The last day of the Love Supreme Festival saw many artists and performances; it was an incredibly packed day, full of music and chats. One of the scheduled interviews on my list was with Alan Gorrie, one of the two founding members and still in the current line-up of the (not so) Average White Band.
EY - A band who defies longevity, I asked Alan first of all how does it feel having been such a strong influence on people like Brand New Heavies, Incognito and having been sampled by so many others, amongst which we can mention The Beastie Boys, Ice-T, Eric B & Rakim and the list could go on!
AG – I looked at it as an endorsement and that it would last for a little time and then we would be cast aside. When hip-hop came round they seemed to find that our groove with a few others (like James Brown for example) was the most important building block for their new groove and could be used in different contexts. Sometimes the sample became the bed-rock of the new song. The nice thing was we were included in the writing credits of the new stuff rather than being left out and ignored. The honourable thing was done, permission was granted and we shared the spoils.
This was brilliant for us and also brought a whole new generation of kids to our concerts to see the band that they had heard about from their hip-hop and rap records.
It was a total win win situation for us. Amazing.
EY – You guys have been playing for a few decades now, how do you think music has changed in as far as writing and collaborations?
AG – Well, in a way, it hasn’t changed really, in a way we were a catalyst, but we haven’t really changed our approach, we have continued in our way which is organic, simple, very direct hopefully with some sense of humour in there. We have tried to add all these elements. The music business and the music deliverance, now mainly digital, have changed in some ways better or worse. People like our way though, that’s original but has not changed much.
EY – I heard a funny story earlier on today about the way you guys “came to” the ground of the Festival…
AG - We came in the muddy way, via the farm way till we got to the bottleneck where the artists area is. There were 3 vehicles stuck in front of us, which included the “loo sucker”… See, I thought, thank goodness we came early! (Laughter all round)
EY – How did you prepare to play at the Love Supreme Festival.
AG – We had been touring a lot and so for the last 5 gigs, we had been playing some of our most popular tracks in the States. Then, after a brief break, we would be fresh and new when we got to Love Supreme. We kept thinking, “hope we can remember all this” (laughing), but “a little bit of adrenalin is good for you” (Alan says convincingly and smiling).
AG – Ronnies is the hardest gig. We are playing for 90 mins at least night after night and on the fourth night we have 2 shows.
It takes its toll on “ageing hands and voices”. There are a lot of vocals and not too many tunes you can hide behind, so yes, very very hard, but very rewarding.
EY – So you think this would involve a lot of preparation and practice, both on a physical and mental level?
AG – Well, it has to be done but you see it is almost like a football team really. Pre-season is when you do your training, hard training and once the season starts you cannot train at that level because you have games (or gigs in this case). It’s the same when you play at Ronnies, you cannot practice in the afternoon. You can just tweak a few things but you cannot play too hard or strenuously as you have the gig in the evening. You need to save the energy for the night time performance.
EY – A question for you Alan which I have asked everyone and I do generally as it is revealing and, in my opinion, very interesting: how do you relax?
AG – Well, I relax by painting that takes me out of myself and prevents me from thinking of all the million things I have to do (in my music like gigging, scheduling, etc).
I love cooking, too. When you have 2 or 3 things on the stove you cannot take your mind off those things, it’s all in one direction. At this point, I ask Alan what kind of style of painting his is and he says “mine is more impressionistic”. I have had a couple of awards in the last four years for acrylics.
I find my landscapes all the times, I have my iPhone which can take great photos, for example. Going over the bridge today, there was a beautiful bucolic scene, the van stopped and I knew I had a scene although I’d never copy a scene, it acts merely as my inspiration.
When you paint, you see things much more clearly, like when you are a photographer, you automatically look for that particular moment.
Words: Erminia Yardley
Photos: Carl Hyde