sábado, 15 de abril de 2017

Interview - Jenny Haan (Babe Ruth): Forever a Free Spirit

Babe Ruth was born in Hatfield (England) in 1971, founded by guitarist Alan Shacklock. The group created a style full of personality, making a Progressive Rock and Hard Rock led by the guitar, bringing nuances of classical music, Latin, blues, percussion and arrangements with instruments such as cellos and metals, as well as influences from Morricone soundtracks. The icing on the cake was the young vocalist Janita "Jenny" Haan (also a native of England, who spent a period in the USA), with her powerful vocals, sometimes bringing a certain crudity, and full of energy and feeling. And adding to the voice and her electrical performance on stage, Jenny called attention for the beauty, athletic style and charisma.   (versão em português)

Babe Ruth, with Jenny on vocals, released four albums in the '70s (in the fifth , "Kid's Stuff", the band had already undergone major line-up changes), with the debut album, "First Base" (1972) a Cult, being mostly worshiped by Progressive fans, and featured tracks such as "The Mexican", the group's most acclaimed song, "The Runaways", "Wells Fargo", and a personal version of Frank Zappa's "King Kong".

In 2005 the group reunited, bringing five members of the original lineup, and released in 2007 the album "Que Pasa". The group continues to do regular shows, such as the Canadian mini tour in 2010, where it has until now a solid fan base, and was acclaimed with gold record with "First Base".

To tell us a little bit about this beautiful story, we spoke to the kind and powerful Jenny Haan, who spoke about her recent work, the rare material release of her band Jenny Haan's Lion, plans, the band's return, and this great music era , In the 70's, where other legends such as Led Zeppelin, Sabbath, Pink Floyd and many others were still at the beginning of their career. Many great stories from a Rock legend!

RtM: Hello Jenny, thanks for taking the time to talk about your career, Babe Ruth and other issues. I'm sure many fans will enjoy reading, and also many people who will now know your music.

To begin with, tell us when started your interest in music, and when did you decide to start a singing career?
Jenny: Hello Carlos Thank you for inviting me.  It was my Grandmother who discovered my singing voice when i was in California, and insisted I performed it to my parents. In my last year of High School in California I was studying Art as my final project with plans to continue with Fine Art Restoration at University.  I found myself singing more and more on my own, and when the opportunity arose for me to go back to England the place of my birth … I knew it was my destiny.

"I found myself singing more and more on my own, and when the opportunity arose for me to go back to England the place of my birth … I knew it was my destiny."
RtM: Your first professional work was already with Babe Ruth?
Jenny: Yes it was.  I was answering ads to join Bands and auditioning.  I answered the ad about and Emi recording band called Shacklock looking for a lead singer. I rang up and David Hewitt answered the telephone.  They came to visit me in my bedsit in Finchley I think it was and Alan played on an acoustic guitar and I sang.  They were testing my ear for music.  They then invited me to come down to the Auditions at EMI Manchester Square where I auditioned along with 40 other male singers (the only girl!) and it was between me and a singer from New York who already had an album out …. They decided to go with me! The joke is they were too embarrassed to offer the very small wage we were on hahah…. Intensive rehearsing began.  EMI were not keen at first for a female singer to front the band.  The boys rehearsed me up very hard and Nick Mobbs who signed the Sex Pistols came down and he loved what he heard… Within a few weeks we were in Abbey Road Studios recording the first Album, "First Base".

RtM: A greta time! And talk about your beginning with Babe Ruth, and the releasing of "First Base" (72), regarded as the band's great classic by the fans.
Jenny: It was an amazing time.  All the boys in the band were very protective of me as only 18 at the time. I had a very good grounding of music discipline.  Alan Shacklock classically trained at the Royal Academy of Music, David Punshon  also classically trained and a keen jazz pianist, David Hewitt steeped in the Blues for Bass and Dick Powell progressive drummer.  it worked.  They trained me well in the Art of discipline in preparing .. I am forever grateful to my brothers for this education

RtM: Your powerful vocal, and also performance and appearance (very beautiful and athletic), attracted much attention. And at that time women were also rarer on Rock scenario, and you deserve much more recognition for quality, personality and pioneering.
Jenny: Thank You very much.  In hindsight i was a little provocative! hahah! coming from San Francisco area, a wild child and free spirit..

