CityBeat was able to speak with Anderson this week about protests, social issues and his thoughts on performance art.
CityBeat: Why did decide to bring the flute to Rock music?
Ian Anderson: When I was a young aspiring guitar player in my late teens I became aware of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Richard Blackmore, who were the hot-shot guitar players down in London, and I decided maybe I should switch from guitar and find something else to play. The shiny precision of the flute, the ergonomics, the design, the manufacture — it’s kind of like a Swiss watch. It appeals to my sense of physics and engineering. For a particularly good reason, other than the way it looks, I decided I would give that a go. I learned to play it by trying to imitate the lines I played on guitar — solos and rifts. So I became the flute player in a Blues band and I was the only flute player in a Blues band, which gave me the difference that helped Jethro Tull stand out from the crowd.
CB: One of my favorites on Thick as a Brick II is “Adrift and Dumbfounded.” Can you tell me a little bit of the story behind that song or how it came about?
IA: Having been picketed a couple nights ago in Kansas City by the Westboro Church, the “Godhatesfags.com” people … I am seen as a fag-hyphen-enabler according to that unworthy organization. I don’t think I am a homosexual, but I am a supporter of gay rights and a lot of my friends and people close to me are gay people and I find that the prejudices and difficulties faced by young people, particularly in post-puberty, where they are sometimes questioning their gender and their physiology because some people are just born that way … so, it is a difficult time for relationships with parents and for society around you.
It’s difficult now. Back in the ’60s, it was really scary. So at the time when homosexuality wasn’t just a predilection but an actual crime, punishable by the courts by incarceration, being gay was a difficult position for any young person to be in, so I decided I would write a parent’s perspective of what that may be like — to lose a child through lack of communication and understanding with the parental, to lose that child to drugs and to, essentially, male prostitution.
That is an extreme scenario but it happens out there in the world. These are issues that face society today. These are issues that have faced society throughout the history of mankind. These days I suppose we are more able to talk about it and to examine the possibilities themselves. I always have to think when I was 15 years old and a little unsure of myself, maybe that could have happened to me. I try to use some of my personal history with my parents, with the lack of communication, particular on matters of sex. I try to extrapolate a little on my own limited experiences in that world.
CB: The Westboro Baptist Church never ceases to amaze me. How did you handle it that day?
IA: I was rather hoping to see them in the flesh. Unfortunately, I had my spies out. I had my spies out to try to keep an eye out because I tried to get a photograph opportunity with these people. Unfortunately, at the time, I guess they showed up when the audience was coming in or going out. When the audience is coming in, I am busy in my dressing room changing and tuning up my guitar. Afterwards, I am busy changing again and packing up my instruments. Unfortunately, I did not get to see them. That is very disappointing. I was really hoping to have the opportunity to have a nice smiling photograph with them and their evil representatives.
CB: Why did you choose this tour to play the Thick as a Brick albums in their entireties?
IA: When you are planning any kind of stage show, your first obligation is to keep it on a level that will engage people and keep it interesting for them and present them with a lengthy piece of musical work with a 15-minute intermission. You have to put your thinking cap on and try to construct everything to keep the audience with you, especially if you are playing a lot of music (with) which the audience is unfamiliar, you have got to make it work the first time around. It is not the result of hearing it many times so you have to make it a piece of working entertainment.
It seems to be successful because I have yet to see, when I go onto the second half of the show, any empty seats as a result of people leaving at halftime. Normally people stay until the end of the show and they seem to follow the momentum of the whole show. You get a personal sense of achievement when you present a large amount of relatively unknown music and you keep people engaged and enjoying the stage.
I don’t think many bands would attempt to do that. I can afford to do it because, a) I am prepared to take more risks musically and, b) I am really kind of doing it for me more than I am doing it for the audience anyway. I have always been a musician who has gone out there to make myself happy. You have to really have your own personal goals you achieve every night in performance. Primarily, I will say, it is nice you folks are here as well, but if you weren’t here, I would be doing this anyway. I am just doing this for fun.
