Alabama 3 on death, weirdness, and being the next messiah

Alabama 3 in a convertible car
(Image credit: Submarine Cat)

Genre-bending South Londoners Alabama 3 will forever be associated with Woke Up This Morning, their wildly popular theme for The Sopranos. Indeed, it might have turned its writers into rockstar millionaires had they not sold the song to HBO for $500 before the show got off the ground. 

The band's vocalist, Rob Spragg, doesn't seem too bothered. "I was really honoured to be part of The Sopranos," he says. "I don’t know if you’ve seen [recent HBO spin-off] The Many SaintsOf Newark, but we’re very happy to still be involved with that."

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The biography at the band’s official website describes Alabama 3 as a “pop band, a punk rock, blues and country techno situationist crypto-Marxist-Leninist electro band” that play “sweet, pretty, muthafuckin’ country acid house”. 

Yeah, that sums it all up. We’re a cult without a leader. Which means that every fan who arrives at our gigs could potentially be the next messiah. 

Pardon? 

We put power back into the hands of the audience, something that nobody else is doing. Even pre-pandemic, the dynamic between the band and the crowd was fascinating, so what happens now will be interesting. I hope Alabama 3 can be the balm to heal our yesterday. 

It’s going to be interesting. Apart from travelling in a bubble and gigs getting cancelled at a moment’s notice, some audience members will want to punch out the lights of those not wearing a face covering. 

Yeah. I like to think of Alabama [gigs] as a forum for those kind of debates. We’ve been approached by anti-vaxxers, but I’m not interesting in forging alliances of any kind. Let’s have conversations, not shut each other down. 

Alabama 3 didn’t need to go on a TV talent show, and instead began with “a fistful of blotters” and an old-school work ethic. 

Yeah, exactly. I’m not sure that fifty blotters at a party is the best way of targeting an audience, but it’s important for youngsters to learn that rock’n’roll is rock’n’roll and one has to abide by certain scriptures. Enjoy being stoned, enjoy being high, but ensure you make good music. The world needs that at the moment.

“They’ve tried to stop us. Many, many times” boasts the same band biography. Who tried to stop you? 

Our parents. Our children. So did our partners. I mean, presenting yourself to the world as some kind of narcotic Marxism with an acid-house-country vent, that would always be contrary. The powers that be would have stopped us unless our songs were that good that we made the hit parade. 

When Jake Black, one of Alabama 3’s vocalists, passed away in 2019, the band sampled the fading bleeps of his life support machine for the track Night Tripper In The Trap House

Yeah. Did you like that? 

Actually, yes. Some people might call that calculating, but you believe it’s what Jake would have wanted? 

When you live by the sword you die by the sword, that’s my angle. Alabama 3 are just very honest about what we do. I just pressed ‘record’ as he died. And there was something beautiful about that. The reality is that Jake was an idiot for overdosing, but life goes on. The energy was negative, but I won’t shy away from that. 

Reviewing the album Step 13, which came out last year, Classic Rock summed it up with: “Sometimes weirdness just works.” 

Yeah, we’re a lot more interested in the margins than what’s going on in the middle.

Alabama 3's Divine Intervention tour wraps up later this month. Tickets for the remaining shows in Reading, Oxford, Bristol and London are on sale now (opens in new tab). 

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.