Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A New Day for Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson discusses post-9/11 travel, new music and the death of album art prior to Atlantic City gig at Caesars June 12.

By Jeff Schwachter

Ian Anderson
Speaking with Jethro Tull’s frontman Ian Anderson, it’s certain that his longtime band isn’t “Living in the Past.” Since Anderson founded the folk-blues-rock-classical and global-minded band in 1967 Britain, with a string of successful albums and tours following its 1968 debut This Was, Jethro Tull — as well as Anderson and his solo projects — has continued to tour and even from time to time release outstanding material, including the 1988 Grammy winning Crest of a Knave and 2003’s heralded Christmas Album (2003). You can’t listen to a classic-rock radio station for very long without hearing at least one Tull song. And on Saturday night (June 12) at Caesars in Atlantic City you’ll be able to hear such radio staples as “Aqualung,” “Locomotive Breath” and “Skating Away” — plus many more. Anderson spoke by phone recently with AC Weekly.

When I was growing up in the ’80s, I used to go to used record stores and pick up all the Jethro Tull albums. One of the things that I always loved about your albums, aside from the music, was the amazing album art. Do you think it kind of stinks that today most music doesn’t have any visual component with it? I mean, today most music is just a vapor; it’s just downloaded.

Well, that’s right. It’s different. … Vinyl gave us something to work with. Clearly the space was there and you’d utilize it and you got involved and excited about doing it. It was a way of bringing together visual arts with the musical ones — [a sort of] natural thing to do. But these days, well, one mp3 file looks much like another.

Can you name any other bands that spent as much time thinking about their album art as Jethro Tull?

Well, I think many did, and there were those album-artwork artists. I forget the names, the guy who did … oh, Roger Dean, he did a lot album [covers], but is probably best known for his album artwork for the albums of Yes. They used Roger Dean’s work and Roger Dean did a kind of slightly sci-fi, slightly hippie thing that lent itself well to posters and reproductions and he was the “Yes” man. And then there were other guys like Storm Thorgerson who worked on albums by Pink Floyd and later became a video director and directed one of our videos at one point. So, yeah, there were these guys who were known as the wiz kids coming up with innovative album artwork, but in the case of the Jethro Tull stuff, it was a little bit more in house. It tended to be. I suppose most of them were my work, but notable exceptions were the Stand Up album, the Aqualung album and the Benefit album. Those were the three that our manager Terry Ellis kind of put together in conjunction with different artists. But then when we got to Thick As a Brick and onwards it tended to be [me]. … You know the work is one of the benefits of doing artwork; the irony is, of course, you’re working in an age where many people are no longer really buying physical product; they [aren’t seeing it]. People that are listening to Jethro Tull music for the first time now are almost certainly going to be downloading it rather than buying physical product, which is harder and harder to find and there are fewer and fewer record stores.

Yeah, around the world.

Yes, I mean all the great record chains have pretty much gone. In fact, most countries have probably only one operation left. Over here it’s HMV and in Germany for example it’s Saturn and in the U.S.A., Tower Records and Virgin Records – all these places, they’ve all disappeared. I guess, you know, you find a few things on the checkout of your supermarket, [but] that’s pretty much it. ........

Read the rest of this fantastic interview:

1 comment:

Shawn said...

Love this! Ian is so with it...