When we heard there was actually such a thing as a Led Zeppelin and Bad Company tribute band, we were merely intrigued. And then, when we found out that said band was actually set to play The Blue Side on Saturday, we immediately shot into action, reaching out for an interview. The following is what we learned from Zeppelin & Company lead singer Steve Tourison via an email exchange. We touched on how the band got its start, what his favorite Led Zeppelin and Bad Company songs are, and, of course, some of the group’s favorite memories. The fun begins at 9 p.m. Saturday, friends. What better way to celebrate Easter Eve?
First, how did you get together?
The band formed originally as “Shooting Star,” a Bad Company tribute band about five years ago, I think. The band focused on Bad Company songs, adding other classic rock songs to fill out the sets. Over a three year period, several members came and went as the band evolved — lead singers, keyboardists, etc. I joined the band in February 2016 as the third lead singer, answering an ad on Facebook. At the time, the band was a five-piece. The rhythm guitarist was let go in the fall of 2016, and from that point on, the band settled in to being a four-piece.
Did you all know each other beforehand or was the band sort of pieced together?
All the current members of the band had played in different bands previously over the last few decades, but never together before Shooting Star was formed. So, I suppose it was pieced together.
Where are all of you from?
Kevin Kramer, Drummer: Brookeville Joe Abella, Lead Guitarist: Gaithersburg Terry Moore, Bass Guitarist: Northern Virginia Steve Tourison, Lead Vocalist: Glen Burnie
Along those same lines, how did the idea for the band come about?
During the spring of 2016, it was determined that Bad Company simply did not have enough hits to repeatedly draw a good crowd as a sole tribute band, even though response was very positive at shows. The classic rock songs that filled out our set lists relegated us to being just another classic rock cover band. During the early summer of 2016 the idea was hatched to add another band, the thought being that we would have more appeal as a dual tribute band. Several ideas were floated (AC/DC, Rolling Stones, Journey and others). Finally, the suggestion was made to add Led Zeppelin. After some research, we discovered that there was an intimate connection between the two bands by way of Swan Song Records. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant had formed Swan Song Records as an avenue for up and coming bands to record. In 1974, Bad Company was the first band to sign and release an album (their first) on that record label. Over the next 10 years, with only a few exceptions, Bad Company and Led Zeppelin were the only bands to record on that label. The crowd response was overwhelmingly positive with the addition of Zeppelin songs to our set lists. More and more Zeppelin songs were added, and eventually, our sets focused solely on Zeppelin and Bad Company. Shooting Star officially changed its name to Zeppelin and Company in the summer of 2017.
What is your favorite Led Zeppelin song and why?
Too many favorites to list. “No Quarter” and “Kashmir” come to mind. Coincidentally, we perform neither of those two, yet. I love performing “Whole Lotta Love” the best. It always seems to be a crowd favorite.
What is your favorite Bad Company song and why? ”Rock & Roll Fantasy” brings back some very fond memories for me — driving around with my older brother during the summer of 1980 or 1981 in his ‘71 Cutlass listening to a mixed cassette tape that had that song on it. I would’ve been about 14 or 15 at the time.
Outside of Zeppelin and Bad Company, who are some of your influences? My influences are all over the place: Allman Bros., Grateful Dead, Van Morrison, Pink Floyd. ‘70s light and folk rock: Arlo Guthrie, James Taylor, Stephen Bishop, Jim Croce. Punk, early rap, ‘80s new wave, grunge, techno, bluegrass, jazz, blues, soul, R&B, the list goes on and on.
Where are some of your favorite places to play and why? We played at JV’s in Northern Virginia over the winter and that place is a true small music venue. The crowd was great and responsive. Any place where the crowd responds well and is engaged, those are my favorite places. Otherwise, we might as well just stick to our rehearsal space, right?
Who would we be surprised to learn you listened to? Any contemporary acts you really enjoy these days?
Most surprised: I love disco. I listen to music constantly. I have several long mixes in my car that I cycle through. One of them is a five-hour disco mix I made. I’ll go for days sometimes listening to just that mix. Most recent bands I love: The Revivalists, The National, Lake Street Dive.
What are some of your favorite memories as a band?
I loved playing at the Purple Moose in O.C. on tribute band night. Great crowd. The band apartment out back was a nice convenience. I also loved opening for Face Dancer at Fish Head Cantina last year. There are certain nights when we perform. There’s never a perfect night, of course — one of us always makes some kind of mistake during the night — but we move past it, and keep on playing. But there are certain nights that we string a bunch of songs together — even a whole set — and the crowd is responsive, and the band is totally in sync. The first time, on a whim, we performed Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of.” The crowd was ecstatic! Since then, it’s become a crowd favorite encore for us. Those are my favorite memories…
What do you think of the Maryland/D.C. music scene as a whole? What needs to improve? What has it done right lately?
The Maryland/D.C. music scene is thriving. On any given night, there is no shortage of live music to be had — and free nonetheless. I particularly appreciate when a music venue invests in having a decent house sound and lighting system. Even better, if there is someone there to run it. That, to me, is a venue that is really taking its live music scene seriously.
And finally, what can we expect from your show at The Blue Side?
I realize it’s cliche, but we really do love to rock! You can expect to hear very accurate covers of your favorite Led Zeppelin and Bad Company songs. We really try to be as true as we can to the original songs. Not having a keyboardist limits some of the songs we can perform; however, we still manage to put on a great show. Joe is the workhorse of the band, in my opinion. He covers lead and rhythm guitar parts as well as keyboard parts (on his guitar) to convey the songs we perform in the best way we can.