20 Questions: Larry Love of Alabama 3

Larry Love of Alabama 3 may be 'sick' but he ain't dead, yet. He claws his way out of a groovin' but dark, existential place to answer PopMatters 20 Questions.

Alabama 3

Hits and Exit Wounds

Label: One Little Indian
US Release Date: 2008-04-07

Alabama 3


Label: One Little Indian
US Release Date: 2007-09-03

Alabama 3


US Release Date: 2005-06-21

"Larry Love" (aka Rob Spragg) of Alabama 3 (aka "A3" to statesiders), finds a kindred spirit in Hubert Selby, Jr. (Last Exit to Brooklyn, Requiem for a Dream). Selby, Jr. is "a high priest of low life culture ... and inspiration to Lou Reed, David Bowie, Shane MacGowan and all chroniclers of seediness." If the only song you know of this band from Brixton is the theme song to The Sopranos' "Woke Up This Morning", then you're already hooked on their country/blues/acid house sound. Listen to Alabama 3 and experience the landscape of Selby, Jr.'s literature no matter where in the world you stand – its right there, at your dancing feet.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes.

His late wife, Sylvia Plath, author of The Bell Jar stuck her head in a gas oven and killed herself. For the next 40-odd years, Hughes was equally vilified and celebrated for his contribution to world literature. In Birthday Letters, for which he won the Whitbread Book of the Year prize, he successfully and poignantly dealt with the legacy of Sylvia's death, her subsequent canonisation, and the guilt that ultimately informed his writing.

As Seamus Heaney said, "To read the Birthday Letters is to experience the psychic equivalent of the bends".

2. The fictional character most like you?

Raskalnikov, the anti-hero of Dosteoevsky's Crime and Punishment, was nailed to the mast of Russian literature as the totemic figurehead of paranoia, guilt and suspicion. From the time when he murders an old money lender to the moment when he is eventually caught, we are drawn into the murky contradictions and morality of this character. He was a bad motherfucker ultimately redeemed of the failure of his will to crush his conscience ... an example to us all.

3. The greatest album, ever?

I find the concept of "album" anachronistic, based purely on the economic peccadilloes of the tin pan alley and music industry panhandlers ... a mere sop to assuage the desire of the industry to "commodify".

If you insist: A Love Supreme by John Coltrane.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

'Tis written in the stars that a man shall trek through no mans land until he finds the justification to go to war.

5. Your ideal brain food?

The collected works of Hubert Selby, Jr. A merchant seaman, suffering from TB and with a heroin habit that could kill an elephant, Selby Jr. wrote Last Exit to Brooklyn. Its portrayal of junkies, transvestites and assorted ne'er-do-wells led to it being banned as obscene by the British Government. Its subsequent categorisation as a classic novel and canonisation of Hubert Selby, Jr. as a high priest of low life culture was an inspiration to Lou Reed, David Bowie, Shane MacGowan and all chroniclers of seediness.

You might, if you look hard enough, find similar themes in Alabama 3's aesthetic. We had the privilege of receiving an e-mail form Hubert Selby Junior prior to his death, granting us permission to use a sample of his voice in a track called the "Moon has Lost the Sun". He charged us $1 to clear its usage and thanked us for the privilege of letting him be associated with a band of our reputation.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

My eight-year-old daughter because she is beautiful.

7. You want to be remembered for...?

The eulogy on my tombstone: "I told you I was ill".

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

Hank Williams - Hank had the looks, he had the pills, he had the women, and he had the booze yet he still had time to write one of the most accomplished song books of the 20th century. He died young and left a beautiful corpse. Sweetprettymuthafuckingcountrymusicallnightlong.

Robert Johnson - He scares the shit out of me, he scares the shit out of Eric Clapton, and he scares anyone who ever thought they could go to the dark side, play delta blues and ever come back again.

Sandy Denny - A pissed up glamorous hooligan who could drink Janis Joplin under the table, she was an example to rock 'n' roll women everywhere and sang one of the most beautiful songs ever written called "Who Knows Where the Time Goes".

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde. I heard this at the age of 14 and Dylan busted my head open with "Jewels and binoculars hang from the head of a mule" and at the age of 43 I'm still searching for the "sad eyed lady of the lowlands" and all her "mothers drugs".

10. Your hidden talents...?

As a son of preacher man I have been taught to never hide my light under a bushel, consequently I am a flayed carcass in the abattoir that is the music industry.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

"Heroin is a beautiful maiden when espied through the prism of seduction... You take her clothes off and she's got one leg, one tit, serious BO and she'll love you forever."

