Thursday, 24 January 2013

Andy Labrow Interview

Andy has been a friendly familiar face to many Alarm fans over the past few years as well as taking some stunning live photos to document each and every gig, so we thought it was about time we found out more about the man who signs himself Mr Ploppy! 

Andy Labrow!
You seem to wear many hats at MPO, what is your actual job title?

Officially I sign emails as "Andy - MPO Team"...but that's a good question, to which there is no definitive answer. Maybe I should make one up! But essentially I look after the website (although I am part of a team which includes Steve Fulton in the USA and of course, Mike and Jules). Along with the wider MPO team, I look after aspects of the shop. But I am perhaps better known for selling merchandise on tour and taking photos.

Where were you working prior to joining MPO?

I still work for myself doing IT support and web design. But I did do 24 years as a computer programmer at a paint company.

How long have you been working at MPO?

My first assignment was The Gathering 2009, and it took off from there.

How did you get the job?

I have been a fan since the mid-eighties, and (like many folk) I vaguely knew Jules from the merch desk. I contacted them to ask about a Manchester show in 2008 and Jules was kind enough to guest list me. We had a chat at the show and I had my camera with me, so she said to send my photos in afterwards. Then in January of 2009 she emailed to ask if I would like to photograph The Gathering. It was a no-brainer! Although I have to sheepishly admit that I had never been to The Gathering.

Is there such a thing as a typical day at the office, if so what is it?

Thankfully, every day is different. One of the best things is that I get to know so many lovely Alarm folk. I suppose my "regular" day at the office would be a day on tour. Waking on the tour bus as late in the morning as possible. Finding a nice cheap cafe that serves all-day breakfasts at Lunchtime. Setting up the merch, looking for backstage photos, and sorting any web problems, then selling merch and settling down to another Alarm show. Back on the bus, a glass of wine and sorting out the photos from the gig. Depending on your outlook it is the most glamorous or least glamorous job you could ever have!

Many fans will know you from your presence at gigs manning the merchandise desk - what in your time have proved to be the most and least popular items in terms of sales?

A Magnificent example of Andy's Alarm photography
That's a hard question. Whatever is the current tour T-shirts is usually the best seller. But then it can be something unexpected. I uncovered almost a hundred copies of The Millennium Gathering triple CD just before the Red Poppy Tour and sold almost all of them!

You also document each gig as official photographer, do these pictures go into an archive or are there plans to do more with them?

All my photos go on to The Alarm flickr account which is accessible from The Alarm website.  ( )    At last count that amounts to around 9000 photos. It seems a lot, but folk seem to appreciate having photos from the gig they were at. I did think that maybe I should do some sort of book, but as they are already on the internet, I am not sure that would be worth it.

What is your favourite Alarm album?

That's an easy one. I love "The Saturday Gigs". It captures the Alarm live brilliantly, plus it sends a shiver before "Without A Fight" when Mike announces he is in remission. That show was "The Remission" gig in Manchester, and I was lucky enough to be there before working for MPO. It was amazing. I strongly believe that although the original Alarm were truly brilliant, the 2000+ line-up writes better music and plays the old stuff with a different edge that should be filling stadiums.

Do you have a favourite Alarm song, or can you narrow it down to a few?

I do have a favourite. I love "The Rock 'n' Roll". I think it speaks for many Alarm fans like me...of a certain age!!! I have lots of other favourites, like "The Deceiver", "Plastic Carrier Bags" and having listened to it every night on The Red Poppy Tour, I am totally sold on "Breed Apart". But who ever gets tired of hearing "68 Guns"?

Can you tell us what 2013 has in store with so much activity planned with the film and albums by both The Alarm and Big Country?

Well...we have the tour in March...then who knows!!! Watch this space!

MrPloppy? (Andys Twitter name) Is there something we should know?

It's a less glamorous answer than you would imagine. Mr Ploppy was a character in Black Adder with curious skin diseases, and I have always used it as a moniker for newsgroups, forums and generally when I sign for anything!

Are you still the "content editor" for The Alarm site and is it true you are doing the new Big Country site?

In A Big Country
 Content for The Alarm site is provided by the wider MPO team, so some of it is me, some of it is from fans, and some is still done by Steve Fulton. I have now completed the new Big Country site, and although I am administering it at the moment, I am not sure of the long term plan.

Has releasing the individual soundboard recordings from each show of the tour in download form ever been discussed, or even as a limited made to order run as a physical box set?

That's not something I can really answer. I know Mike has done it before but there is always a worry about the quality being up to scratch.

Many thanks for Andy for taking the time to do this interview even during The Gathering week!!! Have a great Gathering everyone!
Andy conquers Snowdon - Snowdon Rocks 6 (Photo by Joff)

No comments:

Post a Comment