Worshipping at the alter of Led Zeppelin with Dallas Frasca

With the Whole Lotta Love Led Zeppelin tribute shows well underway, singer Dallas Frasca phones in from the desert to discuss fan-girl like crazy as to why Led Zeppelin are the best of the best, and the pressure of honouring their legacy on stage.

Dallas Fresca Whole Lotta Love

Today’s rocking illustration of Dallas doing her thing comes from Sam Hetherington, an illustrator and designer from the UK.

HAPPY: Hey Dallas, how are you doing?

DALLAS:  Hey nice to speak with you! I’m actually in Alice Springs at the moment. A couple of times a year I do workshops with women in the indigenous community. So we do work on songwriting and performance, it’s an exciting time of year.

HAPPY: That sounds really awesome, how’d you get into that?

DALLAS: This is the third year, I go up a couple of times a year. I got into it through friends of friends. It’s a really rewarding experience for myself, but also it’s a chance to work with some pretty talented people out here in the desert. It’s super cool, it’s been pretty exciting.

HAPPY: That’s pretty awesome man, it’s great to hear you’re getting behind a good initiative like that. Will any of them be coming along to see you at the Whole Lotta Love shows?

DALLAS: Hopefully! That would be pretty cool even though it’s pretty remote out here! This is something that’s really cool and different to my band as well. It’s a big challenge man, there’s a lot riding on the vocals in the songs and delivering them right. You have to do Led Zeppelin justice! I’m such a massive, massive Led Zeppelin fan. I always get so much out of doing it, you can’t just go “Yeah, yeah I know that song” and get up and do it. There’s weeks of work that go into it and you have to make it work the best you can whilst honouring Led Zeppelin as well. It’s gonna be cool man, and the band’s hot. There’s always some killer singer involved with Whole Lotta Love, so it’s gonna be massive.

HAPPY: I bet. I definitely won’t be like some karaoke that’s for sure.

DALLAS: (laughs) There’s no karaoke when it comes to Led Zeppelin man, it’s game on!

HAPPY: Looking at the event it’s quite massive, but I was curious Dallas as to the first time you experienced Led Zeppelin yourself?

DALLAS: My mum was a really huge Led Zeppelin fan. There were many nights at a party where mum would have her hand up on the stereo rocking her head out to Led Zeppelin. I love them, they’re the greats. They’re the untouchable greats. There’s so much to learn, and I think for me as as well when I’m really into an artist I ask myself “How does Robert Plant sing like that?” So I’ve gone on a big journey to discover who he was into.

I’ve discovered some incredible singers like an Egyptian singer from the 60s, they say she was one of the greatest singers to ever live. Her name was Umm Kulthum, and she’s phenomenal. I think she inspired Robert Plant and Jimmy Page to do that No Quarter album. For me, it’s just a whole world that opened up to me. They’ve been amazing. For me as what I’m inspired by and how I bring that to music, and all the old blues stuff as well you know? They’re the untouchables man! And it’s really great to try get up and recreate these songs. It’s a lot easier when the band is super hot. The band will be there for all the shows, so it’s all about getting up and delivering, and honouring the gods! (laughs).

HAPPY: Worshipping at the alter of Led Zeppelin!

DALLAS: (laughs) That sounds way better!

HAPPY: As you say they’re the untouchables, that would be quite daunting to get up in front of hardcore fans and do these songs justice.

DALLAS: Totally, totally! It is daunting! With gigs like this it’s about preparation before. I’ll be out here in the desert, I went out to ANZAC hill last night and listened to Led Zeppelin on the way up. Just letting it really sink into your DNA. It’s also really about bringing something different with your voice. My voice isn’t like Robert Plant’s by any means, but it’s about honouring it in the best way that you can and serving what the song’s about and the expression of that.

HAPPY: I know when you first got into music when you were a teenager, being a Zeppelin fan, did they act as a signpost for where you took your music? As you say your band is very different.

