There Be Larry Love
Woooo! Eeek! Screech! Hahaha! Ya! Bababababab!! These are just some
of the noises I was confronted with when I rang Rob Spragg from the
enormously talented Alabama 3. Time to find out whats going on
are you at the zoo at the moment or something?
RS: No but Ive got a houseful of three year olds right now.
Take my advice dont ever have kids!
AD: I shall bear that in mind. Thanks. Anyway, Ive got several
questions here for you to mull over if youre ready
RS: Fire away.
AD: Ok, Alabama 3 have been going for a considerable amount of time
now. How is it that you think youve managed to stay fresh?
RS: Because when Alabama 3 first came out, it was right in the heart
of the house boom of the late eighties and everyone was listening to
either that or James Brown funkadelica type stuff or a hybrid
of the two. We decided to concentrate more on a Blues and Country and
we realised we had a bit more longevity with what we were doing. I mean,
with an idea as stupid as Country & Western Techno as a starting
point, we gave ourselves a wide margin to work with. The way we saw
it was there was no point in making records for now
we were far more interested in making music for 5 years time.
AD: And arguably your biggest break came when Woke Up This
Morning was used as the theme tune to The Sopranos.
How did that come about?
RS: It was literally just because it was on rotation on an American
radio station, and David Chase, the shows producer, was driving
down the freeway getting really into it. So he called us to ask permission
and that was that. He was originally going to use a different theme
tune every week for that programme, but in the end they decided that
the song was so strong that theyd stick with it. They thought
the lyrics and the whole of the track suited the feel of the storylines,
which was quite funny because the songs not about gangsters at
all its about female domination.
AD: How do you think the success that track achieved affected you?
RS: Youd be surprised how little difference it made, becaue
it became a twisted paper trail of music industry bureaucrats. When
Sony picked us up, I think they were expecting a bunch of gung-ho Americans,
what with the name Alabama 3, so they seemed a bit disappointed that
they got a bunch of Welshman and Scotsman delinquents! But yeah, before
we got the gig for The Sopranos, I remember
we had an album come out on the label about the same time as Ricky Martin
we sold about 50 copies and he sold 50,000. So the programmes
definitely given us cult status anyway.
AD: Does it frustrate you though, that this will more than likely
be the one track you will forever be remembered for, or do you regard
it as a bonus?
RS: Oh its a bonus really. From the top, weve operated
behind smokescreens, and Id rather be remembered for a programme
as cool as The Sopranos than for fucking Friends.
One funny thing though is that all the real life gangsters hang out
with us now! I think they see us as their pet piranhas or something!
AD: There seems to be a running theme through the majority of your
work notably religion and drugs, as well as containing some strong
political undertones. How important is it to address those issues in
your songs, and why do you think these subjects have played such a massive
RS: Well, speaking for myself, I AM the proverbial son of
a preacherman I was brought up in a Mormon fundamentalist
family, so you know, I had to sneak in any Punk records I bought and
so forth. And I think any social anthropologists would realise that
the conflict between Moslems and Christians is fundamental to everyone
so I think its very important we address those issues. As far
as drugs and politics go, well, I live in Brixton so it would be very
difficult for me NOT to have strong political beliefs. Regarding drugs,
I grew up with the whole empowerment with Acid thing, though
we never actually got hugely involved with the artificial highs ourselves.
Weve never either endorsed or criticised the drug scene and I
think thats the best way to be.
AD: So what do you think is the best thing that could happen to our
RS: I think Id quite like them to stay the same. The way I
see it, theyre more than capable of digging their own graves.
I think where the general public are concerned, people are a lot more
aware of global issues now and everything thats going on around
them. People dont believe everything theyre told anymore.
AD: If you could only convey one message to the nation through your
work, what would it be?
RS: If you want to find peace, find the keys to the mansion on the
AD: That was a bit of a shameless plug for one of your singles wasnt
RS: Yes. Well, I have no shame you see
AD: Fair enough. So what made you give yourselves the pseudonyms
that you did?
RS: To be honest, at that time, we were driving around Italy in
a small van every day and all we were doing was drinking and taking
LSD. So one drunken evening we came up with the idea that it was not
a band we were forming, but a church maybe that stemmed from
the fact that my dad was a Trotskyist, I dont know, but anyway
thats where the idea came from and it stuck. Even now, I still
see our audiences as a congregation rather than just fans. I suppose
you could say that the DJ is the preacher nowadays too.
AD: So what are you most proud of that the band has achieved?
RS: Id have to say the work weve done with MOJO
the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation, which centres on bollocks
like the Criminal Justice Bill. The other thing Im most proud
of is when Rob Brown joined us on stage after 25 years in prison. He
just came on and ranted and ranted, and it was fucking beautiful to
see. (NB For those who dont know, Rob Brown was arrested and jailed
in 1977 for the murder of Annie Walsh after the police had beaten a
confession out of him. He spent a quarter of a century imprisoned for
a crime he didnt commit).
I guess moments like those can make you feel pretty humble really.
I thought it was a good note on which to end the interview, so I bid
Rob farewell and wished him luck with feeding time at Twycross.
Interview and Transcript by Tone E