England - Full Moon 49 - 10/13/00
- an interview with Larry Love by e-mail
The gospel according to: Alabama 3
Noted NME writer Roger Morton calls them "one of the most joyous, righteous, provocative and
inspirationally deliquent bands Britain has ever spawned". Yes, we are talking about Alabama 3,
who are just about to follow up the acclaimed Exile On Coldhrabour Lane debut with their
latest effort La Peste. A record that manages to mix country, gospel, acid house and
hiphop and still gets away with it. The inclusion of their 1997 song Woke Up This Morning
to the soundtrack of the famous The Sopranos TV series meant a lot media exposure in the
States, yet Alabama 3 aren't what you'd call rich rock stars. On La Peste they do a
"controversial" cover of The Eagles' Hotel California and elsewhere you'll find references
to Neil Young and Bob Dylan. Alabama 3's lead singer Larry Love (known as Rob Spragg to his
parents) recently did a round of interviews in Cologne, Germany. Unfortunately, your journo was
on tour in England seeing Bob Dylan on stage. Larry was kind enough to answer my questions by
e-mail on his flight home and I couldn't resist to ask him about the obvious Dylan reference in
the new Alabama 3 song Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlife right at the start.
Carsten: Would you consider Dylan and/or Blonde On Blonde in particular an
important influence, or did you just like his Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands as a title?
Larry: As I depart the fair city of Köln, Zimmerman comes to my head '.... harmonies play
skeleton keys in the rain...' However, well spotted young man - Dylan's ode to Sara Sad Eyed
Lady of the Lowlands remains a masterpiece of dewey eyed machismo. Unfortunately, I know no
"sad eyed" ladies with recourse to their "mother's drugs", and have to content myself with the
company of ferocious, whisky-swilling man haters. But yeah, Blonde on Blonde - amphetamine
+ folk = Dylan's finest hour.
Carsten: Generally speaking, do you think there is the musical line you wouldn't
cross? Or could virtually anything be an inspiration for you?
Larry: As artists with a modicum of responsibility, we are unable to censor any inspiration
and subsequently remain tied to the most of the muse.
Carsten: Did the sources of inspiration change over the years?
Larry: No - 808 drum machine, Roland 303, Akai S1100 and a banging record collection........
ooh and Pro-tools!
Carsten: Did you have a masterplan for La Peste, did you know beforehand what
you wanted to do differently this time around?
Larry: As our nostrils cleared, we gagged on the stench of the corpse but we carried on
Carsten: Did the success of the last record and all the media-attention etc. that
went with it have a deeper impact on you and your music?
Larry: What success? We are currently £1,000,020 unrecouped and media attention was consciously
Carsten: It seems that your songs are very popular with filmmakers. Do you aim at
making your music "cinematic"? Or is it just a nice bonus that they music you happen to produce
fits nicely into motion pictures?
Larry: Excuse another reference to Mr. Dylan, but Blood on the Tracks taught me
that every song one writes should have a little bit of cinema in it.
Carsten: How do you write most of your songs? Do start with the lyrics, a melody or
maybe even with just a certain feel, as feeling and atmosphere seem to be pretty important to
Larry: Alcohol, hangovers, drugs, withdrawals, love and hate.
Carsten: Do you expect the record to be received any different compared to your
previous ones? And do you expect strong reactions to the eagles coverversion inparticular?!
Larry: I expect the record to be received exactly like the last one, ie. Alabama 3 are a
bunch of failed situationists, desperate for copy. Nevertheless, I guarantee a very strong
reaction to Hotel California - the alternative American National Anthem, takes no
prisoners, techno prisoners.... not!
Carsten: Do you see this album as a deciding factor in where you go from here as
a band, maybe more so tha the last?
Larry: Hopefully, where we go is right up Lover's Lane, to the Mansion On The Hill.
Carsten: What can we expect from Alabama 3 live this time around?
Larry: Dark, desperate, dangerous, deluded comedown, funk or maybe just some 21st
Carsten: Silly last question: if I or our readers would want to go to Alabama,
what would we need to see?
Larry: You would need to see every house, farm and street that the KKK and other racist
scumbags have populated and you would, with a little bit of semtex, remove this plague from the
state. You would then go and visit Leadbelly's birthplace and listen again to Martin Luther
King's Free At Last speach 87 times. Ain't no peace in the valley till we got the keys
to the mansion on the hill.
Carsten: Thanks for your time, Larry!
Copyright © 2000 Carsten Wohlfeld