The Martin Barre Band will be playing the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Theater in Old Saybrook, Connecticut on October 13, 2016.
Martin Barre did a phone interview with New England Rock Review’s Donna Erichsen prior to his scheduled show.
Barre spent 43 years as a guitarist for the legendary English band Jethro Tull before launching into his new career when Jethro Tull called it quits and broke up in 2011. Martin has since formed his own band, The Martin Barre Band, made up a quartet of seasoned artists. It features Martin Barre, Dan Crisp, George Lindsay and Alan Thomson. The Martin Barre Band released the album titled “Back To Steel” in 2015 and they have a new DVD “Live at Daryls” due out for Christmas 2016.
Question: You have played large arenas with Jethro Tull and the Kate is an intimate venue. Do you prefer larger or smaller venues?
Martin: “I’ve played arenas with Jethro Tull and in small theaters and now I’ve played festivals with the Martin Barre Band. We’ve played theaters, we’ve played clubs. A gig is a gig, and in many ways the smaller the gig the more control you have. The sound is going to be better for everybody with a smaller audience. When you start getting larger the sound varies so much contained within the bigger space. I always look at the audience, if they’re having a great time I know it’s a good place to play and inevitably we get a great reaction”
Question: Do you play this tour with a full band including the female backups on this tour or how many of the band will be with you?
Martin: “It’s a four piece band, but it’s the four guys that are on the Back to Steel album. Maybe next year or at some point we’ll add the girl singers and expand on it for the future. It’s a good question. At the moment the four of us sound pretty good and you get what you hear on the album. We work really well together and with the four people everyone plays with lots of dynamics and lots of power.”
Question: In the years that you’ve been away from Jethro Tull, I know that Ian Anderson has gone on with his own band. Do you miss the camaraderie of being with Ian Anderson and the rest of Jethro Tull. Or, have you taken it in your own direction and enjoy being with your own band?
Martin: “Oh yeah well that’s a difficult area now. In 1969 when we started it was good and you had that connection. I have that now with my band now. We get on really, really well and have that sort of unity. That unity that was with Jetho Tull in the early days diminished as the years went on and people changed in the band. When the lineup changes, although we’re always friends, that spirit disappears. You know that inner glow, that inner connection. I’m glad to have that back again.”
Question: Your wife is from America. Do you spend more of your time in the United States now?
Martin: “We live in England. My wife is from Mississippi. My son lives in Mississippi and we go and visit him a lot. We’re at the moment, last year, this year, next year and 2018 we will spend at least six months of the year touring. My heart is in America and musically my roots are here. It’s where I’ve always been really happy to play. It’s easy here, music is, America loves music and music loves America. It’s a simple formula. I know I live here in spirit. I don’t have a house, I live in hotels but I love things here.
Question: You have a very busy upcoming tour schedule. Is there a particular place or county that you prefer to play in?
Martin: “You know it’s universal. Music is universal as well. Particularly with Jethro Tull there were no boundaries, there were no frontiers. There was really nowhere that was really different. Nowadays it’s a universal love of music and I like being in certain countries because of the culture, the food or the scenery. I have to say that we have been driving through the Adirondacks, through the Catskills and through the Blue (Ridge) Mountains and you know America has the most spectacular scenery in the world. It’s right here in America. It’s a beautiful place. Not many people I think are aware of it. I think many people think of Europe as being beautiful with the mansions and the scenery, but you have it here as well. You can make travel amazing and the highway is kind of what you make it. I try to make it as comfortable and as interesting as possible.”
Question: With the younger generation and the new influences and different types of music that are out there now. Do do you find yourself making changes in your music writing and composing as your going along now?
Martin: “No, I don’t. I don’t because Jethro Tull followed fashion to a degree. We went through an electronics stage in the mid eighties and it was a big mistake. Fashions come and go in music. If you don’t follow it you’ll be in exactly the same place after it’s been and gone. No, I like music and I respect it and I love all styles. I like country, bluegrass, blues, classical music in particular and folk music. I enjoy listening to it and I draw inspiration from it. I don’t copy it, but I know I draw inspiration from it. I certainly won’t change the way I am. I’m not saying that I’m perfect by a huge amount but I have a self belief. I just that I know what I like and I have to stand by that. I stand by the fact that the music I write is the music I love. If people don’t like it I’d be very, very disappointed and if people do like it I’m extremely happy. It’s one hundred percent of my own making, my own volition.
Question: You have been at this for so many years. Do you plan to keep on and see where it takes you or do you plan to slow down and relax a while?
No, no we’re at the beginning of a new career for the Martin Barre Band. We’ve just started and I’m not going to slacken up on it for quite a few years. We are already planning 2018. It’s a big, big year for us and we have some special things in mind for that year. As as long as my health permits we’re in it for the long term.
Question: You have been using more of your own music and compositions and less of Jethro Tull in your performances. On your next album will there be more of your own music?
Martin: “I think there will be that comfortable balance. I don’t want to be known as a band that is famous for playing Jethro Tull music. I want to have our own identity and I want the people in the audience to appreciate the band as individuals. I want to write music and if people to enjoy the music that I write it is a real accomplishment. There will always be that mix, I’ll always understand the historic side of what I’ve done is important for the fans and I would never ignore that. It’s a nice mixture, sometimes we’ll play “Trashing Government Mule” or “Porcupine Tree” or a blues standard. We’re in a position that we can do anything that we want because we’re passionate about doing it. We don’t have any constrictions in our catalogue. We can experiment and I want to do that, I want to keep the audience guessing. I want to keep their interest and I want to keep their enthusiasm as much as I want to keep the band’s enthusiasm.”
Question: Do you plan to bringing in any other artists with you in the future or work in collaboration with other artists?
Martin: “Yes, we’ve got some plans or 2018, a very special tour. With some very, very special guests. It’s a bit early to give details but we have some interest in that from some amazing people.”
Question: In the past Jethro Tull included flute as an instrument. In your latest album that is absent. Do you plan leave that out in the future as well?
Martin: “No, no I don’t, I played flute before I met Ian and I will be playing flute again. But only when musically the situation arises. If I write a piece of music and it would be sound nice with flute then that’s what I’ll do. But, the flute fortunately or unfortunately is very replaceable. We’ve gone to electric guitars more. The flute isn’t a comfortable instrument in a rock environment, although Ian made it famous and did make it work. But I think the proof in the pudding is that there aren’t many bands that feature a flute.”
Question: Does your wife travel with you?
Martin: “Yes she does. We’re expecting our second grandchild in a week so she’s going to fly back in a few days to England for that. But, she runs the business of Martin Barre, whatever that is, with me. Without her I couldn’t do it. She does the administration and it’s a lot of work.”
We will have more from the Martin Barre Band following the show at 7:30pm on Oct 13, 2016 at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Theater in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.