Thursday, November 1, 2012

Jason Bonham on Celebration Day and the future of Led Zeppelin

Jason Bonham knew he had some very large shoes to fill when he stepped behind the drum kit for Led Zeppelin’s 2007 reunion show at London’s 02 Arena.

His father, the late John Bonham, is widely regarded as one of the best drummers in rock history, and Jason was feeling the heat when he walked to the stage that night in London, captured for posterity on the band’s forthcoming live package, “Celebration Day.”

“Fear! I was unbelievably nervous, but I was also aware of how many people probably wanted us to fail,” Jason tells Mojo. Led Zeppelin never cared about the press, so the press at the time didn't care about them. So I knew that not everyone in that audience was backing us, or backing me. But that just made me want to make sure that everything I did that night was on the money. I wanted to make sure that if this was going to be Led Zeppelin's... er, swansong [laughs] than it was going to be a fantastic one to have.”

After the initial fear passed, there was moment when Jason settled in and found his place.

“It was after the first three songs, after Black Dog,” he explains. “We'd got out of the starting gate, we'd connected, so we all took a breath, and I had a drink of water. Then Jimmy [Page] started In My Time of Dying. I just remember focusing on really trying to hold it back and make it dark and dirty, like it was on the record [Physical Graffiti].”

The one-off reunion raised fans’ expectations that there would be more live Zeppelin shows in the future, and the failure of those dates to materialize was a disappointment to Bonham.

“Yes. Much as I knew it was a one-time thing, my mother said to me before hand, ‘Are you sure you're going to be OK walking away from this?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I'll be fine.’ And, to be honest, it was hard. When you sit in that seat, it's the greatest feeling. I had a real sense of accomplishment, but even when I was playing I half expected any minute now the doors are going to open and my dad will appear and go ‘Oi, hop it!’”

As for playing with Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones again, Jason says “I'd be a fool if I said, no. At the New York press conference there were three questions in a row, asking ‘Are you gonna do something again?’ Robert didn't get the hump exactly, but he gets the hard end of the stick. So he said, ‘Haven't you got another question about the film itself?’ But I can see why they're asking. Because when you watch the film, we all look like we are having such a great time, it's no wonder people want to know if we're going to do it again”

Asked what’s preventing a more prolonged Zeppelin reunion from happening, “I can't say. I don't know,” explains the drummer. “Let's say, it's in the lap of the gods. Everybody is actually getting along great at the moment. I've learned in the last few years that the Internet is not your best mate, and there are a few doubters out there. So the film was a great thing to watch. I know I live in the shadow of the greatest drummer in the world, so it's nice to have a bit of sunshine now and again.”

Read the full session with Jason Bonham at Mojo here.

“Celebration Day” hits stores on November 19.

Led Led Zeppelin

See also:

VIDEO: Led Zeppelin - Kashmir from Celebration Day
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