Elbow don’t care if you think they’re not cool enough
It has been a big few years for Elbow frontman Guy Garvey.
He released his first solo record, Courting The Squall, in 2015. He also married his wife, actress Rachael Sterling, in June of last year and the couple are set to have their first child next month.
So it’s probably not a surprise that Little Fiction, the seventh studio album from Elbow, is brimming with positivity.
As we were writing the album, it just got darker. So it was like, let’s keep writing positive, optimistic, love-filled songs.Guy Garvey — Lunch With Myf
“We sat down before we started the record and decided that it should be a positive, optimistic, love-filled thing,” he told Myf Warhurst this week.
“Partly that was how I was feeling, because I met Rachael, but also just because that’s what the times demand of us, I think. Us meaning the band, it’s something that we’ve always leaned towards and done well.
“It was like, ‘let’s do it a little more deliberately this time’, because things are so dark on the world stage.
"And then, as we were writing the album, it just got darker. So it was like, let’s keep writing positive, optimistic, love-filled songs.”
But, of course, there’s a balance of light and shade.
“The dark stuff found its way onto there as well, there’s plenty of comment on Brexit and such things.”
While Garvey’s in a good space, his band suffered a significant setback before the making of this latest record as drummer Richard Jupp left the band after almost 30 years of playing together.
“It wasn’t a shock, but it was a shock,” Garvey says. “Or rather, it hadn’t been right for some time. But it was still quite amazing that it came to that sort of thing. We tried numerous ways to sort of stop it happening, down the years. But we’d run out of things to try. It had come to its natural end, I guess.”
The band’s remaining members decamped to a stately old home in the Scottish town of Stirlingshire to work through the sadness and figure out where to go next.
“It was January and there was snow outside and we all had three layers on, despite being by a roaring fire – that’s where we set our equipment up. And it was great! We had to keep the fire fed in order to stay warm in order to write.
“So it was a really, a great place to sort of get melancholy about our old friend departing, and then at the same time get excited about the possibilities.”
There does seem to be an almost childlike excitement in Garvey and co’s first musical experiment in their rented, ad-hoc studio.
“The first thing we did was make a loop out of dropping a bag of kindling on the floor,” Garvey says.
“That’s the last song on the album [‘Kindling’]. The last thing you hear is the rest of the band – Pete, Craig and Mark – discussing whether or not it would make a good loop. And it seemed like a fitting way to end the record with the very, very first thing that we did.”
Drummer Alex Reeves filled in behind the kit for a bit of the record and will join Elbow as they tour in support of it, but he won’t formally be inducted to the band.
“We don’t want to replace Jupp as a drummer,” Garvey says. “Alex is gonna come out with us live, but it’s just gonna be the four of us. Jupp’s just… I don’t know, it’s weird, he’s too much part of our story to sort of try and replace him.”
While it’s pretty easy to pinpoint where Garvey’s current positive energy stems from, the frontman says the band’s confidence in what they do was as important to setting the right tone on the new album.
“A lot of it’s coming from a place of excitement about the future, not just for the band but in my personal life as well, because I write the words, and, you know, meeting Rachael and deciding to spend my life with her and deciding to have a family, it’s all sort of pushed it forward,” he says.
“In terms of the lads, I think the confidence comes from knowing your strengths and also, not minding quite so much if there’s a bunch of people not thinking it’s quite cool enough, what you do. We spend an awful lot of time worrying about being cool, and I think you automatically can’t be cool if you’re worried about it.”
Little Fictions is out now
Stream Myf’s full chat with Guy Garvey on Lunch With Myf.