Robert Plant considered the challenges of working on a third album with his band the Sensational Space Shifters, but remained confident it would happen.
Speaking in the latest episode of his Digging Deep podcast, which you can hear below, Plant explained why attempting to apply a formula to the group’s creative process would fail following the achievements of 2014’s Lullaby and … The Ceaseless Roar and 2017’s Carry Fire. “Each guy in our cooperative creates ideas and send them to me, or to each other. … There’s a lot of sketches,” Plant explained. “Some of them are black and white, some of them are going into color. And that’s how all these songs are developed.”
He described the process as “pinning the donkey’s tail with a blindfold on and seeing what happens.” “We have hundreds of hours of ideas, an unlimited amount of stuff that sounds amazing,” he said. “We have to think about how we say the next thing, and how we craft that. These two collections of songs have been pretty [much] for us. It’s all about ‘for us.’”
Plant argued that it might be “nice” to have a formula, but asked, “How good would that be? It wouldn’t be very good at all. We have to dance this kind of unusual two-step. All musicians are faced with the prospect of, where’s the awkward, the impossible third album? Where’s the impossible 23rd album? You have to find a groove and get started.”
He noted that he wanted to “keep going in any form, but preferably with those guys,” but reflected that “everybody’s got their other stimuli. … It’s not as if the whole of everybody’s musical future is resting on whether or not we can find the next new song, because they’re probably gigging tonight somewhere!”
The latest podcast episode centered on Carry Fire‘s title track. “There’s no solution to this song,” Plant said. “There’s no easement, there’s no way out.” He called the song “the sad thud of an old heart … observations of a life and damage,” while noting he still has a “romantic heart.”