Elbow (band)

Elbow (band)
Background information
Origin Ramsbottom, Bury, England
Genres Post-Britpop, indie rock, progressive rock
Years active 1997–present (as Elbow)
Labels V2, Fiction Records
Website elbow.co.uk
Guy Garvey
Mark Potter
Craig Potter
Richard Jupp
Pete Turner

Elbow are an English rock band. They have played together since 1990 and recorded five studio albums, the most recent of which is Build a Rocket Boys!, released in March 2011. In the UK all of their albums have made the top twenty and seven of their singles have been in the top forty.

In 2008 they won the Mercury Music Prize for their album The Seldom Seen Kid.



1990–2001: Formation and first EPs

Lead singer Guy Garvey met guitarist Mark Potter at Stand College in 1990 at the age of 16. Potter asked Garvey to sing in a band he was in with drummer Richard Jupp and bassist Pete Turner. Together, the four men formed the band Mr Soft. (The name was later changed to Soft.) Mark Potter's brother Craig Potter joined the band soon after on keyboards. That year members of the band first played together at The Corner Pin pub in Stubbins, Rossendale (bordering the town of Ramsbottom, Bury, a borough of Greater Manchester).

By 1997, they had changed their name a third time to Elbow, after a line in the BBC TV drama The Singing Detective. A character (Philip Marlowe) says that the word "elbow" is the most sensuous word in the English language; not for its definition, but for how it feels to say it. The band signed a deal with Island Records, and recorded an album that was to be their début, produced by Steve Osborne. However, when Island was bought out by major label Universal, the band was dropped in a mass cull and the album never released.

They continued to record on the iconic independent label Ugly Man, and released The Noisebox EP, The Newborn EP, and The Any Day Now EP. This gained them extensive airplay by BBC Radio 1.

2001–2004: Asleep in the Back and Cast of Thousands

Their debut album, Asleep in the Back, released on V2 in 2001, was hailed as a seminal album of the new millennium, gaining them a Mercury Music Prize nomination and a BRIT Award nomination. Their second album, Cast of Thousands sealed their reputation as innovators in UK music. The title is a reference to their performance at Glastonbury in 2002, when they recorded thousands of people singing, "We still believe in love, so fuck you". That recording was featured on the song Grace Under Pressure.

In January 2001 Elbow donated their unreleased original (Island) version of "Scattered Black and Whites" to the Manchester Aid to Kosovo Manchester compilation "Cohesion". In 2002, Elbow recorded a cover of "Something in the Air" (3.31) for the War Child compilation "1 Love".

In 2004, Elbow went on a tour of Cuba, playing songs from Asleep in the Back and Cast of Thousands at venues in and around Havana. British documentary maker Irshad Ashraf was present on the tour and filmed a large portion of it. The resulting short film was shown at festivals in 2004, but remains commercially unavailable. Their acoustic cover of Destiny's Child's "Independent Women", recorded exclusively for a BBC Radio 1 session, was turned into a popular web animation by Rathergood.com's Joel Veitch.[1] The animation features a band of flat-capped northern kittens "performing" the song. In the same year, their song "Fallen Angel" appeared in the film 9 Songs.

2004–2006: The Leaders of the Free World and covers

Their third album, Leaders of the Free World, was entirely self-produced at Blueprint Studios in Salford, a space the band hired for the duration of their recording sessions. They teamed up with video artists The Soup Collective to produce an integrated music and video DVD.

In mid-2006, Elbow headlined the Ukula Bright Lights Festival in Toronto's Distillery District. Asked before the show about what he thought about his Manchester-influenced imagery in his songs, Guy Garvey said, "I think lyrics are one of the tools of the box in order to try to get the feeling across. I don’t think it matters if you use local imagery as long as it’s part of the bigger picture."[2]

Elbow contributed a song "Snowball" (5.00) to the War Child compilation Help!: A Day in the Life, in September, 2005. Already recorded for the "Cast of Thousands" record, they didn't think it fit the album and left it off. The song and lyrics are highly political, suiting the compilation. Another cover "Working Class Hero" (5.03) was recorded as part of a tribute album "Lennon: Covered Vol. 1" given away with Q Magazine, in 2005. A The The cover of "August and September" (4.55) was recorded as part of a tribute album "Q Covered: Best of 86/06" in 2006.

