Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson Plots 'Thick as a Brick' Solo Sequel

Album Review: Ian Anderson, 'Thick As a Brick 2'

The sequel to Jethro Tull's 1972 concept album "Thick as a Brick" had "an uneasy birth" according to Ian Anderson -- who's releasing "Thick as a Brick 2" as a solo album on April 3, with a tour to follow.

Anderson tells Billboard.com that the forthcoming "Thick..." took "about five or six years to gestate" after he spent many previous years resisting suggestions and requests to do a sequel. "I thought of lots of good reasons why that would be a terrible idea," Anderson explains. "Most of them still apply -- the most obvious one was I really didn't want to go back to 1972 and visit some kind of nostalgic moment from the past by starting off where the last one left off like some 'Rocky VI.' " But a conversation with Derek Shulman, the former Gentle Giant frontman and record executive, stoked Anderson's interest.

"At some point, probably late in 2010, one of us said, 'I wonder what Gerald Bostock -- the little kid on the (original) album cover who supposedly wrote the lyrics -- would be like today?' " Anderson recalls. "That caught my attention -- 'Yeah, I wonder...' So in January of 2011 I started to sketch out a scenario of what would be some of the many possibilities of what could have befallen him. It was not going back and saying 'What happened in 1973?' It was taking a 40-year leap into the present day -- good food for thought, and applicable to all people of my age who might be looking back at their lives and thinking, 'I wonder if I had done this and not that...' So it turned into something that amused me enough to write a concept album for the year 2012."

This time out, however, Anderson opted not to record with his own band rather than doing it as a Jethro Tull album -- primarily, he says, because of lingering frustrations about the mixed and occasionally hostile reactions to the original "Thick...," as an anomaly in the Tull catalog, 40 years ago.

"It was greeted with a lot of impatience and derision by some of the more hard rock, beer-drinking buddies...which was disruptive and pretty disappointing," Anderson says. "I decided I would never do that again. When I do something as Ian Anderson rather than Jethro Tull, it gets me over that problem. The riff-raff stay home and the people who come are usually supportive and more open-minded." Anderson says Tull mainstays Martin Barre, who played guitar on the original "Thick...," and drummer Doane Perry "understood" his decision, and the frontman jokes that "they must feel a slight bit of relief they don't have to learn how to play a lot of difficult music and remember it all."

Anderson plans to play both volumes of "Thick..." when he hits the road beginning April 18 in Liverpool, England. Anderson plans to take the show throughout Europe -- including this summer's Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland -- and Scandinavia before hitting North America in mid-September. He'll return to Europe in November for more "Thick..." and his annual holiday church and cathedral holiday shows, then hit Australia and Latin America in 2013, with some additional U.S. dates that summer.

As for a third "Thick as a Brick," Anderson says "the answer is, safely, no... and I'm not going to do 'A Passion Play 2' or anything else with a Part 2 in it." He has, however, been approached about a stage musical treatment for "Aqualung" -- not the first time that's happened, Anderson notes -- which he's taken a wait-and-see attitude towards, although he considers it "a definite maybe/probably not."

"I feel rude if I just turn people down who want to do these things after they've written a treatment and done some work towards it," Anderson says. "I guess I'd rather be involved than to be involved in case somebody writes some additional material and I really hate it. By the same token, it's not something I have the stomach for, because that one really is about going back to look at something in a way that would be writing very much pastiche music based around those sort of themes. That's not something that fills me with a lot of excitement, really."