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  INTERVIEW WITH IAN ANDERSON

Ivan David

ivan david

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ian anderson

Ian Anderson has been creating and performing music for around 45 years now, and his immense contribution to the music world with Jethro Tull has been recognized by a wide range of musicians from different genres including The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Johnny Rotten and most notably Iron Maiden. Ian Anderson's music is appreciated by a lot of Metal fans and he talked to MetalTalk about his new performance piece "Thick as a Brick 2" (a sequel to the classic 1972 concept album) and about his current touring activities that include a very special live show at the iconic Royal Albert Hall on June 30.

We have the interview in both written and audio formats. The call dropped at the beginning, but then everything went smoothly and Ian was able to delve deep into every topic. Listening to him talking about his upcoming show at the Albert Hall, the influence of Tull’s music on a new generation of fans and his touring experiences during the seventies with Led Zeppelin was a real treat. To know more about it keep reading, and make sure you also listen to the audio version for some bonus bits.

Article continues below...

   




1. I was listening to "Thick as a Brick 2" and I hear some motives that connect it to the first part, the classic record but I wanted to know, in your opinion what is the strongest connection between the two and how do you recapture the vibe of the first part in order to create the second one?

ian anderson

Well, you know, I'm a music and lyric writer. I'm supposed to know how to do this. You're writing a sequel, somewhere there is a connection between the two pieces of work and choose to employ the methodology, repeating motives and developing extemporization. (Call drops)...

(After Ian called again...)

Ok, you asked me a question and my answer was that I've been writing for forty five years, I'm a musician and lyric writer. The tools of my trade are to use reiteration, development, extemporization. I'm writing a connecting piece even if it's a sequel forty years later and I want to make some references to musical lines or lyrical lines that's part of the job or the art of being a songwriter. If I ever have to do it now after forty five years shoot me. Ok, it's kind of simple stuff really. We're writers. Next question.

2. Some purist fans are often critical of sequels and want history untouched, especially with this kind of classic record. The record's been out for some time now. How has "Thick as a Brick 2" been received and are you happy with the reception from fans?

Well, I performed it on stage. I mean, it was written as a performance piece not just as a record never to be played live, so my experience of it as a performance piece that I've probably played about a hundred and thirty, hundred and forty concerts of this material. I have a pretty good idea that is well received wherever we play, and we've played in many different countries, pretty much all the major markets through last year and this year. So, with the exception of Australia I think we pretty much covered everywhere that we could play and the reaction is pretty similar regardless of language, regardless of country and culture. People respond in the same way.

I think the way we present the music as a more theatrical show seems to connect with the audience, seems to keep them interested, no one leaves at half time. I don't know if there are many other bands around who would risk playing a two hour, two and a half hour (show) including a thirty minute intermission with simply two large extensive pieces of music, especially when the second half of the show consists of something completely new that most of the fans wouldn't really be familiar with. That's taking a big risk in these people's view, but I get away with it because I'm clever. I also get away with it because the fans are not stupid either, they're there to be entertained and they know when it's working for them. So, no one's leaving at half time unless we're doing something right. It's a big success, otherwise we wouldn't have gone to a second year of touring this show, we would have given up after our first (leg), you know, after 2012.

So we're going back to play second and third shows in New York this year, second show in Los Angeles, second show in Chicago, second show in London, where we'll play the Albert Hall, so clearly the demand from people is something that by word of mouth, perhaps by word written on the internet seems to be positive. However, bottom line is: I'm not doing this for you, and I'm not doing it for the fans, I'm doing this for me. I'm the guy looking for my jollies and if other people enjoy the show then that's great, but my primary reason for doing this is to make me happy. So I present myself with a big challenge of composing, creating and then performing a big piece of music. I'm doing it for me. That makes me an honest man, not some old fart who just plays the "Best of..." music all the time until he dies in order to rake in a few more coins to pay the rent. I'm doing this for more artistic reasons. And if I get away with it and succeed, I'm a happy man.

