Paul Hammond Gets The Led Out
TCD talks with Paul Hammond, guitarist of Led Zeppelin cover band Get the Led Out, performing at the Marcus Center Saturday night.
It’s not my opinion, its just a fact: Led Zeppelin are easily one of the most important rock bands in music history. Their influence has lasted decades and can still be heard today, more than 30 years after their breakup. And while many groups attempt to do the band’s work justice, few of them succeed at recreating the unique and unmistakable sound that is Led Zeppelin.
Sahan Jayasuriya: I’ve noticed that you often make note that Get The Led Out is more than just a tribute band.
Paul Hammond: It is. We’re not impersonators. We re-create the music of Led Zeppelin exactly as it is heard on the records, because that’s how most Zeppelin fans know the music. That makes it a lot more difficult, though, as in the studio there would be a lot of multi-tracking with guitars and keyboards and such, so its not an easy proposition. Sometimes we’ll have five, six, sometimes even seven people performing on stage at once. So needless to say, we’re more concerned about recreating the music above all else. So do you try to keep it as true to the albums as possible? I know that a lot of the time, Zeppelin tended to improvise a lot in their live performances. It was cool for back then, because it was actually Led Zeppelin doing it, you know? With us obviously not being them, it kind of takes away from it, and tends to confuse the listener when they’re trying to sing along. There are at least two or three times in our performance that we tend to take a more “live” approach to the show and do what Zeppelin did with the bowed guitars and drum solos, but for the most part, we tend to stay pretty true to the records.
SJ: Considering how unique those records sound, how difficult is it to recreate them in a live setting?
PH: It’s definitely no small feat, but we try our best to recreate the sound of them as well. We like to use the proper equipment as well, so our drummer plays the old green sparkle Ludwig drums, I play the proper Gibson Les Pauls and old Marshall amplifiers, and we’ll change instruments from song to song, depending on what was used on the recordings. We really try to get it as close as possible.
SJ: Get the Led Out has been going for eight years now. Why do you think that you’ve been able to do it for as long as you have?
PH: We really don’t have any competition. There’s a ton of lookalike bands out there, just four guys trying to look like the band, and then there’s Jason Bonham’s band which is kind of the next step up from that, which obviously has John Bonham’s son on the drums. They do a sort of hybrid between the live and studio versions of the songs, which is great. But really, we’re the only ones who do it the way we do. We really research it. Every member of the group has such a diverse musical background that we can all get the music on a different level.
SJ: Of all the bands to cover, why Led Zeppelin?
PH: That harkens back to our youth, really. When I first started playing guitar in 1973-74, Zeppelin was on the radio and getting a lot of airplay, so that’s what we were playing in all of our bands. And that really goes for pretty much all of us. Even when everyone else around us were getting into all these other sorts of things, it always came back to Led Zeppelin because they’re just that great of a band. As far as our group goes, everyone just has that common love of Zeppelin and the background of playing their music, so when we got together, it was just like “Wow, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.” Any time we would get together and play, we would just be so excited about playing these songs, so much that we’d just keep on trying to improve on our performances. It just happened organically and grew until it became this thing where we’re able to do this on a bigger scale, and we’re incredibly grateful to be able to do it.
SJ: It must be great to be able to go on stage and play your favorite songs every night.
PH: That’s true, and we always joke that in a small way, we get to be rock stars with all the conventional trappings of that. The material’s already written, so we don’t have to be concerned about putting out our next record. All we really have to be concerned about is how well we perform the songs for the listeners, and that’s really it.
SJ: So is this your first time in Milwaukee? What can we expect from the show?
PH: This is our first time ever coming to Wisconsin and we’re really excited to be playing for everyone out there. We’re obviously going to play a lot of the hits, but we will be covering a lot of ground as we’ll, going a little bit deeper into the band’s catalog. We change it up depending on the night, so its not like we’re playing the exact same set every night. With there being a lot of diversity to their music, there’s a lot of diversity to our set as well. Honestly, if you’re even just a casual Led Zeppelin fan, you should come out to the show. This is a show like none other you’ve ever seen.