"They then invited me to come down to the Auditions at EMI Manchester Square where I auditioned along with 40 other male singers (the only girl!)"
RtM: I love “First Base” album, and my favorite song is "The Runaways". I would like you tell us a little about this song. I like the songs more "rock", but I love to hear your voice in more emotional songs, ballads …
Jenny: Alan wrote with lyrics that were tongue in cheek i.e. or stories.  He love the spaghetti westerns, Morricone music, so "The Mexican" and "Wells Fargo" came out of that. The track like The Runaways show the more sensitive tender side … and it also gave me the opportunity to apply different vocal techniques a softer side which I enjoy too.

RtM: The song that is considered the most important of the band is "The Mexican". Tell us a little about this song. It even has this curious story, to have influenced the Hip-Hop culture and the Break Dance, and the Clint Eastwood’s movies have participated in this.
Jenny: Yes that's right.  That song has now crossed into 4 decades of honouring from the hip hop culture. It started out in the NewYork studio loft parties that Mancuso became famous for starting the hip hop urban music playing songs like James Brown Babe Ruth and mixing it up… The reason The Mexican touched their hearts is it is of the downtrodden and the bpm (beats per minute) were perfect for working out a break dancing routine without having to change tracks.  It became an anthem for the BBoys

RtM: It's a hard question I guess, but could you quote us your five favorite songs from the band?
Jenny: "The Mexican", for obvious reasons
Black Dog
Sun Moon and Stars
2000 Sunsets
We People who are Darker than Blue.

"... i was a little provocative! hahaha! coming from San Francisco area, a wild child and free spirit.."
RtM: You've gotten a huge fan base in Canada, even after the return of activities in 2005, you guys went on a tour there again. Tell us about this success there, and how it was to return years later.
Jenny: Extraordinary the loyalty of the Canadian people is still there, today we are still played, they loved First Base, it was No1 for 40 weeks there .  Going back to play for them again was very very special and we worked very hard to give them a great show …. loved every moment.  We came out to a fantastic sunset over the waters … breathtaking.

RtM: Do you believe the band could have won a lot more? And I think even ended his activities prematurely in the 1970s.
Jenny: oh for sure… Most definately.  The band was hit very hard when we experienced a very bad car accident between the first and second albums….. it threw the band completely . Followed by members getting very badly beaten up by bouncers at a gig in Sunderland.  It was then that David Punshon left.  We had just recruited Ed Spevock who is still with us today it was a very vulnerable time.  "Amar Caballero" was the result… There are some fine work on there … I co-wrote with Alan on a few of the tracks lyrically which was great.

RtM: And about the return in 2005, with the album "Que Pasa" (2007). Tell us a bit about the return, how you felt about working with Babe Ruth again.
Jenny: It was fantastic healing time and reconciliation for us all.  We had the original members again , bar Dick Powell, the drummer….. It came about after we played Brixton Academy for Hooch and the World Breakdancing Championships ..where we performed The Mexican to 4000 Breakdancers who went absolutely mental it was fantastic. We then decided to put together another album   ….. and Que Pasa was the result.  We are a family and will always be a family.  We have our ups and downs but we love each other care for each other and Babe Ruth is still very much alive.

" (Nowadays) Musicians are having to find other ways to make money to continue doing what they love… I find it heart breaking "
RtM: And about "Que Pasa". That brings many classic features of the group, including influences of Latin music, but also more contemporary things, and fleeing a bit of traditional, such as a DJ and turntables. Tell us a little about this work.
Jenny: We wanted to return to the roots of "First Base", as an honouring to the Bboy culture and the loyal fans who have supported us  We felt we needed to include the elements that is intrinsically the Babe Ruth sound to also include the Bboy DJ turntables. Alan Son, Jessie aka Kdsml, helped with the turn tabling … it was nice to keep it in the family so to speak. I flew over to Nashville to lay the vocals down with Al.  David Punshon also flew out and put jazz piano on it was a magical and wonderful time .  I worked on the album cover with a very talented artist from Hawaii called EAST3 or Suya3 ….. we spent long hours on the computer he in Hawaii and me in Wales putting it together .

