Ian Anderson Explains Why Punk Didn’t Kill Prog
Ian Anderson has a timely theory for the reason prog-rock — and his band Jethro Tull specifically — wasn't stopped by the rise of punk in the '70s.
“I think the punks thought that they were the triple vaccination that would rid the world forever of the horrible virus of prog rock,” he said in a recent interview with The Telegraph. “Unfortunately, like in the real world, the virus tends to bounce back in a slightly revived or even re-energized form.”
In a separate interview with The Guardian, Anderson noted that where other punk or rock bands were leaning into blues, he was seeking something more avant-garde. “I loved the blues, but for me, it was just a pragmatic way of opening the door because it wasn’t really what I wanted to do musically,” he said. “The signposts were the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and then Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. I thought, 'I want to try to do something like that, something that’s eclectic.'”
In Anderson's view, some bands and their respective music-making strategies were too common for his liking, and Jethro Tull's unconventional approach, though it may have baffled listeners from time to time, was worth it in the long run. “Over all those years, Jethro Tull tried hard,” he said. “Some people might say we tried too hard, but it’s better to do that and fall on your face once in a while rather than sit comfortably backpedaling in order to keep on an even keel. I’d get restless if I did generic music like the [Rolling] Stones or even the Who, or the Ramones in the world of punk.”
Still, he hopes his reputation through the decades reflects sincere consideration and reverence for the process of making music. “I fully understand if people look at my meanderings over many years and think, ‘Oh, if you’re making lists of words, the ones that come to mind about Ian Anderson would be pompous, vain, arrogant and self-indulgent,'" he said. "But, hopefully, you might also think serious, studious, passionate and, above all, engaged.”