Elbow: Not Just A Band

Image Cassandra Hannagan

Elbow is about as un-rock and roll a band as it comes. A bunch of English blokes that would be happier down the pub with a pack of crisps than in some swanky bar nibbling on molecular gastronomy pinchos and downing lady drinks, lead singer Guy Garvey provides an excellent example: he bird watches and not the skirt kind. Mick Jagger needn’t lose sleep but when it comes to song smithery and tunage, Elbow can craft music that make grown men cry. Having played together since 1990 Guy, Mark and Craig Potter, Richard Jupp and Pete Turner have 5 albums to their name including 2008’s Mercury Award winning The Seldom Seen Kid and the recent Barclaycard Mercury Prize nominated album Build a Rocket Boys! Not long after their “career defining” performance at Glasto, they were in Oz for the annual Splendour In The Grass festival. Sadly our travelling companion Michael Cheang stole Guy away from us (we will get you Michael), so JUICE nipped behind the caravans to kick about with the rest of the band.

How does an Elbow festival gig differ from an indoor gig?
You’ve got less time than you would at a headline show, so it’s about representing all aspects of your music, really winning people over. Our set it’s kind of a journey in the same way that our album is.

I’m quite new to the whole festival scene, it’s only my second time. What should you never eat in festivals?
Brown acid.

On your album, there’s a song called ‘Birds’. Now that you’ve been to Australia, do you think there’ll be a song about marsupials?
No, it’s hard to find something that can rhyme with kangaroo. It’s a challenge.

Have you guys gotten any time while you’re here, to do anything?
Everybody had just about got over their jetlag, then we had a massive night, so we’re back to square one. We just spent the day off in our hotel room ordering lots of room service and watching some movies. The Adjustment Bureau is quite cool and The King’s Speech – again.

You guys regularly donate your music to charity, what cause is at particularly close to your heart?
We support MAG charity (Mines Advisory Group) and also the NAS (National Autistic Society). We’re in a very lucky position, we have worked hard. We’ve been fortunate to get to this level. So it’s always something that you should be able to share. We’ve got a lot of requests for charities though, so rather than spread ourselves too thinly, we’re trying to focus on the couple that we feel strongly about.

Do artist have a responsibility to use their fame for good?
It depends on the artist. It shouldn’t be a pre-requisite for getting into the industry. If you feel, you want to and you think it will make a difference, then you should.

From what I read, when you guys were gigging around, you would listen to U2 in the car. As fans, what do you think about their music now and U2 as a band in general?
From the stuff they do now? I don’t think is as fresh…. We would listen to U2 in the car all the time, because the tape was stuck in the tape machine and wouldn’t come out. We’ve had the honour of supporting then and I must say fans will always go and see them because U2 has got that reputation for pointing on such a great show.  So I don’t think it really matters if the records aren’t selling as well as they used to.

Your latest album is entitled Build a Rocket Boys! Thought much about space travel?
I think most people would if they got the chance. But it’s not exactly an album about space travel, it’s a metaphor for going after your dreams.

I’ve been flown to Splendour In The Grass by AirAsia X, If you guys were to travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
We’ve never been to South America, but we have been to Cuba. And I think we’re locally gonna get to get out there next year, and I miss the Maldives. And I’ve always wanted to go on Safari, so I’d like to go to Africa. About 10 days ago was our first time in Hong Kong. It has similar smells to New York – in a good way.

Share your travel tips boys….
Drink lots of water. Hydrate.

Travel business class.

If you’re taking your shoes off and you’ve got things in your pocket, like mobile phones, keys, whatever you might have, put them in your shoes, and you can never leave anything behind.

Ooh that’s a good one! 

Elbow performed on the third and last day of Splendour In The Grass 2011 in Woodford Queensland. JUICE was flown there by Air Asia X. Find out more about the fest and what they have planned for 2102 by going to www.splendourinthegrass.com and get ready to book your tix to Gold Coast pronto at www.airasia.com. Asia X flies daily to Gold Coast from Kuala Lumpur and back. Air Asia X also flies to Melbourne, Perth, Seoul, Tokyo and many more music-friendly cities. Check for flight schedules and ticket prices and don’t forget to ask about Air Asia X Premium and its lie flat beds. For more on Elbow hit up www.elbow.co.uk and www.myspace.com/elbowmusic.