• THE BAND
  • ALABAMA 3 ACOUSTIC & UNPLUGGED
  • ALABAMA 3'S KNOWN ASSOCIATES
  • THE SPIRIT SPEAKS
  • ALABAMA 3 LYRICS
  • SCHOOL OF ROCK!
  • THE 12 STEP PLAN
  • ARCHIVE

« BACK | HOME » ABOUT » THE SPIRIT SPEAKS » MICE ON ROHYPNOL (PART 2)

MICE ON ROHYPNOL (PART 2)

posted September 2nd 2007 ___ ...

DAN: I think we were discussing the other day, that It's about, in your use of MOR, you've got to make two decisions i think, you've got to kind of say well, fine, you're calling the album MOR, but is that necessarily reflecting what the band is? Or is it more of a kind of, this is what we're trying to do? Cause they're two different things. It's maybe trying to stick one up at the whole concept of what MOR is. Cause when I started thinking about it, something i was thinking about was 'where does the band live?'. Which bit of this space is own-able by Alabama 3, what's their USP, It's all that kind of crap. So thought, well you've got this blurring between styles of music, blurring between looks... so literally put what I was thinking about was these two spaces, you've got the big optimism, the rolling fields and open skies, all the positive stuff, and then below it's like what lies beneath, all the things that you only get to see if you really dig into it. I was also conscious of the audience level, you know, all the existing people are aware of what's going on in there, but other people aren't necessarily attracted straight into that, they need to be given the opportunity or the reach out to be able to take them into that. So through that I began to draw this line. It's a literal thing, and its always very very blurry. That's kind of where Alabama 3 lives.. you could say that that's the Middle of the Road between the positive and negative, the light, the dark, the black and white... SPIRIT: With Alabama 3, I'd say the way it works is that it's about the way you get through the darkness to the light, so you get to see the light while you're sill in the darkness. It's about refusing not to have a good time, even if your life's completely fucking shit.

DAN: That's exactly where this concept came from. Its about living on the line.

SPIRIT: The pleasures of someone whose life is a wreck, kind of have a fierceness to them. It's a real victory. It's not like the 'idle pleasures of the bourgeois', so casually experienced. The joy of someone who's life is a mess is a fierce joy and it's hard won, I think.

DAN: And it deserves more celebration...

SPIRIT: And this is why using the concept of MOR is quite a weird one for us, cause it's the opposite of that kind of joy in a way, it's the casual, jaded joy of someone who has the world at their disposal already, that's the MOR sound, the joy of someone that already has comfort, which is why it's a weird place for us to go.

LARRY: Which is then, as I say, counterbalanced by the subject, I mean we've got tracks written by Gill Scott Heron - 'Klan' we've got street rappers, we've got crack dealers on the record... It's been done in three different studios, its quite a radical fucking modern approach to recording, in terms of how we assimilate a ten piece band and still maintain a kind of edge, and on top of that we've got Cameron giving us the Bryan Adams production skills.

SPIRIT: Actually, on the subject of Bryan Adams I was remembering, one of the points at which this concept started to kind of come together was, we were on the bus, and I do have a guilty pleasure: I love Bryan Adams. I don't know exactly why, but I do actually like Bryan Adams, and I know everything that Bryan Adams stands for, and I know it's...

LARRY: When you got that record and come back on the bus you were so happy to find there was somebody else who liked it... I mean, you introduced me to Bryan Adams, I was always kind of turned off by him before.

SPIRIT: I know, it's all my fault. I do have a big worry that its all my fault because I was off my head and the tour bus stopped at the station and i bought a Bryan Adams greatest hits CD, and I stuck it on, and me and Larry had a couple of grams of coke and some Amyl Nitrate... and we listened to the whole CD and everybody was swearing at us going 'Take it off! Fucking take it off you cunts!' and we were fighting over the CD player, but we wouldn't let them take it off. Actually at one point I got so excited, I was taking a big snort of Amyl Nitrate while listening to Run To You, and it actually went up my nose an i ended up swallowing a whole load of it...Have you still got that on your phone?

LARRY: Nah.

SPIRIT: Oh thats a shame, we should put it on the website.

LARRY: That's was rotten

SPIRIT: Really rotten. But in a way that moment is the essence of MOR for us. I mean It's a ridiculous, funny thing but it's also... er .... I mean I don't know if it'll work... there's always a danger in using a clever concept...

LARRY: But i don't think it is too clever in that sense because there's a stupidity in it... It's like Dan says, this could all go fucking horribly wrong, but I like that, It's even more like a car being driven by a drunk driver you know what I mean?

SPIRIT: One of the key words in this Wikipedia definition of MOR was the word 'bland'. What's the difference between people listening to the album and going, oh, ha ha, isn't their blandness hilarious, and interesting, and people thinking, oh, Alabama 3 have made a really bland album?

LARRY: Well i don't think it is a bland album. It's probably the best record we've fucking done. I don't think It's bland at all.

