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« BACK | HOME » ABOUT » THE SPIRIT SPEAKS » MICE ON ROHYPNOL (PART 1)

MICE ON ROHYPNOL (PART 1)

 posted August26th 2007 ___

Alabama 3's sixth album, after a long and medically dangerous gestation, is finally in the can. The band's new manager, Jonathan, asked me (The Spirit of love, keyboard player), to sit in on a discussion with Larry Love, (frontman,) and Dan B (our marketing propagandist) about the proposed title for our latest situationist masterpiece. It sounds wicked: a frothy brew of swamp water and bloody communion wine, adorned with a turquoise cocktail umbrella... but what should we call it? Larry's dead set on 'M.O.R'. Me and Dan try and get our heads round the concept...

SPIRIT: If you're talking about MOR, It's quite a slippery concept isn't it? I looked it up on Wikipedia just before I came, and it's generally a derisory comment...

LARRY: What's that quote? 'If you ain't hanging off the edge of a cliff you're in the middle of the road...'

DAN: And what lives in the middle of the road? - 'Yellow stripes and dead armadillos'. There's lots of things... there's a big journalistic debate that goes on about, and politically as well, y'know, left wing or right wing? If you're gonna be in the middle then you're supposed to be impartial, but is that boring or is that good or whatever?...It's like that sliding scale thing...

LARRY: It is a derisory concept...

SPIRIT: Generally, it's a sign of decadence isn't it, MOR? Usually it comes from something that was once raw and seen as cutting edge, then it becomes current and fashionable, then it becomes standard, and then it becomes a cliché...

LARRY: Hence the term is reduced to vilification, even by those who are part of it. You know you've got people like Zeppelin and the Stones who would go 'Oh, Toto and the Eagles and the fucking Chicago are middle of the road, we're the cutting edge', and then you've got this punk thing coming up blowing all of them out the fucking window, 'cause all the punks said to Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones 'you are middle of the road as far as we're concerned.' And what you've got now is a generational thing where you've got kids who were born in 78, 79, 1980, and their parents go; "oh yeah, I was a punk!" and they go; "why were you a punk?" They're hearing stuff and realizing the capacity for subversion in it, hence the fucking success of Guilty Pleasures at Coco, kids  are seeing it as subversive, cause kids can go there and fuck their parents off.

SPIRIT: But is it kids?

ENTER JONATHAN: (THE Manager) How's it going, alright?

LARRY: No. Orlando's doing my fucking head in John. They're both doing my head in.

JONATHAN: HaHaha... But you're doing all the talking I Imagine...

LARRY: But that's what I'm here for innit? How's it going in there, what do you need back up or something?

JONATHAN: No, no..

LARRY: What do you think of Middle of the Road, John?

JONATHAN: Yeah, it's grand.

LARRY: We looked it up in Wikipedia and it's a really derisory term...

SPIRIT: There's going to be some literal-minded people that go 'Oh, MOR?, Middle of the Road?, I don't like that, I only like extreme stuff...

LARRY: But they're exactly the ones who don't get through...you've got to bear in mind a lot of young people don't even know what it means: it was a term that was most effectively bandied about in the mid - seventies.

SPIRIT: Yeah, it's not exactly current is it?

LARRY: Yeah, as I see it, in terms of our cannon of aesthetic, it is another wind - up, It follows the continuum with Coldharbour Lane through La Peste, you know, there's a certain wind-up in there, a provocation...

SPIRIT: Well, we were never actually shy of at least aiming for (and usually missing) those big production values.

LARRY: Exactly, and I think we've got that with Cameron (producer), as you said, he knows all the chords to Run To You, and you were really Impressed, weren't you?

SPIRIT: Ha ha, I was, and a little bit scared... but Cameron's an interesting case in point actually, because a lot of references he comes up with are very MOR...

LARRY: Well, the production values of that particular generation were really good, despite the fact that it was all done by bloated fucking cokeheads.

