Annie Haslam and John Tout Interview

Alison Steele

10 April 1977

Transcribed by: Russ and Audrey Elliot

Last Updated: 30 December 1996

("Midas Man" is played as the show opens.)

Alison Steele: That's Renaissance from the current album, Novella and "Midas Man," one of the shorter cuts on the album. And the album is just thoroughly delightful as always and of course Renaissance always thoroughly delightful. I have two of the thoroughly delightful group here (Annie laughs), Annie Haslam and John Tout. Welcome to America once again.

Annie Haslam: Thank you.

John Tout: Thank you very much. Thoroughly delightful to be here.

And I might have known you'd get me John. This is really a beautiful cover. You know last time I saw you a couple of months ago I knew the new album was coming and of course we all had great feelings of anticipation wondering how you could keep topping yourselves, but I think you did it again. I almost thought that was you, Annie, on the cover.

Oh, don't. Don't! (Laughs)

Oh there's something very etherial and special looking about the lady even though it's very stylised. Whose idea was was the title 'Novella?'

It was Jon Camp's actually. He found it in an old book, wasn't it? What kind of book was it John?

I think it was an old dictionary, although it's probably in the new dictionary as well. It just happened to be an old dictionary.

Well it's a word they use for short stories.

Yes, it's an Italian word meaning, from the word 'novel' of course. Novel being a story and novella being a collection.

I'll always remember they're using it in connection with D. H. Lawrence always seemed to write those short stories. At any rate, we had heard some of the cuts of course, we were privy to them when you did that special show here in the holiday season. And it was marvelous to get the album. The picture on the back is great too; who did the painting of you all?

Some lady called Amy, isn't it?

Just beautiful. You look particularly lovely. Now tell me what you did over the holidays, Annie.

[I] played around in the snow ...

Do you have a lot of snow in England?

Well,where I live we had about eight inches of snow. We were snowed in for a few days and I got my car stuck in the snow and I had to do a lot of walking in the snow and it was lovely. It was a nice rest.

So you had a good rest. And John, what did you do?

Well I was snowed in, too. I was snowed in bed (laughs). We didn't have any snow in London. Annie was lucky. She had snow up there. But I had a very quiet Christmas. I stayed in bed most of the time and just looked at the television and ate a lot and lot. Ate a lot.

I think you all needed it. You were all tired and to come to America for one concert is certainly not an easy thing to do. It can take the best out of you. Now tell me what is going to happen now. How much of a tour are you going to be doing? Is it really all over the country?

We're doing five weeks on the east coast and mid-west I think it is and then I'm going home for two weeks. And the rest of the lads are staying over for a vacation and their respective wives, etc. are coming over ...

Oh, isn't that nice.

And then we do a three week tour of the west coast.

So this will probably be the biggest tour of the year for you?

I think it will be, yes. I think it's very important. We want to break out on the rest of the country.

Yeah, that's a peculiar thing that I really just don't understand. Renaissance now since their first, since Prologue, has been one of the hottest groups in the New York area. Why do you think it hasn't taken hold in the same way on the west coast?

Because we haven't played there.

Is that it?

I think so, yeah.

We didn't really play there, properly. And it was the last tour in July and August and we had to do quite a few clubs because we'd never played there which was a bit hard for us because of the amount of equipment for a start, you know. And the stage size being much smaller than we needed. But from all reactions the new album is selling all over the country now and the second leg of the tour we're not going back to any more clubs. They are all concert halls and theatres.

The dimensions of the show are much too important to do in a small club. I can't picture it.

(After some commercial announcements, a portion of the track "Touching Once (Is So Hard To Keep)" is played.)

"Touching Once" from Novella, the current Renaissance album and I'm delighted to say we're visiting with two of the five geniuses, Annie Haslam and John Tout. Do I embarass you when I say that?

(Laughs) Yes.

I don't know. I mean, I laughed.

It's a good laugh, isn't it! (more laughs)

Sorry, we're not being flippant, yes, it is a bit disturbing. I think Beethoven is a genius.

Well I do too but of course everything is relative John. I think that you, Renaissance has brought something entirely new to rock music. I remember sitting at the concert over the holiday and watching you on stage and thinking what you are doing is essentially classical music, really. I mean as compared to the general feeling of what rock and roll is, I mean it's beautiful, lyrical voices and songs and here is 4000 young people sitting there in wrapped attention with their mouths open. Now anybody that can do that ...

... is a genius ...

You know what American audiences used to be ... let's boogie, rock and roll ... and here comes a group that is etherial and beautiful and pure ...

Well, thank you ... it's nice ... we are trying. When you say classical, you know, I mean, it's a horrible word to use, I know, classical ...

Well, I don't know if it's such a horrible word John. I think Renaissance, for instance the Prologue album which is how many years ago, Annie, four? ("Um hmm.") That's a classic. You know, because I still play it as much as any of the other albums, and it's still ... it could have been done yesterday. I think in ten years from now it'll still be current and that's what makes it classic. Music that ...

Oh I see what you mean. That's a very good definition, actually.

(Following a commercial announcement, the track "Captive Heart" is played.)

"Captive Heart" from Novella, the current Renaissance album. Tell me about future plans for Renaissance now, I mean, you have been topping yourself with albums, I don't know miraculously so each one seems to come out a little bit better. Are you apprehensive about what comes next John?

Apprehensive? Not really. I personally don't think about what's coming next to that extent. I mean, one has plans, and we know that we are doing certain things at a certain time but I don't think apprehension is the right word. I'm very happy at the moment, actually. I'm looking forward to doing the next thing. We are branching out a little and we are doing some film music and television music which is very very interesting.

Ah, that's what I wanted to get to.

And it is is really taking on, everybody's so excited about doing it. It's like ...

Will it be for American films?

Somebody wants us, I'm not quite sure who it is, I don't know whether Annie knows ... We're doing the the book, The Last Unicorn, they are turning it into a full length ("a movie") ("cartoon film") cartoon film and they have asked us to do the music for that which is very exciting. And at the moment we are working on an English children's television drama series which is also very exciting, so it's the first time anything ...

[Ed. note: The soundtrack for the movie The Last Unicorn, which came out in 1982, was actually written and performed by the band America. (JTL)]

Will you be on camera?

Oh no no no, only the music. ("No, just the music.") We're writing the theme, and a song and the incidental music.

[Ed. note: The work for the English children's drama series -- The Paper Lads -- materialised and resulted in the song "Back Home Once Again" which initially appeared on the b-side of the "Captive Heart" single released in 1977. "Back Home Once Again" also appears on the 1977 album, A Song For All Seasons. (RWE)]

We're running out of time unfortunately. I could talk to John and Annie for hours, but I'd like you to hear part of "Can You Hear Me?" from Renaissance. Here they are ....

(The track "Can You Hear Me?" is played as the interview is drawn to a close with some commercial announcements.)

Return to Northern Lights Home Page