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An Interview With Get The Led Out Guitarist Paul Hammond

Tribute bands come and go and most seem to do admirable jobs of recreating the "live" performance of their idols right down to the hair style, clothes, and on stage antics in addition to the music. Get The Led Out is the exception to the rule. They could care less about looking like the band members they are paying tribute to. In fact, lead singer Paul Sinclair shuns the notion of looking like Robert Plant preferring to leave his locks dark as oppossed to blonde curley ones.

Additonally, GTLO incorporates six band members to fully capture the sound (overdubbing) which resides on the studio released Led Zeppelin albums. Their mission is to bring to the stage the same version of the songs played on the records. They want you to close your eyes and hear "Kashmir" just like you would hear it on the radio or on your turntable.

Get The Led Out is:

Paul Sinclair: Lead Vocals
Jimmy Marchiano: Guitars
Adam Ferraioli: Drums
Andrew Lipke: Keyboards, Guitars, Vocals
Paul Hammond: Guitar, Mandolin
Billy Childs: Bass Guitar, Vocals

Recently I caught up with GTLO guitarist Paul Hammond via telephone as their tour bus was in transit to Jacksonville, FL for an upcoming show.

rMIA: How did the band originate and was the sole intention to play strictly the music of Led Zeppelin?
PH: Singer Paul Sinclair and I were doing a small club gig at our local hometown every first Sunday of the month (classic rock - Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin). It started to get real popular and was packed with standing room only each night. Folks loved the Zeppelin and started calling Sinclair and myself the "Zeppelin" guys. Other musicians heard about it and contacted Paul (Sinclair) to put together a Zeppelin tribute band complete with costumes and four band members. Sinclair was not interested unless they played it like it was on the records with Jimmy Page "overdubs". Believe it or not, I reluctantly agreed to join the band. But the fans loved it as nobody else was doing what we were doing and before long we were playing in 1000 seat and 1500 seat arenas and larger rock clubs and cities. Now we are touring up and down the East Coast and the Midwest and California.

rMIA: I have seen several Led Zeppelin tribute bands over the years. In your words, what sets you guys apart from other bands paying homage to the great Led Zep?
PH: Well, the fact of the matter is, we don't try to look like Zeppelin. Or have that whole "live" thing. We grew up listening to Led Zeppelin on the radio and we loved the stuff we heard on the radio. So we thought, why not do it like it is on the records. It is easy to fake Led Zeppelin, but nobody is going to be Jimmy Page. Nobody is going to be Robert Plant. So from that aspect, we took a scientific approach as we are all recording professionals and broke down each track and found musicians proficient enough to play all the parts.

rMIA: Every Led Zeppelin fan on Earth is more than familiar with the original band's alleged wild and crazy antics on the road. But in contrast, unless of course you guys fancy sharks in the hotel room on occassion, describe the typical day on the road with Get The Led Out.
PH: For me, its hanging out with the guys on the road the night before or after the show and getting to bed at a reasonable time. We tend to not try and get too out of it as it is a professional situation we're in. Sleep in to about 10 or 11, wake up and get some food and coffee. I try to get to the venue early as I am good friends with the guitar techs that work for me. See the setup happening, play some guitar, change strings before soundcheck. Eat dinner. Change clothes. Show starts at 8. We play two and a half hours plus an encore. Then go out after the show and do Meet And Greets in lobby by the merch table. Sometimes we go out to where the fans are hanging out and have a couple of beers and then it is back to the bus. Do it all over again the next day.

rMIA: Upon reading your Bio, you are quite the jack of all trades. Guitarist, producer, engineer, songwriter, and electronics technician. What motivated you to pursue a career in the music business?
PH: Well, my father when I was young played guitar. He built his own guitars and amps so I kind of took after him. He was a design engineer. He taught me how to play at an early age. My father had Led Zeppelin (first release) on reel to reel. When I was 10 years old I wanted to be KISS. I have always been in the music business, whether teaching guitar, working in music stores and recording studios, playing in multiple bands.

rMIA: I understand that you and some other folks helped customize a Martin D28 acoustic guitar for Jimmy Page (at the Martin Factory) and then flew to England to deliver it. Tell me more about that project and did you actually get to meet Jimmy Page?
PH: That was quite fantastic. They entrusted me to get a customized Martin D28 to Jimmy to auction off for his charity. I spoke to Jimmy Page on the cell phone but he was heading out of town and it didn't work out to meet him that time. I have met big time people and it really wasn't that big of a deal to me. So we delivered the guitar and hung out with his wife and kids. It was all good and as a result of that I got to design another one and see the 2007 Led Zeppelin Reunion Tour in London. The guitar auctioned off for charity raised $38,000.00 dollars.

rMIA: I am sure you have a varied and vast collection of guitars. What is your favorite guitar and what makes it so special?
PH: I do. There are several obviously. Some I don't take out on the road and are located at undisclosed locations. Some I travel with that I love include my Martin acoustic, a second hand D1. And another Martin D28 similar to the one I gave to Jimmy. As far as my electrics, my main electric is a 2011 Gibson 1959 Vintage Les Paul Reissue which sounds remarkedly like the original. I really love this guitar.

rMIA: If you were not listening to Led Zeppelin right now, who would you be listening to?
PH: Les Paul or Jeff Beck. Black Sabbath. The Beatles. Pink Floyd. The Rolling Stones. You know, the usual suspects. Grateful Dead. I am a classic rock guy, but I do like some of the modern stuff. Daft Punk who won the award with Pharrell Williams. I really like Bruno Mars. I am a fan of all music really.

In closing Paul mentioned how fortunate he was to be doing what he is doing and for the demand today for Led Zeppelin music. He feels like it is the classical music of the day and is just so good and has stood the test of time. He invites everyone to come out to the DPAC and rock out on Sunday, April 6th.

For more information on Get The Led Out please visit their facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/GetTheLedOut/ or their website at: http://www.gtlorocks.com/