2006–2009: The Seldom Seen Kid and the Mercury Music Prize

In 2006 the band moved to Fiction Records and completed their fourth studio album, The Seldom Seen Kid in late 2007, which was produced and mixed by keyboard player Craig Potter. The album was released in March 2008 and has sold over 1 million copies to date. Elbow and Bournemouth-based band Air Traffic embarked on an extensive North American tour in May 2008, which was greatly received by the media including Blender and Spin magazine. Elbow performed at Delamere Forest in Cheshire on 14 June 2008 as part of the Forestry Commission's 2008 music tours. They were supported by I Am Kloot. The band commented before the show, "We always love playing gigs in unusual places. We've never done a gig in a forest before so we're really looking forward to it." Elbow appeared on the Other Stage at the Glastonbury Festival on 28 June 2008, joined on stage by many violinists and cellists. They performed in the Obelisk Arena at the Latitude Festival on 19 July 2008. In August, They played at the Electric Picnic festival. On 9 September, the performed at the National Movie Awards broadcast on ITV. On 23 September Elbow appeared on BBC2's "Later Live" show hosted by Jools Holland. On 9 September 2008, Elbow won the Mercury Music Prize for The Seldom Seen Kid. The award was presented to them by Jools Holland.

In 2009, Elbow contributed to War Child's Heroes album, covering U2's "Running to Stand Still". Garvey said: "When the band first met each other aged 17, Mark and Craig’s father Gareth would lend us his Volvo to get our gear around. It seemed that for a year and a half all that we listened to in that car was Rattle and Hum. I remember the excitement every time a U2 album was released, we just loved them. The first song we ever covered together before we had enough of our own songs to do a performance was 'Running To Stand Still'. For ‘Heroes’ we've changed the order of things but kept every musical theme in the song. We wrote it with the members of U2 in mind. War Child do exactly what it says on the tin. These kids shouldn't be in such circumstances in the first place, but they are, so thank god someone's doing something about it."

In May 2009, the band won two prestigious Ivor Novello awards: the song 'One Day Like This' won the main award for Best Song, and 'Grounds for Divorce' was voted Best Contemporary Song.[3] Elbow exclusively performed their album "The Seldom Seen Kid" for BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music with the BBC Concert Orchestra and London-based chamber choir Chantage at the Abbey Road Studios on 17 January 2009 (first broadcast on 31 January 2009).

On 14 March 2009, they played Wembley Arena.[4] Elbow performed at the Meteor Awards in Dublin on 17 March 2009. At this awards ceremony they also won Best International Band. On 3 July 2009, Elbow played to an audience of 80,000 at Rock Werchter. The next day, Elbow played a gig at Roskilde Festival, Denmark, to an audience of approximately 15,000. On stage, Garvey remarked that "last time we played in Denmark, 7 people came." As part of the Manchester International Festival, they performed with The Hallé Orchestra and Youth Choir at the Bridgewater Hall on the 8th and 9 July 2009. These concerts featured specially-commissioned orchestral and choral arrangements of material spanning all 4 albums, the band themselves playing with the Hallé musicians and Garvey singing positioned just to the right of the conductor, Joe Duddell, onstage.

On 11 July 2009, they played the Main Stage at Oxegen 2009 in Punchestown Racecourse, County Kildare. The band performed on the Main Stage at T in the Park on 12 July 2009 in Balado, Kinross, Scotland. And on 18 July, they played the "Escenario Verde" at FIB 2009 in Benicassim, Spain.

