Martin Barre

The For­mer Tull gui­tarist tours his new al­bum – but don't ex­pect Ian Anderson to make a guest ap­pear­ance.

Classic Rock - - The Dirt -

For more than 40 years Martin Barre was Jethro Tull’s gui­tar player. Leader Ian Anderson called time on the band in

2012, and when he re-formed it last year Barre was no longer in the line-up.

The gui­tarist, now 71, im­mersed him­self in the Martin Barre Band, re­leas­ing four records in this decade alone. Whereas pre­vi­ously he’s drawn on the Tull cat­a­logue and in­stru­men­tal mu­sic, his new al­bum, Roads Less Trav­elled, spans rock, blues and prog, with a dash of jazz.

You’ve kept the al­bums com­ing lately, the new one’s strong, and your and your band are about to em­bark on a big US tour. You clearly have fresh wind in your sails. Yes. I’m learn­ing how to be a song­writer and it’s re­ally ex­cit­ing. As a gui­tarist I sup­pose I’m old and set in my ways, but when it comes to song­writ­ing I feel like I’m a begin­ner dis­cov­er­ing the joys of it.

You must have picked up a few song­writ­ing tips from Ian?

But he wouldn’t let you into the world of lyrics or melody. It’s been a learn­ing curve, and it’s taken nine months, but this is now a hun­dred per cent my own ma­te­rial. I’ve got so much out of it.

Roads Less Trav­elled sounds like a band al­bum, rather than a ve­hi­cle for a ‘star gui­tarist’.

Yeah, I’m not in­ter­ested in that. I’d rather win an award for a song than for my gui­tar play­ing. It’ll never hap­pen, but that’d be lovely.

Seat­tle is a stand-out track on the new al­bum. Were you a grunge fan?

It’s re­ally about my own ex­pe­ri­ences of Seat­tle, go­ing back to Hen­drix, but grunge is my son’s mu­sic, we’re very close and we con­nected lis­ten­ing to Seat­tle bands. For me it was the first ‘mod­ern’ mu­sic that had any sub­stance.

Next year you’re do­ing a Tull fifti­ethAn­niver­sary tour with for­mer mem­bers Clive Bunker and Jonathan Noyce, while Ian is do­ing his own tour to mark the oc­ca­sion. Most Tull fans will find that such a shame.

It’s stupid, but Ian’s de­cided that’s what he wants to do. It’s sad be­cause there was an op­por­tu­nity to take the mu­sic into a whole dif­fer­ent era and it’s lost now, it’ll never hap­pen. Mu­si­cally there was a lot to be done and we could be do­ing th­ese fan­tas­tic tours. But Ian never re­ally wanted to ex­per­i­ment. I’d sug­gest that we take some girl singers or a brass sec­tion on the road, some­thing to make it spe­cial – and we were in a po­si­tion to do it – but he wasn’t in­ter­ested. He didn’t want to change or evolve. When you stop evolv­ing you stop be­ing a true mu­si­cian.

“I’d rather win an award for a song than for my

gui­tar play­ing.”

The flip-side is that it’s given you time to com­mit to your own band.

That’s the great thing. I started from zero, I had no con­tacts with pro­mot­ers or record la­bels…

But your name car­ries a lot of weight in th­ese cir­cles, surely?

It opens the door in from the street, but you’ve got a lot more doors to go through. And it can be detri­men­tal, be­ing a name from a long time ago, per­haps per­ceived as past his sell-by date. You have a lot to prove even though you’ve got a lot of his­tory. But I’m very stub­born and de­ter­mined and have a lot of en­ergy to get back out there, and that’s what I’m do­ing. GM

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