With five albums under their belt, Elbow began their U.S tour at the Austin City Limits festival this last weekend. Their latest album “Build a Rocket Boys!” hit number two in the U.K. album charts.
Elbow has an incredible ability to play a wide variety of music, whichmakes for an excellent set.
The Paisano had the oppurtunity to sit with vocalist Guy Garvey (GG) and bassist Pete Turner (PT) and enjoy a few minutes with some interesting fellows.
Is this Elbow’s first time in the U.S.?
GG: “No, the first time we came here was probably ten years ago. We came touring our first album, in fact we played in Austin. It was one of the first gigs we ever did here, for South by Southwest”
PT: “We’ve been a couple of times every album”
Can you tell us about the band name Elbow? Where did it come from?
GG: “We were called Soft, which in itself is a terrible name and our music had improved somewhat and we wanted people to hear it, so we gave ourselves a week to come up with a new name, and that’s the best we could do. It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
PT: “Now we’re living with it.”
Can you tell me a little bit about the newest album, “Build a Rocket Boys”?
GG:”We all write the music together. I’m the only lyricist in the band but the lads are firm critics.
It was the first time we decided that the record should have a theme and because we have been together for twenty years and because the previous record, “The Seldom Seen Kid,” did so well for us in Europe, our careers took off back home on that album, we were very relaxed and very happy.
I was pondering what the subject matter of the record should be because we like to make albums that take you somewhere, that’s about something. I thought ‘I have all this stuff in my past’ so I decided to write a record about the past. The lyrics are about the last twenty years, about growing up, about forming decisions about who you are.
And in particular the tune the we wrrote first was called ‘Limpy Kids’ that’s a song encouraging young people to do exactly what we’ve done, follow your dreams. Also encouraging people our age not to look at younger people as some kind of threat all the time “
PT: “Even though they are.”
GG:”They really can be. The week that single came out (‘Limpy Kids’) was the week of all the riots in the U.K. which is kind of ironic. I don’t think they (young people) have the opportunities we have, because of one thing or another. Young people should be encouraged not just looked on as some kind of criminal.”
Your record is doing really well in Great Britain, rumor has it Elbow is in the process of writing a follow up album?
PT: “At the moment its kind of a lot of discussions really. We do a lot of discussing things. We probably discuss things far too much. But that’s the way we kind of been. “Build A Rocket” was quite a settle album really, and we wanted to go in an opposite direction from where “The Seldom Seen Kid” (there previous album) was. I think on this next album we definitely want to use the drummer a lot more. Make it a lot more beat-y. I would like to think it goes from where (last album’s) ‘The Birds’ left off. It is going to be quite big.”
GG: “It wouldn’t be a bad idea to open the record with a reprise of ‘The Birds’.”
PT: “We absolutely love the album as a body of work. We’ve talked about these things in the past.
GG: “Its tempting to see your next record as a mountain to climb. It tempting to see it as the big all to end all of your career. We’ve been doing this for twenty years, hopefully we’ll be doing it for another twenty year. We’re just going to keep going”
How did the band make a transition from that very raw sound of ‘Grounds of Divource’ on the last album, “The Seldom Seen Kid,” to radically different, refined sound on the newest album, “Build a Rocket Boys”?
PT: “We like such extremes. Mark (the guitarist) loves ACDC, Queen, Smashing Pumpkins and Soundcard. And then you’ve got Leonard Cohen. Such extremes that it’s a nice thing with our band that were not tied for one type of music. We can literally explore anything we want.”