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BBC WALES INTERVIEW

Band's farewell to TV's Sopranos


Country fusion band Alabama 3 are bidding a fond farewell to The Sopranos, the award-winning US TV Mafia series which helped make their name.

Its famous title sequence - with lead character Tony Soprano driving on a New Jersey freeway - uses the group's song Woke Up This Morning.


The sixth and final series of the drama is being shown in Britain on E4.
Welsh singer Rob Spragg, from Nelson, Caerphilly, said they were "blessed" to be associated with the series.
 

 

Spragg, better known as Larry Love, said Sopranos writer and creator David Chase was making the same journey as Tony Soprano when he first heard the track.


He told BBC Radio Wales: "Initially I think David was going to have different songs for each episode but he heard our track and said "This is the one".


"He didn't know who we were. He just heard the band was called Alabama 3 which seemed to create some confusion.

"Initially they thought we must be from Alabama, then they thought we were four kids from San Francisco although the best theory was that we were three young black lads from the Bronx!


"Then of course he found out we were actually a Welshman and a Scotsman living in Brixton, London, pretending that we were from Alabama!"



 "Some people ask if it is a blessing or a curse but we are very proud to be associated with The Sopranos. It is a quality programme ."
Rob Spragg, aka Larry Love


Spragg formed Alabama 3 in the early '90s with his aforementioned Scottish friend Jake Black, otherwise known as The Very Rev Dr D Wayne Love, when they decided it might be interesting to sing Hank Williams songs over the top of Detroit techno beats.


Their innovative fusion of styles, ironic, sometimes political lyrics and the creation of personas have made them especially popular on the live circuit.


The band has also now swollen to nine members.


"It is like country and western meets techno with American accents by a Welshman and a Scotsman.


"It looks ridiculous on paper but it kind of works over a course of time."


Spragg was raised a Mormon in the south Wales valleys

"Each member of the band brings something unique - the drummer is very much into his techno, the guitarist loves his delta blues, the piano player is a mad honky-tonk weirdo."


Some of the band's influences and attitudes could well have come from Spragg's upbringing in the south Wales valleys town of Merthyr Tydfil.


He lived with his aunt Shirley on the top of Dowlais before moving to Cyfarthfa. He attended school in Troedyrhiw and then moved to Aberystwyth.


Spragg was also raised as a Mormon and said the bishop used to let him and his friends practice their musical skills in the local chapel.


Punk rock


"Little did he know I would end up 10 years later selling my soul at the crossroads to the other fella!" he said.


"In terms of influences I had a strange background in the sense that music was not really allowed in the house unless it was the Osmonds. So for a while it was them or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.


"But from there I discovered the evils of punk rock. I used to be into Black Sabbath, Zeppelin, the Stones and stuff like that."


In addition to saying goodbye to The Sopranos, the band are also to bring the curtain down on one of Cardiff's best-loved music venues, the Coal Exchange, on Friday.


The site is being developed into apartments, offices, shops and bars and it is unclear whether the hall will be used for gigs when it reopens in 2009.


So although he is sad to see the venue go, Spragg has promised a goodbye to remember.
He said: "We are going to raise up the ghosts in the room that night."

By Jo Manning  BBC Wales News website

SEPTEMBER 28TH 2007