Dread Zeppelin celebrated their 20 year anniversary Jan 6th 2009. The band still tours and releases new material with original members Butt-Boy (Gary Putman) and Tortelvis (Greg Tortell), along with Tort’s faithful manservant Charlie Haj and long time members Spice (Cris Boerin), Bob Knarley (Howard Ulyate) and Ziggy Knarley (Chip Moreland). Putman is the only member of Dread Zeppelin to have recorded on every record and played every live show to date, due Tortelvis’ year long vacation/adventure in 1992.
Since the release in 1990 of their debut cd “Un-Led-Ed” for IRS Records, Dread Zeppelin have continued to play to diehard fans and confused faces in crowds around the world for 20 years. While the make-up of the band has gone through a few member changes, the main forces of the band have remained to reveal new and old sounds, and look for a new generation of Led Zeppelin fans and anti-Led Zeppelin fans. Dread may always be considered to most, purely a novelty act. However, some may argue that unlike a number of those acts, the bands longevity is due to their ability to actually play.
On their latest release, "Bar Coda " they managed to step back in time with their camp approach they are known for. Tortelvis, has made a career of imitating the vocal style and mannerisms of the late Elvis Presley. However, “the times they are a changin.” Kinda! While Tortelvis still carries some of the Elvis inflections into his own style, the music seems to be more timeless when not reverting to the use of fat, food or drug references, although their use of weaving many songs and riffs together make for laughs of their own. Produced and recorded by Spice (Dread Zeppelin’s longtime drummer), Bar Coda reveals possibly a more mature sound, laced with rhythmic oriented beats but still somehow sticking with the classic DZ formula. Butt-boy’s guitar adventurism is also evident when challenged to create more unique versions of familiar songs like That’s Alright Mama and The Lemon Song. At times the guitar echoes a sonic tone not unlike that of ‘Korn’ and ‘Mashuga’. Drummer Ziggy Knarley’s beats reflect an almost jazz / rock hybrid, mostly evident in tracks like No Woman No Cry and Out On The Tiles.
As of March 2009 Dread Zeppelin is back in the studio again recording what Butt-Boy claims is “the best thing we’ve ever done”! Though his comment has been made during the recording of every Dread Zeppelin record, this time he may actually have a point. Look for the recording sometime this summer and expect the same greatness that has come to make Dread Zeppelin Robert Plant’s favorite Led Zeppelin “cover” band. One thinks that Mr. Plant may be thanking Dread Zeppelin for their new version of “Your Time Is Gonna Come” and even preferring it over his own just like he said in 1991.