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Amidst the filming of a movie, some type of deranged tribal chanting going on in the background and killer bees, I sat down at the Roosevelt Hotel in LA with Guy Garvey, Pete Turner, and Rick Jupp of the tantalizingly beautiful Elbow. The boys were recovering (rather sluggishly) from their show the night before with the Doves. They seemed to think the old "hair of the dog" trick would work, so we ordered a round of drinks (then another round…). They pulled out their packs of cigarettes (then went and bought another pack…) and we got down to where the splendor that is Elbow comes from.

What is the one question that you’ve always wished someone would ask in an interview?

(Collective confusion here…lots of um, uh……uh…)

Guy Garvey: Do you intend to marry PJ Harvey?

And what would your answer be to that?


Does PJ intend to marry you?

GG: She doesn’t know it yet, but YES. We’ve nearly met about 3 times. She’s playing hard to meet.

What about you Pete?

Pete Turner: uh…uh…um…uh…the simplest questions today stump me. I always start really well…uh…um…

Tell me about your very first show. It was over 10 years ago.

PT: It was an afternoon gig, just outside Manchester. It was like a Roskilde gig. We were SHIT. We were terrible. We did some covers…

(At this point, it becomes more necessary to inhale the strawberry daiquiri smoothies that seem to keep appearing…)

GG: Jupp dropped his sticks in the first song. They landed right near the microphone. You can hear it really loud in the recording.

PT: It was good though. It probably calmed us down a little.

GG: It didn’t stop us from being shit for five years though. In the beginning it was just anything we could play physically. We were all really bad. So it was like an REM cover, a U2 cover, two Chuck Berry covers and one song of our own was our first gig.

PT: Cheers!

(Yet again, we get off topic by discussing the brilliance of the Spiritualized/BRMC tour…)

Have you ever felt any type of pressure, being from Manchester, because of such bands as the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Joy Division?

GG: Uh, I don’t think we have felt pressure. We’re quite proud to be from Manchester. A lot of our mates are in top bands from there.

Do you have a favorite Manchester band?

GG and PT: Probably Doves. Or Oceansize, as well. I am Clue….

Guy, this one is for you. A lot of people believe you to be a miserable person because of the music you write. I, personally, hear a lot of life experience in your music and a lot of optimism. Do you remember the first time you experienced heartbreak? In any form?

GG: Well, the things that inspired me to write…I remember writing limericks when I was nine or ten about classmates. In terms of something motivating me to write though, there’s a girl named Nicola Towers I went to school with when I was 12. And I was in love with her until we left school. I’d still like to know what she’s up to. (Nicola, please contact Guy). I used to write love poems about her. She was a bitch though. She would wind me up and flirt with me until I asked her out and then she would go, "NO! Ha Ha!" So I’d ignore her for a couple of months…then she would start flirting with me again. That was the cycle all the way through school. She used to break my heart on a regular basis. I think I was 15 when I fell in love with the idea of being heartbroken.

What affect did the experience of heartbreak have on you initially?

GG: Um…it just kind of made me feel small. There can be a nice melancholy to it, when you know you are justified in being miserable. And you know it’s real. There’s sort of something calm about being justified in being sad. Feeling sorry for yourself and not really caring that you’re doing that.

Pete, what about you:

PT: The girl that was my first proper girlfriend.

GG: I walked in on him! Losing his virginity!!!

PT: Guy was there when I lost my virginity. But, most people would just come in and walk out. So Guy comes in and says, "Hello!" looking around…and you know, I wasn’t so confident really, so that kind of ruined it…

And Guy, you just stood and watched?

GG: Yeah, I just cracked one open in the corner. I wasn’t rude! I was very quiet!

PT: So yeah, she dumped me. I was absolutely heartbroken. GUTTED.

Do you think that feeling translates to your music?

PT: In part yeah, more in our performances that our actual…Uh, sorry…it’s gone, that one…(A look of confusion crosses Pete’s face as last night’s drunkenness apparently overtakes his verbal abilities).

