Asked if the massive venues on the horizon were a sign that fans should expect an arena-sized album, Garvey replied: “It is. It’s in very sharp contrast to the last record.”
“The last one was made in lockdown and was very gentle, wistful and based on life, childhood, memories and fatherhood – all these very wholesome things,” the singer and radio DJ told NME. “With the bruising that the pandemic had given everyone, it felt the right time to do a record like that. But it came and it went like a goose fart in the fog. Not many people know that it was released because everyone released their records at the same time. It was released on the same day as Adele. Now it’s a great lost love for many people.
“That’s a beautiful, gentle record, whereas this is groove-based. It tackles some pretty full-on subjects, and it’s loads of fun as well.”
Teasing what to expect from the “big fat record,” Garvey promised that it’s “got some dirt under its fingernails for sure”.
“It deals with some pretty inky stuff,” he said of the lyrics on the upcoming 10th album. “There are a couple of wholesome tunes on there, but by and large there’s everything from a maniacal rant from the point of view of a frontman who’s lost his mind, to really awful portraits of toxic relationships failing – all set to a very thick, guitar, drum and groove-based thing.”
He continued: “As always, it’s produced by Craig Potter – who’s getting more and more into his hip-hop – and Al our drummer has been writing more on this record. We all share a love of bands like The Meters, so it’s kind of garage-y in a way with Vox organs and a lot of alt-American country sounds. It doesn’t sound like anything that we’ve done before. There’s everything from Stiff Records and what Elvis Costello was doing in his early years, right through to Afrika Bambaataa. We’re wearing our influences a bit more proudly.”
Garvey added: “Although it’s a dark subject matter, that’s just what the music drew out of me, lyrically. There’s loads of fun on there as well. We had a hoot making it.”
The band, who achieved mainstream success when they won the Mercury Prize for their acclaimed fourth album ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ in 2008, will “definitely” be delivering career-spanning set across the tour, with Garvey now finally feeling comfortable that the band have the chops to play such big rooms.
“The first time we played arenas, we didn’t have enough big numbers to do an arena set. We went to all kinds of different lengths to bring the room in and make it more intimate. We had a B-stage, a walkway, all this stuff – but now we’ve got more than enough massive songs. I think it’s going to be loads of fun.
“We love playing theatres and the intimacy they afford you, but there’s also something great in hearing 20,000 people sing together. I can’t wait for it.”
Do arenas inspire Garvey to pull some different moves and perhaps ‘get his Bono on’?
“Wuhey! Well, let’s see,” he replied. “You can never tell where the Scotch and the adrenaline is going to take you. She’s a wild ride, as long as you stay in the saddle. We’ve never done two gigs the same because we never want to get bored of it, so we’ve got all kinds of tricks planned and really interesting support acts on the cards. I can’t say any more than that.”
The upcoming tour will see the band play the new Co-Op Live Arena in their native Manchester – a first that Garvey was looking forward to, given that his mother used to work for the supermarket back in the 1940s. While living in Brixton in London now, Garvey still frequents the North as often as he can.
“I go up to Manchester to work with the boys, but I’ve been living just down the road from Brixton for about six years,” he said. “I’m half and half, really. I’m up in Manchester not to miss it too much. I wasn’t there for the Tory conference. They were basically digging their own grave from what I could see. There really are only criminals and fascists left, aren’t there? They’re properly fucking out there, this lot.
“They literally have no idea what they’re doing, and haven’t done for a long time.”
The frontman’s ire also extended to those failing to protect the legendary Manchester music venue Night & Day, which Garvey has been a vocal supporter of as it continues to face threat of closure.
“That impossible situation is soon be sorted out one way or another,” he said. “I have to say I’m hugely disappointed in the council. There’s some skullduggery going on. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s a PR disaster for everyone in the council. I don’t understand it, personally. I really hope that they do the right thing.
He went on: “Businesses with as much heritage and ongoing function should be protected. You can’t justify putting up shiny new buildings, built on the success of little ones like that without protecting them. Nobody in the mayor’s office or at the council seems to have the courage of their convictions.
“It is completely insane. It’s a small family running a family business. Jennifer Smithson’s dad Yan is gone. As well as being frightened of being able to keep the doors open for her, her staff and her family, she’s got her father’s memory to consider in all of this. They could take all of this off her plate but protecting the place and doing the right thing and putting a blue plaque on the building.”
New music, arenas and venue-defending aside, Garvey was looking forward to a busy schedule with Elbow in the coming year – but could we see the band return to Glastonbury?
“I’ve not heard anything yet, but whether we’re playing or not I’ll be there, because I always am,” Garvey replied. “Isn’t it amazing that we have this, the best party in the world every year?
Elbow’s upcoming UK arena tour dates are below. Fans will be able to access special album and ticket bundles here while stocks last and register for special pre-sale access from Friday October 20, before going on general sale from 9am on Friday October 27 here.
Tuesday 7 – Brighton Centre
Thursday 9 – London’s The O2
Friday 10 – Birmingham Resorts World Arena
Saturday 11 – Glasgow’s OVO Hydro
Sunday 12 – Leeds First Direct Arena
Tuesday 14 – Manchester Co-op Live
Wednesday 15 – Nottingham Motorpoint Arena