Elbow greet the new year and pay an enamoured farewell
to their emotionally-accomplished Mercury nominated
album 'Asleep In The Back', and the ascending success
that 2001 afforded them in bags, with a new double A
side 'Asleep In The Back / Coming Second' on February
To avoid confusion we should point out now that 'Asleep
In The Back' the song is not featured anywhere on 'Asleep
In The Back' the album (…yet). Owning 'Asleep In The
Back' the album is no reason whatsoever for not buying
'Asleep In The Back' the single. Reasonably clear now?
It's backed up over the CDs with brand new songs of
the now expected Elbow b-side quality, 'Puckfair' and
'Stumble', and a Misery Lab remix of 'Coming Second'.
And their first DVD release features the full video
of their sterling performance of 'Coming Second' from
their London Astoria show last October, a photo gallery
and bizarre arbitrary 30 second clips of the band on
the beach in Brighton / on the bus / on a roller-coaster.
On top of the Mercury nomination last year, Manchester's
Elbow are already up for awards this from Time Out magazine
London and the usually trite and transparent Brits.
If Belle and Sebastian can engineer the best new band
Brit Award their way, why can't Elbow? Huh? And before
they think about the next record and leap over to America
to try their luck they play their biggest headline to
date at the long sold out Shepherd's Bush Empire on
We spoke to singer Guy Garvey before he jetted off to
Cannes to play a British showcase a million miles away
from their dismal Bury beginnings and got him to run
us through the single track by track…
Asleep In The Back
"There's a lyric that often pops into my head, which
is "words of love that almost sound like threats". It
comes from something I never finished years ago and
it popped into my head often enough for me to wonder
what the fuck I was talking about. It's almost like
threatening someone to love you, daring them to love
you, y'know. The chorus is meant to sound a bit sinister
- "oh you had to ask didn't you". I think everyone tests
their lover sometimes. I mean, look how horrible I am.
It's normally about the time you fall for somebody and
you think 'oh she'd leave me if she knew all these things.
So let's put it to the test, shall we'. Then you spend
an evening being an absolute twat."
"Coming Second is about doing just that in a love triangle.
It's about very bitterly disliking you ex-lover's new
lover. It's meant to be a bit humourous, like a kid
strike, a kid throwing his toys out the pram. By the
time I wrote 'Coming Second' we were a bit happier than
we had been doing the rest of the album."
"That's a really simple thing we recorded in a dressing
room in Germany, so it's got a really loose vibe. Craig
really didn't like the shaker on it, he was like 'oh
I played it out of time,' and I was like 'no you didn't,
it's a big room'. So the shaker's out of time all the
way through, but I don't think it matters. Lyrically
it's a couple of things. It's basically about a prostitute
who worked in this brothel above the guitar shop in
Bury I worked at. I watched the customers going up and
down the stairs every day and we shared a kitchen with
them, so I'd go up to make the brews and got to know
the girls quite well. There's a line in this Fay Dunnaway
film, don't know which one, where she says "every whore
knows failure", which I thought was really interesting
. All these girls lived crazy double lives. The chorus
is "they used to call you stumble, they used to call
you baby giraffe," that's from an ex-girlfriend, who
isn't a prostitute! She's incredibly tall and clumsy,
but in a really cute way."
"Puckfair is the name of a pub in New York and the songs
named after it because we had a particularly splendid
evening in there, and it was written shortly after then.
It's a natty little tune, I really love it. It was written
on Cubase (PC sequencing software) round at Craig's
house. When it went away to be mastered I sent a little
note to Bunt who masters all our stuff saying 'some
more of that distorted bass you love so much!'. I like
bass to sound like it's rattling your teeth. But of
course if your job's to make stuff sound clean and polished,
like Bunt's is… I can remember saying 'can you fuck
the bass up a bit so it knackers your speakers", and
he's going 'are you trying to get me struck off!?".
So it's another teeth rattler."
Crud Magazine© 2002