following is an imaginary interview of the sort which I do several
times a day at the peak of promotional activity, and where the
most common topics eat up valuable time, thereby reducing the number
of interesting and original questions and answers which might have
been fitted in.
Hopefully you, the journalist, will find these Q and A's useful. A little pre-interview
preparation in reading these pages as well as taking a look at the general
contents of the site should, hopefully, save us both some time and trouble.
Forgive my presumptions. Just trying to be helpful.
How did you get the name Jethro Tull?
Back in February, 1968, we had many different names
which usually changed every week, since we were so bad that we
had to pretend to be some new band in order to get re-booked in
the clubs where we aspired to find fame and fortune. Our agent,
who had studied History at college, came up with the name Jethro
Tull (an eighteenth century English agricultural pioneer who invented
the seed drill). That was the band name during the week in which
London's famous Marquee Club offered us the Thursday night residency.
So it stuck. Is it too late to change? I thought so.
Who are the current band members?
Myself, Ian Anderson, on flute, vocals, acoustic guitar,
harmonica and mandolin. Martin Barre on Electric guitar. Doane
Perry on drums. John O'Hara on keyboards and David Goodier
Why have there been so many changes in line-up over the
Lots of different reasons. Some of the boys left to get
married, settle down, form their own bands, that sort of thing.
Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond left to be a painter. John Glascock tragically
died from a heart disease. And two were fired. We are all pretty
good pals now. Like a big extended family of two football teams.
In 1976, you named a famous Tull track "Too Old To
Rock And Roll". What do you feel about this title, looking
back on it now?
It was not, then or now, an autobiographical statement.
It was an album track which was about the cyclic changes of fashion
in culture, pop and rock music. Quite predictive for 1975 really,
given the endless recycling of 60's and 70's musical influences
which fill the charts these days.
In 1973, Jethro Tull disbanded following the bad reviews
of "A Passion Play". Why?
No, we didn't! Our then manager decided to respond to
a bad review in the influential pop newspaper Melody Maker by cutting
a deal with the editor for a front page "scoop" involving
the band's supposed decision to quit. We knew nothing about it
until we read it in the paper ourselves, and we were furious. It
made us look petulant and silly. Which we probably were, but we
didn't need the wrong kind of publicity. Tull have never disbanded,
even for a moment. No come-back tours for us, thank you very much.
We haven't yet been away!
Are you, like the song, "Living in the Past"?
I am not one for nostalgia or reminiscences and prefer
to live in the present and the future. However, some of our audience
obviously like the nostalgia bit, and the older material which
we play is, for them perhaps, a trip down memory lane. For us,
it's not about playing a song which could be thirty years old.
It's about playing something 24 hours old, since that's when we
probably last played it on stage. Our style of music is, I hope,
a little bit timeless and not rooted in a particular music fashion.
Pop and Rock music have changed a great deal over the
last 30 years. How do you view these changes? And do you listen
to the new music like Techno and Rap?
Well, the really big changes were back in the early years
of the mid-to-late sixties and the early seventies. The introduction
of musical influences from many diverse world cultures and historical
periods provided for a rapidly evolving and richly creative musical
environment. Folk, Classical, Blues, Jazz and Asian motifs and
forms broadened the scope of American-derived pop and rock. Tull
were a part of that evolution. Since the mid-seventies, the development
has been more technological rather than musical. Sampling, synthesis,
sequencing and the personal home computer revolution have brought
music making to the masses at an affordable price. But the music
goes round in circles. Same old simple rhythms, melodies, harmonies
and verse/chorus/bridge song structures. Nothing really changes:
nothing is really new. But each new generation of young musicians
rediscovers the wheel, The Beatles, sunglasses and stretch limousines.
As long as they and their fans think it is new, why disappoint
them? Give the kids a pot of paint and they will repaint their
house. Same old bricks underneath. Techno and Rap? Just nursery
rhymes with attitude. Nice idea but going round in very small circles.
You are now one of the old men of rock - over 50 years
of age. How long do you plan do go on performing and recording?
As long as it remains a challenge and my health permits.
One year: ten years - who knows? Then there are painting, writing
and other creative indulgences to consider. Which will go first:
the eyes, ears or the hands? Fear of boredom in old age is my greatest
Do you have Family? A wife? Children? Where do you live?
I enjoy the company and love of my wife of 23 years,
Shona, two children, James and Gael, both at University, five cats,
two dogs and some horses and chickens. We live in an eighteenth
century English country house with a recording studio, 400 acres
of wheat, barley and trees about 100 miles west of London. Disgusting
isn't it? Want to swap? Thought so.
Is it true you are also a fish farmer? How did you get
interested in that hobby and will you retire from music to concentrate
on it full-time one day?
In 1978, we bought a second home in Scotland, where I
was born. We were looking for some way to off-set the cost of owning
the property and I read, in an airline magazine as I recall, an
article about Aquaculture. We set up a Salmon farm at the beginning
of that then new industry's development. A smoking and processing
factory and more fish farms followed and today they employ about
250 people in the Highlands of Scotland. But my time on the business
is limited to around one day a month. When I wake up in the morning,
I am a musician, not a farmer or fish salesman. That's what I pay
other people to do. I just like eating smoked salmon from one of
the most beautiful parts of the world. Death may beckon, but retirement
Do you listen to new bands and who are your favourites?
I receive rather a lot of unsolicited demo tapes and
CD's from would-be musicians as well as from more professional
performers, so I listen to a lot of "new" stuff that
way. The car radio and music television keep me as informed as
I want to be. But I have never been a great listener of other people's
work. Even when I first started, I listened only to a few things
which really caught my attention. My favourite music to listen
to these days is that of Muddy Waters, Beethoven and Indian Classical
and pop music.
Jethro Tull is one of the legends of Rock. Why do you
think the band has lasted so long?
The loyalty of our fans keeps us in work and pocket money.
Some artists have fickle fans who have short attention spans. More
loyal and committed fans ensure that the work of some bands like
Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, Hendrix and the Stones won't fade
away. Tull is just a lesser version of those rock giants whose
music will go on to define the form in the history books of the
Is concert touring as exciting as before or do you ever
become tired of it?
It's my job. When I was a child, I always wanted a great
job. I didn't leave Art College to become pop star: I left to attempt
a career as a professional working musician. I love my job and
I still have it. And I already got the gold watch. You want my
job? You want to swap? I thought so.
Don't you hate having to play the same songs, like Aqualung
or Locomotive Breath, every night after so many years?
If they were not decent songs, then I certainly would,
but I am lucky to have a good collection of material which I still
enjoy playing. There are over 250 songs to choose from, in fact.
Anyway, much of Tull's music contains elements of improvisation,
so the songs are never the same two nights running. There is always
some scope for variation and interpretation in each performance.
A Tull concert wouldn't be the same without some of Locomotive
Breath. Well, for me at any rate.
If you could choose the words for your epitaph, what would
"Thank you and goodnight". Or perhaps, "Any
chance of a wake-up call?" I think that probably covers it.
Well, thank you for answering these questions one more
Don't mention it. Ever, ever again.