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Martin Barre of Jethro Tull Plugs Back In On New Album and Tour

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Martin Barre electrifies with new album and tour that stops at The Warehouse

It may not technically be the first day of Autumn 2016, but it is the first day the weather has expressed distinct autumn sentiments. Martin Barre is phoning in from a state park in Ohio. He and the band are enjoying lunch on a comfortable late-September day as the sun breaks through a canopy of thick-trunked oaks and maples accentuating the greens by rich, blue skies.

In support of his recent album Back To Steel, he and his band are currently on tour, heading through the Midwest and making a stop in Carmel, Indiana, at The Warehouse October 1.

Back To Steel is a band album, even though it is under my name,” said Barre. “I’m excited about writing solo albums, and I’m learning how to do it better. I hope there is a freshness to it as the whole solo band thing for me is a release and enables me to play a lot more guitar and allows me to play the songs I really want to play that an audience finds much more acceptable and direct than in the past.

“Eighty percent of the new album gets played live with the four-piece band as we focus on touring in the U.S that stretches into 2018.”

The current lineup, features vocalist Dan Crisp—who has recorded with Barre on his acoustic album, Away With Words, and the live Order of Play album—Alan Thomson on bass, and George Lindsay on drums. Crisp and Barre have had a brief history together as bandmates. Crisp is a local musician who Barre met and began working with for various projects in the UK. When Martin asked Barre to join his group full time, it was a natural decision for the vocalist. He became the voice to take Barre’s music to the next level. For the former guitarist for Jethro Tull, Back To Steel is the first electric, non-instrumental album of his solo career.

“I really want to get into writing more songs. I’m not writing instrumentals hardly at all anymore. I just want to write music that involves all the band members and become a better songwriter. Tull went through that prompt time when it was fashionable to experiment with strange time signatures, and we were being clever for the sake of being clever,” he said. “I try to avoid anything that is really straightforward because the audience has to feel the music from the beginning. We would lose them in meandering time signatures, but I don’t think it works anymore, not for the music I’m playing. Luckily everything I have thought about and picked out has worked out really well.”

Within the album, you get hints of Barre’s eclecticism within framed rock and blues foundations. Take the rendition of “Eleanor Rigby” and listen to Barre’s interpretation, you will hear the song in a brand new light as he approaches a cover like this with the mindset of putting himself into the song and how it becomes a part of him. This process is the same for all of his music.

“I like to think of playing things that if people don’t like Jethro Tull, which is unlikely, they walk in off of the street and go who is this band? Let’s try and see if we like them. There is something in there where they go, oh yeah, that’s cool. I’m not a Jethro Tull tribute band. I’m not dedicating my career to Jethro Tull. I want to play something cool and fun and something great to do on stage.”

Naturally, Barre admits his sadness over the demise of Jethro Tull. Like Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend or Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Ian Anderson and Barre had an equal influence not just on a generation of rock but an influence on each other.

“It was a very precious musical relationship, and it will never happen again. Ian would say there is no Jethro Tull without me and for me, there is no Jethro Tull without him. I hope that we both have great success. I’ve moved on from it and came back by putting a great band together I am proud of.”

He looks forward to the future as the Martin Barre band will continue to blossom in the coming years as his focus is to use his 40-plus years of experience into some of the best music he has ever created. The band has another month in the states and then they will do a 10-day stint in Europe. In December, Barre will be working on a project with another band in December, returning to the states in March 2017 for three months, finally returning back in September for another three months.

Andrew Duncan
Dug out from a pile of zines and hot sauce, Andrew Duncan has contributed to many publications through the years, including Chord and work with the ever so spunky Readyset...Aesthetic! He now resides deep within your membrane.

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