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Sunday, October 09, 2005

A PINT WITH LARRY LOVE: Interviewing the Alabama 3 frontman for Peppermint Iguana

Last Night the Artist Formerly known as Ginger John and I headed down to Newport for an evening of Acid Country; meeting up with the Alabama 3 to do an interview for Peppermint Iguana, then to check the band out live in the Newport City live Arena.

We arrived at the appointed time at the venue but were refused admission by the jobsworth bouncer until the doors officially opened. So we headed off to the Riverside for a swift pint.

I sent a text to the tour manager, Pablo, to let him know we were having a pint and he rang back to say that if we went to the Ivy Bush for a pint we would find him and Larry Love having a pint and we could do the interview there and then.

So we swiftly polished off our drinks and strolled down to the Ivy Bush. As we walked down I said to John “I hope they are wearing cowboy hats, otherwise I will never recognise them”. When we walked into the bar, sat in the corner was a dude with a joe boxer cap and sunglasses, with another guy with dreadlocks. A swift look around the pub led me to the conclusion that that must be Pablo and Larry Love. I walked up to Mr Dreadlocks and asked, “Are you Pablo?” He looked at me in amazement, “Are you Clint? How did you know who I was?” I told him if he had look around he would see that there was no-one else in the bar that looked as if they could possibly be in an outlaw acid country band.

When I sat down Larry was convinced he had met me before. This may be the case, I once had a very drunken conversation with him backstage at the J-Day Cannabis Festival in Brockwell Park, Brixton; but I doubt very much he remembers that (until John reminded me I had forgotten). Also, although being called the Alabama 3, it is fairly well known they are from Brixton, but slightly less well known is the fact that Larry love (real name Rob Sprag) was originally from Merthyr Tydfil. Although living in London, he comes back to Cardiff regularly and performs DJ sets as ‘The Alabama 3 Sound System’ and is very friendly with my mates Captain Paranoid and the Delusions, so our paths may have crossed at one of those gigs, but to be honest I don’t really recall knowingly talking to him.

After brief introductions the Dictaphone was switched on and we got down to business. Sometimes interviews can be hard work, I ask a question and the interviewee answers, but Larry love was perfect, asking a question was just a trigger to get him rambling on and he gave me loads of material to write up. He is both charming and witty, and we had quite a laugh. One thing that amazed me was his ability to keep up a fake American accent, apart from a few deliberate slips, for the entire conversation.

A mate of his arrived and somehow the converation came around to tattoos. His mate showed us his tattoo of a green 'Tweety Pie', he explained that the tattoo guy had run out of yellow ink so he had to have it done in green, but he had a discount.

After the tape was switched off we chatted for a while and it turns out we have several mutual acquaintances, other Merthyr ‘ex-pats’ now living in London and New York. Our chat was cut short by him having to head back to the venue. As soon as he was gone the management started setting up a karaoke where he had been sat, so we made a move shortly after.

This was the first time I had been to the Newport City Live Arena. I was quite impressed, it is a fairly new venue and is still looking quite fresh, it was formerly an Odeon cinema and there are hints of art décor about the place. It is a nice size; it would probably hold about 500 people, not much more. Big enough to attract ‘name’ bands but not so big to be impersonal.

The crowd was quite ‘mature’ and the evening turned out to be one of those nights when you bump into loads of people you have not seen for years, which made up for the fact that I was driving and unable to drink.

When the band eventually hit the stage they played a blinder. All stops were pulled out for the theatrical entrance, the band slowly coming on one at a time until eventually Mr Larry love himself entered the stage, complete with a carved skull on a stick. They pumped out all the ‘classics’ from the early albums, throwing in the best bits from the new album Outlaw, pumping up the techno elements to get the crowd bouncing. There was a long pause for dramatic effect before they came on for an encore of ‘Hello, I’m Johnny Cash’ and ‘Mao Tse Tung Said’. Awesome.

Anyway, I had better get on with typing up the interview and sort out this bloody Iguana website!

Photo: Larry Love (sat down) and bass player Segs (formerly of the legendary RUTS)

For more on the Alabama 3, check out


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