Wednesday, 19 September 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Annie Haslam of Renaissance interview (Part two)

And so our exclusive Annie Haslam Interview trundles on to day two of three. You can, by the way, read part one HERE. In this second excerpt, our conversation about the latest live DVD/CD set continues...

Jon: I get an awful lot of records and films – lovely job – for free that I can review, and most of them I watch once and it goes into a charity box. You get the odd thing like – I’m not saying yours is an odd thing, you know what I mean, your DVD is the sort of one that I am going to watch over and over again. I’ve already lent it to my nephew who has got off on it and now my other nephew’s girlfriend who is working for me at the moment, she was listening to your last solo album today (I was doing my homework and was listening to it on Spotify) and she was saying ‘Oh this is really good, I need to get a copy for my father’, you know so you are getting all sorts of new fans.

Annie: That’s fantastic. I think it came out really well the day it happened its incredible really what everybody multi tasking these days, everybody has issues, there is so much to live today it’s not easy is it? In any form. It might be easy if people have got millions of dollars, but I don’t know if people are really happy with that huge amount of money. If I had it, I would give it away, that’s why I haven’t got anything.

Jon: Yeah me too.

Annie: Not that I have ever had millions, but I am not money driven. I never have been.

The day we did the show, the night before we played in Alexandria in Virginia, we get up early, we leave in our Sprinter and we’re pulling a U-haul trailer with our equipment because we have all the equipment at the shows we take our own stuff and we were in torrential – very heavy torrential - rain all day. It was all up the East coast very bad. So we were driving in that and then Kevin our driver said ‘It’s time we stopped for gas’, so we stopped for gas and thank God we did because the tyre on the trailer was split – it had a hole in it, a big hole. And I think that there had been an accident on the road further back and I think we had gone over some glass or something, but anyway we were very lucky. We called up U-Haul and we had to wait for two hours, so of course the clock was ticking away and we had to be at the Keswick Theatre by 3 o’clock and we got there at 5. We – well particularly me because I had other things to deal with. The one thing I didn’t do, which I really wish I had had the time to do – which I always do wherever we play – is deal with the lighting and I didn’t and the lighting was not very good. I was very upset about the lighting because everybody is in pink and red all the time. That was not good. But I got there and I thought ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to wash my hair, we’ve got to do an interview before the show, we’ve got to look at all the camera shots with the video guy, and this all within this very small window that we had left because of getting there late. I was a mess. It is incredible the energy and the fear that was going on. Sometimes though when things like that happen you usually put on your best.

Jon: Whatever happened - it worked.

Annie: It did work didn’t it?

Jon: It’s a lovely warm…. I don’t want to sound horribly New Age, but there is so much love there on that

Annie: There is – that’s what I said, because we all love each other, the families are just fantastic people. Everybody is wonderful so it works because we are a team and it is a lot of work and that’s what it is these days. We’re a band from the 70s making a comeback, we’ve created this new album and I don’t know if you know how we did this. Do you know how we managed to do the album?

Jon: No, tell me.

Annie: What a lot of people are doing now, they are using an internet site called Kickstarter.

And a couple of friends of ours, Tom who played with us for the couple of tours; he did a campaign and raised money for his album, and another singer/songwriter who came on tour with us did the same thing and so we decided that that was the only route we could go, because there is hardly any record companies left. So that’s what we did. We got that together and it was a huge amount of work to deal with that. Our manager and the guy who does all our internet stuff. Very clever, talented guy and of course a lot of work to go through all of that because you have to make sure you do it properly. What you do is you have to offer pledges. People pledge. You’ve got different levels of pledging and you’ve got different things, like you’d get a signed album or you’d get … what’s your name again?

Jon: I’m Jon Downes

(Annie sings personalised recorded answerphone message.)

Jon: That is soooo cool! [laughs]

Annie: So we offered that. Different levels you know to raise the funds and we did extremely well and we raised, with the help of all these incredible people, enough money to make this album.

Jon: It’s very much a 21st Century marketing strategy isn’t it?

Annie: There was a woman on there from Australia, can’t remember her name, oh gosh she made over a million – a million and a half? Very talented, I think she had a big fan base, a bigger fan base than us because she was in a well-known band. A lot of our fans still don’t know that we’re around because not everybody has a computer and not everybody has Facebook so it’s getting the word out to everybody that people are finding us day by day, but I wish it was faster really, you know, because we’d love to go the West Coast. This time round we are going down to Florida and we going over to Atlanta and then we’re flying up to Montreal and then we’re doing back down the East Coast, but we want to go back to England. I want to go to England so badly, I want to sing in England again. We all do, and we all want to go the rest of Europe but unfortunately because of the economy and what they would offer us for the shows it just can’t happen. It won’t even pay for the air fares.

