Robert Plant was interviewed on Australian TV presenter Andrew Denton’s new show “Interview” on April 17. The full episode is available to stream on the Channel 7 website here until May 15. You can see Plant’s interview from the 24:50 point.
We compiled the highlights of the interview — read them below:
Plant is in ‘another place’ to ‘Stairway To Heaven’
“This guy told me just before the show,” Plant said about Denton, “that he was responsible for one of the greatest gifts I ever received which was a VHS of … how many versions? 12?”
“No, there were too many. 26, I think,” Denton replied.
“Versions of ‘Stairway To Heaven,’ which was … it arrived, and while certain other people I know were smouldering and looking for a wand [magic spell noise]… This is amazing,” Plant said.
Denton asked Plant what his relationship with the song “Stairway To Heaven” is like.
“It was a great achievement and you can only sing great achievements for so many years before you have to move into another place,” Plant said.
“It’s the whole deal about creativity, I think if you have to live within your own songs, you have to give them respect but you have to keep them to one side and just keep moving on. You have periods of time in your life, you can go back and visit them, it’s a nice thing to do. How many times do you take your old wife out?”
Later on, Denton raised the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors in which Heart and Jason Bonham performed “Stairway To Heaven.” Denton mentioned Plant looking emotional during the performance.
“I was,” Plant said, “because I didn’t think it could have a life like that. And in the middle of it all, because it was a complete surprise, in the middle of it all, there’s John’s son playing drums. It was a really great move.”
“I did have a lot to do with that song, you know, creatively. And I’d kind of put it into a certain place that there’s where it lived forever. So when I saw it like that, I realised how dramatic the various progressions of the song were. And also, I hated the idea of being at the point where I have to do that, that I have to go and hear other people pay tribute.”
John Bonham’s death was a ‘shame’ and a ‘waste’
Denton asked whether Plant looks back on John Bonham’s death and thinks “what a waste”?
“Yeah. Absolutely,” Plant replied. “Well, what a shame. And what a waste. Yeah.”
And Denton, referencing Plant’s car accident in 1975, asked how aware he is of the clock ticking on his own life.
“Well, I knew how loud it ticked in 1975 because I was in a wheelchair seven months, you know, and everything around me was in pieces,” Plant said. “Bones were shattered. You know, everything, skulls broken, all that sort of thing.”
“And through that period from the mid-seventies to when John [Bonham] passed away, there were a lot of things going on that made me cherish life and family and friends and loyalties and that sort of thing. So, I don’t think the clock’s ticking away. Is it? I’ve been here too long already.”
Denton asked how Plant plans to celebrate his upcoming seventieth birthday.
“With caution. And prophylactics,” Plant joked. “No. Can you imagine?! Fuck. It’s a good job this is a joke, isn’t it, really? Well, I love what I do so I’ve got plenty of gigs till at least I’m one year older than that. I’ve got a great, very simplistic social life back in the UK and I like to get out and feel the elements around me so I should be eternal until I’ve had it.”
Plant compared Led Zeppelin to a ‘dream’
Plant said that his voice had “done some good things for me in the last 20 years.”
Denton asked “just the last 20 years?”
“Well, for me now… what happened before that? I have no idea.” Plant said.
“I’ve got a man with a T-shirt who can help you,” Denton responded, pointing to an audience member who was presumably wearing a Led Zeppelin T-shirt.
“Well he’s dreaming it all,” Plant said. “It’s like one of those strange books. You dream the whole thing.”
Someone fell asleep in the front row of a recent Plant show
Plant mentioned an audience member at his March 23 show in Sydney who he claimed was asleep. “Front row, right hand side, bloke snoring,” Plant jokingly said. “And he had one of my T-shirts on, the lot. He’d got all the gear on and he was living it up.”
“I said to the audience at the end. We’d taken a bow, we’d played ‘Whole Lotta Love,’ the place was on fire, and the guy was [snoring sounds.] I said ‘When you leave the building, leave quietly, let him be.’ Because he was blowing bubbles.”
Plant admitted that Led Zeppelin had bad nights
Plant also acknowledged that Led Zeppelin had nights when they weren’t at their best: “When Zeppelin was on fire, you have to understand that equipment wasn’t what it is now. So the whole thing was like, it was quite an interesting night. Some nights it was amazing, and some nights it wasn’t quite as good, and I know some nights I wasn’t very good. I was just sung out.”
Plant still reads review of his performances
“I think I’ve got a good thing going on within myself as to how to do it. I read these reviews that say ‘yeah. he’s got a great voice and it’s this, that, that, blah, blah, blah, but he can’t do what he used to do.’ And I think ‘wait a minute, I’m doing beyond that now.’ I don’t know how good it is, I just know how good I feel about it.”
Plant and Denton joked about sex and viagra
Denton asked Plant about his interest in exotic music. “Through Led Zep we managed to visit two or three songs, ‘Four Sticks,’ ‘No Quarter,’ ‘Friends,’ and to a degree ‘Kashmir.’ But all the time we were leaning more and more into this idiom,” Plant explained.
“Dynamically, when you’re trying to create a body of work and you’re passionate about it, you need to have all these various elements otherwise it’s pretty boring.”
Denton asked Plant “if the basic rhythm of rock and roll is about sex, what’s the rhythm of North African music about?”
“More sex than you can imagine,” Plant answered.
Denton asked Plant if his love of North African music is “half rhythm, half viagra.” “Well I don’t know about…” Plant replied. “Never even seen that stuff but I’ve heard a lot about it. Just keep lightfooted and you’ll never need it.”
Plant denied that two members of ABBA took Led Zeppelin to Swedish sex clubs — but then went into detail about the rumour
Denton asked whether it was true that Benny and Björn from ABBA once took Led Zeppelin to a Swedish sex club.
“Absolutely, quite regularly,” Plant replied.
“We were recording the very last studio album, In Through The Out Door, and they said to us … they contacted us and said ‘Why don’t you use Polar Studio? You can use it for nothing and it’s got a great sound and had a really contemporary desk to record. All you’ve got to do is pay for the tape and the engineer.'”
“Well, being a bunch of cheapos, we used to go up to Stockholm on a Monday, come back on a Friday night for the soccer. And what else are you going to do in Stockholm?!”
“The funniest thing was, and I mean I’m exaggerating now, the media being what it is, I have to say, it’s not true.”
“But had it been true, then it was funny that everywhere we went there was a phone ringing and the ladies from ABBA were looking for the men from ABBA because obviously Zep was on the town, in the nicest possible way, with Benny and Björn, and they’d say ‘come, have a look at this, have a look at that.’ And Agnetha and so on were going ‘where the hell are those guys?! Get back here now, your tea’s cold!’ It was very funny. And no, no sex clubs, especially not the round mattresses with the zip down the middle.”
You can see a clip from the show here:
— Interview (@InterviewAU) April 17, 2018
The show’s Twitter account also shared a photo of Plant backstage:
Backstage with @RobertPlant showing off his Lansky Bros suit (Elvis’ fave!). He’s up next on #InterviewAU talking new album 'Carry Fire' and what makes a great rock frontman. pic.twitter.com/HcpzrkMtHa
— Interview (@InterviewAU) April 17, 2018