CB: You have seen music change in the way it is recorded over many decades. Do you think it sounds better or worse today?
IA: Music has evolved in the terms of recording techniques over a period of about 60 years, hugely. It goes back to the early stages of monophonic and stereophonic tape recorders, which is what it was when I was a teenager.
When it got to the mid-’60s, it was becoming possible to create the simplest multi-track recordings, usually using two-track recorders, but bouncing back between the two to get a four-track sound. The very first Beatles recordings were made that way. By the time they got to Sgt. Pepper, they were recording with four-track and shortly on the heels of that came eight-track.
The first album I recorded was done on eight-track in 1968. That quickly evolved into 16-track and then to the most often used standard of 24-track, which continued through the late ’80s and even in some cases into the ’90s.
Frankly, the digital age really came about not in the ’80s or the ’90s but in the last 10 years, because that technology began to support 24-bit audio recording, which effectively mimics the human hearing to detect the difference between that and the original audio signal. We have 24-bit 96k recording, which is essentially all we need. We don’t need to advance upon that standard. We’d have to grow new ears before we could benefit any further resolution of earlier technology.
It is the same thing as when cameras hit the 10 mega-pixel mark … essentially equal (to) the very best film quality of film cameras in the last 50 or 60 or 70 years. We have now fairly commonly cameras that will deliver resolutions of 24 megapixels, which will be essentially much better quality you or my eye could fully appreciate.
We are there with audio and visual. We have now reached, during these last four or five years, human physiology would have to change for us to benefit from any increase of the resolution of the technology we are working with now. It is as good as it needs to be. We are there. We are done. We have reached the limit in terms of audio recording and digital recording.
CB: Was there a single incident that changed how you approached music?
IA: Well, I suppose a single incident was the first moment I played notes on a musical instrument, because I was aware as a small child of music as church music and music of Big Band Wartime Jazz, which my Father played on 78-rpm records.
It wasn’t until I was 9 years old and I acquired for a couple of dollars a plastic Elvis Presley ukulele and I strummed my first simple chord on the ukulele. At that point, even though the instrument was a rubbish piece, I could actually strum some little chords and sing along with it, and that was the magic moment of making music the first time.
I suppose that was the single most important moment of discovering music. There are a lot of people who never learn to play anything on a musical instrument and I feel like they are missing out on something. But some of them might be bungee jumpers and they feel like I am missing out on something, because I haven’t thrown myself off a bridge attached to a long piece of elastic.
CB: What is your ideal day look like these days?
IA: It depends if I’m on tour. My ideal day is to wake up around 7 a.m. and be driving rather than flying and getting to another city, another hotel by lunchtime, finding a Red Lobster or McCormack & Schmidt and (eating) some seafood or that sort for lunch and then having a rest and getting my e-mails in the afternoon before going to sound check.
That’s kind of normal practice. If I am at home, I wake up a little earlier, usually around 6:30 a.m. and I usually, again because of working in different time zones, it’s a good time to check e-mails from last night, generally prepare, shower, play with the cats, let the dogs out. If it’s the weekends, I have to go and feed the chickens.
In my ideal world, it would be a mixture of sitting at my office desk, playing a little bit of music and having a little bit of time to walk around the garden and sit and talk to my cats.
CB: What is the biggest difference in touring in 2013 versus 1970?
IA: The biggest difference is you can take a little stress (out) as you are touring easily because of more organization. Twenty years ago and 40 years ago, travel was a lot more disorganized that it is today. We can now be planning the next tour while we are doing this one.
Later today and tomorrow morning when I have a little time off, I shall be booking some internal U.S. flights for the next tour, looking at the various cities and suggesting to my U.S. travel agent some hotels I would like to get quotes on. Generally speaking, doing that planning exercise, when it comes to doing the tour itself, hopefully everything is in place. Everybody knows where everybody will be on most hours on most days.
