Elbow's Guy Garvey Talks About Home

The British quintet just scored the number spot on the U.K. charts with their latest release, The Take Off and Landing of Everything.

Photo by: Ian Gavan/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images Garvey said that when he heard audiences singing along he realized he had a big choir to play him. Here he sings along with 175,000 people at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival. 

Elbow. Yes, that thing in between your shoulder and your hand; the funny bone and also one of the U.K.’s hottest bands that you might’ve never heard of. Do yourself a favor and put your ear on the Elbow because we think you’ll love them as much as we do – especially for the charismatic lead singer Guy Garvey.

Garvey is known for his cheeky banter and sing-a-longs.

Photo by: Andy Sheppard/Redferns/Getty Images Garvey is known for engaging the crowd with his thoughtful banter and wicked sense of humor. 

“I noticed that the audience knew all the words and I just thought it was brilliant,” Garvey told FrontDoor in an exclusive interview. “So, I started writing a few songs to encourage audience participation.”

He got the idea after going to a U2 concert. Hundreds of thousands of people sang along to “Pride: In the Name of Love.”

“It was incredible. Try not getting choked up hearing that,” he recalls.

Garvey and his mates hail from Manchester and have been at it since they were teens. Their big break came about 10 years ago and they are now selling out shows throughout Europe. After they serenaded the world’s athletes at the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics with “One Day Like This” and “Open Arms” music retailer HMV reported that their Mercury Prize-winning album The Seldom Seen Kid saw increased sales by more than 1,000% in the hours following the performance. Sales of its follow-up Build A Rocket Boys! shot up by 794%.

So, where does a touring musician like Garvey feel most at home? It’s no accident that their new record is titled The Take Off and Landing of Everything. During recording Garvey was “hopping between New York and Manchester, essentially making Green Point, Brooklyn my second home.”

Photo by: Paige Tyler Garvey walked the streets of Manchester as he described to us what makes him feel at home in the city he loves. 

“There is plenty to be proud of in the U.K., but there is also plenty to be ashamed and fearful of, and coming home has at times been a bitter sweet experience,” said Garvey.

We caught up with Garvey and he very candidly and poetically told us all about his home.

GARVEY: I love the pub. I love British pubs. I love being a regular. I love the little communities that form. I love a drink. Last night we ended up around the piano singing with Peter Jobson telling a story that he was making up off the top of his head while my other friend Tim who runs the studio where I rehearse and record accompanied him on improvised piano. It was preposterous and hilarious at the same time. And I don't remember anything of it. All I've got is a video to prove it happened.

Home is about what I'm doing right now. I'm walking, the suns coming down through the clouds; it's really cold and the sun is really bright. It's beautiful. I'm going under a bridge, which is home to about a thousand pigeons and the pavement underneath it is lethally slippery. You have to pick your way through here very carefully.

Q: What are your favorite pubs in Manchester?

Photo courtesy Temple of Convenience This Manchester pub was once a Victorian underground toilet. It is now Garvey's local and is owned by his friend Scott Alexander. 

A: The Temple of Convenience which is a converted underground Victorian toilet – there’s a hole in my neighborhood from which of late I cannot help but fall – that’s where that line comes from.

Then there’s Big Hands, which is kind of Manchester’s rock and roll bar at the end of Oxford Road. It’s half students and half old rockers like me. It’s the setting for many of our songs.

They are both owned by my friend Scott Alexander. He’s from Melbourne and when he came here he said, ‘Manchester needs some decent pubs and I’m going to build a couple of bars.’ I said, ‘great’ and we all helped him. I painted the walls in those places and they were our home while we got our thing on the road.

Q: What sort of pubs around the world feel like home to you?

A: I felt really at home at the Dorian Gray in Manhattan. I watched the Six Nations Rugby Match in there and we had a representative of every nation in the competition in the room there. We had good gentlemanly banter and excellent Guinness. So, I feel very at home there.

I was made to feel at home at Mrs. Kim’s in Greenpoint. All the staff they are very talented artistic young people. They made me feel really welcome.

My publicist Alex Baker scooped me up last year when I was heartbroken. She welcomed me to Brooklyn and introduced me to friends. She had a house full of waste and strays at Christmas.

One of the things that attracts me to New York is the average day-to-day people that hold it together. That’s home, isn’t it?

Buy Elbow’s latest at their web site.

The band will tour the United States starting in May.

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