They opened for Coldplay at several stops on the Viva la Vida Tour's 2009 North American leg. They performed at All Points West Music & Arts Festival in Jersey City and the Osheaga Festival in Montreal; Coldplay also played at both festivals. On 4 August 2009, Elbow headlined their second show at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC [5] and on 8 August 2009, they performed at the Center Stage Theatre in Atlanta. They opened for U2 on 14 August 2009 at Wembley Stadium, London, UK and at the Sheffield Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield, UK.

On 15th November 2009 Britain's long running arts series The South Bank Show aired a 60 minute documentary about Elbow on ITV 1. Combining live footage of Elbow's September 2009 live performance at Manchester Evening News Arena with an in depth interview between Guy Garvey and The South Bank Show presenter Melvyn Bragg, the first half of the documentary focused on Elbow's early career and attempts to get a record deal. The second half of the documentary featured elucidations of songs on Asleep in the Back, Leaders of The Free World and The Seldom Seen Kid. The documentary also contained sequences of Craig Potter demonstrating Elbow's unusual recording techniques at Blueprint Studios, Mark Potter driving around Elbow's old neighbourhood in Bury, Lancashire, Peter Turner showing cameras around Manchester's Northern Quarter, where the band played their first gigs as Elbow, and sequences of Guy Garvey reading through old and new lyric books. Some of the lyrics Garvey read out in these sequences became the lyrics to Jesus Was a Rochdale Girl and High Ideals on Elbow's 2011 album Build a Rocket Boys!

2009-present: Build a Rocket, Boys!

Elbow's fifth studio album, Build a Rocket Boys!, was released on 7 March 2011.[6][7][8][9][10] Upon its release the album hit Number 2 in the UK album charts, the highest position of any Elbow album to date.

The album had had the working title 'Lippy Kids'. Guy Garvey told BBC 6 Music's Shaun Keaveney "It's quite a nostalgic thing. I've got a thing about growing up, Not needing to! But a certain period of your life when – well kids are called 'hoodies' these days aren't they when they reach their teens. I remember it being an amazing important time, so I've written a lot about that."[11] On Saturday 11 June 2011, Elbow played at Pinkpop, the Netherlands. Again, the band preceded Coldplay.[12] On Saturday 25 June 2011, Elbow played the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury 2011. Music journalist Stuart Maconie stated that this performance by Elbow was 'Career defining'. It was announced on 20 July that 'Build a Rocket Boys!' had been nominated for the prestigious Barclaycard Mercury Prize. It was Elbow's third nomination and came just three years after they won the award with 'The Seldom Seen Kid'. The award was won by PJ Harvey. Along with a busy year of releases, between the 26 and 28 August 2011, Elbow performed at both Reading and Leeds Festivals after a long tour of British festivals including Glastonbury 2011.

Elbow's Guy Garvey had confirmed to The Daily Mirror that the band is now working on new material for a follow-up to their current effort Build a Rocket Boys! with a new recording technique to start the writing process.



Awards won by the band include the Brit Award,[13] the Ivor Novello award,[14] the Mercury Music Prize[15] the South Bank Show Pop award,[16] the NME award,[17] and the Mojo Magazine Song of the Year 2009.[18]

Musical style and influences

Elbow have cited a number of influences on their music, including Genesis (in particular the Peter Gabriel era), Talk Talk and Radiohead. Guy Garvey has said: "I grew up listening to every Genesis record. I learned to write harmonies by listening to Peter Gabriel." He has also claimed: "There would be no Elbow without Radiohead." He credits the band's sense of dynamics to the influence of Talk Talk and has said: "Volume dynamics are an essential part of classical music, but a lost art with guitar music. I think it's incredibly boring and shortsighted if a band sticks with just one sound song for song. An album should take people on a journey."[19] In a recent interview for ShortList about the British Music scene, Guy Garvey said: "We now live in a time where music is coming direct from the bedroom, written for a worldwide audience without being messed with or filtered."[20]