3. Awesome! And everybody is looking forward to the Royal Albert Hall show on June 30, and it will certainly be a special event. Can you tell us something about what will happen there, what can we expect, what can set it apart from all the other successful shows that you've been doing?

What sets it apart is that it is in the iconic Albert Hall, and that brings about a number of compromises that have to be made in staging the show because the Albert Hall is not an Arts and Theatre show, is not even a summer amphitheater show in the USA which has, you know, proper stages with wings and access... there's a platform rather than a stage in the Albert Hall with the difficulties of hanging sound and lights and video screen and the fact that you can't get on and off stage without being in full view of the audience for about twenty meters of either side of the stage. It is a compromise, also a compromise from the audio perspective because the Albert Hall, as you possibly know is one of the most difficult acoustic environments in which to stage a concert in the UK. Not the most popular place I think with either fans, orchestras or musicians. Possibly tennis players like it, I don't know... but it is a difficult one and we have to try to cope with the intricacies and the idiosyncrasies of the Albert Hall but we will do it OK, and since we played Thick as a Brick back in 1972, that more than for any other reason is why we chose to put it in the Albert Hall this year, just to... I suppose, round it off in that way that we are repeating something from forty one years ago along with its sequel, and it's... I suppose the atmosphere and the special nature of playing at the Albert Hall, but it's a tough one to do, it's a tough one to do, and nobody wants to buy the cheap seats at the Albert Hall you know (Laughs).

It's not really from an audience perspective that great a place, you know, when you're seating on the not so good seats (Laughs). People enjoy it because it's The Royal Albert Hall and they enjoy going to many other iconic venues. People enjoy going to Carnegie Hall in New York, but it's another difficult place to play if you're playing anything other than quiet orchestra music. But these are the challenges that make life interesting. We look forward very much to play at the Albert Hall, and we have a couple of special guests that will appear briefly with us just to celebrate the moment. Unfortunately some of the folks I've lined up as guests just to... you know, sing a verse or appear briefly on the stage, as is always the case they turned out to be either washing their hair or off on a tour or off to do some promo. It's always hard finding guests other than Christmas concerts and Cathedrals or the occasional people. I don't have that problem in Iceland, I have two very good guests this week in Iceland performing with us, but at The Albert Hall this time of the year is not that easy to find the people that I look to do it. Probably (there are) two or three people that would love to but unfortunately they're in the middle of a tour or doing other things, so sadly it didn't work out, but I do have some others who said yes straight away and happily agreed to do that.

4. Is that classified information or can we know who they are?

You can't really because we'd make it sound like we're using their names to sell the show, and so, in a way I guess it's gotta be a surprise. I mean, one of the guests said to me the other day "oh, is it OK if I put this on the website?" and I said "well sure, if you don't mind sort of being public about it, but you know, part of the fun is that people aren't expecting you, you suddenly appear and take a place on the show". It will be a surprise, and I think and I think "surprise value" in a theatrical sense is always something worth having, and if you give the game away and I told you it was Cliff Richard you wouldn't believe me and it would disappoint you and didn't turn up, so I'm not going to tell you it is Cliff Richard, and is not Cliff Richard but you know what I mean. It would be fun if it was Cliff but I don't even bother to ask him because he doesn't live in this Country very much anymore (Laughs). I think for sure he'll be in the Caribbean or in Portugal or somewhere. So you always have that problem: trying to find guests, and those who say yes like Alfie Boe the Opera singer, he was going to do it, but then suddenly he got the promotion tour in America where he had to do TV and radio stuff urgently so he wasn't able to do it; he came back and said "I'm afraid I can't be there after all", but maybe another time it could be Alfie Boe, we will see.

5. (Regarding) your collaborations with other musicians (that are) younger as well. I saw footage of you with, for example, Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden. There's certainly an influence of your music that is transcending. A lot of younger fans are coming to your shows. How do you see your influence in newer artists? Is there any artist in particular that you appreciate?

