What would you again from your travels?
Page: Are you kidding? God, you know what you can gain when you sit down with the Moroccans. As a person and as a musician. That's how you grow. Not by living like this. Ordering up room service in hotels. It's got to be the opposite end of the scale. The balance has got to swing exactly the opposite. To the point where maybe I'll have an instrument and nothing else. I used to travel like that a long while ago. There's no reason I can't do it again. There's always this time thing. You can't buy time. Everything, for me, seems to be a race against time. Especially musically. I know what I want to get down and I haven't got much time to do it in. I had another idea of getting a traveling medicine wagon with a dropdown side and traveling around England. That might sound crazy to you, but over there it's so rural you can do it. Just drop down the side and play through big battery amps and mixers and it can all be as temporary or as permanent as I want it to be. I like change and I like contrast. I don't like being stuck in one situation, day to day. Domesticity and all that isn't really for me. Sitting in this hotel for a week is no picnic. That's when the road fever starts and that's when the breakages start, but I haven't gotten to that stage yet. I've been pretty mellow so far. Mind you, we're only into the tour a week.
How well do you remember your first American tour?
Plant: Nineteen years old and never been kissed, I remember it well. It's been a long time. Nowadays we're more into staying in our rooms and reading Nietzsche. There was good fun to be had, you know, it's just that in those days there were more people to have good fun with than there are now. The States were much more fun. L.A. was L.A. It's not L.A. now. L.A. infested with jaded 12-year-olds is not the L.A. that I really dug.
It was the first place I ever landed in America: the first time I ever saw a cop with a gun, the first time I ever saw a 20-foot-long car. There were a lot of fun-loving people to crash into. People were genuinely welcoming us to the country and we started out on a path of positive enjoyment. Throwing eggs from floor to floor and really silly water battles and all the good fun that a 19-year-old boy should have. It was just the first steps of learning how to be crazy. We met a lot of people who we still know and a lot of people who have faded away. Some ODed. Some of them just grew up. I don't see the point in growing up.
You seem sincerely depressed over the matter.
Plant: Well, I am. I haven't lost my innocence particularly. I'm always ready to pretend I haven't. Yeah, it is a shame in a way. And it's a shame to see these young chicks bungle their lives away in a flurry and rush to compete with what was in the old days the goodtime relationships we had with the GTOs and people like that. When it came to looning, they could give us as much of a looning as we could give them. It's a shame, really. If you listen to "Sick Again," a track from Physical Graffiti, the words show I feel a bit sorry for them. "Clutching pages from your teenage dream in the lobby of the Hotel Paradise/Through the circus of the L.A. queen how fast you learn the downhill slide."* One minute she's 12 and the next minute she's 13 and over the top. Such a shame. They haven't got the style that they had in the old days ... way back in '68.
The last time I was in L.A. I got very bored. Boredom is a horrible thing. Boredom is the beginning of all destruction and everything that is negative. Every place is determined by the characters who are there. It's just that the character who are there. It's just that the character rating at the moment has zeroed right out.
Of course, I enjoy it all, but as a total giggle. It's funny. I miss it. All the clamor. The whole lot. It's all a big rush. From the shit holes to the classiest hotels, it's all been fun. From the Shadow-box Motel where the walls crumbled during the night seven years ago to the Plaza, where the attorney general staying one floor above complained about me playing Little Feat records too loud last night.
Do you feel you have to top yourselves with each album?
Page: No. Otherwise I would have been totally destroyed by the reviews of our last album, wouldn't I? You see, this is the point. I just don't care. I don't care what critics and other people think.
So far I've been very, very fortunate because it appears that people like to hear the music I like to play. What more fortunate position can a musician be in? But I will still carry on changing all the time. You can't expect to be the same person you were three years ago. Some people expect you to be and can't come to terms with the fact that if a year has elapsed between LPs, that means one year's worth of changes. The material consequently is affected by that, the lyrics are affected by that ... the music too. I don't feel I have to top myself at all. It took a long time for this album mainly because when we originally went in to record it, John Paul Jones wasn't well and we had to cancel the time ... everything got messed up. It took three months to sort the situation out.
How does it feel to be your own record company executives?
Page: I guess we are our own executives now, aren't we? Listen, give us time with Swan Song. You'll be surprised. We've got some good things lined up. I think the Pretty Things LP is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. We're executives and all that crap, but I'll tell you one thing, the label was never – right from the top – Led Zeppelin records. It's designed to bring in other groups and promote acts that have had raw deals in the past. It's a vehicle for them and not for us to just make a few extra pennies over the top. That's the cynical way of looking at a record company.
People have been asking me whether I'll be doing any producing for the label. I don't know. I'm just too involved with Zeppelin. I was offered a chance – a longstanding one too – to produce Freddie King, which I'd love to do. But I'd need time to work on it.
Do you feel that the music business is sagging in any way?
Page: People always say that amidst their search for The Next Big Thing. The only real woomph was when the Stones and Beatles came over. But it's always said, "The business is dying! The business is dying!" I don't think so. There's too many good musicians around for the music around for the business to be sagging. There's so many different styles and facets of the 360-degree musical sphere to listen to. From tribal to classical music, it's all there. If the bottom was to sag out of that, for God's sake, help us all.
If there was never another record made, there's enough music recorded and in the vaults everywhere for me to be happy forever. Then again, I can listen to all different sorts of music. I don't really care about The Next Big Thing. It's interesting when something new comes along, a band of dwarfs playing electronic harps or something, but I'm not searching. Look at Bad Company and the Average White Band. Those guys have all been around in one form or another for a very long time. How many of the new ones coming through have really got a lot of substance? In Britain, I'm afraid there's not much at all. We've got to deal with Suzi Quatro and Mud. It's absurd. Top Ten shouldn't be crap, but it is.
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