Ian Anderson expands on Jethro Tull 

click to enlarge Ian Anderson’s 2014 album  “Homo Erraticus” tackles artistic, commercial and cultural themes. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Ian Anderson’s 2014 album “Homo Erraticus” tackles artistic, commercial and cultural themes.

Jethro Tull flautist-vocalist Ian Anderson's new self-released solo album, "Homo Erraticus," isn't easy to explain. Divided into three parts ("Chronicles," "Prophecies" and "Revelations"), it revisits 1972's "Thick As A Brick" character Gerald Bostock, a former child prodigy who has reappeared with lyrics based on an unpublished manuscript by amateur historian Ernest T. Parritt. Its recurring theme? Human migration. "But it's also about the movement of aesthetics, ideas, trade, commerce, plus art, entertainment and culture itself," says Anderson, 67, who also oversaw a four-disc 2014 reissue of Tull's 1973 classic "A Passion Play."

Are you pleased that Ron Burgundy repopularized jazz flute -- and your "Aqualung" -- in the film "Anchorman"? That's an interesting one. I saw "Anchorman," and of course it was fun and flattering to be utilized -- and satirized -- in that way. I enjoy getting the odd poke in the ribs from time to time. But I'm pretty sure that the movie's writers were also basing that character on Tony Snow, the late White House press secretary and journalist for Fox TV. I think the fact that he was a jazz-rock flute player in his spare time must have registered with a few people.

You're phoning from your office, on your farm in the southwest of England. What happens there each day? Well, I share my office with my wife, and she deals with more personal-related administrative stuff, and farming stuff. And I sit on the other side of the office and do the music-related stuff. She has a bigger desk than me, but we both have quite big computers, and we've been working with computer technology since '82, '83, when computers first came out. So we weren't left behind, in the way that many of our generation were.

How does office work help your rock career? I can sit and write music there using my Mac laptop, or -- worst-case scenario -- use my phone to record things. As long as these tools have been around -- which is quite a few years now -- they've made life much easier for working musicians. But the organizational side involves me staying at my desk and becoming a travel agent, planning exotic foreign trips, working out tour itineraries, and booking flights and hotels. We don't use tour managers anymore.

What if your drummer asks about that missing vegetarian in-flight meal he was promised? Well, I send out all the itineraries online for the guys to access. So he will have keyed that little box that says "special requirements." If you treat musicians like respectable human beings with common sense, remarkably, they usually rise to the occasion. But if you treat them like sheep? Hey, they become sheep.

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Tom Lanham

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