Do not refer to Get the Led Out as a tribute band; you will greatly upset its gracious lead singer, Paul Sinclair. Though the act plays only songs by classic-rock gods Led Zeppelin, it believes it serves a nobler purpose than mere imitation of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. Rather, it aims to re-create the sounds of the original Led Zeppelin recordings. This means no fake British accents, it means having six members onstage instead of Zeppelin's four, and they have mastered 60 of the approximately 75 songs in Zeppelin's catalog that they rotate from gig to gig.
Their South Florida gig April 3, at Kravis Center's Dreyfoos Hall, promises to include 20 of those timeless songs. New Times reached out to the Philadelphia-based band's singer by telephone as its tour bus pulled in to Jacksonville to talk Zeppelin, karaoke, and time machines.
New Times: Describe the Get the Led Out live experience.
Paul Sinclair: I don't know if you've seen other Led Zeppelin or other band's tribute shows, but there's a preconceived notion of what they can be. In most cases, tribute acts are impersonations with guys dressing up in costumes. That's not our thing. For us, it's about the music. Instead of having one guitarist try to play a song with 17 guitar parts, we go out there and try to make every part happen.
There's six guys in the group, we have a special female vocalist who joins us for "Battle of Evermore." We have our manager who sits in to play timbale on certain songs. We have a multi-instrumentalist who plays everything from piano to banjo. We go to great lengths to make the music sound just like the albums.
Which Zeppelin song did you find the most challenging to replicate?
"Achilles Last Stand" was a big chore for us. There's a guitar army on that tune. Our three guitar players had to work out all the various parts. Plus, it's a ten-minute song. It's one thing to memorize a three-minute arrangement, but when you have a song that goes three times that long, there's so many intricacies that we have to huddle around the speaker to get.
How did Get the Led Out originally form?
One of the guitarists, Paul Hammond, and myself have been together a long time putting bands together and writing our own records. We shared a love for '70s hard rock Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, and when we created our own music, it was heavily influenced by them. Back in fall of 2003, there were some other Philadelphia-based musicians putting together a Zeppelin tribute act. I thought I was going to help them out for one show. At the second rehearsal, I knew I had to bring Paul Hammond in. The original guys are no longer with us; they had a different vision, and we slowly brought other Philadelphia-based musicians with a deep love for Led Zeppelin.
What was your first exposure to Led Zeppelin?
I heard "Heartbreaker" from Led Zeppelin II. Obviously if you grew up in the last 40 years, you heard a classic-rock station playing them on loop. I fell in love with the riff of "Heartbreaker" and bought Led Zeppelin II probably at the age of 12.
Have you ever shown up at a karaoke night and belted out "Heartbreaker" or "Ramble On" and blown everyone away?
Before Get the Led Out, there were a couple of years where I wasn't in a band. I got tired of dealing with drug addicts and drunks, and I said, "Screw a band -- I'm just going to go out and sing karaoke." I entered contests and won over $5,000 in competitions. I saw the power of their music in different scenarios. Here I was in different clubs with people after work -- doctors, lawyers, every walk in life. People would be singing Journey or whatever, but then I would get up to sing Zeppelin, and before I sang a note, they'd hear the opening chord and erupt. It really drove home how important their music was. I knew it was to me, but seeing it in a different environment, the local pub, really showed how it brought people together.
I don't know if when you were younger you saw Zeppelin live.
I have not.
Then as a huge fan, I wonder what dollar amount you would pay to see them reunite and play live?
That would depend. If I could get in a time machine and go back to 1972, I would pay a whole lotta money. But to be honest with you, and this isn't a dis to Led Zeppelin, these guys are my heroes, but what I love is their recordings. I am a very meticulous guy, and I'm not a fan of how they approached their later live shows. There were a lot of improvisational jams that didn't resemble their albums.
Back in 2007 when they did that show in London, our guitarist Paul Hammond was actually there. I don't know if you saw the movie Celebration Day which has concert footage from that day, but they tuned down. They lowered a lot of songs so Robert Plant could hit the notes. When they played "Stairway to Heaven" which was written in the key of A Minor, is now in G Minor. So instead of [singing] "There's a lady" instead it's [singing much deeper] "There's a lady." So if they got together again, I'm sure I'd go see the show, but it wouldn't be as meaningful to me as seeing them in 1970 at the pinnacle of their ability from those first four records.
Get the Led Out, 8 p.m. Thursday, April 3, at Kravis Center's Dreyfoos Hall, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $15. Visit kravis.org.
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