  1. ^ Veitch, Joel. "Independent Woman - played by kittens". rathergood.com. Archived from rathergood.com the original on 12 October 2002. http://web.archive.org/web/20021012025042/http://www.rathergood.com/independent_woman/. 
  2. ^ Paris, Jason. "Manchester Guardians". Music Room. UKULA.com. Archived from the original on 18 May 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20060518072838/http://www.ukula.com/TorontoArticle.aspx?SectionID=2&ObjectID=1574&CityID=3. 
  3. ^ Allen, Liam (21 May 2009). "Double Novello triumph for Elbow". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8061281.stm. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Elbow Set List - Wembley Arena - March 15th 2009". GigSetList.com. http://www.GigSetList.com/Elbow%20Wembley%20Arena%202009%20Set%20List.html. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Grounds For Divorce: Elbow @ 9:30 Club". Arts and Events. dcist.com. 5 August 2009. http://dcist.com/2009/08/grounds_for_divorce_elbow_930_club.php. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Michaels, Sean (23 December 2010). "Elbow accidently reveal new album title". The Guardian (London). ISSN 0261-3077. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/dec/23/elbow-announce-new-album?CMP=twt_fd. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  7. ^ "Expected Release Date Coincides with Tour" ilikemusic.com[dead link]
  8. ^ Elbow Announce New Album Release On Splash Pageoutdated
  9. ^ Gregory, Jason (22 December 2010). "Elbow Name New Album 'Build A Rocket, Boys'". gigwise.com. http://www.gigwise.com/news/60312/Elbow-Name-New-Album-Build-A-Rocket-Boys. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Build A Rocket Boys!". Elbow's Notes. Facebook. 22 December 2010. http://www.facebook.com/notes/elbow/build-a-rocket-boys/474443217908. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  11. ^ Griffiths, Sarah Jane (20/08/2010). "Elbow call new album Lippy Kids". 6 Music News. BBC 6 Music. http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music/news/20100820_elbow.shtml. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "Progamma [Program]" (in Dutch). PinkPop.nl. http://www.pinkpop.nl/2011/programma/#&panel1-2. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  13. ^ "Brit Awards 2009: And The Winners Are...". Sky News. sky.com. 18 February 2009. http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Showbiz-News/Brit-Awards-2009-All-The-Winners-Including-Duffy-Elbow-Kings-of-Leon-Girls-Aloud/Article/200902315225499. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  14. ^ Swash, Rosie (21 May 2009). "Double triumph for Elbow at Ivor Novello awards". The Guardian (London). ISSN 0261-3077. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/may/21/elbow-triumph-ivor-novello-awards. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "Elbow elated at Mercury Prize win". Entertainment. BBC News. 9 September 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/entertainment/7606963.stm. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  16. ^ Gregory, Jason (21 January 2009). "Elbow Scoop South Bank Pop Award". gigwise.com. http://www.gigwise.com/news/48838/Elbow-Scoop-South-Bank-Pop-Award. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  17. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (21 May 2009). "After Mercury prize, a Brit and an NME, Elbow now take Ivor Novello". The Guardian (London). ISSN 0261-3077. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/may/21/ivor-novello-awards-elbow-duffy. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "Fleet Foxes nab Mojo award, Yoko Ono honoured". London: Reuters. 11 June 2009. http://www.reuters.com/article/mediaNews/idUSLB74040120090611. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  19. ^ Hinckley, David (19 April 2008). "Elbow makes its bones in 'Seldom Seen Kid'". Daily News (New York). OCLC 9541172. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music/2008/04/20/2008-04-20_elbow_makes_its_bones_in_seldom_seen_kid.html#ixzz0pzunCf3D. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  20. ^ "Guy Garvey Writes". ShortList.com. http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/guy-garvey-writes. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 

External links

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