Robert Plant reflected on his decades of making music outside the genre that made his name, but suggested the idea of returning to rock was sometimes in his thoughts.
He’ll release Raise the Roof, his second album of Americana covers with Alison Krauss, on Nov. 19. It follows a series of solo albums where he’s explored folk and roots music in many forms, after having stepped away from Led Zeppelin-style music many years earlier.
“None of this music is rock, it’s not about power and posture,” Plant told the Guardian in a recent interview. “How remarkable for me to be able to jump ship so long ago now. But I have a jetpack on my back in case I want to go back.” He made a reference to Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” by saying: “If I come from the land of the ice and snow, I’ll be OK.”
He offered one reason for his fascination with other forms of music when he discussed the success of 2007’s Raising Sand, his first release with Krauss. “Alison and I have something – theoretically – to live up to, as far as how it worked out before,” he said. “But the most important thing to do was maintain a really interesting variety of sources of song. Because what do we do in our quietest times, when we have a music machine? We go to places that really, really make us feel good.”
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With the notable exception of Led Zeppelin’s one-off reunion show, also in 2007, Plant has mainly steered clear of rock after making a decision while touring with Jimmy Page in 2000. “It got to a point one night in Mannheim in Germany,” the singer said in 2018, “where we were playing inside a big concrete cube to a huge audience of males pumping the air with their fists. And I went, ‘Well, I don’t think we need this anymore. It’s time to get off the bus quick.’”
His feelings became more focused later, during an all-star concert in Paris. “I saw the guitarist in Radiohead [and] when it was time for a solo, he just knelt down and started messing with his pedals. … I went, ‘Well, that’s a lot different to the world I’ve been in, of expressive gesture and stuff.’ I realized it was time to change. Then I started writing.”
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Crafting a solo career has been something of a quest for Led Zeppelin’s former frontman.