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Elbow

ElbowWhile the members of Elbow may be rapidly approaching 40 years of age, they still attack their music as if they were teenagers. CHRIS HAVERCROFT speaks to frontman, Guy Garvey, who is as excited about the band’s new record, The Take Off And Landing Of Everything, as he was with the music they were making two decades ago.

Guy Garvey is clearly in a celebratory mood, what with the first run of reviews for The Take Off And Landing Of Everything are overwhelmingly positive. The band are also getting themselves ready for their first set of live shows in quite some time, so the excitement around the members of the band is at a high point.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’m hungover but very happy,” confesses Garvey of his current state. “There are very few days that I’m not hung over. People spend their life trying to strip away the ego and find the inner child. I just get mortally fucking pissed and the next day your ego will be struck from you. Any self-respect you had will be stripped from you and your inner child will very much be in evidence.  I will eventually stop when they tell me I can’t do it anymore, but until then it is way too much fun.”

For this record, Elbow took a different approach to recording. Instead of everyone being in the same room at the same time to work up the material, they gathered in groups of two or three to write the music. In some way this was a way for Elbow to challenge themselves musically, but it was also a result of what happens when groups of friends that are approaching their 40s and there are choices that have been made that pull you apart at times.

“For the most part it worked really well,” accepts Garvey of the new approach. “The boys all have children so they have responsibilities. My bass player told me that he doesn’t drink from Monday to Wednesday anymore. I thought good for you man… but I also thought, ‘fuck that!’ It pulls you in different directions. Children aren’t for me, it’s not what I want to do, but we all still get together and support each other.”

Elbow, as a band, are at the top of their game as they continue to sell healthy amounts of records and complete successful tours. Other commitments mean that they don’t tour for as long as they used to and aren’t as concerned with month-on-end dates that would lead to the band conquering the world. The balance is more even these days, although Garvey reflects it probably has been for 12 years now.

“I would be very, very worried and upset if the band took precedence over the band member’s families. That would be the wrong way around. The band has given us many opportunities and these days, pays for things like school fees, which is something that I am immensely proud of. We have all got houses and they’ve all got children who are clothed and educated and fed because of what we have done in small carpeted room for the past 20 years.”

Elbow made the conscious decision to take a break for a year before they started work on The Take Off And Landing Of Everything. The outfit had constantly been touring and recording since 2008’s The Seldom Seen Kid LP unexpectedly blew up for them and they became incredibly well known in their native UK. All members of Elbow had been together since their youth and had never had a break.

“We didn’t have a gap year or time out. We had to hold down shitty jobs in our youth to be able to do the band. I just thought that the boys have all got young families and touring takes them away from that, so why don’t we take a proper year out from the band so people can look at it and evaluate it? It worked really well for us as it encouraged us to write separately which freshened up the whole process for us. We are now buzzing to get out there and play, and that’s how it should be. We always said when it stops being fun we will give it up, but it is still a lot of fun.”

“It definitely worked and we will do it again certainly,” says Garvey of an enforced break. “There is an element of trust involved as you are trusting people to not do their own thing. Really, what else are we going to do? How else would we pay the bills? They are all fucked like me! We are trapped in Elbow. Also, a healthy portion of each of us have been trapped in an adolescent bubble since we were 11 that no one has been able to break. It’s all fart jokes and Chinese burns with us.”

The Blanket Of Night finishes the album with a tale of man and wife risking everything trying to improve their lot by illegally entering a country. Elbow have always been ones to straddle both the personal and the political. Garvey is well aware of the debate regarding the archaic treatment of asylum seekers by the current Australian government, whilst recognising that it is not a stance that sits well with the general populous.

“It is no different in Britain,” Garvey suggests about immigration concerns. “It is a little more extreme over there and more black and white in Australia, but over here it is the same disgusting attitude. It is like looking at immigrants – illegal or otherwise – as someone trying to board your ship and take your treasure. It is so stupid and short-sighted.

“These people have had to leave their homes, and would much rather stay in their homes and the land of their birth where their families and their friends and their heritage is. Imagine having to leave your home because of economic crisis or fear of death, to risk your life and everything that you have to be able to go somewhere to be able to have a sandwich without being shot. To treat illegal immigrants like greedy land grabbing people who want more than their fair share is idiotic. And who in Australia isn’t an immigrant and who in Great Britain isn’t an immigrant?”

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