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28th November 2011

Interview: Alabama 3

The bizarre fusion between country and acid house makes Alabama 3 an intriguing act.

Country and acid house is a strange combination. Alabama 3 are a strange band. Hannah Mead goes to see what all the fuss is about and has a chat with the band.

Having known little about them until recently, getting a glimpse inside the world of Alabama 3 this week was intriguing and the band seem to have a cult following of die hard fans. Their bizarre fusion of country and acid house is certainly not for everyone, however those who like it, really love it.

You may have heard their music without knowing it. They are the band behind The Sopranos theme tune, ‘Woke Up This Morning’, to which Orlando Harrison, keyboard, attributes much of their success; “I don’t think we would have survived without that. We wouldn’t have been making any money.”

After my chat with Orlando about the new album, the future and the highs and lows of touring, I really wanted to enjoy the gig. My expectations were high; in 2003 The Guardian described Alabama 3 as “the best live band in the country.” Their fans may hate me for this, but in all honesty, I found it painful to watch.

It’s not that they played badly. It’s more the fact that it is a very strange genre which just isn’t going to appeal to everyone. To me it was gimmicky – attention-grabbing but not exciting or interesting. The whole band came out wearing sunglasses as Rev D Wayne Love stood to the side of the stage making ‘witty’ comments in a faux-American accent, while Larry Love paraded around the stage snarling into the mic and working the crowd.  There were also a number of anonymous characters on stage, masked by hats and glasses.

It was dynamic and lively, unique even. But it felt to me like an attack. The music seemed needlessly aggressive, brutal. Compared with the relatively engaging album the music was overpowering and left me feeling sick.

Not that I think the band would care. From talking to Orlando, it seems that they are content with their situation. They don’t want global recognition or mainstream success. They want to remain elusive, a mystery. They have none of the ambitious plans for side projects, international fame and world takeover that you might assume would be the next step for a relatively successful band. When I asked what the future holds for them, Orlando answered plainly, “old age, sickness and death.” He went on to say that the band would keep doing exactly what they are doing now “until Rob’s wheels fall off.”

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