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On a certain level, the film retains a cultural memory. It may be meaningless to some kids, but it doesn’t matter. A lot of the ’90s references will be meaningless, but do some of these kids really understand what they’re wearing when they wear a Led Zeppelin shirt? No. But, it looks cool and it seems to have some sort of cultural cache.
If there’s a zeppelin, it’s alternate history. If there’s a rocketship, it’s science fiction. If there are swords and/or horses, it’s fantasy. A book with swords and horses in it can be turned into science fiction by adding a rocketship to the mix. If a book has a rocketship in it, the only thing that can turn it back into fantasy is the Holy Grail.
Many people think of me as just a riff guitarist, but I think of myself in broader terms. As a musician I think my greatest achievement has been to create unexpected melodies and harmonies within a rock and roll framework. And as a producer I would like to be remembered as someone who was able to sustain a band of unquestionable individual talent, and push it to the forefront during its working career. I think I really captured the best of our output, growth, change and maturity on tape – the multifaceted gem that is Led Zeppelin.
I don’t know, when I was a kid, when I would see shows that changed my life, I would go to see shows where there was my mother taking us to see classic rock concerts, like Zeppelin, or when I saw Pink Floyd or when I saw, you know, when I was a little older, and I saw Nine Inch Nails, and I saw The Cure.
There will be a Led Zeppelin as long as there’s a Jimmy Page, John Bonham, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant. This isn’t a nostalgia band playing the hits forever. If anything ever happened and somebody left – which I really can’t see happening – I don’t think we’d bother to carry on. The magic for me is as it is now.
It is really sad for the new artists. Where’s the next Elvis, where’s the next Beatles, where’s the Zeppelin? They’re out there but they don’t have a chance because once upon a time we [musicians of the 60s] had record companies, and they would support you and have point of purchase material and they would give you advances. In other words, they gave you the air to breathe to find yourself and spend the time to learn how to run.
Punk-rock gave music back to people. For a long time, when I was very young, I went to go see arena rock bands. I was 16 and it was all I could get in to see, legally. And I saw Led Zeppelin and Ted Nugent and Van Halen and all that. Me and [Minor Threat and Fugazi vocalist] Ian MacKaye would go to these concerts, and it was fun.
When I get 13 or 14 years old, I get crazy with rock music, like, like, deeply crazy. And one of my favorite bands at that moment was, for example, like – bands like Metallica or Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and Santana, you know? And then I start to play metal, actually, when I was – at the age of 15.
Led Zeppelin didn’t get that kind of Beatles screaming. We had a more sort of macho crowd. But I remember once in the early days of The Yardbirds, we were playing on an ice rink, and the stage was mobbed by screaming girls. I had my clothes torn off me. That’s a really uncomfortable experience, let me tell you.
If you were the first person ever to design an application for the iPhone and you patented it, you would be very, very better off than we are right now, you know? But you’ve got to be the first one to do it. So I figured that Led Zeppelin or the Stones were going to do it unless we just got on to it. So I got cracking with the guys from Apple.
There was a time when my taste in music was mainstream, for example – people like Jimi Hendrix – who I really based a lot of my inspiration on, was the most popular entertainer of his day. He was really number one. And bands like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles are really number one bands. But those days are very much done. I can’t say that if I listen to the number one artist now that I get excited.
He may not see the King’s antique apparel on kids in the Hall, but he does feel a tinge of nostalgia. The amount of teens wearing the Led Zeppelin ’77 tour T-shirts walking around the Rock Hall is absurd. Absurd, … I saw them on that tour and didn’t even buy a shirt. It tells you what these kids feel about music. People take music very seriously.