Essential 50 Extra – Elbow Interview

The Mercury winners discuss 'The Seldom Seen Kid'...

To tie in with our Essential 50 countdown, which yesterday featured Elbow’s ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ as one of Clash’s best albums of the past five years, we’ve been talking to frontman Guy Garvey about the band’s Mercury Prize-winning fourth LP.

Read about ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ on our Essential 50 countdown HERE.

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This album is a great example of someone striding to huge success after paying their dues for so long. Was there ever a point you considered giving up?
No, because we¹ve always enjoyed it so much. I mean, it was a bit embarrassing when all our friends went to university when we were eighteen, and we were still doing shit jobs to keep the band together. And around that time, we used to say, “Well, if nothing’s happened by March then we’ll consider knocking it on the head”. But Marches come and go every year. You’d have a new gig or a new recording or a new song on the go. So no, we’ve never really been close to walking away. We enjoy it too much.

Do you enjoy being an example of perseverance, that the good will out?
Yeah, but at the same time, words like ‘persevere’ and ‘struggle’ come up a lot. If I was gonna give anybody any advice, it would be: if you¹re enjoying it even when you¹re not making any money at it, then it’s for you.

Are you flying on a high at the moment?
Yeah, sure. I think it’s perhaps a bigger step in people’s perceptions than it is in the band’s mind. We’ve been nominated for awards before; we’ve just never won ‘em! (Laughs) It’s fuckin’ great. We’ve had a terrific year, and now we’re just really keen to get back into the studio and make the next album.

Will the next one be harder to make, since it’s got to follow in the wake of an award winner?
No, I don’t think so. If anything, we’ll be a bit more relaxed, because with the last two records, we had the fear that nobody would ever hear them. With [2005’s third album] ‘Leaders Of The Free World’ that kind of happened – only a small amount of people bought the record. We consider we lost the album a little bit for how much work we put into it, whereas with this one we know it’s gonna come out with a fanfare, so we haven’t got that background hum of worry while we’re making this one. It should be quite a gentler affair I would imagine.

What are your own favourite albums of the last five years?
I love ‘To Be Still’, the latest Alela Diane record; ‘Catalpa’ by Jolie Holland is probably my favourite album of all time. ‘I Am Kloot Play Moulin
Rouge’. Rufus Wainwright’s ’Want One’ and ‘…Two’.

Who were your favourites of the rest of last year’s Mercury nominees?
I love Laura Marling’s record. She’s astonishing – she’s gonna be around for a good long time to come. I love The Last Shadow Puppets’ record, and of course ‘In Rainbows’. (Garvey discusses ‘In Rainbows’ in the new issue of Clash.)

You must have been shitting yourself in that company!
Well, I’d just completely accepted the fact that we were only nominated – we weren’t gonna win; there wasn’t a slither of a chance of us winning in my head. It was a genuine surprise, and a fuckin’ lovely one. (Laughs)

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Elbow’s ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ album is out now on Fiction; find it in our Essential 50 countdown HERE.

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