You can take the stress out of things these days, where it was not so easy many years ago. We had to employ tour managers and people to carry our bags and people to herd us like sheep through airports. These days, people have their virtual boarding pass, which they can collect online from the booking reference code, which was on the tour itinerary, and they can print out their own boarding pass and head straight to the gate. I think things are easier these days, not because of the level of security we face now that we didn’t face 40 years ago, even 20 years ago. That makes lines a little more stressful and perhaps a little longer in the course of the day. We allow for two hours at airports from flight times to be safe these days, not knowing how long security queues may be or what indignities we may have to suffer to keep ourselves safe from the bad guys.
CB: Do you have any fond or crazy Cincinnati tour memories from the past?
IA: Probably with a Holiday Inn, Hilton or a Marriott or two. My bonds tend to be with what my particular life throws at me. The airport, even after all these years, is strangely familiar. I have been tracking the evolution of the airport from the late ’70s — when we were accosted by the children of God, doing their evangelical work, trying to hand out bibles and stuff — all the way to today. Airports quite often have that sense of déjà vu, even that nostalgic memory for me — certain hotels, certain venues of course, iconic venues we still play today.
CB: What was your favorite live performance ever?
IA: It is probably the show in an American venue near Washington D.C. called Wolf Trap. It is my favorite because it is the one I am going to be doing tomorrow and the one I have to focus on and prepare for.
Past shows are in the past. I don’t dwell on those. I don’t have favorites. I don’t have preferences, except for a couple iconic venues, as I suggested. My favorite show is the one I am about to go out and attempt to do because I always have to think it could be my last. Walking on stage is not a God-given right; it is a privilege to be able to step out there into the spotlight another time. I just take each show as they come. My next show is always the best show of my life.
CB: What can the fans expect here in Cincinnati this weekend?
IA: They can expect all they like, but it won’t vary one iota in delivery to them. Their expectation may be many and may be varied, but we try to make a point of emphasis to play Brick 1 and then Brick 2, then a long call of classic repertoire.
We have a very tightly organized show. If anybody starts shouting out during the quiet moments of the show, they will be studiously ignored. I don’t even have time to admonish them. It happened to me last night when I came on stage, I was astonished to hear two female voices shouting at me in one of the spoken words sections with a delivery of theatrical passion. You wouldn’t be considered cultured to be shouting and whistling during a Shakespeare play — please don’t shout and whistle during the performance of mine because I am here to do the work. You are here to listen and if you don’t like it get up and leave. Don’t start interrupting me.
Once in a while you get a drunkard out there that gets to shout at your band, but it happens so rarely these days and it strikes me as so being incredibly curious. I think our audiences do understand this is not a regular Rock show but a theatrical presentation (for which) they have to sit and let me do the work. That’s what I am there for. I may be 66 years old but I am there to do a man’s work for two and a half hours, where you can sit back and, if necessary, bring yourself a comfy cushion and maybe a sandwich because it is a long show.
Though there are few great excuses to not grab a three-day pass for this September's MidPoint Music Festival, stuff happens. Maybe you only have the time to catch one concert. Maybe you don't want to discover new music. Maybe you only have $20 or so to last you for the end of the year. Or maybe you're a younger music fan who can't experience any of the shows at venues that serve alcohol.
If you want to "a la carte" your MidPoint experience, the festival is ready to accommodate. Individual tickets for the MPMF concerts in Washington Park are on sale now. While the lineups are still being built, the Washington Park headliners have been announced. These tickets will guarantee you entry into the Washington Park festivities only. All shows are rain or shine.
Washington Park (as well as the open-to-the-public MidPoint Midway's many activities and performances) will be open to fans of all ages for MPMF. Here are the details so far; click the day to purchase tickets.
Thursday, Sept. 26: Shuggie Otis and Cody ChesnuTT + opening acts
Pricing: $20 advance; $22 at gate
Gates at 4 p.m.; show starts at 5 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 27: The Head and The Heart and Youth Lagoon + opening acts
$20 advance; $22 at gate
Gates at 4 p.m.; show starts at 5 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 28: The Breeders play Last Splash (Day Party with special guests/opening acts)
$25 advance; $27 at gate
Gates at noon; show starts at 1 p.m.