SPIRIT:  But he generally thinks that stuff... I mean I like it in a bit of a pretentious, ironic way, but he's genuinely into that, there's no irony in his enthusiasm for that stuff.

DAN: (Returning from talking to Jonathan) er, sorry fellas the manager's told me I've just been sacked, so.. I'll see you later...

LARRY: Thank fuck for that!

SPIRIT: The thing about Alabama 3 is that, I've been talking to A3 fans and I say something like, 'well, we’re not a bad pop group', and they say 'Pop group? you're much more edgy and strange and sophisticated than that,' but we always were a pop group, we always wanted to try to be a pop group...

LARRY: Totally! I mean the thing with us as Dan's discussed is that what we want to be about now is a policy of seduction: we've done the Power in the Blood Al Quaida thing, and the la Peste fucking darkness, but this is, is a real attempt at a policy of seduction. We're probably shooting ourselves in the foot... the concern now is whether with the title MOR we'll come across as toothless old fucking coke whores from 1973.

DAN: That sounds like Alabama 3 becoming a guilty pleasure...

SPIRIT: I think it actually already is for a lot of people...

LARRY: We are a guilty pleasure.

SPIRIT: It's certainly a guilty pleasure for me.

SPIRIT: I'm still not entirely sold on the MOR concept; I'm keeping an open mind about it...um...

LARRY: What it allows us to do, on a philosophical basis as well, is to go the last fucking thing we are is Middle of the Road. Just cause the album's called MOR it doesn’t mean we are MOR. But it allows us to go we are 'ding-dong radicals' if we want cause despite its lush production values it's a fucking very street, urban, frontline record, you know what I mean?

SPIRIT: But I’m sure there are a lot of very conservative acts that are claiming the same thing, you know, being down with the kids...

LARRY: But they're not are they? You know,...Middle of the Road is also a critique of the government, of the times we live in, I mean Coldplay, Keane and fucking Snow Patrol are defining the sound of this Blairite generation, it's so much about the context we're living in and meanwhile you've got fucking hoards of black kids excluded from schools...

DAN: What you're trying to do, I think, is change... make a statement, about the whole concept of MOR, and you're actually saying that perhaps there's nothing wrong with being MOR because what you're trying to do is reach to people on both sides of the fence, is that what you're saying? Because I think at the moment people, people like me, and millions of people like me, would think Snow Patrol and Coldplay are MOR.

LARRY: That's what I mean, yeah they are MOR. But I don't think we are middle of the road at all.  The whole concept of Alabama 3 is based on smokescreens and ambiguities and things like that, and you have said to me that sometimes we go to far on that, so I know there’s a danger, philosophically, that we could shoot ourselves in the foot by pursuing this particular concept, but I think it does allow us, in the context of the press and the reaction it would get, cause journalists would go ' why are they MOR?', and they'd say Alabama 3 are a fucking Marxist narcotic fucking Mojo supporting left-wing radical, causing fucking a junkie fucking sympathiser into doing fucking seventy-two hour banging techno nights in Brixton. So there’s always going to be that...

DAN: You have the edge then, is what you're saying.

LARRY: But it's also again, and the ambiguity comes in, that I do really love the fucking Eagles, and I love the bloated excesses of those production values and I'm not the only one. There's a reaction in a sense to people cocking the fucking thing up, people like Coldplay and so on, well there's better versions of songs like that done in the seventies; Chicago's 'If You Leave Me Now' is better than 'Yellow' by Coldplay.

DAN: I agree, but I think that what you need to do...!

LARRY: I'm saying that at same time I would love to be Middle of The Road and I would love to have the seduction strategies that Coldplay, Keane and Snow Patrol have.

SPIRIT: And the budget.

LARRY: Yeah

DAN: And the rider.

LARRY: No, I don't want their rider; our rider's more than sufficient...

Continued in part 2...

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© Orlando Harrison 2007