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Tull Tag
After 36 years, Ian Anderson is still rock's biggest lead flutist
By Sander Wolf

There's no need to ask Jethro Tull ringleader Ian Anderson what's new with his band. After being asked that for more than 30 years, he doesn't even wait for the question. "Nothing's new with this band. Everything is old--including me," he declares. "What's old is the point!"

Ian Anderson blows. We mean that as nicely as possible.
Ian Anderson blows. We mean that as nicely as possible.

And he's right. With a career that started in 1968 with This Was and has managed to encompass everything from grand concept albums like Thick as a Brick and Aqualung to 2003's Christmas album, Jethro Tull has already done just about every musical thing there is to do. The formidable catalog is made all the more interesting considering that the band's most iconic element is a simple flute, but it's Anderson's frenetic playing that differentiated Jethro Tull from the heavy guitar-and-synthesizer bands that sprouted like weeds in the prog-rock '70s. "There's so many different aspects to Jethro Tull's music," Anderson says. "There's Jethro Tull the flute-rock band, the art-rock band, the blues-rock band, the classic-rock band, the prog-rock band, the influenced-by-classical-music band. It's a lot to have to cover if you want to base yourself on what we've done."

But if Jethro Tull can even be called the "same old band," the group at least goes out of its way to keep things interesting. This go-round, 21-year-old violinist Lucia Micarelli will sit in with the Tull (a concept that Anderson self-mockingly refers to as "beauty and the beast"), and ticket holders will be given a free, live version of Aqualung recorded on XM Radio.

Even with these attempts to spice up the act, Anderson sticks to his act and asks rhetorically, "What's new in rock and roll?" Then the old man really kicks in: "I wish MTV could be banned for 10 years so that a generation would grow up without copying music all the time," and "The fact that an album only costs about as much as two fucking hamburgers is insulting!" and "People these days just don't value recorded music the way they used to." He's right, kids. Listen to your elders. They just might know a thing or two.

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