Thursday, October 28, 2010

Five Questions with... Tortelvis

Ok kiddies... I have a treat for ya this time around.

After all, Halloween is just around the proverbial corner. And since a big part of Halloween is the impersonation of somebody else, it only seems fitting that this segment of Five Questions With... would feature a person who impersonates perhaps the greatest icon in the history of rock and roll.

Let me introduce you to Tortelvis - as if you do not already know who he is.

Tortelvis, of course is the front man for the iconic super group, Dread Zeppelin. From day one - January 8th, 1989 (January 8th is Elvis's birthday) to now, this band of masqueraders has entertained thousands of people, and left many scratching their heads. They have successfully managed to incorporate the sounds of Led Zeppelin with the style of reggae and infused it all with the vocalizations of the King himself. Not an easy thing to do....  Dread Zeppelin has not only managed to do it, but they do it sickeningly well.

From a double secret vault of information on the band: Dread Zeppelin have released 12 cds, produced several videos (one in which Butt-head still says,"Whoa, that's cool" and Beavis just agrees), starred in a motion picture, and have toured in over thirty countries including Japan, Brazil, Austrailia, and all of Europe. Their tight and sometimes shredfestual brand of reggae music combined with a stage show that redefines the word, have prompted even Robert Plant himself to speak out in support of Dread Zeppelin's version of "Your Time Is Gonna Come" over his own version!

If you still have no idea what I am talking about, check out this version of "Black Dog"...

The video sums it up quite nicely. You have this group of SUPER MUSICIANS who could have made MILLIONS writing their OWN songs, who opted instead to recreate songs already written in order to bring that much more happiness into the world...?

Yeah something like that.

Lets get this Jamaican Graceland party started... Shall we?

How in the world did Dread Zeppelin happen? Were you sitting around one day with Butt-Boy and just said, "You know what? We should form a band that plays mostly Led Zeppelin songs only we will do it with a Reggae twist... And I'll sing like Elvis!"... Is that how it happened?

Actually yes! Well kinda. We got 2 stories, one involves me driving a milk truck, running into the back of a Ford Pinto (and no it didn't blow up), out popped 5 reggae musicians who played Led Zeppelin music, and the rest is history.

Then there's another story. A friend says "Dread Zeppelin, reggae and Zeppelin". We all have a big chuckle. A few months later a few buddies and I get together in Butt-Boy's garage (he was Put-Mon" then), bash out a few Zeppelin tunes in reggae style. I try to sing like Plant but it is a bit too high in range. I had been doing a an Elvis type thing in another band, so I try the Elvis. Whalla! We do a few shows in Los Angeles. Then MTV with Curt Loder show up at a show at The Palamino in Burbank and put us on TV. It's all been a blur since then.

As great as you guys sound now, I can't imagine that at the very beginning there weren't some kinks in the process... Please tell me about the evolution of Dread Zeppelin from the day the band started to the cultural icons that the band members are now.

Robert Plant was a big Elvis fan. Zeppelin had done Dyrmak'r. It all kinds fits. The boys in the band were such great musicians we made this all fit. A few weeks in Butt-Boy's garage with no drugs or alcohol involved (really) and we had it.

Robert Plant is a big fan of Dread Zeppelin

I've read that Robert Plant is a big fan of your band too... Have you met him? And if so what was he like?

Robert Plant is a big fan. We had caught him on a couple of tv shows talking about us and how he preferred our version of Your Time Is Gonna Come to his. I never had a chance to meet him in person, but I did get to talk with him on Rockline, the syndicated radio show. He was being interviewed and we surprised him with a call in. He actually thanked us for the months of entertainment we had provided him. I was so nervous to speak with him my Elvis accent suddenly sounded a bit like Michael Jackson. A great endorsement from him seeing that a lot of Zep fans we a bit ticked off with our act.

Please tell me about a time when Dread Zeppelin was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Red Rocks. Colorado. A full blown reggae tour with Steel Pulse, Marleys and everything. Someone throws a jug of orange juice and Carl's Jr bag full of dirt. I get hit in the lip, yes the lip I twitch. It gets bloodied. True story.

Watching you guys play in Ames several years ago goes down as a personal highlight of my life. It was seriously one of my greatest rock and roll moments... Has Dread Zeppelin played Iowa since then and if not, how come? If so... Why didn't anybody tell me?

Feb 10 1994 Ames People’s. Tue-Apr-18 1995 Ames People's, Wed-Jul-09 1997 Ames People's, Thu-Apr-02 1999 Ames Peoples, Tue-Nov-10 1999 Ames Peoples. 5 shows through the years. Which show were you at? All fun. Been over 10 years. 10 years gone. We'll have to come back soon. Your time is gonna come.

(Bonus Question, from Bigfoot Diaries reader and fellow Dread Head Joe Sharp): Hi Tort Elvis! I was wondering If the band would re-release the DREAD ZEPPELIN No Quarter Pounder t-shirt again? I really in need it back in my wardrobe, please! P.S. I wear electrical tape as sideburns on a daily basis!

(Joe provided this link with his question.)

No plans to remake the shirt. Maybe a tribute to the bean burger shirt. Tell Joe to try bathroom carpeting for sideburns. I switched from electrical tape a few years back.


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