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LARRY LOVE ON WELSH MUSIC, ALABAMA 3 AND THE ART OF THEFT

Larry Love talks to 'The Miniature Music Press' (The MMP) a Cardiff-based monthly music magazine dedicated to the Welsh music scene, about being Welsh, Alabama 3 and the Art of Theft.  November 2012

Nobody thought they would last. A country and blues inspired acid house band? Sounds like a joke right? Wrong! For the better part of the last fifteen years Alabama 3 have forged out a particularly bizarre and idiosyncratic career outside of mainstream music. They’ve amassed a legion of fans thanks to their often inspired, always mental melding of old timey blues, country and western with ecstasy laced dance culture and a sheer bloody-minded willingness to play the game on their own terms. Hell, they provided the theme song for The Sopranos for god’s sake!

We sat down for five minutes with a slightly hungover Larry Love, one of the band’s founding members, primary vocalist and owner of a particularly natty Welsh timbre to discuss the idea behind their upcoming tour and what it is that still inspires the band.

How’s the world of dirty rock and roll rebellion going? Started any fires lately?

 It’s a Monday init, we’re a bit hungover…but I think we’ll survive. We’re all geared up, start rehearsing for the tour today….so we can look forward to an evening of fighting and arguing and hopefully, we’ll come out alright.

Can you tell us a bit about the tour you’re about to embark on – it’s got a pretty unique pitch behind it.

Basically, we’ve been very much inspired by…shall we say, the banking industry; In short, just steal off everyone. So we’re encouraging people to come and steal from Alabama 3. Download our albums for nothing, come to the gigs and try and sneak in the back door, do whatever it takes to have a good time. Without getting busted! We want our fans to film videos of the gigs and then we’re planning on editing all that footage together. We’ve been mixing up all the songs we’ve been rehearsing as well, old classics with our stuff, so it’s a bit of a piracy ball. Being as we are a revolutionary country and western acid house band…we can only try and inspire a bit of revolution.

Is it from a similar place that the last album (Shoplifting 4 Jesus) stemmed from?

Yeah, the tours an extension of what we were doing on that album. People who’ve had it a while and gotten used to it have hopefully figured out where we stole stuff from…well, we’re trying to work more on that Dylan quote “amateurs plagiarise, true artists steal”….so we’re hoping to encourage people to look at what’s worth stealing and getting inspired by. For example, I wouldn’t bother trying to steal any of our clothes…they get a bit raggedy (laughs).

Considering your reputation as a band musical outlaws, how are you finding the current oddness of Britain’s political climate and the quote unquote “death of the traditional music industry” – do you feed of this kind of stuff?

Well, we’ve never been particularly bothered about creating a top ten hit. We’ve set up our own record label, our own club and our own record pressing plant. So we feel we’ve achieved a degree of autonomy and independence. So the current climate is actually pretty good for us right now. I guess a lot of young bands coming out now are aware that there’s no longer an easy option to finding success. There’s not just an A&R department to do it all for you, you’ve got to head out and work for it. Which is throwing up a lot of stimulating music…and we like to think that we’re a part of that energy. To live outside the law, you’ve got to be honest…

As a Welshman yourself, do you still feel an affinity for playing in Wales and the sort of bands coming out of here? Have you got any particular bands in mind that still excite you?

It’s funny, I haven’t been back there in fucking years …don’t get on particularly well with my folks, I’m the son of a preacher man and, well, let’s just say I’ve gone the other way a bit… But yeah, there’s still stuff that’s gets me going. We’re playing down in Port Talbot (I informed Larry this is where I grew up) and there’s a wicked drum and bass scene there, and I love a bit of drum and bass. We got Johnny Cage & the Voodoo Groove to support us last time we played in Cardiff. They had pole dancers, strippers, snakes…the whole lot. He’s one cool mother fucker.

Since you’re such genetic freak show of styles and ideas – is there any defining factor (musical or ideologically) that has influenced your music?

The akai sampler came out back in 85 or 86, and then house music really kicked off. I remember thinking at the time what a brilliant idea sampling old blues and country tracks would be, people only really seemed to be grabbing bits from James Brown songs. At the time, I got knocked back a bit by an A & R guy at Polydor telling me (Adopts high pitched whinny voice) “Listen Robert, there’s no way anyone will listen to Hank Williams mixed with techno music”. But I’ve got as much a passion for blues and country as I do dance music. Which is a pretty wide perimeter, so some songs start out as a house anthem but then it’ll turn into a blues ballad; and vice versa.

I feel we were a bit ahead of the game with the whole iPod shuffle culture thing that’s happened in recent times. Everyone’s just listening to everything; I heard a dubstep mix of Clapton’s “Cocaine” the other day…which was great!

On this tour we’re cutting up our songs pretty savagely, so the songs shift really violently from one genre to another, whilst keeping the groove. Grab people’s attention and all that.

In hindsight are you still happy you gave “woke up this morning” to be used on the Sopranos – or does it haunt you a bit?

No, we see it totally as a positive; it really opened a lot of doors for us. It’s not like we did the theme music for friends is it (laughs)…Jesus, just imagine being in that band! We never exploited the Sopranos thing; we’re not even in the credits. We’ve always said no to advertising agencies to try and maintain our credibility and I think we’re respected in the industry for it.

What does the future hold for Alabama 3?

I just came back from L.A, we’ve got two film projects we were involved with coming out soon. One we actually acted in called “Songs for Amy” – where we’re playing a version of ourselves, this bloke hangs out with us on the eve of his wedding night and one drug and sex orgy later misses his wedding day and things just get worse from there. Not typecasting us at all! There was a scene where I had to snort coke off a pair of tits…..my missus is from Aberdare…you can imagine how that went down. The other film is called “The Life of Jeffrey Katherine Jones”, it’s a documentary about this graphic designer back in the 70s who worked on comics. We did the soundtrack to that.

And finally, what’s the best way to dispose of a body?

(There is a very brief pause before Larry launches into this answer)

I’m reading a book at the moment called “American Desperados” and according to that you need to take the body out to sea, get into the water with the body and smash all the teeth out. Then with a fish knife, slice it from anus to solar plexus and let all the guts out which get eaten by the fish. If you just chuck a body in the water, all the gases build up and it just floats. Easy!

Interview: Jonathan Day

From The Miniature Music Press