DALLAS: I went through Led Zeppelin phases. With all music you do that and revisit things you’d forgotten about. Looking at the structures of Led Zeppelin songs and the way they work mechanically, the drums and the guitars, they’re really unique chord structures, it’s just crazy good man. If you are an original artist you can learn so much from those guys.

HAPPY: Everyone who plays guitar has to learn Stairway to Heaven.

DALLAS: Dude it’s the first song man! (laughs). It is learning that, but how do you come up with that at the same time though? There’s all those discussions about where they got a lot of their stuff from, but it’s just what they did with it really.

HAPPY: So then what are you guys gonna do with it?

DALLAS: Well people will just have to come and see the shows! This is the second time I’ve done the show. I was absolutely blown away by the band in the rehearsal sessions. The musicians did a phenomenal job recreating these songs. I think Joseph (Calderazzo) always is good with the people he puts together with the band. Also the different singers! Simon Meli is amazing, and Sarah McCleod, WOW! They each bring it in their own way.

HAPPY: So for you and the band what kind of preparation does it take to get into it?

DALLAS: There’s some rehearsals coming up, so we just get in there and feel it out with the band. I think the band put in a lot more work because there’s more people involved in those sessions, as well as the outside homework to get to that point. There’s a lot of preparations man for gigs like this, and the singers come in at the end when they’re ready (laughs). So yeah, I’d say that’s been the process. It’s gonna be killer. The beautiful rooms the shows they’ll be in with all the Led Zeppelin fans man, so it’ll be good to be amongst our own kind! (laughs).

HAPPY: Of course! Now I want a hypothetical question. You’re on the tour, singing Kashmir and you look side of stage and see none other than Robert Plant. What would you do? What would you feel?

DALLAS: Oh! Wow, I… oh my good I love the idea of this actually being real. I would come down on my knees and sing the song to him with everything I have, bearing my soul to him in that very moment. Oh my God, can that happen? Can you hook that up man?

HAPPY: I’d like to, just to see that happen!

DALLAS: That’s gonna be my thing I carry on for the rest of the tour, that Robert Plant could possibly be at one of the shows. I saw him with The Shapeshifters at Bluesfest a couple of years ago. I actually screamed like a twelve year old girl when he came out on stage. I just, honestly. Even though his vocals aren’t the same as they used to be he doesn’t pretend. he doesn’t go for those notes. He’s such a creative still. He’s interpreted a lot of Led Zeppelin songs into something else, which is actually honouring the band. I am just, oh man. If he was at the show I would happily die the next day.

HAPPY: Yeah?

DALLAS: Yeah! I’d probably try sneak in a pretty big hug as well.

HAPPY: Just try get a handful of that luscious mane of hair of his!

DALLAS: Oh my God! That’d be so awesome! With the preparation of the shows as well I, because I love them so much as well, check out different versions that band have done live as well. Pulling the cool shit out of a different run they were on. Led Zeppelin did a heap of really cool live stuff as well that upped the original recordings. I take cues from those sort of things and put my own thing on them as well. It’s just beautiful journey really.

HAPPY: Well I really do hope he shows up at a show, just to see his reaction.

DALLAS: Shut up, that’s so awesome (laughs). I’m gonna be secretly hoping now!

HAPPY: Hey, people have gone to the moon, anything is possible.

DALLAS: Totally! I think The Delta Riggs was touring a while ago and Jimmy Page showed up to their gig so you never know!

HAPPY: They told us that story a little while ago. They were so nervous they were trying to get out of the conversation with him because they were afraid they’d fuck up in front of him.

DALLAS: (laughs) I can imagine that. I’ve spoken to people who’ve spoken to them before and just crumbled.

HAPPY: Well we’re running out of time, and I feel I already know the answer to this question, but what makes you happy?

DALLAS: You know what, when the band get it right, when you have those magical moments on stage, that is the moment when I’m actually happy and the freest. For me it’s like when surfers try and catch the perfect wave, and I after that musical moment. That’s what makes me happy man, the core foundation of my make up is that.