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Elbow: Backstage @ Leeds 2003

24 August 2003

We spotted Elbow front man backstage, Guy Garvey, looking a little bit lonely and dejected. In an attempt to cheer him up, we stumbled over to ask him about brand new album 'Cast of Thousands' and last night's gig at Reading...

Guy Garvey: It was blinding. We had loads of fun. We've just been wondering what to put in the set tonight. Over half last night was new material. We over-ran slightly and inconvenienced the Polyphonic Spree and you don't want to upset them - there's a lot of them. So we've had to cut the set shorter. It's our own fault for writing sprawling epics instead of four minute pop songs.

Virtual Festivals: Isn't it a problem for the audience sometimes - loading the set with too much new material?

Well, there used to be a case of we didn't have enough good songs to make a good enough festival set and now we've got too bleedin' many. But everything in Elbow is discussed in fine detail by the council of the six. I've got a new tactic these days. Instead of getting embroiled in all of the decision making process I prefer to take the hands-off approach.

What are you most pleased with on the new album?

It's very difficult to say, man. There's such diverse songs. I love them all for different reasons. For festival vibes, 'Ribcage' and 'Grace Under Pressure' have to be the ones. They've got huge choirs on them and it just goes down, you know.

And you've actually got a festival audience on the album as well!

Yeah. Perhaps the only thing we knew we wanted to do with the second album was to have this big, community everyman feel to it. The first one was so introspective and delicate, we wanted to do something uplifting that people could get their teeth into. That's the only thing we knew we wanted to do, everything else just happened.

Can you describe how it felt to have the entire crowd singing back at you at Glastonbury, earlier in the summer?

It's bizarre because I didn't know I was going to get them to sing till just before I did and I hadn't discussed it with the band. I just thought, "Wouldn't it be great to get all these people singing." Then I thought I could bribe them and tell them all it'd be on the next record. So I said, "Do you wanna be on the next record?".They said, "Yeah!" I said, "Sing this them. We still believe in love so fuck you." And they all sang along. Then we wrote the song, 'Grace Under Pressure', and towards the end of the recording process of the album, we were flicking through thinking, "Where can we put that crowd from Glastonbury that we promised we'd put on the record?" It was in the same tempo and key as 'Grace Under Pressure' which at that point didn't have an ending so it was just absolutely meant to be.

What are Elbow up to in the next twelve months?

We are going to tour this country September/October with Longview supporting, which is great - they're big mates of ours. Then we're going to tour some of Europe with Blur and the rest of Europe with Grandaddy before doing some gigs in states with Grandaddy as well.

What would be your fantasy festival line-up?

Radiohead would be headlining. Talk Talk circa '86. Smog. The Pixies. What else has blown my mind? I had a superb look at Muse, playing this tent a few years ago, actually. That was just incredible. That boy is an absolute star. I wouldn't say their music's my favourite music ever but performance-wise they're unbeatable. He's just a naturally gifted front-man.

- Click here to discuss this on the Festival Forums!
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Article by: Wayne Hoyle

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