with Elbow frontman Guy Garvey
Brit alt- rockers Elbow may be entering a new orbit, but the boys are intent on keeping their feet on the ground, writes Neala Johnson
Q. Elbow hit the stratosphere in the UK with The Seldom Seen Kid and your new album Build a Rocket Boys!, debuted at No. 2. Are you famous now? A. ( Laughs) Yeah, I’m on the front cover of magazines and stuff, it’s odd. It’s not catapulted us into a different social strata or anything like that – still coming back to the same mates and the same pubs. It’s just that on my journey from the house to the pub, people recognise me. Q. So you’re always running late to the pub now because you have to stop to have your photo taken, right? A. That happens more when people bring it on themselves. If I was daft enough to go to an indie club on a Friday night, then I could expect to not move for three hours for people doing that. But generally speaking, people in the north of England, they don’t really want you to know that they know who you are, they don’t want to give you the satisfaction. So you get comments like, ‘‘ Oi Elbow, get a job’’. That means, ‘‘ Congratulations! I admire what you’re doing.’’ Q. You’re a northerner, from Manchester. So if you’re in the same room as, say, Bono, do you ignore him? A. No, I’d give him a nod. I’ve been in the same room as him. I’ve said hello to Bono. He’s very gracious. For the most part, it’s manners, same as always. Q. You’ve said Build a Rocket Boys! was the easiest record to make. Did it feel too easy? A. I was slightly worried at one point that if you haven’t sweated over something, that somehow it’s worth less than the other records. But that’s bulls---. It’s just a state of mind you get yourself in when you really, really want to succeed at something. You say, ‘ Well, I must suffer for this!’ It’s ridiculous, that. That’s the kind of work ethic that keeps people in the same job their whole lives. It’s like this idea that you can’t be happy unless you’ve absolutely suffered all week and then you’re allowed two days happiness and then back to suffering. It’s ridiculous. Q. Is it true you’ve been experimenting on your bandmates in rehearsals? A. Rehearsal, if all you have to do is open your gob and sing, it’s the most drearily boring experience! So I’m bored out of me skull every day. So I do all kinds of things to amuse myself – I’ve become very, very proficient at Angry Birds, I’ve almost got three stars on every level. And I conduct little social experiments on the lads while they’re distracted. The one I tried the other day was using their formal first names throughout the day – it didn’t change the way they played or acted towards me, I just got a really sarcastic ‘‘ Guuuuuuy’’ in return from one of them. Q. Perhaps you need to get more devious. A. Yeah, I might, every time one of them puts something down, move it closer to another band member and see if they start noticing that happening. I’ve written some rude messages on their synthesisers which they won’t see until today. So that’ll be a good 10 seconds of amusement for me. Q. Hey, wait – isn’t this new album supposedly all about maturity? A. ( Laughs) Oops, totally rumbled. I’ve regressed slightly, to write about the past.