Broadcast on Monday 5th December 2016, Guy's interview with Pete Donaldson on Absolute Radio
PD: Moshi, moshi, Guy Garvey!
GG: How are you mate, all right?
PD: What are you doing right now? I like to find out who's on the line and what they're doing..
GG: I've just got back from London to my house in north Manchester, thrown a load of clothes in the bag, ordered some food - a pizza in this case..
GG: ..and in about half an hour's time I'm going to go into town, have a few pints with my bass player Pete, join the rest of the band and, we're going to Pembrokeshire to have our picture taken.
PD: Ha ha, just one, just the one?
GG: There'll end up being just one, because we're all, you know.. despite being men of a certain age, incredibly vain.
PD: (more laughing) You've got to get them right, get the filters right. Can I talk about toppings? What toppings have you got on the pizza?
GG: Errm, I had a half veggie volcano, half pepperoni - delicious.
PD: Well, I imagine the boys will be enjoying the smell of that later on!
GG: Ha ha, yeah.. in a van all the way to Pembrokeshire.
PD: Aw great stuff, you troopers.
GG: The glamour just never ends..
PD: It really doesn't.. So, Magnificent (she says) - is this the song we needed after a pretty crappy year draws to a close? We're going to be playing it in a second.
GG: It wasn't written for that purpose. But while I was writing it, I realised it would be used for that. It has, in so many ways, been a terrible year, but it's also been an amazing year. Of course, that's how the world is, isn't it? Great things happen and terrible things happen. Big, unexpected blows to the way that we're perceived in the west and the way that we perceive ourselves.. Obvously, some changes need to be made. I think that the underlying thing, no matter how you voted, Brexit-wise, I think everyone agrees there needs to be a change. It's worth remembering that there's still an awful lot of great things out there.
I was listening to kids playing by the sea when I was on my honeymoon, over the summer... My wife told me that when she was beach combing as a girl, her favourite thing to find was pieces of glass worn to pebbles.. so, accidental gems at the edge of the surf. I kept thinking about this image and I kept thinking about that, and I thought: this kind of niaivity that we're all born with, this kind of trust that we're all born with, it could be something that we could all do with a dose of, you know? So, why not throw it in a song? I think it's one of the songwriter's jobs to offer a little bit of hope, and a smile when everybody's feeling a bit down.
PD: ..and smooth the edges of a little bit..
GG: Well that's how I use music. It can completely change my day if I hear the right song. And this is just something that happened so spontaneously - the lads wrote the music without me in the room actually. They were the first words.. the chorus "It's all going to be magnificent (she says)" were the first words out of my mouth; and I thought I could scrutinise and re-write this a thousand times and not get close to what I want to say. So, it happened really, really spontaneously.
PD: The singlemindedness of it all, I mean, this time round you've said in a couple of interviews that you're not scared of the big chorus..
GG: No.. and you can't be scared of, sort of, things that you're known for. It's also great to innovate and to change and to challenge yourself, but also it's churlish to turn away from things that you know that you're good at and that people appreciate about you. And, if anything, it's more of an album of.. I dunno.. it feels a lot like the first album in many ways. There's more classic song structures on it than on records since the first one, so.. I dunno.. it feels like an album of songs.
PD: The album itself, Little Fictions, is it a collection of short stories? Is that what you've gone for this time round?
GG: Yeah, that's exactly it. It all draws on life, but it's not necessarily my life.
PD: Okay. The track that we're about to play, it has such drive, is that indicitive of the wider flavours of the album? is it a little faster than usual?
GG: I'll tell you there's more groove, perversely, as we lost our drummer in January. That may sound like he's dead, he's not dead, he's just not drumming with us anymore. Yeah, we became a four-piece in January after many years of being a five-piece. It took us a little while to get going without Jupp, but once we were in the swing of things, we found that we were drawn towards loops, which we used to do at one point in time anyway.. And then we got Alex Reid involved, who's an amazing drummer, he's played with lots and lots of people; and he helped me out with my solo album last year. Alex came in and did a couple of days but, by and large it was Craig's hard work drum-wise.
PD: You recorded some of the last album in Wiltshire. Did you work on this one here, or did you go further afield?
GG: We started it in Scotland, in Stirling, in a house is owned by the Landmark Trust, which you can hire out, called Gargunnock House. It's an amzing, beautiful, great big place and it was January - so cold! Jupp had just left the band so we were spinning a little bit with what to do next. But we got our heads together there and we set our equipment around the fire in the great room and put three or four layers on and drank a lot of whiskey - that's where the record started. And then in the summer we were at my house in Manchester, in the attic, working here, which was a really familiar, lovely vibe.. and then we finished it at Blueprint, in Salford, which is where we've made all our records, for many years.
PD: Beautiful, it's all about the Scottish air (muffled) and Virgin trains coming back down for getting it finished off then?
GG: There you go..
PD: You are going to be taking in four nights at the Manchester Apollo and three in London as well. Is there a sweet spot when it comes to choosing venues? Nothing too big, nothing too small, but then you've got further dates?
GG: There is. There's something great about every size of venue. If you've been playing lots of arenas, which we were, I guess 2008 to 2010, then you can't wait to play something smaller. But it's great because there are countries in the world where we can't get a record gig. I think we sold one record in Hawaii, ever. It's all different sizes of venues all over the world, but yeah, our favourite it's a large theatre, with standing downstairs and seating upstairs.. Grand old buildings, like Manchester Apollo and like, er.. yeah, like the London Apollo as well. I've forgotten where it is, where is it?
GG: Ha! Hammersmith Apollo. You know what, I played there four nights in a row, a couple of years ago, and I've forgotten what it's called. It's like the most beautiful art deco theatre in the country, it's so beautiful, newly restored and I forgot where it was!
PD: Right, we are going to stick on your new single. Do you want to introduce it yourself?
GG: No problem.. This is Guy Garvey, lead singer of Elbow. This is our new song from the album Little Fictions, available in all good record shops, and the song is called Magnificent (she says)..