Ian Anderson Feels ‘Awkward’ About Idea of Jethro Tull Reunion
"It would be an awfully crowded stage," he told Classic Rock. "And in many cases those old band members no longer play and haven’t for many years. It’s a tricky one. I've always felt awkward about the idea of getting the old band back together, because which edition of the band are we talking about? Picking some people and not others would be favoritism. And I don’t have favorites."
Anderson, Jethro Tull's primary songwriter and creative force, co-founded the ever-evolving band in 1967. There have been several definitive lineups and contributors over the years, including guitarist Martin Barre, who played on all of the band's studio albums between 1969 and 2003.
Despite the recurring questions about a reunion, Anderson maintained that the brand should be dictated by the material, not the musicians. "If the show is all Jethro Tull repertoire, I feel that’s Jethro Tull," he said. "If you looked at Wikipedia two or three years ago, it said 'Jethro Tull was… .' Now, that past tense has disappeared, due to some grudging acknowledgment that Jethro Tull goes on."
And Jethro Tull will go on, just not with that precise billing. Throughout 2020, Anderson will alternate between two international tours: "Ian Anderson on Jethro Tull" (featuring music, discussion and Q&A) and a trek focused on the band's "prog years."
"I’ve always argued that Jethro Tull is not at an end any more than the Beatles are," Anderson told Classic Rock. "The Beatles still sell millions of records and downloads. The glorious thing about the world of entertainment is that your work lives on after you."
Anderson has previously made similar comments about Jethro Tull, telling Billboard in 2014 that the group, as an official unit, "kind of came more or less to an end during the last 10 years or so [with] a couple of live albums and a studio album of Christmas material. ... That might define the last albums under the name Jethro Tull. It's a body of work I rather think is now kind of historical, since the weight of it lies back in the '70s and '80s, in terms of volume. And I rather think it's nice to kind of leave that as legacy."
The most recent Jethro Tull studio LP, The Jethro Tull Christmas Album, came out in 2003. Since then, Anderson has focused on solo work, including a pair of records of strong Tull ties, 2012's Thick as a Brick 2 and 2014's Homo Erraticus.
In 2017, he collaborated with orchestral arranger John O'Hara and the Carducci String Quartet on Jethro Tull — The String Quartets. The following year, Anderson celebrated the band's five-decade anniversary with a tour and a personally curated box set.