BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Entertainment: Music
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 27 September, 2001, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Elbow's long-awaited success
Elbow: "Intense, gritty, violent, romantic, wide"
BBC News Online talks to acclaimed Mercury Music Prize nominees Elbow.

Mancunian guitar band Elbow played together for 10 years and saw two major record deals fall through before they finally managed to release their debut album.

The five friends from Bury, Greater Manchester, had played and written music as a hobby until Asleep in the Back came out in May 2001.

So when critical praise, two top 40 singles and a place on the Mercury Music Prize shortlist followed, it was a bonus.

Elbow is somewhere to go - just go there, take a picnic

Guy Garvey
Lead singer

"There's nothing better than being paid for what you've been paying to do for most of your life," singer Guy Garvey says.

"It was really good being in this band and making music before we had a record deal, and that's why we did it for 10 years.

"And if we didn't have a record deal now, I can't really see anybody doing anything else."

The Smiths, Radiohead and Talk Talk are the bands the group are often compared with.

Their own descriptions of their music are: Sincere, sensitive, intense, gritty, violent, romantic, realistic, wide.

Guy Garvey
Guy Garvey: The band played at Reading this year
That is wide as in wide-screen, apparently.

"Elbow is somewhere to go. Just go there. Take a picnic," Garvey says

The mid-September Mercury ceremony was their first major awards bash.

They deliberately did not get their hopes up - until a few minutes before the winner was announced and they were nervously picking at their meal at one of London's top hotels.

"The cameraman was pointing his camera on us, and we thought at that point 'maybe we've done it'," bassist Pete Turner says.

"I didn't eat any of my beautiful meal. I've not felt like that for a long time. GCSE results, I reckon," adds guitarist Mark Potter.

But the name Elbow was not announced and the prize instead went to PJ Harvey - a choice of which the band approves.

"It was enough to be nominated, to be alongside bands that we love like Radiohead and PJ Harvey," Garvey says.

The ceremony was on 11 September, the same day as the US attacks, which "overshadowed" the normally boisterous event.

"The atmosphere was very funny as well after everything that happened," Turner says.

"It was very subdued all the way through."

We all absolutely love Radiohead - it's a pretty fair comparison

Guy Garvey

The repercussions of the bombings was to affect them again as the release of their next single, Newborn - which is expected to be their most successful yet - was postponed.

It begins with the stark line "I'll be the corpse in your bathtub" - which is apparently a romantic reference to a couple growing old together.

But BBC Radio 1 refused to play the song in the immediate aftermath, meaning the release was put back to 8 October.

"There's no point in having a single out if no-one's going to hear it, and no-one's going to hear it if Radio 1 aren't going to play it, and Radio 1 aren't going to play it for a while because of the word corpse," Garvey says.

It is the song that first got them noticed when it was first released on a friend's independent record label last year.


They had already recorded one album for Island Records - but were dropped before its scheduled 1999 release.

Then EMI came along and promised them a deal - but pulled out at the last minute.

They are one of the only indie guitar bands to agree that a comparison with Radiohead is fair ("We all absolutely love Radiohead") - and get recognised by Japanese tourists more than they do in their own country at the moment.

"Japan are big fans," Garvey says. "We're making album of the year lists in most European countries. Early signs from America are really positive.

"It is nice to be recognised, but I think it's more important that we're respected."

See also:

11 Sep 01 | Music
PJ Harvey wins Mercury prize
26 Jul 01 | Music
Mercury judge upsets jazz boss
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Music stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Music stories