“It’s quite nice actually, I’ve had a quiet couple of months and I was offered a special gig in Switzerland but I needed three hours worth of music. I needed to start writing again and I took the gig and then I realized; I better get my brain in gear,” says the legendary Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre with a laugh as he discussed his latest tour and CD “Back To Steel.” “It’s a short tour, only 10 dates in April and then more in the fall but it gets me working and we’ve got plans for more into 2017.”
Playing along side Ian Anderson for 43 years, Barre helped to outright shape the Tull sound which earned him a 1988 Grammy Award for his work on “Crest of a Knave” and his guitar work on the classic “Aqualung” garnered him the “25th Best Solo” ever in the U.S. and the“20th Best Solo” ever in the U.K. Over 60 million Tull albums have been sold, placing Barre’s work in a multitude of homes; helping to make Jethro Tull a household name.
“Touring with Jethro Tull was a great education,” readily admits the 69 year old shredder. “When we first started out, discipline was tough at first but eventually you realize the importance of it and you get down to business so to speak. I’ve finally inherited it for myself and my new band now gives me 110 percent. I learned much over the years and touring was a melting pot of information. I’ve had a great career, I’ve met and performed with some of the most amazing musicians, met so many great people and learned so much from them. I’m not saying that I’m good, great or a bad musician; I’m saying I’ve learned a lot and that makes me a better player and performer.”
During his “Down time,” Barre has managed to release three solo discs; his latest being “Back To Steel,” a 15 track effort which he said was a mere prelude to his next CD. “This was a jumping off point for the next one,” he stated with confidence. “It was important for me to work on my song writing and I needed a strong album to play live. This album was written to be played live and recorded by just me and the band; there were no guests or additional appearances and it translates well on stage. I’ve already got much of the material for the next one written so that will be coming in the future as well.”
During his live performances, Barre does his share of Tull material and on the new disc he added a hard driving version of the classic“Skating Away.” “I don’t want to do verbatim Tull,” he said with conviction. “I reconstruct the Tull tunes when I play them, I want to give them a real boost. There is no flute of course, so I try to give them more of a guitar perspective.”
Barre has experimented with his band lineup and has even admitted changing gears and reversing decisions but the end result was worth the effort as he’s been with this current configuration for more than a year and is very happy with the results. “The band has sort of grown from four years ago. I experimented, I went in one direction and then I came back. When I first started, I had a six piece band and no room to breathe; so I pared it down to the current makeup and it’s working well. I have a good rapport with Alan Thomson my bassist and George Lindsay is very accomplished and of course Dan Crisp on vocals; they’re just a great band and I have lots of space with plenty of room to breathe. The thing about us is that we get on so well and I think it really shows on stage; the whole band have a big part to play in the show. One of the things that I love is working with new musicians and when we’re on the road we meet so many. I recall during the days of Tull, touring with Mountain, I remember them being so tight and they really showed me how it should be done; they taught me what a band should be. I mean, Leslie West was this dominating figure yet those guys all smiled and laughed and had a good time on stage. They seemed to genuinely be enjoying themselves; the music and their performances reflected that.”
Barre brings his band to the U.S beginning on April 10 with a show at BB King’s in New York City. This portion of the tour is geared toward small venues and theaters with multiple stops in the Northeast. Locally, Barre will be stopping in Asbury Park, NJ on April 12 at McCloone’s Supper Club and on April 22 at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, NJ with an additional show across the mighty Delaware River in Ardmore, PA. “When people come to our shows they can expect a good time and we love to see lots of smiling faces. We hope the audience soaks up our energy and in turn we soak up theirs; through energy comes power and we like having the power of making people leave our gigs with a smile on their face. Before every gig when we sit down to choose the material, it’s always hard to know what to drop from the set list to make room for something else to keep it fresh because everything deserves to be there (laughs)!”
To discover more about Martin Barre, please go to www.martinbarre.com.