Well, I mean, from time to time I hear that sort of sentiments, you know, people who say that they grew up listening to our music. Bruce Dickinson is one of those guys who was listening to Jethro Tull before he became a professional singer. And sometimes there are really unusual people, I remember meeting a couple of guys from The Red Hot Chili Peppers and one of them was a big fan who grew up listening to Jethro Tull, and Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, you know, he was a huge fan of Aqualung apparently and whom I think based all his stage persona on that kind of hunched, kind of weird homeless looking, kind of dropout. So some of them are surprising... Marc Almond, the synth pop star of the 1980s Marc Almond wrote on his website quoting Jethro Tull as being one of his earliest influences when he was beginning in music, and so there are very often people who didn't come from the same musical background, I think that's probably encouraging to know that people are listening to music outside of the world in which they find themselves in terms of peer group and in terms of musical styling of an era.

So it's kind of interesting but not something that I pay an awful lot of attention to, and I'm not really a music listener myself, so I really don't really listen to much music. You know, when I was a teenager before I started as a professional musician I did listen to some music, I listened to Blues and Jazz, Rock music and R&B, and Folk music and I tried to have a broad understanding of how music works. But since I was a professional musician in my late teens early twenties I more or less stopped listening to music because I didn't want to be influenced by more things, I really just wanted to concentrate on what I could do, what I could find in myself. I mean, I have plenty of influences from my teenage years when I first listened to music. I don't think I want to really listen to other artists or other kinds of music. So from my twenties onwards if you ask me what was in the... I couldn't tell you. I couldn't tell you in 1972 and I certainly couldn't tell you now. I've no idea about what's off, what... what is popular or what people are listening to. I'm just not much of a listener; I don't have a record collection. All the mp3 files on my computers are basically Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson back catalogue because I need to be able to learn the music and find all the lyrics again, so I'm afraid you won't find that many other artists on my iTunes playlist, there's a few classical performers, some folk music and mostly Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson stuff. So, I can't be an expert on music, and you can ask me about a lot of other things in life and I may know something about them, but hopeless asking me about other artists, I don't really know that many.

6. Ok Ian, last question. I heard somewhere that there are new Prog-Rock followers in other countries like in South America, for example Brazil. How do you feel about it? How do you feel about these new markets, so to speak?

Well, I noticed that about four or five... maybe four years ago, or maybe three years ago when I was in Brazil. I noticed that there were a lot of younger people in the audience. It wasn't just an audience of people in their fifties, it was suddenly teenagers and people in their early twenties, you know, a lot often near the front in a seated confortable, very slick modern concert hall, it wasn't an outdoor festival or somewhere where you expect to see a lot of younger people, this was an indoor venue with expensive soft furnishing and the people that I could see closest to the front of the stage were not old, but many of them or most of them were remarkably young, so I noticed that there was a new intake of younger people there and that applies in many Latin American countries and applies in many of the Eastern European countries and it also applies in the summer wherever I go because young people tend to go to the outdoor shows, festivals or maybe the outdoor concerts sometimes we play in. I see a lot of younger people there but it's all a little unnerving because you know, I'm a man of sixty five years old and it's all a bit weird when I find myself accidentally... you see, when the spotlights are in your eyes you can't really often pick out who's in the audience, you're kind of blind, you know, from the spotlights and sometimes you can look a little closer, you realize you're staring into the eyes of some eighteen year old school girl, and that's a little scary because you get arrested for that I believe. So far the ‘Savile Inquiry' has not been knocking on my door, so I think I must've led a sheltered life at least when I was a musician with part of that world where they were groupies and a lot of crazy fans who would do anything to get backstage, so I don't seem to catch any of that fallout in later life, mainly because we didn't really let them come backstage because it all seemed a little... backstage is private, you know, it's a haven of quietness, of order, a time to think about your show, preparation. The last thing you want is all these half naked girls hanging around, taking drugs, I don't really get involved in that, but we were on tour with Led Zeppelin, so we saw the masters of the art at work (Laughs), when it came to making use of that availability of new found young flesh I think Jimmy Page probably ranks as the "master of dark seduction" (Laughs). But he has not been arrested as he made sure the girls he went with were way sensibly over the age of twenty one, which is probably a good thing.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

After answering this question our time is up. Ian finishes the conversation in a pretty nice way asking me about my background and pointing the similarity of our names. We say our goodbyes and after hanging up I start listening to "Heavy Horses" again...

