December , 1980
By Mike Arnett
"A" Solo Project Winds Up A Jethro Tull Hit
Christmas at home in England. He describes himself as having 'a fairly full sort of life,' but he can't see living that kind of rock musician’s lifestyle when he's fifty years old. So what's going to happen to Ian Anderson—and Jethro Tull—five or ten years from now?
"There are, of course, musical and non-musical -alternatives to life other than the Jethro Tull entity," concluded Anderson. "But as long as it's…
There are many rock performers these days who perhaps perceive themselves to be musical legends. In reality, there are few musicians who fit into that category. But one man who must certainly be described as legendary is Ian Anderson—the mastermind behind Jethro Tull.
Anderson strolled into a dressing room at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman recently, clad in the now-familiar camouflage, down-filled vest. It is mid-afternoon, several hours before his scheduled performance, and Anderson is tired. He's two-thirds through 'an American tour which, by Andersons' own admission, has been an arduous one. And the singer is not in what you'd describe as high spirits. To add to the problems, Anderson is suffering from a virus—a second degree bacterial infection of the throat. But despite all of that, the leader of Jethro Tull says this year's tour is going well.
"I have. I suppose, a very personal way of seeing it, and judging the success of something," says Anderson. "But the audiences have been very good on this tour. I mean, I've enjoyed the majority of the concerts. The only problems have been with the buildings, or in a couple cases, very bad acoustics, which make it a real problem."
Anderson is also generally pleased with the group's new album, titled simply A. But that album didn't turn out exactly as planned.
"The album, you have to remember, did not begin its life as a Jethro Tull album," explained Anderson. It was an Ian Anderson solo album, which was re-identified by the record company (Chrysalis) retrospectively as a Jethro Tull album. So the band had to be reformed before I wanted to have the band reformed.
"I had planned to have the rest of this year, away from towing, so we could work on the new Jethro Tull album and, if we had to, the new Jethro Tull line-up. That was preempted when the album was re-christened. And we felt an obligation to come out and tour as the Jethro Tull unit. So here we are, with the obvious changes and the obvious changes."
Anderson says Jethro Tull has had personnel changes in the past, and will have more in the future. But the latest changes the band has undergone have put a kink in the plans for the Ian Anderson solo project.
"The group as its formed now," said Anderson, "has a temporary member. Eddie Jobson (formerly of UK) our keyboard player, will be with us only until the end of our European tour. He's leaving after that, so we'll have to find a new keyboard player. I haven't approached it yet. When we get back to England, in a couple of weeks’ time, I'll start looking for a new keyboard player."
"As far as the solo albums concerned, it certainly won't be next year, because I know our commitment will be to tour as Jethro Tull next year—which it was always more or less intended to be. It was this year that was supposed to be a year away from the Jethro Tull activities. So, you know, it doesn't matter. We're just a little ahead of time, that's all."
Back on the subject of touring. It is, at best, a strain on any band. Anderson's main complaint about life on the road, however, is not the hours, or the rigors of living out of a suitcase, or the weeks away from friends and family. Ian Anderson is disgusted with American food, and he is looking forward to the Tull European tour for exactly that reason.
"Oh, it's much more enjoyable in terms of eating," offered Anderson. "I mean, at least you can get proper food there. I'm not blaming that entirely on the Americans, but they have a standard, shall we say, that's much, much lower here.
"We don't get very much time to eat. Consequently, in the short hours you might have a chance to grab a bite to eat, it's nice to have something decent, you know. If I'm going to eat a steak, I want it to be a good piece of meat, and not some dreadful sawdust hamburger like I'm likely to pick up in—I'm not going to mention the name of the hotel—but you know what I mean." Besides the European tour, Anderson was also looking forward to enjoyable for us as a group and as long as we feel this supportive attitude from a sufficiently large audience, then, of course, we'd like to carry on.
"Jethro Tull has been the greater part of my life, my working life should I say—my adult life. It is not one that I should want to give up as long as there were some generally good, positive feelings to be had from it."