Rock n’ Recipes: Love Tractor
It’s been a really big year for all things old school Athens. First, there was that Pylon box set, and then came the Love Tractor reissue of their 1982 self-titled debut. We reached out to Mike Richmond to throw a few questions his way, and in return he offered to share his recipe for Veggie Breakfast with Sausage. If you love what you hear, you can grab the LP in various formats from HHBTM (who graciously helped us get in touch with Mike!).
ATH: Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way…why do you choose now to reissue the debut LP? Is it the 20 years since the band’s formation, or just the right offer at the right time? Perhaps a renewed focus on the Athens scene of that period? What do you hope to get out of it?
LT: The time was just right and we had the right offer to do it.We did a reunion show in 2016 at the Georgia Theater and since then we have taken an active interest in getting our catalog re-released.We have been writing new material and performing more live shows so it is important that our records are available.
ATH: What are the benefits of working with a smaller label like HHBTM for a reissue of this undertaking?
LT: Smaller labels seem to be run by people that are real music lovers and take on bands that dont fit into the corporate mold. We are allowed to be ourselves and make the kind of music we want to.
ATH: Like many a music scene, Athens seems to have a cyclical nature to it, wherein every few years there’s a rise and a fall…from Love Tractor/Pylon to Elephant 6 and so on? Do you feel any particular lineage to what came after your work? Any band that followed where you thought, “Yeah, they’re picking up on what we did?”
LT: Athens became a launching pad, a launching pad that was built by the early eighties groups, Pylon REM, Love Tractor, B-52s. Groups come here from all over the place just so they can say they are from Athens.Most of them are more or less indy type alternative groups.Its not a Heavy Metal city or Rap or whatever, so I guess one could see that as some kind of lineage.
ATH: Looking back, what led to the decision to go instrumental on the first album? Does anyone regret that move?
Definitely do not regret our instrumental beginnings.I love those records and am glad we made them.However, Ive come to realize that being an instrumental band dooms you to cult status at best, if not utter obscurity.There is really no such thing as popular instrumental rock music.Our decision to do instrumental music just seemed really natural.We werent waving any flags for instrumental music but our early songs just didnt need vocals.When we lost our original drummer (Kit) we felt like we needed to move away from our beginnings and start singing.We also had a lot of success with our cover of Neon Lights so it seemed like a natural progression.
ATH: When adding vocals on the next album how did you go about deciding who would sing?
LT: Losing our original Drummer (Kit Swartz) was a huge blow to us because he was part of our original sound and writing style. We basically had to start over once we found a new drummer (Andrew Carter).Im the only one that wanted to sing and I also really felt that we needed to get away from being an all instrumental band.I dont know why I felt this way, I had never sung before.Had been in bands in high school but just played guitar.Growing up a lot of the music I listened to contained instrumental music.My Dad had Ennio Morricones Once Upon a Time in the West and Vince Guaraldis A Charlie Brown Christmas.Then later Bands Like Pink Floyd, Camel, King Crimson, Yes, Brian Eno etc. featured instrumental songs or at least long passages where there was no singing so I felt it was no big deal to do instrumental songs as long as there are also some vocals songs.
ATH: The environment of your hey-day seemed to revolve around word of mouth and reputation, as opposed to blog hype and curated playlists. What did you all do as a band that seem to connect you with an audience and give your career such longevity? Do you think that would still translate today?
LT: We toured a lot.Some years playing 150 nights a year.Our music walks a fine line between experimental and familiar.I think our fans like this aspect of what we do and it gives the music a real staying power.Some people say our music is timeless or that it was ahead of its time.I think it might translate into todays musical landscape, I hope that it would because if it doesnt then music is over, and I feel as though music lovers are out there and want the real thing not some formulaic package that a photogenic, Charismatic individual uses as a vehicle to stardom via mediocre music.
ATH: Knowing the importance of visual art to the band, is there a song in the catalog that you’d go back in time and make a video for using today’s technology? Assuming no budget constraints.
LT: JEB Pharaoh off of Around the Bend comes to mind.Not only is it a personal favorite, it also seems like a great soundtrack for a cool video as long as the person doing it had a real vision and feel for the music.And if there is no budget restraints I want Peter Jackson to do it!!!
ATH: You’re curating a festival of your one…who do you pick from past/present Athens to play on the bill?
LT: The Method Actors, Pylon, REM, Love Tractor, B-52s and Widespread Panic.
Mikes Veggie Breakfast with Sausage for 2
4 red potatoes
1 -2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cups of broccoli cut
3-4 radishes quartered
4 Chicken and apple sausage links (we use Applegate Naturals)
1 cup pineapple
Half of a red pepper cut into strips and then halved
2 slices of onion cut in half
3 cloves of garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce (optional)
Do this the day or night before to save time in the morning.
Wrap a few red potatoes in foil and bake them in a 450 degree oven for about 45 minutes.
(We do a big batch of them ahead of time and keep the potatoes in the fridge to use the next few days.)
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan at medium low and add 4 quartered baked red potatoes. Fry for about 15-20 minutes on one side until as brown as you like. We like them pretty brown. Flip over potatoes to other cut side and add about 2-3 cups of broccoli cut up, 4 quartered radishes and 4 frozen Chicken and apple sausages from Applegate Naturals. Cover for a couple of minutes while broccoli softens and sausage warms. Stir often so broccoli doesnt burn. Then add half a red pepper sliced into strips and a cup of pineapple. Stir-fry everything until as done as you like.
At the end add 2 slices of an onion that have been cut in half and as much minced garlic as you like. We use 3 cloves. Cook for about 2 minutes more stirring so the garlic doesnt burn.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
We also add our favorite hot sauce Franks Red Hot! This works as a meal by itself or you can add eggs cooked your favorite way.
Use whatever veggies you like or have on hand. When we have left over asparagus we add that to the mix. Cook to desired doneness!