GG: It’s bizarre. Lyrically, the songs on the first album center around one relationship. You know, the first song on the album is about getting out of your hometown, doing something different…and then the last song is about returning home. It’s like a round trip. All the others are centered around my BIG ONE. (Not MY BIG ONE, but my big RELATIONSHIP). She’s the only person I thought maybe I wanted to marry.

I guess the thing that interests me most in the interviews I’ve read with you Guy, is that you say you used to do self-destructive things in order to actually get lyrical content? When did that stop? Does it stop?

GG: I’m still not seeking a relationship of any kind, and it would be nice to have somebody, but I’m not doing that. Because I can’t. I’ve tried. I’ve hopefully stopped. I think I’ve stopped.

I know as a writer when I was younger, there were times when I felt like I couldn’t write unless there was something wrong in my life. Is that something you feel now?

PT: I don’t know. Because we all like different stuff. The music is what charges the lyrical content. We’ve nearly always written music first. The vibe on the first album, the melancholy stuff, it’s just where we all agree on the music. We all like that kind of stuff.

What do you think about the constant comparisons to Radiohead?

GG: Quite proud of it. I think they are one of the most important bands ever.

Any strange fan stories from the road?

GG: I had a guy at Leeds who said, "You’ve lost weight!" And I said, "Well thanks very much. Cheers!" After the show I mentioned to our merchandise girl and she said, "Was he a biggish bloke in his forties?" and I told her "Yes." And she said, "Oh I’ve got a message for you from him. He says he dreams of cumming in your face." Oh really…hmmmm…ah…uh…

Any weird fan stories Rick?

Rick Jupp: This one guy in L.A. We were doing an acoustic session at Virgin…and he came over, quite nervous, shaking a little. And he says, "Check this out." He turned around, pulled his top up…and he had "asleep" in this old gothic font, tattooed across his back. Just very calm and cool. I was a bit stunned. It was an incredible tattoo.

Was that flattering or a little scary?

RJ: Very flattering. A little scary. He just put his top down and said, "I just wanted to show you. I love what you do." And then he went off.

Any pranks going on the road?

GG: There’s this guy David…he does guitars for one of the other’s bands. He’s the king of pranks. He’s very good with sticky tape. I actually watched him for over an hour draw a penis in sticky tape on his friend’s back.

(I’m sorry, but right now, in interview time, a bee begins flying around our table, and Pete comes close to losing his mind. Lots of jumping around and screaming from the Manchester men…it was quite amusing.)

Is there any downside to your newfound fame?

RJ: Health. Drinking a lot.

PT: Banging charley off of prostitutes buttocks

You’re big fans of Lift to Experience from Texas, correct? Have you toured with them?

PT: We toured with them, Mercury Rev and another band, Clem Snide. Lift to Experience is amazing musicians. Just brilliant guys.

GG: They asked me to remix the current album so it sounds more like the live show. So hopefully, we’ll do that when we get home.

PT: Lift to Experience are just incredible live.

You’ve spoken a lot about escapism. Do you think escapism is always a bad thing? Ever a bad thing?

PT: As long as you don’t depend on it. If you can use escapism as a means to relax and can keep a grip on reality. Or if you use it as a way to get your head together.

So as long as you don’t let escapism become your reality?

GG: It’s part of everybody. When a kid is playing with a toy, that’s a form of escapism. It’s a learning process as well.

PT: Escape artists…it’s what we are.

Last question…do you think that life is always about finding happiness or are the depressions and the lows just as important?

GG: It is very valuable to be depressed, to be down. No peaks without troughs… We’re trying to write happy music now that doesn’t sound like shite… You know, we’re happier now, so we want our music to reflect that. Let us know what you think when you hear the second album…

Our conversation disintegrates here into a discussion about the "unfortunate ugliness" of the lead singer of Nickelback…who Pete’s niece describes as "sexy Jesus." I decide it’s time to stop talking when the word Creed comes into the conversation. The interview has been much too lovely to ruin it at this point…

Julie Futrell is a brand new member of team hybrid and aside from being a resident of the city of Lost Angels, is a really good egg.

Photo: Tom Sheehan.

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