Whole Lotta Love

Whole Lotta Love

Dallas Frasca has just returned from a week-long songwriting camp at her parents’ house in north-east Victoria when she speaks with the BRAG.

Her voice sounds hoarse over the phone, but that is probably to be expected when you’ve toured 50 of the 52 weeks in the past year.

“It’s actually insane, and I don’t know how I’m still sane – maybe I’m not,” says Frasca, the frontwoman of the band that shares her name. The Oz rock three-piece has been slogging it out since 2006, spending most of that time on the road. Surprisingly enough, Frasca and friends have found a home on the touring circuits of France and the UK, where they regularly return. Their Facebook page describes their sound as “rock/riffage/heavy soul”, and so it’s fitting that Frasca herself will take the stage next month as part of Australia’s biggest Led Zeppelin tribute concert, Whole Lotta Love.

This will be the third time Frasca has taken part in the show, which is now in its 13th year. “It’s such a great show,” she says, “and there is so much great energy from everyone who is involved.”

In particular, Frasca speaks highly of Whole Lotta Love creative director Joseph Calderazzo. “I understand why it’s been running so long – because of people like him,” she says. “The musicians involved are next level. It’s so great to be thrown into a room of people that all have a mutual love for Led Zeppelin. It’s so fantastic to have that much energy and so many sounds coming off different instruments. Led Zeppelin songs need different textures and different elements in them.”

Frasca remains tight-lipped about what songs she will be performing during the tour, but it’s safe to say she’ll do a fine job. “I don’t know if I’m allowed to say what I’ll playing,” she teases. “We’re still in the process of working out a couple of songs, so people will have to come along to the shows to find out.”

When asked what her all-time favourite Zeppelin songs are, Frasca seems genuinely stumped, unable to narrow her list down. After thinking it over, she goes with ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ from the band’s 1969 self-titled debut. “I don’t know, there’s just so many!” she says. “I really love ‘Trampled Under Foot’ too – the groove of it is great. My list changes all the time, though – there’s just so much music. But if I had to choose one song right now, it would be ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’.

“I listen to those songs and think, ‘How did you write that?’ There was something pretty insane that happened when those guys got together, and that doesn’t happen very often with bands. They created this music that was just out of this universe, and there’s been no band that has touched [as] closely upon what those guys created to me. You learn so much, especially by going through the lyrics and phrasing. I always come out of this show picking up a few little tips”.

The coming months will see Frasca and her band head back into the studio to begin recording their fourth album.

“We’re just about at the end of the touring cycle with our last album Love Army, but now we’re ready to go back into the studio,” she says. “We’ll be working with one of my favourite producers in Australia at the moment, a wonderful woman by the name of Anna Laverty. I’m looking forward to getting that buzz going again and I really admire the way she works. This year will be our tenth anniversary together as a band, so to celebrate we’ve got something special up our sleeves.”

[Whole Lotta Love photo by Josh Groom]

Whole Lotta Love, with Dallas Frasca, Simon Meli, Jimmy Cupples, Tim Meaco, takes place at the State Theatre on Saturday August 27; and Laycock Street Theatre, North Gosford, Saturday August 20 and Friday August 26.

Tell Us What You Think

Whole Lotta Love

Whole Lotta Love

With such an onslaught of electronic music on our radios and the rise in popularity of DJs and producers, it can sometimes be easy to forget that there are still people making music the good old-fashioned way. In the case of Amy Findlay, lead singer of all-sister classic rock band Stonefield, she’s paying her dues to the old school as a performer at Whole Lotta Love, the Led Zeppelin tribute concert in Sydney and Gosford this month. As one of two female vocalists on the bill, Findlay is raring to go.

“Robert Plant has a really feminine kind of voice, so that makes it easy for me,” she says. “But I think it adds that little touch of feminine sound [to the show].”

This year’s celebration accompanies the 2014 reissue of all nine of Led Zeppelin’s studio albums, completely remastered by guitarist Jimmy Page. Whole Lotta Love is in its 11th year, and will also see the likes of vocalists Jack Jones (Southern Sons), Jimmy Cupples (The Voice), Simon Meli and blues artist Zkye demonstrate their take on the Zeppelin legacy, accompanied by a powerful nine-piece band.

Those who have experienced Findlay’s live presence will know that she’s no dainty wallflower when it comes to producing a grungy rock sound – something essential for covering a band as iconic in hard rock as Zeppelin.

“I think the nicest thing about my voice is that I love to wail, and all my Zeppelin songs [in the concert] are a lot of the time about wailing, so I’m looking forward to that side of it. But all the musicians that are in the band and the other singers seem really talented, so I think it’s going to be a really good show.”

Findlay has a particularly special connection with the concert, given her musical upbringing along with her sisters on a steady diet of the old-school greats like Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, and of course, Led Zeppelin. Stonefield started out by playing covers from this era, and as their original music has evolved it’s remained inspired by the greats. Findlay has been with her sisters on this journey every step of the way, and Whole Lotta Love will be one of the first times she won’t be playing beside them.

“I dunno, it’s going to be really different. I haven’t really performed without them that many times in proper, professional kind of settings. So I definitely get a lot more nervous than I usually do, but it’s good – it definitely brings a different side of me out, playing with other people.”

Not only will the Whole Lotta Love concert present an opportunity for diehard Zeppelin fans to show their appreciation, it will also shine a light on their iconic era of music. Though Stonefield have been playing their version of classic rock since 2006, Findlay has certainly noticed that these days the genre does not receive the attention it deserves.

“I think pretty much at the moment rock is kind of dead, unfortunately. There are so many great rock bands but it’s just not the thing at the moment. So I think for ourselves and a few other bands we’re doing well, considering – we can still play shows and have a whole lot of people come, which is great, at the time when it’s just not the popular genre.”

However dire the scene may seem at the moment for Findlay and her fellow rockers, she still maintains hope that a rock’n’roll revival is around the corner.

“There’ll always be people who like rock – it’s just such a timeless kind of genre. I think no matter what you’ll always have a small audience [for now], but it’s not going to be long before there’s that turnaround that you notice in fashion. Like in fashion at the moment, we’re sort of slowly moving things back towards a kind of rock thing.”

Of course, there are still fans out there keeping the flame of rock burning. While touring with Stonefield in support of Dan Sultan, Findlay has been pleasantly surprised to experience a warmer, more attentive vibe from the audience.

“It’s been fun – we haven’t done a support tour in a really long time, and it’s nice to be playing that little bit earlier and also have the challenge of winning over an audience that might not know who you are.”

When it comes to Whole Lotta Love, Led Zeppelin fans can expect just that – a whole lot of love for the best songs from the masters of rock. Because Findlay understands that when paying tribute to one of the greatest bands of all time, there’s no sense messing with perfection.

“I try to do it as similar as I can to the original. But yeah, it is a lot of pressure, and it’s very scary, and I know that there’s going to be a lot of hardcore fans there, so hopefully I’ll do it justice.”

Whole Lotta LovewithJack Jones, Simon Meli, Jimmy Cupples and Zkye is at theState Theatre onSaturday August 23, tickets online.Also appearing at the Laycock Street Theatre, Gosford on Friday August 15 and Saturday August 16,ticketsonline.

Tell Us What You Think