|Origin||Ramsbottom, Bury, England|
|Genres||Alternative rock, art rock, post-Britpop, indie rock, electronic rock|
|Years active||1991–present (since 1997 as Elbow)|
|Labels||V2, Fiction Records|
Elbow are an English alternative rock band comprising Guy Garvey (vocals, guitar), Richard Jupp (drums, percussion), Craig Potter (keyboards, piano), Mark Potter (guitar, backing vocals), and Pete Turner (bass guitar, backing vocals). They have played together since 1990 and have released five studio albums: Asleep in the Back (2001), Cast of Thousands (2003), Leaders of the Free World (2005), The Seldom Seen Kid (2008), and Build a Rocket Boys! (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, Elbow won the Mercury Music Prize for their album The Seldom Seen Kid, and in 2009 they won the Brit Award for Best British Group. In 2012 they released "First Steps", the BBC theme for the London Olympics.
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 Ramsbottom which is in the Metropolitan Borough of Bury.
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 Marlow) 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 and how it looks on the page. The band signed a deal with Island Records, and recorded an album that was to be their debut, 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 was 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.
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 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 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."
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, they 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.
On 14 March 2009, they played Wembley Arena. Elbow performed at the Meteor Awards in Dublin on 17 March 2009. At this awards ceremony they also won Best International Band. 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. 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 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 8 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 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.
Elbow's fifth studio album, Build a Rocket Boys!, was released on 7 March 2011. 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." On Saturday 11 June 2011, Elbow played at Pinkpop, the Netherlands. Again, the band preceded Coldplay. 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 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 26 and 28 August 2011, Elbow performed at both Reading and Leeds Festivals after a long tour of British festivals including Glastonbury 2011. Elbow headlined the 2012 Latitude Festival on 14 July. In 2012, "The Night Will Always Win was used in the opening credits and title sequence of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Elbow's new compilation album Dead in the Boot, which Garvey described as "a real late night vibe", features b-sides and "hard to find non-album tracks." It was released on 27 August 2012. The title is a reference to Elbow's debut album Asleep in the Back.
In November 2011 it was announced that they were composing the BBC's 2012 Olympic coverage theme tune, "First Steps". The six-minute anthem was recorded with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the NovaVox gospel choir.
Elbow told Festival Republic that they would only headline the Saturday of Latitude 2012 so they could celebrate their admiration of the French Revolution by closing their set with a large fireworks display in honour of Bastille Day.
They were one of the few artists chosen to perform at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony, where they performed "Open Arms" and "One Day Like This" as the athletes began their entrance into the stadium. This resulted in a sales increase of over 1,000%, among the highest of any performers.
Garvey confirmed to The Daily Mirror that the band is working on new material for a follow-up to Build a Rocket Boys!, using a new recording technique to start the writing process. The new album will be "experimental", according to bassist Pete Turner. "We've been going very left-field with things. We are trying out new things," he told Q.
The band made an acoustic cover of Destiny's Child's "Independent Women", recorded exclusively for a BBC Radio 1 session. It turned into a popular web animation by Rathergood.com's Joel Veitch. 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.
In 2002, Elbow recorded a cover of "Something in the Air" (3.31) for the War Child compilation "1 Love".
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 did not think it fit the album and left it off. The song and lyrics were 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.
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 November 2009, Britain's long running arts series The South Bank Show aired a 60 minute documentary about Elbow on ITV. 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, Greater Manchester, 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 Build a Rocket Boys!
In 2010, Peter Gabriel released a version of Elbow's song "Mirrorball" on his album Scratch My Back. In return, Elbow have recorded a version of Gabriel's song "Mercy Street" from his 1986 album So, which is due to appear on the album of Gabriel cover versions I'll Scratch Yours.
Elbow have cited a number of influences on their music, including Genesis (in particular the progressive rock years featuring Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett), 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." "Newborn", from Elbow's debut album, was directly influenced by "Entangled" from the Genesis album A Trick of the Tail. 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."
In a recent interview for ShortList about the British music scene, 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."
In 2010, Garvey explained in regard to the 2008 Mercury Music Prize: "As I said on the night, it was simply the best thing that had ever happened to us."
Not a Member Yet?Join