Ian’s Diary: July 1999

It was a hot night in Budapest…… And in Brno, Prague, etc., all the way to Freiburg, Germany some weeks later. Summer in mainland Europe, and now summer in the sultry July heart of these most British of Isles.

Captain Beefheart is singing “Bluejeans and Moonbeams” to me as I type this on my return from sunny and sometimes chaotic Italy. Not one of his best, really, but poor old Don had to give it a try in an almost last desperate attempt at commerciality to pay off the overdraft and the musicians. Read Zoot Horn Rollo’s excellent autobiography, “Lunar Notes”, available from Amazon.com and fine booksellers everywhere.

During the last few weeks, we have attempted several new tracks from

“j-tull.com”  as well as some old flames rekindled. Like what, do you ask?

Well, try “Jeffrey goes to Leicester Square” or “Witch’s promise”………… “To Cry You a Song” or new arrivals, “Hot Mango Flush”, “AWOL”, “Spiral”, “Dot Com”, “Hunt By Numbers”, and “Wicked Windows”. Of course, we can’t promise to play these, or any, specific songs when we finally show up at a theatre near you, but these are examples of the stuff we have been doing as of late in Europe.

I saw the first production run examples of the new album when we played the Pistoia Blues Festival a couple of nights ago. The diminutive Micro (Promotion gal from the Italian licensee record company) was jealously guarding the box of advance copies, but I think one or two of the other guys got one as a begged favour. I found 50 copies in the package sent to me by Roy Eldridge from the newly named Papillon records (see the current NEWS page) when I arrived back today. And they did contain the surprise bonus track!

EMI/Chrysalis records did a spectacularly useless job of promoting our presence on the recent tour dates, but have since apologised and promised to do better next time, now that they have recalled that they have our past thirty years worth of catalogue to work.  In contrast, the new Papillon record company folks and their European licensees are on the case and are a breath of fresh air in regard to commitment and energy.

Some Tull boys didn’t quite fancy the idea of the early starts last week in Italy and opted for the crew bus instead, only to find that the wretched thing had no air conditioning. MB, Shona and I decided to drive during the day and actually enjoyed all but the last trip which was a bit on the long side.

Italy is really such a nice country: shame that the awfully nice Italians got there first. Damn! Perfect climate, perfect agricultural base and perfect sea. Damn! Still, go there when you can. The Italians are warm and generous people and the towns, villages and cities are relatively unthreatening compared to many US and other European urban jungles. But six straight days of Parma Ham and Spaghetti Vongole can overwhelm even the best of gastronomic memories.

I did a series of interviews two weeks ago for Czech TV who are featuring me on one of a series of programmes about “legendary” songwriters; at least, the ones who agreed to be on their programme. Such a cynic, aren’t I?  Anyway, it should be out in September/October for those of you in the Czech Republic, and there is some talk of the programme being made available to other territories as well. The German TV show, “Ohne Filter” has Tull for an hour-long show scheduled for September, but I have to confess to being very disappointed with the sound and audio mix. Lots of shiny new gear in their studio but they didn’t read the instruction book, so it would seem.

The new rage is for “Rimowa” luggage. This  German company produces the famous ribbed aluminium range of  luggage similar in construction to the fuselage of a certain wartime Luftwaffe aeroplane. A veritable flurry of suitcase and briefcase buying took place during the German tour with Martin Barre, in particular, purchasing wildly in his quest for travel accoutrement perfection. I went for the sexy black ABS plastic versions (yes, luggage can be sexy) and Shona had the four-wheel drive, all terrain aluminium model large enough for all the family at the same time. I suppose an endorsement deal is out of the question?

By the time I have unpacked (we only returned home yesterday), it will be time to pack again, this time for a promo trip to the good ol’ USA for a week to be spent in New York and Los Angeles doing interviews and bonding with the new record company and distribution wallahs. Before that I must work on the forthcoming tour programme to get all the new photos and text together with Bogdan Zarkowski, the graphic artist.

Speak to you again in a couple of weeks. For now, so long, farewell, bye bye, toodle-oo, unpack, unpack.

IA