When I first listened to Zepparella, I wasn’t sure what to think at. I hadn’t previously given a lot of thought to tribute bands, but I hearing these ladies just crush some Led Zeppelin, I was blown away. I always dug the fact that they weren’t a carbon copy of Zep. They played it close enough to pay tribute, yet put enough of their own flair into it to really stand out.
Currently on a tour of the US, Zepparella had a show coming up at Jammin’ Java, and I was asked if I would interview guitarist Gretchen Menn, and drummer Clementine, the founding member of Zepparella. Their love of Zeppelin’s music goes deeper than your typical horn-throwing rock fanatic, and they are each outstanding musicians in their own right. I jumped at the opportunity, and after sound check was over, I was privileged to sit with Gretchen and Clementine, and among other things, ponder the possibility of a Loverboy tribute band.
What’s the latest with Zepparella?
Gretchen Menn: Well, we are a little more than halfway into this first kind of big, nationwide tour. Busy, playing a lot, driving a lot. Meeting new people. A lot of people have been supporting us for a long time.
Take us back to the beginning. Did it all start as a jam that grew into something bigger, or was the intent to pay homage all along?
Clementine: Gretchen and I were in a band that wasn’t playing as much as we wanted to play. I told her that I had always wanted to learn the catalog of Zeppelin, and she said she had wanted to do that too. We decided that we were going to get together and learn Bonham and Page stuff, and then pretty quickly we said “If we’re gonna do this, we should do it on stage.”
It’s not an easy feat, learning Bonham and Page. You say it very casually, “Oh, we’re just gonna learn some Bonham and Page.”
[Laughs all around] GM: Well, part of it is that we knew if we did it on stage, we’d be a lot more accountable. It’s one thing to get together and jam on stuff, but if you really want to go the distance and really make a study of something, it’s really helpful actually, to have the response of other people and the accountability of other people to make sure you’re really taking it seriously.
C: Plus, to be able to play with not just Page, but to play with John Paul Jones’ parts, and Plant parts too, I understand more fully why Bonham played what he did. What he was supporting, what he was hearing at that moment. It becomes really, kind of a deep musical experience.