Robert Plant expects his new Band of Joy to be a going concern and says that taking pen to paper -- rather than continuing to cover other songs as he does on the "Band of Joy" album, which is out Tuesday (Sept. 14) -- is the likely next step.
"We're talking. We have to write songs now," Plant tells Billboard.com. "It's all very well celebrating other people's songwriting, and I know there are artists who actually have an entire career doing that, whether it be Elvis or Sinatra or...a lot of country artists who never write. But we're gonna be heading that way soon."
But with "a lot of gigs lined up" to support "Band of Joy" -- including a showcase last night at New York's Bowery Ballroom, European dates in October and November and a North American tour starting in mid-January -- Plant isn't yet ready to say how soon that will be.
Video: Robert Plant with Band of Joy at Bowery Ballroom
"Well, who knows? I haven't got a great deal of self-esteem when it comes to writing. I have no idea how it will work out, and also it will be the first time I've ever written a song...with the Americana psyche in full flight, so we'll see. I'd like to think we can keep this going and just make Joy where it's appropriate."
Plant recorded the 12-track "Band of Joy" -- which takes its name from a group he and the late drummer John Bonham had in England prior to forming Led Zeppelin -- in Nashville. Buddy Miller, who was part of the band that toured to support "Raising Sand," Plant's Grammy Award-winning collaboration with Alison Krauss, produced the album and assembled an all-star troupe that includes singer/songwriter Patty Griffin.
The set's first single is a version of Los Lobos' "Angel Dance" from its 1990 album "The Neighborhood" (writers David Hidalgo and Louie Perez appear in the video), and "Band of Joy" also includes songs by Townes Van Zant, Barbara Lynn, the Kelly Brothers and Low, as well as some traditional pieces. Plant says a total of "22 or so" pieces were recorded, but no plans have yet been made for the remaining tracks.
Plant acknowledges that "Band of Joy" came about after he started work with Krauss on a follow-up to "Raising Sand." "We got to talking about it and sharing a bunch of ideas, and we got to go into the studio and try some of them out," he says. "It was particularly challenging to try and follow 'Raising Sand,' probably, so soon after we finished working on the project. Perhaps we didn't give it enough space. We reached a point where we knew we'd have to hook up later on."
Commencing with Miller and company was hardly plan B, however. "I felt I could do more or less anything," Plant says. "There was no big partnership. I didn't have to ask anybody anything. It was a different yet very vaguely familiar feeling within me that I could now just do anything at all and go and enjoy my dalliances with all kinds of music. It just felt like, I hate to say it, but it felt young. It felt like I didn't know what was going to happen next, and it didn't really matter. That was the great thing."