Three-day tickets — which will get you into everything (unless a venue reaches capacity, which is unlikely for the Washington Park shows) — are still available for just $69. VIP tickets are going fast.
Stay tuned for more info on MPMF.13.
Last year around this time, Ill Poetic — the Hip Hop artist who grew up in Dayton, cut his Hip Hop teeth in the Cincinnati scene and currently lives in and works out of Columbus — dropped the fantastic video for his excellent track "Gone," which was loaded with Cincinnati references and guest appearances.
Now, Ill Po (who was formerly a columnist for CityBeat) is set to release the single "Silhouette," taken from his superb Synesthesia: The Yellow Movement release (just as "Gone" was) and he's reaching out to fans (established and potential) to help make the accompanying music video he and partner David Damen of Arris Production have dreamed up.
Ill Poetic has set up one of the cooler (and comprehensively explained; let it serve as a guide for those thinking about going this route) crowd-funding projects you'll see. There are lots of great perks for various donation tiers, but also prize perks (dedicated to various Ohio Funk greats, a huge influence on the Hip Hop artist) for those who simply share the project on social media. You can even contribute via product placement if you're a business owner (at the artist's discretion, surely).
Find out everything you need to know about it at the Indie GoGo page here and check out the pitch video below.
Upon completion, thanks to a distribution deal, the video will debut on VEVO. Here's the nut-shell explanation of the song and video project from the Indie GoGo page:
The centerpiece of my new EP "Synesthesia: The Yellow Movement" is a song called "Silhouette". On the surface, this is a pretty straight forward, light-hearted love song. This song, however, is directed specifically toward those ladies who are genuinely music fans. A lot of artists tend to marganalize women as a 'target demographic' they can sing some cliche love sh*t to, and forget they can be music-nerds just like most of us dudes are. The majority of females who dig my songs are genuine, intelligent music fans who often school me on records I should check out. "Silhouette" is dedicated to those women who go out to shows and buy records because music is their life.
My partner David Damen (of Arris Productions) and I have an amazing concept for the video, but we want it done right. We have shot 3 videos on shoestring budgets and have garnered over 60,000 genuine views, heartfelt emotional reactions (reactions of which people have felt in their heart) and critical acclaim (from critics who acclaim things).
Since we're starving artists who are by no means rich or corporate, we're bringing the campaign to you. We're DYING for the opportunity to shoot a video with upgraded cameras & lenses and a full video production team and we really want to tell you about it. Hence why you're reading this right now. But first, feel free to check out the 3 videos we've created to get an idea of exactly what we've already made with a strong team, no sleep, and few funds.
Check out the full Synesthesia release below and/or click on the player to grab your own copy.
One of the finest original bands to call Cincinnati home over the past decade or so has expanded from a trio to a quartet. The Sundresses' dark, dirty, rootsy Rock sound has been delivered by the three core members over the past 11 years, with Jeremy Springer and Brad Schnittger switching off between drums and guitar during sets (both sing).
Beginning next Friday, July 19, Springer and Schnittger will provide a double frontmen/guitarist assault with bassist Makenzie Place now teamed in rhythm with new drummer Dave Reid (The Dukes are Dead, Filthy Beast).
Springer sent along a video clip of the "new" ’Dresses' second practice with Reid behind the kit.
Editor's Note: Brian Penick of local music promotions company The Counter Rhythm Group is guest blogging for CityBeat monthly to provide a behind-the-scenes look at his journey to release his interactive industry guidebook, Musicians’ Desk Reference.
We are very much in the trenches right now! Keeping afloat amongst a sea of deadlines is a feat in and of itself. And while we typically do not doubt ourselves here at The Counter Rhythm Group, we are quite impressed to bear witness the amount of information being processed within the schedule we have upheld.
This past week I did something that I never thought I would do with Musicians’ Desk Reference — I printed it out! Well, part of it at least. I was simply amazed at the amount of pages and text that printed, so much that I had to refill the printer several times with new reams of paper and even with new ink cartridges.