11.6.13





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His love of life, sense of humor and charismatic ways will always be treasured by his family and truly never forgotten.

lemmy DETAILS EMERGE OF LEMMY'S FINAL HOURS
"That's like a Rocky story to me. This is courage at his best. He was dying. He didn't know it, but his body must have felt it. He had nothing left."

lemmy MIKKEY DEE: "MOTORHEAD IS OVER"
"Lemmy was Motörhead. But the band will live on in the memories of many."

lemmy MOTORHEAD LEGEND LEMMY PASSES AWAY AGED 70
Ian Fraser Kilmister, aka Lemmy, has passed away five days after his 70th birthday....

giants of rock SCHENKER, IAN HUNTER, PROCOL HARUM, WISHBONE ASH, NAZARETH, SNAKECHARMER, GRAHAM BONNET & RUSS BALLARD ALL CONFIRMED FOR GIANTS OF ROCK FESTIVAL
It's a corker of a line up for the third Giants Of Rock in Minehead...

great british rock and blues HAWKWIND, FM, BERNIE TORMÉ, TYGERS OF PAN TANG ALL SET FOR GREAT BRITISH ROCK & BLUES FESTIVAL
Blow away the winter blues with the first festival of 2016...

punk rock holiday FIRST 15 BANDS ANNOUNCED FOR PUNK ROCK HOLIDAY 1.6
The annual festival is breaking all records for the jubilee 6th edition...

sonata arctica SONATA ARCTICA RELEASE CHRISTMAS SINGLE 'CHRISTMAS SPIRITS'
"Christmas is just around the corner so we decided to cheer you all up with a nice Christmas story..."

five finger death punch FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH UNVEIL OFFICIAL VINYL RE-ISSUES OF THE FIRST 3 ALBUMS
'The Way Of The Fist', 'War Is The Answer' and 'American Capitalist' will be re-released in special packaging on February 12th...

monster truck MONSTER TRUCK ANNOUNCE MARCH/APRIL 2016 INTIMATE EUROPEAN TOUR
"After a long year of prepping the new album for release we are overjoyed to be spending a portion of the debut in Europe and the UK..."

monster magnet MONSTER MAGNET REISSUE FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS
Monster Magnet will perform a special one-off UK show in March focusing on these upgraded albums...

wildfire festival WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2016 ANNOUNCE OVER 20 MORE BANDS
Scotland's biggest Rock and Metal festival welcomes another raft of the highest quality acts...

thunder THUNDER REVEAL DVD AND 2016 TOUR DETAILS
2016 is the year of 'All You Can Eat' Thunder with an expansive box set and arena dates...

vardis terry horbury TERRY HORBURY FROM VARDIS PASSES AWAY AGED 65
Terry Horbury died after a short illness and will be hugely missed for both his talent and personality...

ramblin man BLACK STONE CHERRY ANNOUNCED AS SUNDAY HEADLINERS FOR RAMBLIN' MAN FAIR
Black Stone Cherry, The Graveltones and Airbourne are among the next batch of acts joining Whitesnake, Uriah Heep and Hawkind for 2016...

scott ian anthrax SCOTT IAN FROM ANTHRAX DISCUSSES WHY THE BAND FELT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO COMPLETE THEIR UK AND EU TOUR AFTER THE RECENT ATTACKS IN PARIS
Watch the video right here...

delta deep DELTA DEEP FEATURING DEF LEPPARD'S PHIL COLLEN ANNOUNCE EXCLUSIVE UK SHOWS ON 20TH & 21ST DECEMBER
Don't miss this chance to see the remarkable quartet...

