Elbow: Boldly Truthful Interview | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Boldly Truthful

Jul 11, 2017 Photography by Andrew Whitton Elbow
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Guy Garvey and his Manchester, England band Elbow may have called their joyous new album Little Fictions, but in conversation the singer is instead frank, forthright, and boldly truthful.

“You know what man? Sometimes you find more about what you do by talking about it,” Garvey says, before joking that more aloof rockers are “monosyllabic, surly bastards” that “usually have something to hide, ie. they’ve not really thought about what they’re doing.”

Garvey’s steadfast honesty extends to Elbow’s new album, despite what its moniker might suggest. He explains that Little Fictions’ title isn’t so much about deceit but rather a confession about being less than truthful, and also overdramatic.

“The title track is about the little fictions when you’re arguing with someone, if you’re both shouting and just being ridiculous with each other,” he says, adding that it is specifically about his quarrels with wife Rachael Stirling, an actress he married in 2015 who has received two Laurence Olivier Award nominations for her stage work, is also known for her British TV work in Tipping the Velvet and The Bletchley Circle, and is the daughter of iconic 1960s actress Diana Rigg (Emma Peel in The Avengers). “It makes you wonder why you do that with the ones that know you best in the world. We hate falling out, my Mrs. and I. But we do it so dramatically, it’s very cinematic when we do.”

Garvey and Stirling first met at the wedding of a mutual friend, actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who was recruited to appear in the video to Little Fictions’ “Gentle Storm,” which pays homage to the video for “Cry,” a 1985 song by Godley and Creme, and was even directed by the original’s Kevin Godley. “Any opportunity to work with Benedict just can’t be passed up,” says Garvey. “One thing that most people don’t know about him is he’s an amazing mimic, a brilliant one.”

Aside from their occasional spats, Garvey and Stirling are still practically in the blissful honeymoon phase of their relationship, the joy of which was all the more augmented by her recently becoming pregnant with their first child. Garvey fondly recalls their playful barbs after Little Fictions was released to critical acclaim, as Stirling opted not to take umbrage with being the muse of her husband’s intimate songs, instead taking crediting for its success.

“When we were working on the album nobody knew Rachael was pregnant. But if you listen to the lyrics, it’s obvious that I’m approaching fatherhood. It’s good to have truth like that in the lyrics,” he says, before recounting her response to the critical acclaim to the songs she helped inspire. “I was reading reviews to her, and she was lying on the sofa, all heavily pregnant, saying, ‘Well, I haven’t worked for months, and I’m getting these great reviews!’ And I kept telling her: ‘Yep, it had nothing to do with us, baby.’”

Aside from the title track, another tenderly loving tune off of Little Fictions is the lead single “Gentle Storm.” On it, Garvey implores his dearest to “Fall in love with me/Everyday” over booming looped percussion and swelling synths. The song’s smolderingly grooving beat is not only a product of Garvey’s love for Stirling, but also a serious shakeup in Elbow’s lineup. Indeed, Little Fictions is the band’s first album without drummer Richard Jupp, whoalong with Garvey, keyboardist Craig Potter, guitarist Mark Potter, and bassist Pete Turnerhad been with them since their formation (and 2001’s debut album, Asleep in the Back), but left the band last year to focus on his drum school and other endeavors.

“For Little Fictions, we lost Richard. That sounds weirdwe haven’t lost him, he’s not dead, and he’s still drumming, just not with us,” Garvey says cheekily, before explaining in a more subdued tone that Jupp “decided to stop playing with the band, which was a happy coincidence to be honest, but it was still sort of weird and sad after 25 years…. Once he left and we licked our wounds, we realized that after 25 years of making music in the same format with the same people, any change in personnel would refresh the whole thing.”

After overcoming that hurdle, getting married, and preparing for fatherhood, Garvey says he is very much revitalized. “Even though this album was just released I’m already full steam ahead on the next one. It’s like I’ve fallen in love with the process of making music all over again.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar’s Spring 2017 Issue (April/May/June 2017), which is out now. This is its debut online.]


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