Finding more elbow room
BRITISH band Elbow has had its fair share of accolades, awards and successes in its 20- year career.
From acclaimed albums, to winning the UK’S most prestigious music prize, The Mercury, in 2008 and most recently being afforded the honour of composing the BBC’S Olympic coverage theme tune, the revered Manchester quintet is on a high.
But arguably the biggest, and certainly most unexpected, thrill for all – for the band members who are not averse to a tipple – was being able to mix their own beer, which was then named in their honour.
The brew they came up with was designed as a limited release to help promote the band’s album of last year Build a Rocket Boys, but lead singer Guy Garvey says it’s still selling 8000 pints a week in their home town so they just keep making it.
‘‘ We should have negotiated more money frankly,’’ says the affable Garvey, with a laugh.
‘‘ I could have bought that yacht. Getting drunk on your own beer just makes the band laugh it’s something we never expected to be doing.
‘‘ One of those little ambitions you never knew you had.’’
Having had the same line- up for more than 20 years and only achieving its biggest hit relatively recently, with the millionselling 2008 album The Seldom Seen Kid, the slow- burn success of Elbow is something of an oddity in a fast- paced industry with a short memory.
Garvey puts the band’s longevity down to keeping communication clear between band- mates and not letting arguments go unresolved, no matter how small.
‘‘ I remember my mum said after she and my dad divorced that it wasn’t anything big it was 20 years of little things.
‘‘ I have never thought about this before but my marriage to those four is about to trump my mother and father’s marriage.’’
Lyricist Garvey even wrote a love song to the rest of the band, Dear Friends, on the most recent album and says they would all give up the band before they gave up the friendships they formed as teenagers.
‘‘ We have done so many amazing things together,’’ Garvey says. ‘‘ It’s not lost on us that travelling to Australia is a massive thing.
‘‘ That what we do here in little rooms in Manchester can fly us across the world to an awaiting audience is just amazing.’’
Garvey says the band has been back in the studio working on the follow- up to Build a Rocket Boys and some of the songs may well make it into the set- list for next month’s shows in Australia.
Elbow flirted with the then- new trip- hop sound coming out of Bristol in the early ’ 90s and Garvey hints at a return to similar territory for the next album.
‘‘ We kind of left that idea there and wandered off towards prog rock and sometimes towards melancholia and we have gone back to that slow, stoner groove thing,’’ he says. ‘‘ We’re playing with beats.’’
Garvey is also advising audiences to bring their best voices along to the shows.
For the second Elbow album, Cast of Thousands, the band recorded the crowd during their slot at the famous Glastonbury festival and used the massed choir on the song Grace Under Pressure.
‘‘ We will be recording every show we do in Australia and there is a strong possibility we might ask the audience to do something every night, which is then on the next record,’’ Garvey says.
And after impressing at last year’s Splendour in the Grass festival, Garvey says the band is keen to bring a bigger production with ‘‘ lights and bells and whistles’’ back to Australia.