Copenhagen after threat of legal action from Countess Von Zeppelin
February xx, 1971 - John Paul Jones involved in legal issues regarding a musician who shares the same name
February xx, 1971 - Overdubs for the fourth album are recorded at Island Studios
February 14, 1972 - The band is refused admission into Singapore due to their long hair
February 16, 1972 - The Australian tour begins in Perth
February 21, 1972 - Led Zeppelin: Rock and Roll b/w Four Sticks (Atlantic 45-2865) 45 single is released in the US.
February xx, 1973 - The band makes final preparations for the European tour
February 16, 1973 - The release date for Houses Of The Holy is pushed back due to some sleeve problems
February xx, 1974 - Sessions for Physical Graffiti continue
February 14, 1974 - Page, Plant and Bonham attend a Roy Harper concert
February 04, 1975 - Zeppelin perform a last minute show at Nassau Coliseum to accomodate fans after being banned in Boston
February 24, 1975 - Physical Graffiti finally issued worldwide to phenomenal sales
February xx, 1976 - Media reports that Zeppelin are due to release an album entitled Obelisk
February xx, 1977 - Robert contracts a bout of tonsillitis postponing the American tour
February xx, 1978 - Robert Plant helps produce a record for punk band Dansette Damage
February 16, 1978 - The cases against Bonham, Cole & Grant stemming from the Oakland incident are heard and all receive suspended prison sentences and fines
February xx, 1979 - Although absent from the US stage or market, Led Zeppelin rank best in many music magazine categories
February xx, 1979 - Mixing sessions for In Through The Out Door take place at Polar Studios. Rumors fly of a European tour
February 03, 1980 - Robert joins Dave Edmund’s Rockpile at the Birmingham Top Rank
February 13, 2005 - Led Zeppelin receives a Grammy for Lifetime Achievment.
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