We went in and recorded exactly where we were at that point in time. I think because of the quality of musicianship of the band has given it the longevity. I thought the music would endure, I didn't think I would ... I always thought I'd be dead by 30, then dead by 40 and on and on. Now I'm 55 so I didn't even die at 50.
Let me explain something about guitar playing. Everyone's got their own character, and that's the thing that's amazed me about guitar playing since the day I first picked it up. Everyone's approach to what can come out of six strings is different from another person, but it's all valid.
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.
There's a very old recording maxim that goes, 'Distance makes depth.' I've used that a hell of a lot-whether it's tracking guitars or the whole band. People are used to close-miking amps, but I'd have a mic out around the back, as well, and then balance the two. Also, you shouldn't have to use EQ in the studio if the instruments sound right. You should be able to get the right tones simply with the science of microphone placement.
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.
... we kept moving forward and didn't try to recreate the past .. the approach to each album was radically different every time. Many bands would have some success and, because they were locked into having a single - something we didn't have to worry about - they had to make sure there was something similar on the next album ... that was never the idea with Led Zeppelin .. the goal was to keep that spark of spontaneity at all times ...
My vocation is more in composition really than anything else-building up harmonies using the guitar, orchestrating the guitar like an army, a guitar army. ... I always felt if we were going in to do an album, there should already be a lot of structure already made up so we could get on with that and see what else happened. ... I always believed in the music we did and that's why it was uncompromising. ... I don't think the critics could understand what we were doing.
Once I got a guitar that was relatively user-friendly, but not super-duper easy, I really came on as a guitarist, at that point. It helped. It was a super-expensive guitar either, but something needs to steer you a bit, if you're playing an instrument that is really hard.
There was no working title for the album. The record-jacket designer said `When I think of the group, I always think of power and force. There's a definite presence there.' That was it. He wanted to call it `Obelisk'. To me, it was more important what was behind the obelisk. The cover is very tongue-in-cheek, to be quite honest. Sort of a joke on 2001. I think it's quite amusing.
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.
That's the music that I play at home all the time, Joni Mitchell. Court and Spark I love because I'd always hoped that she'd work with a band. But the main thing with Joni is that she's able to look at something that's happened to her, draw back and crystallize the whole situation, then write about it. She brings tears to my eyes, what more can I say? It's bloody eerie. I can relate so much to what she says. “Now old friends are acting strange/They shake their heads/They say I've changed.
Sometimes, I must admit, I'd like to have a second guitarist onstage with me, but it wouldn't look right. I'd like to play for another 20 years, but I don't know... I just can't see it happening. I don't know why. It's a certain foreboding... a funny feeling... vultures.
There is far more sensitivity in acoustic guitar players than could ever be compared to any synthesizer. That's a personal point of view but that's the way I see it. I think that's what it's all about. The drive, the fire, the passion - it all comes out on the guitar.