acdc AC/DC ANNOUNCE 2016 AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN TOUR DATES
The "Rock Or Bust" tour continues its onslaught on the world...

ricky warwick RICKY WARWICK PREMIERES VIDEO FOR 'THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS STREET'
The track is the first to be revealed from his two new solo albums to be released in 2016...

lacuna coil LACUNA COIL REVEAL FIRST DETAILS FOR NEW ALBUM
'Delirium' is being recorded in Milan and will be released in 2016...

off yer rocka OFF YER ROCKA RECORDINGS HITS THE ROAD IN STYLE WITH A SHOWCASE TOUR OF THE UK
Each date will feature three talented bands from the label...

grand slam PHIL LYNOTT'S SONGS TO BE RE-RECORDED IN NEW GRAND SLAM PROJECT FEATURING MARK STANWAY & LAURENCE ARCHER
"This new band will be able to play all of the Grand Slam classic songs to their full potential and will re-record the songs giving them the justice they always deserved..."

babymetal BABYMETAL ANNOUNCE BRAND NEW STUDIO ALBUM FOR 2016 TO BE RELEASED ON APRIL 1st
The album is released the day before Babymetal's biggest ever UK show at Wembley Arena...

treatment THE TREATMENT ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM 'GENERATION ME'
The album celebrates a raft of spectacular big sounding rock songs bursting with hi-octane rock energy...

korpiklaani moonsorrow KORPIKLAANI ANNOUNCE CO-HEADLINE TOUR WITH MOONSORROW
Get ready for an unforgettable show from two powerhouses of the Finnish Folk Metal scene...

reckless love RECKLESS LOVE ANNOUNCE A EUROPEAN TOUR FOR 2016
Reckless Love will be joined by special guests Santa Cruz for the 25 date outing...

tony iommi IRON MAIDEN ANNOUNCE THREE JULY DATES IN SPAIN
Iron Maiden will play Viveiro, Madrid and Barcelona...

tony iommi 'AN AUDIENCE WITH TONY IOMMI' WILL TAKE PLACE ON SATURDAY 19 MARCH 2016
Tickets for the exclusive Birmingham event go on-sale 11th December...

sabaton SABATON TO RELEASE 'HEROES ON TOUR' LIVE DVD/CD PACKAGE ON MARCH 4TH 2016
Sabaton will also tour the UK in a co-headline slot with Alestorm in the spring...

ramblin man WHITESNAKE TO HEADLINE RAMBLIN' MAN FAIR
The first batch of bands is announced today and in addition to the legendary Whitesnake features Europe, Hawkwind and more...

heart HEART ANNOUNCE RARE UK TOUR
Ann and Nancy Wilson bring Heart to the UK for only the second time in 25 years, including a performance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra...

dirkschneider DIRKSCHNEIDER ANNOUNCE UK DATES WITH SPECIAL GUESTS ANVIL
The tour closes the chapter on Accept as Udo Dirkschneider performs the songs for the last time...

rodney matthews ionawr IONAWR – AN EXHIBITION OF RODNEY MATTHEWS' ART OPENS IN JANUARY 2016
The spectacular exhibition ecompasses Matthews' artistic career as both a science fiction and fantasy artist ...

purson PURSON ANNOUNCE UK TOUR AND ALBUM RELEASE DATE
The album 'Desire's Magic Theatre' draws inspiration from the rock operas of the late sixties and early seventies...

graham bonnet GRAHAM BONNET ANNOUNCES UK TOUR
The ex-Rainbow frontman headlines sixteen dates including a special homecoming show...

manowar MANOWAR UNVEIL STAGE DESIGNS FOR "GODS AND KINGS WORLD TOUR 2016" PLUS NEW MUSIC VIDEOS
It'll be like the set of an epic movie. Or better yet, for the length of our concert you will be living in ancient Rome, Greece and Valhalla..."

weapon uk WEAPON UK ANNOUNCE TOUR DATES FOR 2016
The eight date headline tour will take place in February and March...

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