SPIRIT: Right, but if you're aiming for an MOR sound in a way you're aiming for blandness.

LARRY: Yeah but that's in the details really, isn't it...

DAN: That's in the perception of MOR.

LARRY: But also if you keep it MOR the other thing, girls, that you haven't picked up on is that why does MOR have to mean Middle of the Road? We can go 'we thought it meant Middle of the Rave, at fucking four in the morning.... or, Men on Rocks, or Mice on Fucking Rohypnol.

                           ****

SPIRIT: We're aiming, whether we're succeeding or not, for some kind of MOR sound. How, technically, are we doing that, what is involved to create that sound?

LARRY: The MOR sound is very much in the choruses; they're lush, and there's a lot of women on the record, so the choruses are a critique of Alabama 3 in that theres something to be said for ugly fellas with bad teeth and drug habits all making a racket, that's good, but i also think we haven't in the course of the albums used a lush sound... I'm not saying that women or lush choruses equals middle of the road, but I'm saying theres more of a pop sensibility that comes with utilizing a female singer... I mean, Judy Tzuke might be singing Let it Go... her and the Proclaimers. So, its not just that Cam's going to be doing a very well produced record, it's not a case of just  blanding it out cause you can't bland out Lenin of Love going 'This is Old Kent Road with the fucking Socialist Workers!' The lyrics on the album are very fucking... I mean Let it Go which you say is a turgid fucking...

SPIRIT: I only said that at the end of the night at the end of a coke jag...

LARRY: Like a CUNT! Why do you fucking do that? Know what I mean, It was just horrible... but anyway the thing is with Let It Go, It's  really lovely song but the first line is 'Why do you feel the need to exterminate?'. And that could be a reference to Palestine and fucking Israel, or Basra, It's a really horrible fucking thing, but couched in a very sing-along chorus.

SPIRIT: But that song's a good case in point; one of the difficulties we had  last night was because the verse has got a real gritty Alabama 3 sound, it sounds quite edgy, authentic, whatever you want to call it, and the chorus is going to this Fleetwood Mac, soft rock kind of thing, and one of the problems we were having with that song, the reason we got stuck is trying to make those two work together. In a way the whole problem of implementing the concept you're talking about is illustrated in that song.

DAN: That's the struggle i've been having with the visual things. It's about how do you bring these things together.

SPIRIT: How do you play the Irony without just...

LARRY: But even if you don't make it a hundred per cent, I don't believe good art or music comes out of easiness, or comes out of being bland or middle of the road, It comes out of friction, and fucking aggro. The amount of friction in the record, is what gives it the edge. So whatever comes from Cameron's lush production skills, that's always going to be matched with sleazy lyrics about Jake down the Substation hanging with some bloke in little leather hotpants and fucking taking him and rodgering him.

SPIRIT: It could go either way. The principle of contradiction, I think, is a very powerful thing.

LARRY: But the thing with Let It Go last night was just you lot fucking yapping... i could see the whole song disintegrating... I said to you if you're going to change the chorus chords then fucking do i now. Don't leave it till we've got two days to fucking finish the album, cause you're just opening a can of worms and the thing was it was nearly there. There was no reason why we couldn't just stick a breakbeat on the fucking chorus, and them it would have been a bit more roughed up, whatever, But I'll put that down to you lot, your naivety and youth.

SPIRIT: Ha ha fuck you, you patronizing cunt.

DAN: What!?

LARRY: I wasn't being patronizing was I?..Oh jeez I'm sorry, I didn't mean that...

SPIRIT: You? Patronizing?... Anyway...

LARRY: But the thing is you got tracks on there like Klan, you got tracks like Amos Moses, which is very garage, fucking filthy fucking Stooges fucking... then you got the Klan which is really fucking... to take a Gill Scott Heron funk track and to turn it into that...

SPIRIT: Those songs are actually the least MOR on the album.

LARRY: All the songs are very...as Dan go's on about, you look below the surface and it's filthy.  Fly with Me is about...you're gonna take your bird out and she's going to be a drug addict for the rest of her life. Let It Go is about fucking your misses stabbing you in the eye. Only girl in the world's about two fucking kids at the end of the world. There's are darkness there and the counterpoint to that is the lushness of the choruses.

DAN: It is that kind of... It's the good and the bad. It's the Yin and the Yang, it's the positive and the negative and it's those contradictions that, from my point of view, are what Alabama 3 is all about. And it's how you can take this concept of MOR and you turn it into a contradiction...would that be a fair?.. I mean It's only a thought...

LARRY: O, I wouldn't drink that, he put a cigarette butt in it. You fucking TWAT. Fucking YES! I shouldn't have told him, I should not have told him, He fucking does that all the time. Fuckin' hell, missed opportunity. I'll get some more beers...

SPIRIT: Can i just say at this point what a pleasure it is to work with Larry. I've been working with him ten years now and every moment has been...pure gold.

EXIT LARRY                                                   

***************

© Orlando Harrison 2007