‘Actually passionate about doing new things’: Ian Anderson ends speculation on future of Jethro Tull

It would seem, with two consecutive solo releases focusing on a legendary Jethro Tull character, that Ian Anderson is done with his old band. But then, truth be told, Martin Barre — who’d been on every Tull recording dating back to their sophomore 1968 release — is all that was left of the group, anyway.

Jethro Tull’s most recent non-holiday release dates back to 1999. For all intents and purposes, the group has become nothing more than these two collaborators, and it seems Anderson is ready to free himself from even that long-term collaborative relationship.

Anderson tells us, in an exclusive SER Sitdown, that he and Barre discussed beginning separate projects back in 2010. Since, Barre has released 2013’s Away with Words while Anderson has issued 2012’s Thick as a Brick 2 and 2014’s Homo Erraticus — the latter of which both focus on the fictional figure of Gerald Bostock.

And that, apparently, is the way it will be for a while. Apparently, actually, forever.

“I don’t have any plans right now to be recording another studio album with Martin Barre,” Anderson firmly tells us. “He’s busy, and so am I, doing other stuff. We’ve been playing together for so many years that I think both of us probably feel — I would hope, understandably — that there are some things that you’ve got to sort out and do, while you still can. The worst possible scenario, really, is to sort of carry on doing repertoire, going out and doing that sort of repetitive thing until you die. It works for some folks, and they probably enjoy it, but some of us have the conviction that there is still unfinished business — while we still have our marbles and our musical expertise to go with it.”

There have, of course, been a number of long-term members of Jethro Tull, beyond Barre. They included Barriemore Barlow (1971-1980); John Evan (1971-80); Dave Pegg (1979-1995); and Andrew Giddings (1991-2007). Pegg, in fact, returned as a guest musician on 2003’s The Jethro Tull Christmas Album, which apparently will stand as the group’s studio finale. But it’s Barre who has appeared, until now, to be Anderson’s principal partner in musical crime. Anderson bristles at the thought that they are that interconnected.

“I think fans will understand that it’s good that we are actually passionate about doing new things, and reinterpreting some old things — whatever it might be,” he tells us. “The idea that you are sort of an old married couple that has to go on display? Martin feels the same as I do: It’s nice to have a bit of a life of your own, and be recognized as an individual, rather than just as that bloke who plays guitar in Jethro Tull. It’s important to me, let alone him, that he’s recognized as an individual by name for his work over the years and his contributions to the sound of Jethro Tull.”

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso