BBC NewsAndrew Marr Show


Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Sunday, 21 September 2008 11:41 UK

'We never thought it would happen'

On Sunday 21 September Andrew Marr interviewed Guy Garvey, Lead singer, 'Elbow'

Elbow's lead singer Guy Garvey says the band have 'never been happier', after winning the Nationwide Mercury Prize.

Guy Garvey, Lead singer, 'Elbow'
Guy Garvey, Lead singer, 'Elbow'

ANDREW MARR: Now then, some people wait patiently for years to make it to the very top.

Our final guest today, the Prime Minister, may be an example of that.

But the band Elbow have had quite a wait.

They have finally hit the big time, however.

Last week, music's great survivors won the prestigious nationwide Mercury Prize for their fourth album The Seldom Seen Kid.

It is, according to their singer Guy Garvey, the "best music they've ever made", and it's turning out to be the most popular winner of that award ever. Here's a reminder of the big moment.

CLIP: GUY GARVEY AT MERCURY PRIZE AWARDS: This is quite literally the best thing that's ever happened to us.

I know I'm supposed to be cool and say something coy, but it's literally the best thing that's ever happened to us.


ANDREW MARR: Guy's here now. Welcome.


ANDREW MARR: We're almost in sight of where you live.

GUY GARVEY: Yeah, yeah, you can actually see it from here.

It's way out over there.

ANDREW MARR: You can see almost everything from here.


ANDREW MARR: Well congratulations, a great moment and all that.

GUY GARVEY: Thanks very much.

ANDREW MARR: For those people who don't know the Elbow story, this is the fourth album.


ANDREW MARR: You've always had a strong, dedicated fan base, but this was an album which very nearly didn't get made.

GUY GARVEY: Yeah, for one reason or another.

We were between record companies when we were making the record, so it was made in a bit of a pressure cooker, I suppose.

ANDREW MARR: And if you hadn't had this breakthrough and all the rest of it, would that have been it for Elbow?

GUY GARVEY: Oh definitely not, no.


GUY GARVEY: It's often described as a struggle, the fact that we've been together for 17 years, but it's still not a proper job and it's still something we love doing.

ANDREW MARR: Mmn, yeah. And you're heroic drinkers. You had a great time afterwards.

GUY GARVEY: Oh yeah, yeah. Before, during and afterwards. I've only just stopped actually.

ANDREW MARR: (laughs) Well I'm glad. Thank¿ Thank you for stopping. (Guy laughs) One of the things about Elbow¿

Obviously you've been together for a very, very long time and so you've grown up and your new album is really rock music - beautifully written lyrics, fantastic lyrics...

GUY GARVEY: Thank you.

ANDREW MARR: ...which you can hear - but it's music for, if I might put it this way, slightly older people, isn't it?

GUY GARVEY: Yeah. We've gone from being boys to being parents, most of us you know. Most of the rest of the band have children and I thought it was important to write music about that, you know, rather than trying to stay eternally teenage.

Because it brings with it its own joys and its own stresses as well, so we thought it was more honest to write about the age that we are.

ANDREW MARR: Now apart from football, the other thing that people know about Manchester is that it's got a great music scene.

Tell us about the man who was the inspiration for this album: the Seldom Seen Kid.

GUY GARVEY: Brian Glancey was a man about town. Everybody knew Brian. He was incredibly social, very supportive of his friends. And unfortunately he died while we were making the record and he was a very good friend of ours.

But he basically introduced everybody to everybody, so really he was just a...

ANDREW MARR: So lots of different Manchester bands knew him. He was a kind of hub for Manchester music in a way?

GUY GARVEY: Yeah, you'd be hard pushed to find a Manchester band that didn't know him in fact, yeah.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah, yeah.

GUY GARVEY: He was a very special chap.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah, yeah. Now not only did you win the award but sales of this album have just rocketed. This is a moment you've been waiting for for a very, very long time.

GUY GARVEY: Yeah, it's not something that we ever thought, you know, would happen. A couple of years ago, if you'd have asked us, then this was pie in the sky. So, yeah, I am quite literally on top of the world. We've never been happier - all of us, yeah.

ANDREW MARR: A lot of people would say you know rock musicians live this fantastic lifestyle, they've all got vast amounts of money. How tough is it when you are still you know fighting your way to that breakthrough moment?

GUY GARVEY: Well it's, it's lovely because we've never done it for the money really. You have to remind yourself of that quite a lot.

And it's difficult once you have families as well involved because it's not just your artistic whims that drive the direction that you know you choose to go in. So it can be tricky, but it's still the best job in the world.

ANDREW MARR: Still the best job in the world.

GUY GARVEY: Yeah, yeah.

ANDREW MARR: What about sort of politics? There's kind of little bits of sort of social politics and social comment through your¿ Your dad was a Daily Mirror copywriter, so there would presumably have been - copyreader - so there would presumably have been a lot of discussion of politics and stuff around the table?

GUY GARVEY: Yes, he used to bring back a good balance of newspapers, so that we could, we could argue it out round the table, yeah. And he was a strong union man as well. So, yeah, politics is very much part of my background.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah, yeah. Why is it that Manchester has this big music scene because people come from all across the North and from London, all of us, to hear music in Manchester, to follow Manchester bands?

GUY GARVEY: There's something about the spirit of the people in Manchester that make it the only place that a lot of things that have come from here you know the only place where it could have happened.

I think there's a good, strong sense of community, but it's not so enormous that you can't realise your dreams, you know. It's just about the right shape and size and it's got its own eco system. And please come more often. It doesn't seem to rain when you're here.

ANDREW MARR: I've never seen Manchester in the rain. I don't believe it rains in Manchester.

GUY GARVEY: It actually looks really beautiful in the rain. It's not just built to take it infrastructure wise. It looks really, really lovely in the rain as well.

ANDREW MARR: Oh, I'll bear that in mind. It is a city that has almost completely¿ I mean the old Manchester has gone. I mean every time I come back another bit of Manchester has appeared. It's extraordinarily fast changing.

GUY GARVEY: Oh yeah, it's very difficult now in the centre to remember quite how bleak it was at one point. It was really quite dirty, but it's looking better all the time. We've still got some areas need some attention though.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah, yeah, sure. I talked about your lyrics and they're not only poetic. They're quite sort of responsible in a way. You've had a go at rap singers, haven't you, for some of the stuff that they've been saying to kids?

GUY GARVEY: Yeah, yeah. It was picked up on the¿ Yeah, 50 Cent had a song called Candy Shop, which was just a bit irresponsible, I think, you know. Hip-hop lyrics generally speaking aren't known for being socially responsible, but when it comes to children I think you have to draw a little bit of a line. It's not helping anybody really.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah, yeah. So after this album, presumably¿ This is the one that I think you didn't have a full time producer on this one. It was really done against the odds.

GUY GARVEY: It was done by our keyboard player, Craig. He's been learning the ropes for many years and it was his bravery that allowed us to do it really because of the lack of labour while we were making the record.


GUY GARVEY: He's a bit of a genius, our Craig.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah. And you're working on¿ you're going to be working on another one when the celebrations have died down and¿?

GUY GARVEY: Yeah, we tried to do some writing the other day, but we ended up re-watching the moment of the Mercury announcement over and over again.

ANDREW MARR: Quite right. Quite right too. (Guy Garvey laughs) Wallow in it! Wallow in it!

GUY GARVEY: Thank you very much.

ANDREW MARR: Thank you very much indeed for coming in.


ANDREW MARR: We're going to finish with a taste of probably the best known song, Grounds for Divorce.

CLIP: ELBOW: Grounds for Divorce



Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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