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

"Property is theft" said Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. I squatted a millionaire's mansion in St. Johns Wood in 1988 and put on rave parties.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or...?

Gucci shades, diesel jeans, Goi Goi jacket and three whores on my arm.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Camille Paglia. There is no point taking a woman to the Ritz who won't pay for dinner. Camille would be more than happy to pay for dinner, forget the coffee and fuck my brains out in all manner of disgusting existentialist acts... Whilst enjoying the post prandial cigarette we would discuss Franz Kafka.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

Paris, 1789…it was revolting

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

Take Prozac, book into a health clinic, then massacre the mother fuckers who don't need pampering.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or...?

A concession box, a decompression chamber and old smoky the electric chair.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

This land is your land, this land is my land…I will traverse the mountain top, the valley below and always find peace on the frontline of the ghetto.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Grow up and get a proper job.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

I am working on raising the consciousness of my fellow travelers in the Alabama 3 who perceive me to be a hick from South Wales, incapable of the eloquence needed to complete this questionnaire.

Alabama 3





Ed Harcourt Paints From 'Monochrome to Colour'

British musician Ed Harcourt's instrumental music is full of turbulent swells and swirls that somehow maintain a dignified beauty on Monochrome to Colour.


West London's WheelUP Merges Broken Beat and Hip-Hop on "Stay For Long" (premiere)

West London producer WheelUP reached across the pond to Brint Story to bring some rapid-fire American hip-hop to his broken beat revival on "Stay For Long".


PM Picks Playlist 4: Stellie, The Brooks, Maude La​tour

Today's playlist features the premiere of Stellie's "Colours", some top-class funk from the Brooks, Berne's eco-conscious electropop, clever indie-pop from Maude Latour, Jaguar Jonze rocking the mic, and Meresha's "alien pop".


Plattetopia: The Prefabrication of Utopia in East Berlin

With the fall of the Berlin Wall came the licence to take a wrecking ball to its nightmare of repression. But there began the unwritten violence of Die Wende, the peaceful revolution that hides the Oedipal violence of one order killing another.


Electrosoul's Flõstate Find "Home Ground" on Stunning Song (premiere)

Flõstate are an electrosoul duo comprised of producer MKSTN and singer-songwriter Avery Florence that create a mesmerizing downtempo number with "Home Ground".


Orchestra Baobab Celebrate 50 Years with Vinyl of '​Specialist in All Styles'

As Orchestra Baobab turn 50, their comeback album Specialist in All Styles gets a vinyl reissue.


Hot Chip Stay Up for 'Late Night Tales'

Hot Chip's contribution to the perennial compilation project Late Night Tales is a mixed bag, but its high points are consistent with the band's excellence.


The Budos Band Call for Action on "The Wrangler" (premiere)

The Budos Band call on their fans for action with the powerful new track "The Wrangler" that falls somewhere between '60s spy thriller soundtrack and '70s Ethiojazz.


Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" Ruminates on Our Second-Guesses (premiere)

A deep reflection on breaking up, Nashville indie rock/Americana outfit Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" is the most personal track from their new album, Home Team.


For Don DeLillo, 'The Silence' Is Deafening

In Don DeLillo's latest novel, The Silence, it is much like our post-pandemic life -- everything changed but nothing happened. Are we listening?


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Brett Newski Plays Slacker Prankster on "What Are You Smoking?" (premiere)

Is social distancing something we've been doing, unwittingly, all along? Brett Newski pulls some pranks, raises some questions in "What Are You Smoking?".


Becky Warren Shares "Good Luck" and Discusses Music and Depression

Becky Warren finds slivers of humor while addressing depression for the third time in as many solo concept albums, but now the daring artist is turning the focus on herself in a fight against a frightful foe.


Fleet Foxes Take a Trip to the 'Shore'

On Shore, Fleet Foxes consist mostly of founding member Robin Pecknold. Recording with a band in the age of COVID-19 can be difficult. It was just time to make this record this way.


'We're Not Here to Entertain' Is Not Here to Break the Cycle of Punk's Failures

Even as it irritates me, Kevin Mattson's We're Not Here to Entertain is worth reading because it has so much direct relevance to American punks operating today.


Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.


3 Pairs of Boots Celebrate Wandering on "Everywhere I Go" (premiere)

3 Pairs of Boots are releasing Long Rider in January 2021. The record demonstrates the pair's unmistakable chemistry and honing of their Americana-driven sound, as evidenced by the single, "Everywhere I Go".


'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.