Through several stages of copy editing and revisions we are finally starting to show how massive this project really is. I knew somewhat early on that it was going to be a wealth of information and documentation (as demonstrated by my inability to stick to the five-page limit set by my high school teachers), but this is far beyond what I imagined.
The interesting thing about all of this — beyond the content — is the fact that the entire workload is customizable to the user. If an artist wants to check every item on a list to recall all potential information, they could be in for several nights’ worth of preparation and work. However, the opposite is also true, as we have built MDR to allow both the beginner and the full-time touring musician to grab a single doc on the go with minimal effort. Maybe I have just been staring at the same set of screens for too long, but it still seems impressive after working on it for over two years!
The rest of the month will see us continually chopping away at content and revisions, plus document sign-offs and content uploads. We are also starting to work out some specifics for the national release and promotional campaigns, which is enough excitement to keep me going like a kid on the night before Christmas morning.
Every day that this project gets closer to release, the potential impact seems to grow exponentially and that is reward enough keep us awake and help pull us through all of these longs days and late nights.
I am going to make this my shortest blog entry yet, because there is still so much work to do. Unfortunately, I have had to remove myself from much of the live music world that I enjoy so very much over the past few months. While this trend will likely continue through most of the summer for me, I hope that you all are able to get out and support the local music scene.
We are very fortunate to live in this city with all of its talent and available venues. While you may not be able to contribute as much to the music industry and independent artists around here as you would like to, a simple start is to go see a show, buy a piece of merch and tell an artist “thank you” for doing what they do. The music industry is not an easy place to find success. We are trying to create a platform that informs and eases the process, but it cannot move forward without the support and contribution from the fans.
Thank you for reading – now go see some live music!
Singer/songwriter/musician Joe Hedges — known for work with his band July for Kings, as well as some great solo ventures — is collaborating with visual artist Jiemei Lin tonight at downtown’s Contemporary Arts Center as part of the museum’s series, "The Living Room." (Hedges is also a visual artist, creating paintings, web art and installations.)
The twosome’s project, “Scroll Improvisation,” features Hedges creating music on the fly with a mix of live and recorded material, while Lin crafts a large “scroll drawing” on the floor. According to the press release, “The piece will investigate the function and history of narrative Chinese scrolls in a contemporary fashion while exploring the idea of the western living room as a venue for improvisational ambient and Folk music.” (Lin is a native of China.)
More from the CAC: "In the west, the living room has long been a venue for intimate performances of music for family and friends using inexpensive hand-held instruments. Traditional Chinese living rooms contain a scroll featuring calligraphy and painting. Both western acoustic music and eastern paper scrolls tell stories, reinforce family identities and values. Scroll Improvisation investigates the relationship of music and art, narrative quality of Chinese scrolls, notation and recording, cultural identity and control."
Monday’s special performance begins at 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public. For more information, visit contemporaryartscenter.org.
The free, every-Friday MidPoint Indie Summer (MPIS) series concerts at Downtown’s Fountain Square have featured some eclectic music over the past few years, everything from Bounce and Electro to Roots Rock, World music and Pop. But this Friday, the series goes where it has yet to go, presenting the very first all-Punk MPIS concert.
Though Punk is known for its quick bursts of songs, it’s a mere coincidence that this Friday’s free show features four acts (as opposed to the usual three per show). The quartet of bands playing offers a nice cross-section of Greater Cincinnati’s Punk scene.
The Pop/Punk crew BoyMeetsWorld opens the concert at 8 p.m. After coming out of the gates fast (in just its first year as a band, the group won first place at the popular “battle of the bands” competition presented by Forest Park’s The Underground), the hooks-heavy BMW released its debut EP, Do What’s Best for You, this past April. (The band is performing acoustically at the Microsoft store at Kenwood Mall this Saturday at 4 p.m.)