RtM: About the news, in addition of your participation in the second album of the Hollywood Monsters, I followed that you have posted about new compositions, and with the partnership of Stephen. By the way I think this partnership will yield a lot. Will we soon have a project of both or a solo album of yours?
Jenny: I have discovered recording dating back with Jenny Haan's Lion and an album that was recorded in the early 80s.  David Morris  helped to first get the music off the reels which involved heating the tapes slightly so the acetates stuck. Luckily they had been kept in a warm place.  But the process only allowed one shot…. we only had a tape to go on for the Manchester recordings which again… proved interesting as we found out after listening back from the sound of my voice that the tape was running fast.  David was alerted when he had been listening to memoirs of his fathers stories of the spitfire WW11 maintenance. David then had to slow the tapes down.  It is unusual.

RtM: Great! The fans will love this material!
Jenny: The album will be certainly for people who have enjoyed my work over the years. a very 80s modern tech feel. There is a live music from Music Machine in London from Jenny Haan's Lion.  again for collectors.  Im in the process now of collating formulating and getting the Art work together. Steph Honde mastered them in France. As per new recordings there is a new recording of "Black Dog" which is a tip of the hat to Babe Ruth and also the writer Jesse Winchester that Steph and I recorded when I went to France to lay down the vocals for "It's a Lie" and "Capture the Sun" for Steph's album.  Babe Ruth loved his writing. it is dark an has elements of both and a completely different interpretation.  There are a couple of new tracks that Steph Honde and myself collaberated on..  Im undecided whether to include or keep them for the new project after this .

RtM: And how do you see the music industry today, compared to the scenario when you started in the early 70's? On the one hand we have the ease of the internet to promote and make contacts, and on the other hand there was a reduction in sales of physical albums.
Jenny: Its awful.  The musicians have been totally devalued.  People no longer want to pay for music when they can get it free on downloads.  Musicians are having to find other ways to make money to continue doing what they love… I find it heart breaking 

RtM: What about today's singers and bands, do not you think is there a lack personality today? From younger bands and singers, which ones have caught your attention and that you think really have personality and potential?
Jenny: There is a huge melting pot nowadays. There are some great bands out there and good singers. But many just want stardom which is so sad.  They do not want to pay their dues… and now because of the need to play live to make any money its very hard for bands to get on.  Everything has a different feel….

RtM: I remember reading an interview that you said you were recording, and had a technical problem, asking for help from the studio guys next door, and David Gilmour, who was recording "The Dark Side of the Moon", was who help you. You must have many stories from that time, where many of today's legends were just beginning their story. Tell us another one great history thar you remember, or more.
Jenny: We  played in Campbeltown and Wings came to see us …. Paul and Linda didn't come as they couldn't get a baby sitter hahahah… after the show we went to Wings rehearsal place which was in the middle of a field and jammed the night away …. Denny Laine used to always come down and see us when we played in London… there was a great camraderie.
I met John Lennon just after he and Yoko Ono had gotten back together … I don't get star struck but I was def on this one.  He had just come from going to the loo and said hello…. def one of my hi lights.
When we were playing in Los Angeles with Iggy Pop ,I was invited up to Jimmy Page's rooms in the Hotel where all us bands were staying , Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin, Babe Ruth … to have champagne.  I remember playing him Bill Nelson's music, so he could hear his guitar.  Whispering Bob Harris was there with us (Old Grey Whistle Test)

RtM: Jenny, thank you very much for your attention, we look forward to hearing new music from you soon!
Jenny: Thank you again Carlos … Hello to Everyone love.... jenny xxx
All the best.

Interview: Carlos Garcia

Jenny Haan's Fanpage
Babe Ruth's Website

Discography Babe Ruth
First Base, 1972
Amar Caballero, 1973
Babe Ruth, 1975
Stealin' Home,  1975 
Kid's Stuff, 1976 (Jenny isn't on this album)
Qué Pasa, 2007

Jenny Haan EP "We Drove'em all Mad/
Greatest Hits, 1977
Grand Slam: The Best of Babe Ruth, 1994






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