Gary James' Interview With Paul Sinclair Of
Get The Led Out
They are often referred to as "The American Led Zeppelin" and the "Ultimate Led Zeppelin Tribute Band". Singer Paul Sinclair fronts this band known as Get The Led Out.
Q - Paul, your group is not playing clubs. You're playing theatres and big arenas.
A - That's correct. That's exactly the point of this project. We've all done the bar scene. We've all been playing music. We're not twenty year old kids. We did our time in the bars and clubs. With this project, our manager, who was originally our booking agent, when he first saw our act, he was like "Listen, this s a theatre act. This is a big act. We're just gonna take you to national rooms, the House Of Blues style venues." It's a Rock show. It's not a bar band where we do three, forty minute sets and "everybody tip your bartenders." It's not that kind of thing. So, that's kind of the approach he took. And God, God Bless Frank Kelb, our manager, 'cause he got us into these places and convinced them we were worth putting in there. The response to it was great. It sort of snowballed from there. Once these venues took a chance on us and saw there was a great market for it, people started following us, which snowballed to the point where we got signed a year ago by SRO Artists, the booking agency out of Milton, Wisconsin, that books Dark Star Orchestra, which is the Grateful Dead show that travels around the world. So, he took us on and now the shows just keep rollin' in and we're playing The Electric Factory in Philadelphia. We're in the Nokia Theatre in Times Square, which is probably the crowning achievement as far as it gets when it comes to a gig. That's where everyone's very excited about our first time in Manhattan. I don't know if you're a Led Zeppelin fan or not.
Q - As matter of fact, I am. Both individually and collectively they were great musicians. Probably the best musicians that ever hit the stage.
A - I couldn't agree more. It was certainly a magical combination of people. They were all stars in their own right. Four of 'em together made something that was so great. A lot of the times you'll have the star of the band and then sort of background guys. That really wasn't the case with Zeppelin.
Q - Were you one of the founding members of Get The Led Out?
A - Well, yes and no. I'm a founding member being that I was the first singer in this band. How it sort of unfolded was myself and Paul Hammond have a long history together. Paul Hammond is one of the guitarists in the band. We've been playing together since we were about eighteen years old and putting bands together and just going out there earning our Rock 'n' Roll wings. At a certain point, I guess because we devoted so much of our lives to this style of Hard Rock; we've always done our own original Rock. That's basically what we've spent our whole lives doing and never really wanted to do a cover project, however we always played Zeppelin and Aerosmith within our band. We'd throw a song in or two at a show because I just love that style of singing so much. So, I developed a bit of a reputation locally for that type of singing. So, the bassist, Paul Piccari and some former members put together a Zeppelin show a couple of years ago and they had heard of me and they were looking for a singer. So they contacted me and said "Hey, we're looking to put together a Zeppelin show and take it to theatres and festivals. We're gonna make some good money and great music. I know you're the guy for the job." I didn't know if I could cover all the material. I said "Well, I'll come out and check it out." So that was the beginning of it. A lot has happened since that first meeting. I've brought in Paul Hammond along with me. There's been some changes from a couple of years back. It eventually boiled down to where my vision I guess of what I wanted to see if I was gonna be a part of this has actually come to fruition here with actually creating the studio versions. One of the earlier line-ups was really all about just re-creating what every other Zeppelin act that you're gonna find out there does and that is just doing the movie The Song Remains The Same, where they put on the costumes and they are impersonators and long extended jams like Zeppelin did in concerts. I never had any interest in that. I was all about the records. The reason that 90% of Zeppelin fans love Led Zeppelin is because of the albums and the versions we've heard played over and over and over. But those versions meant the world to me. Those melodies, the way that they do guitar solos. I thought man, wouldn't it be great if we could incorporate a number of musicians, five, six or whatever it needs to be, to actually pull off all these parts and bring 'em to life in concert. That's how I've always loved to play songs if I could, just because it really feels great to be up there and hear the rhythm guitar, the harmony guitar solos. So, that's what it eventually becomes. Eventually, I guess it sort of enforced my will. Everyone was sort of onboard. The guys that weren't, are no longer with us.
Q - Do you try to sound like Robert Plant?
A - People say I do. Honestly, I don't think I sound a whole lot like Robert Plant. Some songs maybe here and there. But what I've got is that when I go for some of the higher notes, I'm belting it out. In my higher register I get a bit of grit and gravel to my voice, which works for Rock. Being a big Steve Tyler fan as well, it's always been helpful that I've been lucky enough to have that in me; the make-up of my throat, my voice, whatever. So, between the grit I have in my voice and the fact that I love his music so much that when I deliver it, I try to deliver it like it's my last day on Earth. I'm coughing up a lung trying to get these notes out. So, I think the passion I have for it translates and I think basically that's what people sort of see in me. I don't think they're fooled by it, "You sound like Robert Plant," but I think it's just because I deliver the stuff hopefully with the passion I sort of feel for it.
Q - Do you try to look like Plant onstage?
A - No. That's the thing about this band...we actually put on a Rock concert like you would expect in the 1970s, because most of us in the band are long-haired Rock musicians. I've always dressed in like low rise, hip hugger flares. It's just been my sort of thing. I was born in '65. I grew up in the 70s. I always just loved that thing. I've always sort of worn that. We're not wearing costumes. We're not emulating the look. People say I move like Plant, but if you look closely and you really know your stuff, you'd say that I'm more of a hybrid. I move more like a combination of Steven Tyler and Robert Plant. I would take that simply because it would make sense because I've always tried to emulate them and incorporate their influence on me into my own thing. So no, we're not doing the "moves". Whatever they are, they're ours that anyone's taken who was growing up loving a particular artist. If you see Jimmy Page in Paul Hammond or Jimmy Marchimo up there, it's just simply because that was one of the influences on their life.
