Elbow @ Summer Sundae 2006

United Kingdom United Kingdom | | 16 August 2006

VF: How much do you know about the Summer Sundae festival?
MP: "I think everything we know we’ve just found out in the last couple of hours. It’s great, it’s a nice little thing. It’s such a weird location, but it’s nice and compact."

VF: What have you been up to?
MP: "We’ve been in the studio. We’re well into album four at the minute, working day and night on it, or night and day. We’ve had a few little trips out and about but we’ve had to keep it pretty chilled."

VF: In your own studio up in Manchester?
MP: "Yeah, it’s just a little room. If you saw the DVD of the last album we did we were in a larger room but now we’ve been relegated to a much smaller one in the same building."

VF: Why is that?
MP: "Just because we’re writing at the minute and we don’t really need the big space, but eventually we’re going to go into the big room and record a lot of the songs once we’re finished lyrically and musically."

VF: So when are you going to have an album ready?
MP: "We don’t know, hopefully early next year."

VF: Are you being influenced by much of the current music crop or have you just been holed up listening the Grateful Dead?
MP: "Well we’ve had these little trips out which have been really good. We’ve been to places like Iceland and Istanbul, which have been good. We usually have an entire writing period away, like a couple of weeks where we just clear our heads, rehearse together and get some ideas. But I’ve really enjoyed it this time round. Being back home in Manchester is a nice way of working, having a few drinks, going socialising."

VF: Do you drink before you play?
MP: "It’s kind of a bit strange at something like this where you’re headlining, you know you’re here at midday but you’re not on until 9 so you’ve got a lot of time to kill…"

VF: Which was the next question, what’s it like to have a headlining slot?
MP: "It’s brilliant! I’ll tell you why it’s brilliant: this festival, compared to a lot of the bigger festivals, I feel like we’re at home because it’s 6Music, so it really is people who’ll know our music and appreciate it. At a lot of the bigger ones [festivals] you wander around and the average age is like a 15 or 16 year old metal kids. They’re not going to get us!"

VF: You’re often regarded by the media as the thinking man’s group. Does that bother you? Are you trying to reach a new audience or do you not care?
MP: "Well hopefully on this next album we’ll catch a few more people but it is always nice to have that solidity, almost with people who actually give a shit and appreciate us."

VF: On the last album there are some more upbeat numbers, was this a conscious decision?
MP: "We never consciously write a song to try and pull an audience in, but we do love that kind of music, you know? We love anthemic stuff and dancey stuff, our tastes are really varied. In the past we’d find ourselves attempting to write slightly upbeat stuff but it didn’t really sound like us so we don’t tend to do that any more and just carry on writing until its sounding good. And the way we’ve been writing the recent album is a lot more like that."

VF: Summer Sundae has a lot of unsigned bands on the line-up. Have you listened to any of these bands, any particular favourites?
MP: "I was into Richard Hawley before he was signed …he’s playing now unfortunately. And James Morrison."

VF: What did it take to get to where you are today?
MP: "I think because it took so long for us to get “there” we were obviously really chuffed when we got offered this record deal, but there was always something on the horizon that we were headed for. So it was never like “right, we’ve made it!” it was more like “right, we’ve done this.”

VF: Did you ever make a business plan or anything like that?
MP: "Not really, no, but I like to think our manager did."

VF: But in terms of the time it took you to get there did you ever thin “fuck this,” I’ve got to get on with something else?
MP: "Definitely, but I think everybody thought that at different times but were just too scared to leave in case ‘it’ happened. So if you think the thing that is binding us together is friendship you’d be wrong."

VF: So is there any new material or surprises for your set tonight?
MP: "There’s one new one which is just piano and vocal, it’s an absolutely beautiful song, it’s one of my favourites of the new stuff that we’re doing at the minute. It’s called 'Brambles'."

VF: What’s your best ever festival experience, either individually or as a band?~
MP: "For me it was this festival we did recently in Belgium. We do OK in Belgium, we’ve been out there quite a bit, I think because they’ve got a similar sense of humour to us. Anyway we’d been doing a string of festivals, we’d done two German festivals and a Swiss one and we’d been partying quite hard the night before this festival so everyone was really delirious, including the crew and our tour manager, and we just did not know what to expect. There was no check, as is the case with most festivals, and we just went on and really had one of the best gigs of our lives. It was filmed and we watched on the bus afterwards and it was like “wow!” It was quite a magical moment. Nobody was worked up before the show, it was just like “Oh, we’ve got to do a gig”. But we did and it just went really well. You can see that on the video we all look so relaxed."

VF: Did you go to festivals much pre-Elbow?
MP: "I went to Glastonbury in '95, the year Jeff Buckley played. He was on really early on the main stage."

VF: Anything you remember about it?
MP: "Erm…not really…microdots…hee hee."

VF: What are your favourite Elbow tunes?
MP: "Probably 'Great Expectations' off 'Leaders Of The Free World' for me. I think we’re our best when we do the beautiful stuff. A few of my other favourite tracks are b-sides and we’re putting a b-sides album out sometime in the near future."

VF: How prolific is your creative output?
MP: "We never stop writing, that’s a mistake we made after 'Asleep'. We recorded it, we toured it, we came back and we had nothing and we were in expensive studios with nothing, which was just a daft thing to do. A lot of bands make that mistake. After that we just said “let’s never stop writing,” whether we’re on the road, if we had time off people would be writing at home, people would be passing around minidiscs of ideas…so it’s more that we release sections of what we do rather than record albums."

VF: Is there one song in history, time and space, you wish that you’d written?
MP: "For me it would be 'Bless the Weather' by John Martyn."

VF: And is there one song that has been released recently that you shouldn’t have liked but did?
MP: "Kasabian. We all don’t want to like them, but we really like that song."

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- Photographer: Sara Bowrey

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