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Love Tractor: A Musical Odyssey

Few bands today dare to explore their musical capabilities, opting instead for the safety and familiarity of the sound in which they gained recognition. One band which tries to venture into uncharted artistic territory is Love Tractor. Throughout the psat decade, Love Tractor has created innovative, intriguing music. Each of the six albums shows a progression of sounds and styles.

The band members include Mark Cline (vocals, guitar and keyboards). Mike Richmond (lead vocals and guitar), John Poe (drums) and Marmistead Wellford (vocals and bass). They formed the band in the early 1980’s, playing parties and clubs around Athens. Known for their fun dance music, Love Tractor gathered an enthusiastic following in and around Georgia. 

In the past year, Love Tractor’s second drummer, Andrew Carter — the first was Kit Swartz — decided to leave the band. John Poe, formerly of Guadalcanal Diary, took over percussion duties, aptly learning the old material while adding a fresh texture ot the new songs. The band is currently concentrating on recording demo tapes and playing several gigs, in addition to participating in the South by Southwest Music Seminar in Austin.

Thursday, March 14, 1991. 5:30 p.m. On this blustery day, my friend Betsy Stoen and I head to Scott Stuckey’s recording studio here in Athens for an interview with Love Tractor. The guys have been recording several demo tracks since noon. Mark takes a break to talk with us.

Flagpole: There’s been a rumor going around town lately that you guys are going to break up.

Mark: No. I guess Athens needs something to talk about.

FP: That’s what we figured… just Athens boredom.

Mark: I haven’t heard it.

FP: Well if you haven’t heard about it, then it’s not true…So what are you doing in the studio?

Mark: Our management wants to start demoing the next album. We wanted to start recording to see what the songs sound like and to see if they are any good or not; and so that we can send them out to publishers and record companies, to management. You know, for business purposes. People want to hear our new material, but we need to hear it ourselves because we get more of a focus as to what we write and sing.

FP: Who’s your management now?

Mark: David Page and Ed Scruggs of Memphis.

FP: Are they handling all of your business aspects?

Mark: Yes

FP: Do you have enough material to put out a whole album?

Mark: We think so. That’s what we’re finding out. We can never tell until we do it.

FP: What do you think the new album will be like?

Mark: It’s going to be different from the last record, of course. It’s not going to sound like anything we’ve ever done before.

FP: Why do you think critcis say that the fact that your albums change each times is “commercial suicide”?

Mark: I suppose it is. The idea that we go out and do the same album each time (I mean there are plenty of bands around here that do that) is completely boring and dull. Actually we can’t do that: it’s impossible for us…I know our fans ssem to like the fact that each record progresses. There’s a definite evolution in it. I suppose that whatever the top-notch rock band s there are in the country right now probably do go out and record the same album every time…We don’t sit down and say we’re going to write this kind of record…it’s a process that we do rather than think about it.

FP: So why do you want to go to SXSW?

Mark: It was pretty much our management’s idea…It’s supposed to help us out career-wise.

FP: Have you ever played in Austin before?

Mark: Yes. In fact we like playing Austin. It’s been a while since we’ve played Austin. We didn’t play there last year with the B-52’s. The last time we were there we were on tour by ourselves. We usually play at the Liberty Lunch. We’ve been playing in Austin since 1981. It’s great. It’s a wonderful town.

Love Tractor will be playing the SXSW seminar in Austin; they will be at the Cannibal Club, 306 East Sixth Street, on Thursday, March 21. For more information, call Cannibal Club at 512-472-2002.