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In Their Own Words

Guy Garvey Of Elbow On New Album Build A Rocket Boys
The Quietus , February 4th, 2011 04:01

The Elbow frontman explains the inspiration behind their latest album

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Guy Garvey On Build A Rocket Boys!

The Seldom Seen Kid for us will forever be a reminder of everything that happened during the four and a half years we were writing and then touring the record from the very sad to the utterly exhilarating. The pressures of following such a hugely successful record were nothing compared to the making of the previous albums. If anything it just gave us confidence. We had a conversation right at the top of making Build... and we agreed that as always we were just going to get stuck in. We tried to ignore the excitement of the big stages we knew we were now going to play and concentrated as always on making a record that would leave the listener somewhere other than [where] it found them. We are still an album band before anything else and the phrase whenever we got stuck was simple: ‘What do we want to hear next?’

The first song we completed was written and recorded on the Isle Of Mull. ‘Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl’ couldn’t be simpler musically and lyrically. It’s a list of the details I remember from my life when I was 22 written with the knowledge of how things would unfold.

"Nothing to be proud of and nothing to regret, all of that to make as yet."

The music sounded to me like the muted heartbeat of someone restraining themselves, the splashes of clumsy colour from the keyboards being general excitement bubbling up over the sides.

At 22 I had been in the band for five years and we knew what we wanted to do. Life was general excitement, it was easy to remember. ‘Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl’ became the blueprint for the record. Musically and thematically there isn’t a spare signal on this record. Craig as a producer insists on performance, there’s no "Let’s fix it in the mix" and in our writing there isn't a note spare.

Lyrically this is a record about the ups and downs of being young through the eyes of someone who loved and hated it all at the same time. Ultimately though, when Elbow listen back to this record in years to come it will remind us of how it felt to be the same old friends in the same wonderful studio in the same old town making another record we're immensely proud of but this time in the warm glow of having realised all the plans we made as boys. The album title recommends that everybody have a go.

Guy x

Build A Rocket Boys! is released by Polydor on March 7

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Feb 4, 2011 1:16pm

I've been following Elbow since their first album "Asleep in the back" and they have been consistantly brilliant. I could never understand why they didn't make it big a long time ago. The Mercury prize was well deserved & has at last made them realise their dream. Well done boys. See you next month in Birmingham.

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Feb 4, 2011 5:02pm

In reply to Melanie:


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Nick, Manchester
Feb 4, 2011 6:10pm

In reply to AlexanderVelky:

Afraid so Alexander.

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Feb 4, 2011 9:17pm

Only time I saw them was opening for Coldplay, and they deserved to headline. I wish they would book their own tour of the States!

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Martin Burt
Feb 5, 2011 11:15pm

No one comes close to Elbow for the combination of music, lyrics and vocals. I've followed Elnow since their first album after a magazine compared them to Spirit of Eden era Talk Talk. I took a chance on that record and since then they've consistently released outstanding albums and never let me down.

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Dave S
Feb 11, 2011 3:03pm

In reply to Martin Burt:

Couldn't agree more Martin, Elbow are the most consistent English band of the last ten years. Every album has clearly been crafted by musicians who both know and love their music. I've met them a few times, seen them live in small venues and enormodomes and they never fail to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Really looking forward to the new CD and seeing them in Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester next month.

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Feb 20, 2011 11:20pm

In reply to Lincoln:

I'm right there with you Lincoln. I saw them in LA in July 2010. I drove five hours to see them and will do it again, but I would love to see them play more dates over here. US radio needs to get their heads out of the pop machine and showcase some real talent!

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Mar 11, 2011 10:35am

I was lucky enough to see them do a small set at Koko a couple of weeks back, where they played some of the new stuff live for the first time. 'The Birds' sounded absolutely magnificent, and 'Open Arms' will totally be this year's 'One Day Like This'.

I love all their albums, and the way that they have matured and grown through each one, without losing any of their absolute "real-ness". I am lyrics-mad, and one of the things that instantly drew me to BARB is the fact you can clearly hear everything he's singing and saying. The orchestration and Halle choir backing are gorgeous, but not swamping. It's a credit to Craig Potter's producing that something so simple can be made to sound so sweeping and grand.
I could, and have, enthused about Elbow at length. I'm looking forward to seeing them at the O2, and hopefully for many more years yet.

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Apr 11, 2011 3:42am

In reply to Lincoln:

How I wish they would come back to US. We saw them opening for Cold Play, too, at Alpine. They were fabulous. I've loved them ever since. Yes, they could be headliners...easily.

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