Q - Did it take a lot of money to put this group together?
A - Not really, because my business partner and guitarist, Paul Hammond, we actually run a studio together and Paul's actually always been somewhat of a collector of gear. In the early days he provided a lot of the gear for the guys. He had like loads of Marshall stacks. So there wasn't a lot to buy. Along the way it was like, we should pick up a dry ice fog machine, because that would add cool effects. Maybe some road cases here and there, or the Theremin for that instrument Jimmy Page plays in "Whole Lotta Love". So there were a few things. We really were set from the get go to go out there and start. As the group built and the fan base got bigger and the gigs started to pay more, we obviously re-invested in things. It just sort of built on itself. But there was no initial crazy outlay of cash.
Q - How much time went by between putting the group together and that first gig? And where was that first gig?
A - Well, I guess it depends what you call the band, because this whole thing started as a result of those guys contacting me saying they were putting together this Zeppelin show. They wanted me to sing for them. They had a gig coming up that they were playing at this place in Aston, Pennsylvania, the Sun Center. It was this big venue. We were gonna be playing in front of 6,000 people. They had the gig booked in with a singer. I came out to check 'em out and honestly I thought I really didn't want to be a part of it. I really wasn't too impressed with what they had going on. But I said, well maybe I would help 'em out and play a show if they needed a singer just to get through the gig, but I wasn't committing to anything. There's a lot to this and I don't want to bore you with the minute details. In essence, and that gig never actually occurred, but they booked another gig just to hopefully keep things rolling, so I guess that maybe I wouldn't lose interest and they would have something to shoot for. So the actual first gig under the name "Get The Led Out" would have been at the Hard Rock Cafe in Philadelphia back in the end of 2003. But again, that was with a different drummer, a different guitarist and really the band hadn't found a direction. There were some issues with the first couple shows we played and some things I wasn't happy with and I was really ready to part ways with 'em. There were a lot of things that happened between then and when we finally got to the point, two and a half, three years ago, where we really had it nailed down...the direction, the people and the focus, to where it really became the vision. I was describing about bringing the studio recordings to life.
Q - Were you in a bar band before joining Get The Led Out? Were you working a day job, or both?
A - Both. I've had my own original Rock band, Sinclair, with Paul Hammond for eons...since we were kids. That band we had to replace members, but we always kept going, creating and performing our own original Hard Rock and playing in bars and clubs. We did play a few theatre shows. We hit sort of the top of the game locally in like the early '90s when there was like a cabaret circuit around here and we would get put on the bill with national acts, to get to open for Foghat, would come around on their tour, or The Bullet Boys, and we'd get on the slot with them at the Chestnut Cabaret. We were a bar / clubs band trying to make our way doing our own original music and fighting and clawing for any gig. In the early days I was working restaurant gigs to pay off the bills. Then later on Paul and I built a studio together and began recording, engineering and producing. We still do that. We actually master a lot of records for bands, not just in the area, but actually all over the United States and outside. We do stuff for people in Norway, lots of crazy stuff.
Q - Do you know how many Zeppelin tribute groups there are out there?
A - I couldn't give you a number. I'd say the ones that are on the radar where you just find web sites, there's gotta be thirty that you can find online. But I'm sure there's plenty more than that, that aren't necessarily online, but are out there kicking around. Some of 'em are playing theatres and festivals and working the same circuit we are. I believe we're the only band that's entirely theatres and national rooms. You won't find us at Joe's Bar and Grill on Tuesday night. We want to keep each show special and play the big rooms and put on a concert. Paul and I actually do a local bar gig once a month, just doing sort of our own thing, keeping to our roots as a hometown place for us, where this whole thing sort of began.
Q - This is a duo or a band?
A - It's a band. It's Paul Hammond and myself and some other guys.
Q - Have any of the guys in Zeppelin seen Get The Led Out?
A - They've seen the video online. Jimmy Page has seen our video online. There's a connection through one of the guys. We have a connection to the Page camp. Jimmy is involved in a charity to help Brazilian children and a friend of mine from my youth got involved in helping this charity and be-friended Page. He sort of was the connection. He had talked about us possibly doing charity events, helping to raise money and possibly getting involved too. Who knows, Jimmy might come out and jam with us at a point. It didn't actually occur as of yet.
Q - How far do you think you can take this group?
A - We've actually started to incorporate some of our Sinclair material. We play an original song at venues we've been to in the past. We've established the fan base. They like us and they want us back. We always hear people saying "Do you got any of your own material?" They're hungry for this type of Rock. And so, we began playing one song in the middle of our concert, a Sinclair tune that Paul and I wrote. It's in the vein of the Zeppelin style. We all have original projects. We sell our original material at Get The Led Out shows at the concession stand. It goes over so well that this thing could go a lot further that I ever imagined. I can't believe I'm doing what I'm doing now. So with that in mind, I can see taking this at least to maybe the 10,000 seat arenas. To go out there and perform Led Zeppelin, if Zeppelin went on tour, people would pay to see that at the Wachovia Center and all the big 20,000 seaters. They'd love to see that. Well, we're putting on that same level of show. I'm not meaning to be pompous. Nothing to Led Zeppelin. They're the gods that put this stuff together. However, we're bringing you a show, giving you that material and delivering it in that spirit. So why wouldn't people want to come to one of those 10,000 seaters and see us play? I see this thing getting bigger. I can't really see an end to it. I see actually being able to work in the original thing as well. It could be a bizarre back door for what I've tried to do my whole life.