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10 January 1970
'A LOT OF PEOPLE MUST HATE ME'
What is it that makes Ian Anderson tick? What motives are there behind a group like Jethro Tull just returned from an exhaustive American tour and now contemplating the prospects of a jet-hop around Europe. To try and find the answers to these questions I spoke to a wan looking Ian Anderson at the offices of Chrysalis.
"It's certainly not the money," smiled Ian. "I'm not even certain we have any money. I'm looking for a house at present but don't ask me where the money's coming from. I need a place where I can write in peace and not have to squeeze my composing in those few spare moments while we are on the road.
"No one really knows how much money we have but someone recently explained the tax situation to me and I nearly gave the whole thing up and went looking for a job digging the roads. After a thousand pounds money becomes meaningless and you hear about how you are playing a concert for so many tens of thousands of pounds but what you see of that is so small it's ridiculous. It's like playing for 75,000 cigarettes or 75,000 beans.
"The expense of touring in somewhere like America with the hotel bills and cost of transporting equipment is astronomical. In this business you either end up very rich like the Beatles and Stones or just about break even like Traffic and groups like us. Sometimes I wonder how anyone makes a living in this business.
"The only real criterion you can have is to do something which pleases you and incidentally pleases others. I genuinely like our music and I listen to it as much as to anything else. The real satisfaction and the thing which keeps you going is in pleasing yourself and as I consider I am quite hard to please so there is a good chance I may please others."
The new Jethro Tull single Ian referred to as being two album tracks as it was the first they had released without deliberately writing the songs as such.
"They're not throw-aways by any means," said Ian. "But they were not specifically written for the singles market in mind as were our previous hits. 'Witches Promise' and 'Teacher' are really one fifth of an album! They are both tracks of over four minutes and we certainly will not be including them on our forthcoming album so this is the only time you will see these particular songs.
"In fact I'm certain that the people who buy our singles have been those that have bought the albums. The only real purpose of which we can be expected on our albums [?]. But we haven't just thrown the singles away — we've had a lot of copies out in stereo and put in a colourful sleeve. It's not just to remind people that we are still around — the music means too much to me to do something like that."
First people to pay Jethro Tull any kind of attention were the long hair, beards and sandals brigade but now Ian believe that their appeal is widening and is anxious that they should get new audiences while not neglecting the hard core.
"In that respect one play on the Jimmy Young radio programme is worth ten of John Peels — that is not meant to sound derogatory to John Peel but by a play on Jimmy Young's programme we would probably be reaching millions of people who would never have thought of listening to us and maybe a few would like it.
"I always get a kick out of seeing older people at our concerts. At the Miami Pop Festival it was very gratifying to see an older audience behave like young people. It would not be possible to launch a Crusade for the sake of the older generation at the expense of our established younger audience, but it is nice to see a few people outside our accepted market taking an interest in us. You just have to be careful not to say the wrong things to the right people!"
Whither the Tull in this coming decade? It would appear that at least this year is scheduled.
"We must go back to the States in March — we have really built up an enormous following there now," said Ian. "And then there is a lengthy European tour and another album to be recorded."
Ian is reported to have said that following this third album the fourth LP will be the group's 'Sergeant Pepper'!
"I must have been raving when I said it," smiled Ian. "What I meant to imply was that by the time I have acquired my house and due to the fact I should get more free time next year that the potential of that fourth album is unlimited. I've already written the material for the third album."
It was notable that Ian seemed more sombre in both his manner and dress (black shirt, black trousers, black leather jacket) and the reason was apparently something of a compromise.
"I wear most of my clothes until they just fall apart," admitted Ian. "But I am aware of being stared at and coming up on the train is the worst time — people can be so rude. If I'm wearing my multi-coloured gear they really go out of their way to insult you even when you try to be polite to them. I've had people walk right through me when I've approached them to ask the time or something.
"It's very easy to dislike people from their outward appearance. There must be a lot of people who share the same attitudes as I who look very different from me. A lot of people must hate me because I present the image of some kind of demented immoral joker — which I'm not. I'm just like that for half an hour on stage!"
I discovered from Ian's publicist that his parents had recently expressed a desire to see him play on stage and told him they were coming to a concert. Ian rang them back and asked them not to come.
"I was just very nervous about the whole thing," said Ian. "My Mother was one of the few people to see me with no clothes on as a child and that is quite an intimate thing. They have never heard me sing except on bits of plastic and I would have been embarrassed to perform before them.
"I don't think they would have been shocked or anything — more amused and surprised but I would have felt too self conscious to perform. They think of me as being O.K. — just a good bloke, which is fine but I have this fear of exposing myself before people who know me well!"
Finally we arrive back at the same subject we began with — money and its importance in our lives.
"To me it means cigarettes, meals, rent, mandolin strings, plectrums and coffee," said Ian. "Earning big money does not really concern. Playing to more and more people does. It might be nice to have a lot of money in a few years' time so that I could become a preacher or work for the Forestry Commission.
"I might even get married and then again I might not. That would be more important to me than most people!"
Ian's publicist bounced into the office and asked if he would mind holding on for another interview.
"If he's quick," said Ian and aside, "There goes my hot bath tonight."
The one thing Ian needs to buy he can never purchase — Time.