by Tyson Meade
First of all the phone rings. John asks where he's calling. I say Oklahoma. He's says he's never been here. I tell him he was here twice in the Seventies, '77 for sure. He says "Oh," then the official interview commences...
Tyson: First of all, I want to tell you you're my favorite member of Led Zeppelin.
John: Oh, thank you very much. What a good start to an interview. [laughter between both parties]
Tyson: Yeah, I have a ton of questions and some of them are totally kind of gooey and some of them are about some of the people you've worked with...uh...you've...really run the gamut from the days with Led Zep!
John: Right. [somewhat in resignation]
Tyson: Let's start with Diamanda. How did that come about?
John: Well, I was really into her music, and a mutual friend, David Snow, said we're a lot alike and I was like, "Well, okay!" So I met her when she was coming through London for an evening and we found we had tons in common, believe it or not, then she went to New York and recorded some stuff. And I worked a lot on the working [basic] tracks in England which she wrote lyrics for. She just then came over, stayed at our house, and we recorded it. Took a month.
Tyson: Yeah, that first song on the CD reminds of something from, like, "Physical Graffiti" but with this total maniac singing. [giggling on both ends]
John: Her vocal track, that was one take. It was scary, we were all shaking by the end. [laughter]
Tyson: Yeah, that's exactly...'What time is it?' [my lame Diamanda imitation] okay, I heard...were you all, this is like a nasty Hollywood rumor, but were you all romantically linked?
John: [laughter] Gee, I've heard every sort of question in the last ten years. Romantically linked? To each other you mean? [laughter and 'Oh, oh, whoa!' voice cracking like Mr. Haney from Green Acres]
Tyson: Uh, yeah!
John: Uh, not really, uh, no! What a thought! [laughter] That's hilarious.
Embarrassingly enough, I think he thought we had left Diamanda and were talking about Led Zeppelin again. Uh oh!
Tyson: You did that album with the Butthole Surfers. How did that come about?
John: I don't know whether [the Surfers] thought it was a good idea. They sort of put us together. It may have even been the record company. I'd heard loads of tapes from loads of bands and I hated them all, and suddenly this weird noise came on this tape with all this sort of swirling electronics, all totally fucked up. I thought it sounded really twisted. I thought I would like to do that. Everyone said, 'You're MAD! [Resignaton] 'Oh yeah, well, here we are boys. I'm going to Texas.'
Tyson: I'm going to say names, and then you can give me answers, short or long. What do you think of these bands?
John: Okay. [true hesitation]
Tyson: If you don't have anything one way or the other, that's totally cool, too. I'd really like to know your take on Oasis.
John: Oasis? I guess they're a good band. I just get the feeling I've heard it before somehow. There's nothing new there for me. I got their album because it was everywhere, so I thought, 'Gee, I might oughta listen to this,' and I listened to it and it was like, 'Oh, it's all right.' There's nothing special there for me.
Tyson: What do you think of the new thing like Aphex Twin where it doesn't involve a band? The electronica movement?
John: I love a lot of it. I think it's just a bit of a dead end. I like a lot of their techniques, but I don't know how sustainable they are. I really like drum and bass. But again, I just really miss that live input. Which is what I'm working on. I'm working on my solo album at the moment. Basically, it's instrumental rock. It's blues-based rock. Very powerful stuff. Power trio type stuff. But there's going to be a lot of computer involvement as well, but not on the rhythm side, in the ambient and sound side, a lot of processing. A lot of weird shit on it. A lot of live stuff on it, too. I want it to be exciting. Also I want to be able to go out and play. I want to tour on it as well.
Tyson: Did you work with Bowie? [obviously reaching]
John: No, no, well I did before he was Bowie. [laughter]
Tyson: When he was David Jones?
John: David Jones and the Lower Third. I think I did some of those records. I hooked up with Donovan. I did "Mellow Yellow." That was mine. I even worked with Herman's Hermits. I did orchestral arrangements in those days.
Tyson: When I heard I was going to interview you I was going to say 'You are my favorite Rolling Stone.' That would be funny to say, but, uh...
John: That's kind of weird [laughter] - favourite Rolling Stone? Your favourite Led Zeppelin member was a much better choice.
Tyson: I've got some names here, like "This Is Your Life." Just say whatever.
Tyson: Angela Bowie.
John: [long pause] Angela Bowie?
John: Uh huh. [long silence] What am I supposed to say about Angela Bowie for God's sakes?
Tyson: That's probably good enough [much laughter]
John: Try me on another one.
Tyson: The mic came loose from the phone. Actually it's a suction and it doesn't help that the cat pounced on it and knocked it loose.
John: Kick the cat, kick the fucker, or uh, kick the cat, lick the fucker.
Tyson: Sorry, but, uh, somebody gave me this one. You don't have to say anything. Red snapper.
John: Red snapper! Oh dear, oh, oh...one of those things you do. [laughter] You've been on the road, things happen.
Tyson: Do you have any favorite new toys?
John: All my favourite new toys are in the studio. My favourite new one is a KYMA. I'm going to use it on stage to generate sound. It's like a real time computer processor.
Tyson: That's a good answer.
John: Oh, okay, well there's one good answer in forty minutes! [laughter]
Tyson: No, they've all been good answers. No, for me these questions are basically, I live in a village and I tell the other villagers I'm talking to John paul Jones and they're like, 'Oh my God, you're talking to John Paul Jones!" Okay, I think I have one more and it pertains to the Rolling Stones. If they said tomorrow, 'Hey John, join our band!' what would you do?
John: I'd reply, 'Thank you very much but no! I've got my own thing.' I don't wanna play "Jumpin' Jack Flash" for the next forty years, as good as it is. My stuff is much more interesting to me. I like the Stones. It's great to see they're still doing it, still out there. They're doing better than anybody, what they're doing.
Tyson: I agree with you there.
John: So you wouldn't join them then either?
Tyson: Ya know, I don't really know how to play bass. I really don't.
John: That's a good answer. That's what you can say, 'Look, I don't really know how to play bass. Call John Paul Jones.'
This Month in