Saturday, 10 November 2012

Alabama 3

Throughout their career, Alabama 3 have relied heavily on a single manifesto, to bring their gospel of blues, acid-house and country to the masses. In nearly 20 years the band haven't amassed a huge number of hits, but that doesn't mean their gospel hasn't been heard.

When harmonica player Nick Reynolds picks up to talk he's in good spirits, if a little weary from spreading the message.

“I'm recovering mate, we had a large one last night” he says, in exactly the manner you would expect from a South Londoner who also goes by the name Harpo Strangelove. “There was an event that was a forerunner to the Olympics sort of thing down on the docklands, it's crazy down there. Very different to England”.

The band are here to attend the premier of 'Songs For Amy', an independent Irish film which features Alabama 3 on it's soundtrack and an appearance by the band themselves.

Set in County Galway the film tells the tale of a struggling Irish musician who writes an album in an attempt to woo back his estranged girlfriend. Reynolds describes the film as a 'darkly comedic' romance and was delighted the band had the opportunity to be involved.

“We were at the Galway Film Fleadh last year. We happened to be in a bar and we ran into Fiona Graham, who wrote the film, and she mentioned she was looking for a band to get involved. Of course she didn't realise at the time that we were in a band, and I just said 'Why not us?'. So she checked us out and liked the vibes and it went from there”.

Reynolds is keen not to give too much away, but is full of praise for the films stars.

“It was a scream, there were great vibes on the set. It's a fantastic darkly comedic love story. There's another, fictional band in the film who are actors but they do a great job. They're very convincing as a band. There's some great interaction between us in the film, you can tell we had a lot of fun”.

In recent years Alabama 3 have taken to performing stripped down acoustic shows as a four piece rather than their chaotic full band shows which would often involve ten or more of them sharing a stage. Although it wasn't their intention when it started, Reynolds reflects that this has opened up new avenues for the group.

“The acoustic thing started as a bit of fun in Brixton. There's a lot involved in getting the full band together. We started gigging acoustically in bars and found that it went down really well. We could afford to play smaller venues and which led us to doing acoustic tours in Australia and New Zealand, which led us to being invited back for full band shows.

The thing is when you've got ten people in the band along with technicians and whoever else it's very expensive to tour. You need to play big auditoriums and have them filled to make it viable. It's opened up different possibilities for us. It's the same band, just a different format”.

While on paper Alabama 3's genre splicing might seem intimidating to the casual music fan, their music is more accessible than one might think. Reynolds believes the stripped-down performances has brought the music to those who might have previously kept their distance.

“It's more blues and country without a lot of the other things we usually have going on. A lot of people get put off instantly when they hear 'Country-Acid House-Blues'. It's a gentle initiation that people can get into and discover us. It's a good introduction”.

After the premier of Songs For Amy the band will be taking their stripped down shows on a short tour of Ireland with appearances in Limerick, Cork and Galway. And after a busy summer of touring and festivals they'll be back with a new album in September.

Which about wraps it up. Except it just wouldn't be an Alabama 3 interview without a mention of The Sopranos, would it? One has to wonder if the band have any regrets about their song 'Woke Up This Morning' soundtracking the series. But there are no regrets from this charming man.

“It's a wonderful thing. We're very proud to be associated with such a prestigious show. We're not embarrassed by it at all. I mean, at this stage it's led to the song being played on the Simpsons twice, and you really can't grumble at that”.  

No comments:

Post a Comment