Jon: We’d love to see you in England.

Annie: I know. We’ve got a lot of fans in England, but it’s still … it’s down to the promoters getting the right promoter to take the chance. But up until now we didn’t have the new album, so we will have this new album that is coming into the picture and I’ve got a feeling that that is going to open some doors. And I don’t think anything to do the with age of the band or anything is going to matter once people hear this.

Jon: I don’t think the age thing matters now.

Annie: But it does. It matters. I think we’d like to get out to a younger audience and a bigger audience so it does matter really. The age and everything matters to the promoters, that’s the thing. I mean we are in the old school of performers and, you know, there’s a lot of them still going and – I mean take somebody like Steve Hackett, who we toured with in 2010, which was fantastic. It was a great tour, what wonderful people. I don’t know if you’ve ever spoken to him. He’s really a wonderful man and great musician.

Jon: My wife’s met him, I haven’t.

Annie: His shows are fantastic and, you know, it does shows all over the world – he’s never stopped, but we did. Finally we stopped in 1985 and then 87 was when I started my own band and went to Brazil and Japan with that and kind of kept the flag flying, but I was basically managing myself and in 2002 it was just – we weren’t working enough, we were just not interested – it was just wasn’t the time. I did come out with some good albums though. And I produced … Annie in Wonderland came out when I was in the band, produced by Roy Wood, and then I had Still Life with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1985 and I had my Epic Records album which unfortunately wasn’t promoted, but that was a great album and then I joined up with Tony Visconti who became a friend – he’s a record producer, do you know him?

Jon: Oh gosh yes, I’ve always wanted to meet him

Annie: Oh really? If ever you came over, I’d introduce you.

He’s wonderful. And he produced and co-wrote songs on an album called Blessing in Disguise and we did that during my bout with breast cancer.

Jon: I’ve heard that, it’s a very, very brave album

Annie: Well, I don’t know if it’s brave. You have to .. you know at the time I was married to Mark Hoffman – he’s now my ex-husband, we were together for five years and we’re still friends, but I believe one of the reasons he came into my life was to save it because I met him and then I moved to America and I don’t know if I would have had the same kind of attention so quickly in England, so I have got a lot to thank him for. And then I did a few albums with Ray Tessar, who is now in Renaissance – he’s the one who mixed that DVD and he’s got his own studio. That’s where we recorded the new album. It’s brilliant. The mix on that album is fantastic for a live album.

Jon: We were listening to your 2007 solo album which – you’ve got to forgive me, my memory is going – I can’t remember what it is called.

Annie: Is it Woman Transcending?

Jon: Yes. Me and Jessica were singing along to it – Jessica is the young lady who is helping me out in the office at the moment and she and I were singing along with it, waving our arms about and really getting into it.

Annie: Oh great, that’s fantastic.

You know what, anyone who has called up to do an interview, I love to talking to people, especially when you’ve got more to talk about now, you know.

Jon: So was it the 2007 one, Woman Transcending that was a compilation?

Annie: That one is a compilation of songs that were kind of on rare albums like the two Carl Perkins songs, you know. I went down there and I recorded with his songs and I went to his house and met Carl Perkins’ wife and it was wow what an experience that was I tell you. Brilliant. Every song on there is a story, you know. Reaching Out is from the Intergalactic Touring Band. That was a great concept album that going to become a movie, but then Star Wars came out and blew everything apart. It was about a rock band touring the universe. I was in the mothership and that’s what the reaching out was, you know reaching out to the earth and singing about the earth that we’d left behind.

Jon: I’ve never heard of that.

Annie: Yeah, all the songs have got a story.

And this, once again seems like the right time and place to leave the interview until tomorrow, when we talk about Bob Dylan, Steve Howe and other ex-members of Yes, and all sorts of other things...


2012-2013 Tour Announcement · New Renaissance Studio Album · Grandine il Vento. Join Renaissance Updates mailing list ...

Welcome to Annie
Annie Haslam, born in Bolton, Lancashire, breast cancer survivor, became lead vocalist for Renaissance has now turned her music into 'dream expressionism' ...

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