Robert Plant on Success: ‘Don’t Imagine That Big is Beautiful’
Robert Plant said he was more comfortable with the scale of his solo career than he was with Led Zeppelin’s world-dominating size, and that general perceptions of success did not match his own. He’s continuing to tour in support of latest album Carry Fire, which was released last year to critical acclaim.
“It’s obviously very flattering to find out that it’s the final icing on the cake that means I don’t have to go back to playing in the state of Delaware to ten million chairs and do ‘the big deal,’” Plant told Rock Cellar in a new interview. “This combination of spirit and humor is my life’s blood.”
Speaking of playing in smaller venues he reflected: “we’re coming back [to the U.S.] in the summer to do something more substantial. But don’t imagine that big is beautiful. I’ve been there.” He argued that selling millions of records was “not the criteria” for success, adding: “You know, we can play Bonnaroo down in Tennessee, or play in festivals in the summer. It’s not hard to reach people. You just go where you want to go and see whether or not it fits. The thing about stature being relative to the size of the audience is an archaic tradition.
“It’s okay on the way up to think that’s all it’s all about, but when you’ve been there and you know how shatteringly insular everything becomes, then your relationship with this carnival we have becomes priceless. To try and make it something to fit in with a symbol of success just for the hell of it, I don’t think that’s really where I’m at this time in my life.”
Plant also reported that he and his band, the Sensational Space Shifters, were constantly coming up with new musical concepts. “Everybody carries the torch everywhere we go,” he said. “Johnny, our keyboard player, bagged it yesterday. He came up with this amazing loop which will fit really nicely around a new idea which we’ve got that we’ve been developing at soundchecks. So that’s one way of doing it, between us all.
“Because there’s such an eagerness to contribute, sometimes you have to put the brakes on, and maybe just take two people together to find that different element that you require. Or sometimes maybe just one person. But the most important and relevant things through all of this is that everybody’s always developing, and that’s great.”