At 8:45 p.m. The Lockland Brakes take over the MPIS stage. The punchy, melodic band just played its first show and released a three-song EP last month. But they’re far from “green,” with a lineup that includes past/present members of Situation Red, Newport Secret Six and DAAP Girls.
The excellent, raucous trio The Dopamines, which spent a chunk of its spring touring Europe, perform at 9:15 p.m. The hard-touring band has put out several excellent releases, including last year’s stellar Vices, which caused JadedPunk.com to declare, “For a bunch of goddamned drunks, The Dopamines sure can write some catchy hooks.”
Headlining the night at 10 p.m. is Loudmouth, a high-energy local five-piece that mixes power and melody in the vein of Screeching Weasel, NOFX and No Use for a Name. Loudmouth digitally released its latest effort, the eight-track Future Boredom EP, in late March.
For more on the MidPoint Indie Summer concerts — and all of the PNC Summer Music Series concerts — visit myfountainsquare.com.
Veteran Cincinnati bass wizard Freekbass (of the band Freekbass, as well as Freekbot, the Kelly Richey Band and Headtronics) is the first Master Class leader to be announced for The London Bass Guitar Show 2014. The event (March 1-2 at the Olympia Conference Centre London) will draw some of the world's greatest bassists to London to "promote the art of bass playing to the general public." The show will showcase new bass products and gear, plus feature clinics and master classes throughout the event.
Past London Bass Guitar Show participants include Mark King, Gary Willis, TM Stevens, Paul Turner, Marco Mendoza, Yolanda Charles, Doug Wimbish, Neil Murray and Dave Marks, Peter Hook, Igor Saavedra, Wojtek Pilichowski, Guy Pratt, Andy Irvine, Jonas Hellborg, Grog & Die So Fluid, Malcolm Joseph, Andrew Levy, David Ellefson, Jah Wobble, Lee Rocker, Nate Watts and Phil Mulford.
Here's some footage from last year's event:
The bassist is gearing up for the next album (click here to download Freekbass' album Concentrate for free) from his eponymous band. Freekbass is working on the new album at Lexington's Shangri-La Studios with Duane Lundy, who has done work with My Morning Jacket, Ben Sollee and others. The album will reportedly feature special guests DJ Spooky, Adam Deitch (a producer/drummer who has worked with everyone from John Scofield to 50 Cent) and Steve Molitz (Particle, Headtronics).
This Wednesday, Freekbot (Freebass + DJ/beatmaster/electronicist Tobotius) will perform a recently announced show at Longworth's in Mt. Adams, 9:30 p.m.-midnight.
In honor of its 100th birthday and its forthcoming plans to renovate it into a music venue/"multi-use events hall," the owners of the Woodward Theater (1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine) will show off the new space tomorrow at 7 p.m.
The Woodward was purchased by the owners of MOTR Pub, with help from the Cincinnati Development Fund, this past February. A grand opening seems a bit down the road still, but tomorrow's unveiling is a great first step and more information about the opening will be discussed.
"Funding of the planned $750,000 Woodward renovation project is presently being pursued with Hamilton County Development Company," the press release states. "Target opening date, operational details and benefit to the community will be discussed at the Woodward’s 100th birthday June 18 before TUESDAY’S TURN ON of the Woodward Theater’s 52 façade light bulbs at sunset!"
Directly after the "Turn On," the party moves across the street to MOTR, where nationally acclaimed Cincinnati singer/songwriter/producer/mult-instrumentalist Brian Olive will play a free show.
You can keep tabs on the Woodward's progress through its Facebook page here.
Incredibly impressive young AltRock trio PUBLIC is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its first release, the four-track EP Red, today. In honor of the occasion, the band — one of the “Best New Artist” nominees at the most recent Cincinnati Entertainment Awards — is offering Red as a free download.
Those interested in grabbing all four tracks without paying the usual $5 will have today only to nab it at publictheband.com.
PUBLIC is currently readying a new single, “Honeybee,” which will drop in conjunction with the group’s appearance at the Bunbury Music Festival on the fest’s opening night, July 12.
Give the EP a listen below then go grab your very own copy.