Annie Haslam and John Tout Interview

Alison Steele

01 September 1974

Transcribed by: Russ and Audrey Elliot

Last Updated: 24 December 1996

(The track "Running Hard" begins ...)

Alison Steele: Renaissance, brought to you by the United States Army Reserve, and I'm Alison Steele, the Nightbird ...

("Running Hard" plays almost to completion.)

The outrageous sound of Renaissance ... and we are visiting in the studio with the one lady, Annie Haslam, and John Tout, keyboard man. Are you aware that your group is probably one of the hottest around today?

Annie Haslam: I don't know, I'd like to think that. It's very nice.

It's true. It's true, and I base that ... go ahead John ...

John Tout: People keep telling us, you know, and they're all getting excited all around us, but it hasn't hit us yet, I don't think.

You know this is the third album, Prologue and Ashes Are Burning ... and this is the third one that you have out now, Turn Of The Cards. And I must mention here that there was another Renaissance album before Prologue and it preceeded it by about three years. Now it really had very little to do with your group, right John ... what's the connection, if any?

Well the connection, really, is just personnel-wise, really, how we changed. How we changed, how the group changed over the years, you know.

The original group was Jim McCarty and Keith Relf were the founders ... and then ...

And John Hawken and Louis Cennamo, I mean they were all ...

They were all good musicians and it was a lovely album and then Keith dropped out if I'm not mistaken, was it not ...

Well actually it was Jim McCarty who was the first to go. He had a nervous breakdown actually at Zurich Airport, whenever, and said he didn't want to play drums again, you know.

And that was the end of that.

They all seemed to have lost, sort of lose, interest.

They were just generally tired because they've been with the Yardbirds for about ten years, or something.

Jim and Keith, of course, had been with the Yardbirds. They toured all over the States; they were fed up with touring. Basically, I think they were, they had wives and things. And they didn't want to carry on here which was a shame. Because, I mean, if they carried on, in fact we carried on ...

We carried on the concept of music ...

Yeah, the Yardbirds, incidentally for those of you that are not familiar, is one of the root groups of our music. Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Robert Plant all came out of The Yardbirds. I just wanted to make that clear. But the thing that I'm still confused slightly about is did any of you join the group before it split or how was the arrangement made to pick up the concept and the name?

Well the thing is you see the concept had always been going. I mean after, say after Jim had left, and Keith had split, another couple of guys came in, whose names in actual fact I don't know, don't mean anything in fact, and then say Jane split. And someone else came in; we had a folk singer for a while. The bass player left, another bass player came in. It went around and around and around. I came in sort of ... well I've been with the group now four and half years. So I came in sort of quite early in that sort of changing-over process. Mickey, our songwriter, he was in the band at one time four years ago as well and he left and now he's back. It's an amazing thing. It's just gone round in circles.

It's probably the most unique arrangement on record today, where a group that exists now does not have any member of its original group. I don't know of any other group that you can say that with (sic) but I feel ...

I think there are probably a couple but I can't think of the names at the moment ...

There's always at least one. It's either the founder, I mean, it's like McLoughlin; he splits one group and goes to another group, but he's always there as the focal point.

He's a key member, isn't he.

(After a commercial announcement, the track "Things I Don't Understand" is played almost through to completion.)

That's the music of Renaissance and visiting with us today, Annie Haslam and John Tout of the group -- 40%, there I am with my percentages again. Annie, this is about your first year in America now, how do you feel about it?

Yeah, I love it.

Was it an instantaneous thing or did we kind of grow on you?

Well, I've been four times altogether, so I'd already been over here before the band. I just like the people. They are very frank, so therefore when you get an audience if they like you they'll show it. And that is what we like, you know. It's so nice to have an audience like that. Whereas in England it is so very different, isn't it.

In what way Annie?

Well, I think the audiences are spoiled a bit. ("Jaded?") In London there's always so many concerts, it's very hard to play in London. Cause they just seem to sit back as if to say, "come on show us what you can do ..." That's the feeling you get. You don't get any relaxed feeling. It's very difficult.

It's always a pleasure to play over here, you know, the whole thing of going to the gig, and getting ready and meeting people ...

You can feel the people taking it in and enjoying it and you can feel the warmth coming back off them, you know and it's ...

It's a tremendous level of excitement, you know, the fact that some of your things are almost symphonic and then there are other things that are more up-tempoed, which doesn't happen with many groups, you know, if the group is a rock group, that's all they play. Whereas with yours I think you cover a lot of areas and no matter what mood you are in you can find something. I would assume that is you on the piano?

Oh yes.

Have you been classically trained?

Yeah, I started playing piano when I was eight but unfortunately I stopped when I was sixteen because my piano teacher moved. I thought I would be alright from there on but ...

Well were you?

I don't practice enough; I should practice every day, but I don't.

You do have a lovely touch there's something ...

Well other people do say so.

He's very modest (laugh).

I thank them very much for it. ("Well you really are modest.") I'm an adequate pianist but you know I think once you start thinking you don't need to go any further, then you might as well not go any further.

Oh, I agree with that. The minute you think you are really the best, then you are really in trouble. And now here's more of Renaissance.

(The track "I Think Of You" is played.)

The music of Renaissance and they have been appearing around the east coast for some time. But now I understand, Annie, that you will be returning home. ("Yes.") You're going back to England ... ("For a month I think.") Vacation? ("Yeah.") I bet you'll be glad. ("I will, indeed.") What to you do when you are on vacation, Annie, what's your schedule like?

It won't be a vacation, I don't think. We'll probably have two weeks where we won't be rehearsing. I might go home to my parents in Cornwall or I'll stay in London. And, cook, walk around the parks (laughs), I don't really do much, you know.

You don't have hobbies or anything like that?

I don't have time, really, do I. Haven't really have time. I used to draw a lot ... and paint.

You've been going at a terrific pace since you're here. And then after your vacation, will you be perhaps appearing anywhere else?

We may go to Italy and Spain.

That's so incredible. Oh that's so exciting. Italy is so beautiful. But you will be touring here in America.

Yeah, hopefully.

And I know that you haven't been to the west coast yet.

We're just waiting to go.

And I think that the west coast is waiting for you and I can't say that I blame them. I'm sure they have heard about you by now. Obviously the big kick is to see you.

(After a commercial break, the track "Carpet Of The Sun" is played, but the interview tape is terminated prior to the conclusion of the interview. The editor would appreciate hearing from anyone that can provide the conclusion to this interview.)

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