Music interview: Elbow

Elbow frontman Guy Garvey.
Elbow frontman Guy Garvey.
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Elbow never intended to make six albums.

In the years leading up to their 2001 debut Asleep At The Back, they couldn’t imagine releasing more than four, and were so certain of this that they almost called that first album Disc One Of Four.

“And here we are, releasing our sixth,” says frontman Guy Garvey with a shake of his head. Here they are indeed, one of Britain’s best-loved bands; many things to many people.

Garvey, particularly, is adored as much for his personality as he is for his voice. Attend an Elbow gig and you’ll meet thousands of people who either want to buy him a drink or, shall we say, get better acquainted. Something about his rugged exterior, cuddly demeanour and poetic soul does the trick.

He is great company; a master of the anecdote, whether he’s telling a story about himself, Elbow or any manner of other topics he’s interested in. He veers from serious conversation about immigration and the rational thought he believes is missing from the dialogue on the subject in the UK (something he addresses on The Blanket Of Night, the final track on the new album) to chatting about watching Morecambe & Wise as a child.

The band - Garvey, along with his old friends Richard Jupp, Pete Turner and brothers Craig and Mark Potter - are currently rehearsing for their forthcoming tour.

Today Garvey says he’ll be working on his costume changes. “Those leotards are murder. Getting them on as well as off again. I go through three a night, easy,” he says, seemingly both horrified and intrigued by the idea of donning lycra in front of so many paying fans. Very likely, he’ll wear jeans, a shirt and suit jacket, as usual.

Prior to finishing the forthcoming album, the fivesome hadn’t had more than three weeks apart since forming in Bury about 23 years ago. The Take Off And Landing Of Everything, however, saw them start writing and recording and then take six months off.

Some travelled, others with new families concentrated on that. At the start of 2013, Garvey and his then girlfriend, journalist and author Emma Jane Unsworth, went to live in New York, while Garvey collaborated with The Avalanches and Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja, among others, on a stage musical of King Kong.

Unfortunately, later that year, not long after the musical opened and was lightly mauled by critics, Garvey and Unsworth broke up. He returned to Manchester, the band reconvened and got to work finishing what they’d started.

TOUR DATE: April 11 - Leeds First Direct Arena.

Scott Caizley.

Scott Caizley: From Leeds couuncil estate to classical pianist