Led Zeppelin alumnus Robert Plant won five Grammy Awards with his last musical collaboration, a 2007 album of roots-rock recorded with bluegrass standout Alison Krauss.
His new musical journey features cover versions of an eclectic collection of tunes reaching from rock's modern era back decades, even centuries, recorded with a group named after a Plant-fronted '60s unit, Band of Joy.
The British singer is touring with the new Band of Joy, featuring respected Nashville vocalist Patty Griffin, to preview an album that's due in September.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and his group play in Phoenix on Tuesday. We called Plant, 61, in London to check in on the project.
Q: Why did you choose the name of a band from before Led Zeppelin for this project?
A: When I was a kid in the original Band of Joy, I wore my musical heart on my sleeve, and I really kicked ass, and that's kind of how I teamed up with Jimmy Page back then. I stepped out of the rank and file of performers.
I've kept my vision of what . . . Led Zeppelin was, from album to album, in everything I've tried to do before, during and after that big time in my life.
So when I got to playing with Buddy on the Alison Krauss tour, I began formulating an idea of going back to how liberated I felt when I was 17, 18, 19 years old.
Whereas Strange Sensation (a Plant group that played Phoenix in 2005) was a contemporary spook (or atmospheric sound), this is much more in the kind of fantastic, organic spook, a freak-out of massive voices one minute and then strange, overdriven psychedelic guitar the next and then maybe the clatter and railing of old-time banjo.
Q: After the 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion show in London, you seemed to show minimal interest in a full-scale tour. Is that still your viewpoint?
A: I'm really proud of (Zeppelin bassist) John Paul Jones because he's in a real, living, breathing rock band (Them Crooked Vultures, with Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters). He and I communicate more, now that he's a rocker (again).
So we all go about what we do the way we do it, and who knows? I can't predict anything at all. It's just good to keep it going and keep rocking.
Read the whole interview here