James Dylan of Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience – Interview

James Dylan (bottom) and Jason Bonham of Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience

February 5 2013 – Today we speak to James Dylan who is currently on tour with Jason Bonham as part of  Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience (JBLZE) tour. This tour made a stop in Toronto’s Massey Hall on Thursday January 31st and also appeared on our list of Toronto’s Must See Gigs of 2013! The show blew us away and the sold out Massey Hall was grooving to the sweet sounds of Led Zeppelin – review here. James is an incredibly talented vocalist, here is what he said to us.

T-Mak World: James, thanks for taking time out during your tour to answer our questions. First and foremost, congratulations on delivering an earth-shattering show at Massey Hall last night. Our review of the gig is here. How did the show go in your opinion?

Dylan: Thank you Terry. It was a blast! It’s so good to be playing in Canada again. There is an energy here unlike any other. 

T-Mak World: Jason Bonham mentioned he found you through the internet. Can you elaborate on how that all happened?

Dylan: Yes, that’s right. I’ve received many messages from YouTubers claiming to be someone or know someone, so when I first spoke with Jason over the phone I was listening closely to determine if the voice on the other end of the line was  someone putting on a British accent. I guess I was so busy listening that I hadn’t said much. He asked “are you still there?” That’s when I realized it was indeed Jason Bonham. Believe me, I had to pinch myself a few times. He told me he wanted to put a project of some sort together with me and would think about what that could be. In the weeks and months that followed, every so often I’d hear from him again and we’d catch up. On one of those calls he shared the first ideas of putting together a tribute to his father. He had just seen a production called Rain – a tribute to the Beatles which got him thinking about how he could give back something to the fans who also grieve the loss of his father. He talked about a show in which he would share his unique perspective of how it was to be the son of John Bonham during Led Zeppelin’s ascent to superstardom. As I listened, I knew this was exactly the thing that would be meaningful to Led Zeppelin fans. At one point he stopped and asked “what do you think?” and I remember feeling honored, but it wasn’t a done deal yet. I still had to ask if he expected me to wear “the wig” hahaha. Fortunately, that was not part of his vision. 

James Dylan of Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience
T-Mak World: Before I forget, you mentioned something about Algonquin Park during yesterday’s show in Toronto. What was that about?

Dylan: Algonquin Park is where our family cottage is. I’ve been going there all my life and it’s easily the most beautiful place I’ve known. It’s also where I asked my wife Averelle to marry me. Being so close to the Park made the show in Toronto feel like coming home.

T-Mak World: Are you formally trained as a vocalist or is your talent a gift of genetics?

Dylan: I’m not a formally trained vocalist. My parents aren’t musical either, but they exposed me to a lot of great music on our long car rides to visit the rest of the family in Michigan, Virginia and Ontario. There was also always music playing at home and my sister played the guitar. 
James Dylan (bottom) and Jason Bonham of Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience
T-Mak World: Have you done, or considered doing any original work? Are you in any other bands?

Dylan: Yes, before I joined Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience I recorded some of my songs with Jun from Virtual Zeppelin and Fraser Murray in my band, JFJ. Right now I’m writing with a couple of bands, one of which includes all the members of Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience.

T-Mak World: Cant wait to hear the results! Try to describe for us what it feels like to be standing on an historic stage such as Massey Hall in front of a packed house of rabid Zeppelin fans. You must realize that for anyone who has never heard you before the first thing they will do is listen to your first few lines to pass judgment if you are worthy to be singing Plant’s lines. Do you feel any pressure at the beginning of the show?

Dylan: My cousin Kurt and I are big Neil Young fans and he sent me a text just before we hit the stage at Massey Hall, reminding me of Neil’s 1971 performance there which put me in a great state of mind as I looked out over the sold out crowd. I knew it was going to be an amazing evening.

T-Mak World: The response in Toronto from the audience was phenomenal last night. As a performer, how do the crowds in Toronto measure up to other places you have played? We have a reputation of being a bit quiet. Do you find that to be a fact or a fallacy?

Dylan: Yes, it was a very warm welcome for us in Toronto and if what you say is true, that makes it all the more meaningful that everyone was caught up in the energy of the evening.

Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience
T-Mak World: We recently compiled a list of our top 10 albums of 2012 which you can see here. Did we miss anything that was on your playlist last year?

Dylan: I think that’s a very good list. I would add Afterglow by Black Country Communion. That should be on there for sure.

T-Mak World: Agreed, that is a very solid record. Speaking of records – desert island question (which I also asked Tony Catania): You are on a desert island and can only have 2 albums with you. One Led Zeppelin album and one non-Led Zeppelin album. What do you bring with you?

Dylan: The Led Zeppelin album I would bring would be Houses of the Holy. That album has some very deep atmospheres and it covers a broad spectrum of moods. To balance that, I would want the other album to be Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits, which is also an album of deep atmospheres and it also has a broad spectrum of moods. I’d bring that one because it’s musical terrain is so distant from that of Houses of the Holy and with only two albums as your entire spectrum of sound, that would be important to me. Do we get a device to play them on?

James Dylan of Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience

T-Mak World: That would be cheating! James, thanks so much for spending time with our readers. Any closing thoughts for them?

Dylan: Thank you Terry and thank you to everyone who came out to the show. We would love to come back soon. I’ve been promising the guys I’d take them to my place in Algonquin Park and a Summer tour would be just the way to make good on that.

Very cool interview and an insight into a man whose vocal talents need to be heard to believed. James’s website is found here so have a look around. We leave you from a video from the last time they were in town.

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