How Robert Plant Turned His Back on Arena Rock
Virtually alone among his peers, Robert Plant manages to maintain commercial and pop cultural relevancy while seemingly making exactly the type of music he wants to record without any concern for trends or airplay.
He started his solo career with a string of pop hits, but as the Led Zeppelin co-founder recalled during a recent interview, he started turning away from mainstream rock in the early '90s.
Plant, taking a moment away from preparations for his recently extended Carry Fire tour to call into rock writer Steven Hyden's Celebration Rock podcast, pinpointed the change to the months he spent working on his 1993 Fate of Nations LP. Saying he was "straining all the time" to balance more traditional rock sounds against the more experimental stuff he was being drawn toward, he recalled a moment of clarity while writing material for Nations.
"I was shaping myself up for later on, but later on came in 1992 with Fate of Nations," said Plant. "I really do believe that I was able to get it — I went up into the Mojave Desert. I didn't see Arthur or Odin, but what I did see was a long-term view of actually getting on board the whole deal, and I suppose, really ... I would have been 43, I think, but I knew I had arrived within myself. I was trying to break out and in all the time through songs after we lost John [Bonham]."
Whatever it was and whatever caused it, it sparked a run of Plant records that rank among the most well-received of his career — and he seems determined to keep going into the foreseeable future, quipping that his "retirement tour" will happen when he's found in a "rock face in about 10 million years' time."
You can listen to the interview below.
As for the ever-popular Vegas residency? Don't expect to see him sign up for one anytime soon.
"Nobody should do a residency in Vegas," laughed Plant. "If anything's gonna do you, that'll do you."