Interview:
Alabama 3

Jake The Rev With His Extra Yeg

Alabama 3 have been around a fair old while now, making quality sounds, always daring to be different and injecting a hefty dose of humour into proceedings. Jake Black (aka The Very Reverend Dr. D. Wayne Love) spoke to Atomicduster about the band’s latest album, “Outlaw” and the inspiration about it.

AD: The only way I can describe “Outlaw” is “Once Upon a Time in the West” played as a drug opera throughout the clubs and ghettos of Great Britain. How would YOU describe it?

JB: It’s great that you see that, because I would describe it in pretty much the same way you just have. It’s not just about Western outlaws though; it’s about ALL the great historical of our time (except Robin Hood – I can’t celebrate a man who wore green tights), with a lot of focus on the Great Train Robbery. There’s also a lot of satire in there if you listen carefully too. The GTR was such an incredible piece of performance art and we wanted more people to be aware of it, so we asked Bruce to expand on it in the sleeve notes.

AD: The Bruce that you refer to, for the benefit of any readers who don’t know, is the mastermind behind that historical crime, Bruce Richard Reynolds. How did you get on with him?

JB: He’s an awfully nice man – actually his son was in a band called Octopus, do you remember them? (I did) He played the harmonica apparently – but he still regrets that one built in flaw that is still mentioned even now when people remember the GTR. (Adopts Cockney accent) “I never meant for NOBODY to get clobbered mate. I KNEW there was gonna be trouble when we got the heavies in. Facking yegs. They were just monsters with nuffin’ between their ‘eads but their fackin’ ears!” – That’s the only regret he has about the whole thing. The plan he’d drawn up didn’t involve hurting anyone.

AD: So what reaction are you anticipating from the public and media?

JB: I don’t know really, I just hope they like it, that’s all, because we fucked about with it loads to try and get it right. Sometimes the music gets a bit cluttered and we wanted to avoid that this time. “Power In the Blood” seemed a bit crammed and busy to me – we wanted to get back to good ole rootsy American forms and redo them in our own way. We put so much effort in and changed things around so much – for instance, “Have You Seen Bruce Richard Reynolds” was originally an a capella tune – that it’s nice to know it’s all been appreciated.
AD: What made you decide to undertake such a drastic change of direction?

JB: I think records ALWAYS have to be like that. If you look at all the great artists over the years, they’ve always changed and evolved. If you keep things in a template there’s a real chance your music will start to stagnate and obviously we don’t want that to happen. Do you like Neil Young?

AD: Yes, I’m a big fan.

(At this point, readers, I am afraid we went off on a tangent somewhat and had a fifteen minute conversation about Neil Young and our other favourite artists, which culminated in Jake playing me several obscure Grateful Dead tracks down the phone – which, incidentally were all great – so, as I can’t exactly type all that stuff up, I’ll just skip straight to the last part of the interview!)

AD: Ok, so, having achieved so much already, what’s your biggest remaining ambition?

JB: Oh there’s loads! Make another good lp and tour the states again for a start. I’d really like people to hear our stuff properly in America because we went out there last time on a kind of bluff really. As you know, by pure chance one of our songs got chosen as the theme tune to “The Sopranos”, and we were kind of just riding the crest of the wave so to speak back then. We were playing huge theatres with only 12 people there! I remember one night in particular, when we were booked to play a 3,000 seater venue in Philadelphia – and just four punters turned up!

AD: Four people? That would have been a real good turnout for my old band!


Interview a bit short? Well, not really, but as I said, we chatted for a quarter of an hour about complete bollocks, as though we were having a chat at the pub. Plus, now I’m coming to type this interview up, I’m buggered if I can read any of the terribly scrawled notes I made, so I’ll just say this: Jake Black is a top bloke, Alabama 3 are a top band and “Outlaw” is a great album. That’s all you need to know really!

Alabama 3’s “Outlaw” album is out now.


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