Ian Anderson at The HexagonBy Linda Fort
April 26, 2012
Legendary rock flautist Ian Anderson normally wakes up at about 6am, but the rigours of his present tour means he is sleeping until later.
From his hotel room in Sheffield, he said: “I didn’t wake up until 7.30 this morning and I thought, I must be really tired.”
Tired or not, a call just an hour later brought forth a stream of erudition from the musician who is currently in the middle of his 19-date Thick as Brick 40th anniversary tour.
The concept album was based on a poem written by a fictitious 10-year-old boy poet called Gerald Bostock – really Anderson himself – illustrated by an imaginary local newspaper called the St Cleve Chronicle.
Anderson explained that he had been asked to revisit the Thick as Brick album endlessly by “fans, well wishers and people in the music business” and had always dismissed the idea.
“I'm simply not interested in nostalgia and repeating the past.”
However when the discussion turned to what Gerald Bostock might be doing now, he became intrigued.
The result is a new album exploring Gerald’s career and a website – www.stcleve.com – to amuse fans with the goings on in the three fabled parishes of St Cleve, Linwell and Little Cruddock.
Anderson, 64, said: “There were a number of ways that Gerald could have developed. He might have been a politician, but that seemed a little too obvious.
“He could have become an investment banker and I suppose I could have had some fun with that.
“But I began to think that Gerald might not have set his sights on a grand career and might want just to be an ordinary man, something like a corner shopkeeper.”
As a result of these musings, Anderson wrote the songs for the Thick as Brick 2 album and the tour involves playing all the songs from the two albums back to back.
The result is a concentrated musical performance with no let up for the players.
He said: “There are only about 16 bars during the whole performance when I am not actually playing something.”
The musical instruments from the first album feature in the second one – but not the musicians.
“Three of the original band members just don’t play music any more for various reasons so it was not possible to magic that back again,” he said.
However the musicians taking part are those who have toured with Anderson, either with the band Jethro Tull or backing him on his solo tours over the years.
He said: “I didn’t want the new album to be a parody of original. I just wouldn’t find that interesting.
“And I can only write as Ian Anderson, the musician that I am now, not the Ian Anderson of 1972.”
However there is plenty of parody on the website where Anderson has exercised his sense of humour to amuse the fans.
But do the fans like the new music? He said: “I don't give a s*** whether anyone likes it or not – that is not why I did it. Of course it is very nice to hear if people do enjoy it.”
However, he was quick to point out that the album was currently at number one in the Rock Radio chart in the US.
“Whether that translates into sales remains to be seen,” he added.
He has no plans to retire – “people in my business usually have to be dragged kicking and screaming from the stage”.
And did he enjoy recording the new album? Like the colonoscopy he had last year – “only in retrospect”.
Ian Anderson and his band will be at The Hexagon in Reading on Thursday, May 3.
Tickets start at £25.50. To book call the box office on (0118) 960 6060 or visit www.readingarts.com