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No.2, June 1976
TULL TOUR WITH MARSHALL!
JETHRO TULL have chosen Marshall amplification to broadcast their music to the world!
Now on their first world tour for four years, the band have re-equipped with a complete set of Marshall amplification for the back line sources and a Marshall Equipment Hire P.A. rig. In the centre spread of this issue of R-M International we publish an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW by our editor Bob Wilson.
The opening night of the world tour by the band was acclaimed internationally as a triumph and one newspaper carried the comment "an inspiring set, delivered with a clarity and perfection of sound that left me breathless."
The Marshall amplification was specially selected by the band when they visited Jim Marshall's spacious plant in Britain's newest city, Milton Keynes. It's an indication of the faith that the band has in the products handled by Rose-Morris that the entire back line amps came from Marshall and drummer Barriemore Barlow is playing a new Ludwig Vistalite drum kit. Barrie has been a Ludwig player since his earliest days with Tull when he bought his first Ludwig kit from the Rose-Morris Shaftesbury Avenue showroom. Today he keeps his original Ludwig kit for recording and uses a see-thru Ludwig kit on stage. During this summer Tull played dates across the USA, taking their Marshalls with them, flying the flag for British music and British musical products!
Tull re-opened the "live" chapter in their history recently when their world tour opened in Brussels. For the lengthy itinerary, the band have chosen a P.A. system from Marshall Equipment Hire and the back line source amplification is by Marshall. On the opening night Rose-Morris International's Editor, Bob Wilson, visited the concert, talked with the band and offers all R-M International readers this EXCLUSIVE report and interview.
Barriemore Barlow leaned back in his chair, staring at the beer can in his hand. Outside in the Avenue du Globe the kids were still streaming out through the traffic from Brussels' Forest National. It had been Tull's first night on the road for 1976.
"I can't remember when we've had so long a spell off the road," he said. "Last year we toured for nine months of the year and I got down to about 8½ stone. It proved a little too much for me ..."
The current European tour was the shortest the band had ever undertaken, lasting just three weeks. Then they faced a long summer slog across the States. The tour represented a new direction for Jethro Tull. It was the debut appearance of John Glascock, the band's new bass guitarist. In addition Tull were airing a new album, Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll, and testing their new Marshall Equipment Hire P.A. System.
"Every day is different now," explained guitarist Martin Barre. "We're taking old songs off into new directions ... developing them from one day to another. I think Ian's songs are getting very strong — very concise."
Theatrics, he explained, are being kept to a minimum.
"We were the first group to do the weird visual things on stage. But people aren't surprised any more, that's why we're getting away from it now. It's the music really that they're paying to hear — so it's got to come down to the music — and you've got to have a quality sound."
Which brought the conversation around to the new P.A.
"When we bought our old one," continued Martin, "it was the best money could buy. Now this new M.E.H. system is the best — and in a couple of years everyone will be buying one — or hiring one if they can't afford to buy it."
Barriemore looked up.
"Actually, there are very few halls designed to accommodate rock music. We find ourselves in America playing in ICE RINKS! Personally, I think you have to be in a hall for more than one day so you can work at the sound. But it's economically not viable. So we have to do the best we can under the circumstances. I personally look forward to the day when the public realise that and the poor guy sitting at the back of a 20,000 seat hall no longer thinks — 'Christ, this is no good. I've paid my $8 and it's not bloody worth it. I can see five figures about 2" high and the sound is nothing like the album.'
"I would like to see the day when bands decide to play at a maximum capacity auditorium — say 5,000 seats — and play four nights."
For Martin Barre, Tull's guitarist since the halcyon days of Stand Up, the tour was an opportunity to test run the two new Marshall 100 stacks he had recently bought from Rose-Morris.
"Actually, I used my old 50 watt amp on Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll simply because the 100 watt was too loud. The 50 watt has a good studio sound — really thick — but the 100's will work out good too, once I get used to them.
"It's really strange because I still feel that tendency to play flat out, to use everything I've got and have it completely wide open — to use all the top, take all the bottom out, put all the middle in, and have the volume flat out. It's psychologically difficult for me to accept that you don't need all that; that you've got some to spare. My main problem is I've never had anything in reserve — I've always had to utilise everything the amp had to offer — and more — because I've had to boost it with pedals. But now I don't have to do this. I've got enough top and good response from all frequencies."
Also new to the group was the bassist John Glascock. Up till the end of last year he worked with Carmen, the flamenco rock group, and before that with Chickenshack. He brought his considerable experience as a bassist to Tull as well as an entirely new asset — a second voice.
"I believe I am the first extra singer that Jethro Tull has ever had. Up till now Ian did all the harmonies on the albums."
"It's good for the group because it brings Tull closer as a band. Up till now its always been Ian. But now it'll be so much better for us having two guys singing — especially on T.V. things. It's going to be very good for us."
John's bass set-up was anything but usual.
"I've got two Marshall stacks. I can use four 100 watt lead tops and three 100 watt bass tops with two 2x15 Powercel reflex bins and two 4x12 Powercel cabinets. I use the four Powercels in the one cabinet. I was going to use two separate cabinets for the lead part of the sound but one is plenty for the volume I'm playing at. The two bass bins give it the bottom part.
"I'm driving the whole thing about three on each amp. On stage it sounds very good to me — and the guy on the board says it's giving a good sound out front through the P.A."
Barrie went on to explain that Ian was still the main creative spring in Tull.
"He still writes most of the stuff, and any writing we do is the instrumental pieces. We write those pieces for the simple reason that Ian needs to get offstage and have a beer, cigarette, and go to the bathroom. When we do something like that we write it completely as a group."
Barrie was then also breaking in new equipment, in the shape and sound of a new Ludwig Vistalite kit.
"It's an experiment really — in visuals and sound — and I'm liking it so far. But my old Ludwig kit is the one I use in the studio. I consider it too precious to take about on the road, to be perfectly honest.
"I've had a Ludwig kit since my earliest days with Tull. When I joined it was the first time I'd had any decent money, and my first thought was to buy a set of Ludwig drums. So I went out and purchased a second hand kit from the Rose-Morris shop in Shaftesbury Avenue and I was very happy with it. But it was getting a bit smashed up, and I must admit I changed to a stronger shelled drum but the sound wasn't as good."
What attracts drummers to Ludwig? Is it good looks, the prestige, or workmanship?
"The hardwear," replied Barrie, "without a doubt, it's the hardwear. Take the snares for instance — I think they're the best in the world. You can go around and watch every drummer and you can guarantee nine times out of ten they'll be playing a Ludwig snare. That's what brought me back to Ludwig — the hardwear and the good looks."
He paused for a moment, with a twinkle in his eye.
"I think it's at the back of every drummers mind, it was with mine — it's nice to be playing Ludwig."