Elbow’s Guy Garvey inspired by New York 

click to enlarge Guy Garvey
  • Guy Garvey, center, wrote a significant part of Elbow’s latest album in a coffeehouse.
Guy Garvey, leader of U.K. prog-rock powerhouse Elbow, has been busy, and not just with taping his weekly BBC Radio show, “Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour.” He received an honorary doctorate from Manchester Metropolitan University; contributed to the 2012 Summer Olympics theme song, “First Steps”; and oversaw Charge, the second official Elbow beer, sold in six-packs throughout Britain. At the group’s private Blueprint Studio and at pal Peter Gabriel’s Real World facility, he recorded “The Take Off and Landing of Everything,” Elbow’s panoramic new sixth album. There’s a reason that tracks such as “New York Morning” and “This Blue World” have a distant, exotic feel — Garvey has been residing, on and off, in New York, where he wrote half the album.

So, you’ve been spending a lot of time in Brooklyn. Yeah. I’ve been hanging out in Greenpoint and having a lovely time. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been spending more of my time there on … an extended break, let’s call it. I’m a fresh face in Greenpoint, but I’m old hat in Manchester. I’m an old boot!

What’s an average New York day like for you? Well, I wake up and I assemble the closest proximity to a cup of tea possible. I enjoy that, and then I go to the diner for breakfast, and then I sit in the diner and I write until about one or two in the afternoon. And then I might go to a book shop or walk around the water, or I might take a ferry over to Manhattan and wander around and get into mischief there.

But you wrote “New York Morning” at the Moonstruck Diner in Manhattan? I had the music on my headphones, because the boys had already put the music together, but we didn’t know what the song was going to be about. And it was 6 a.m. in that diner when I scribbled down the lines for “New York Morning,” and it’s pretty much verbatim a diary entry. I was excited. I was excited, and you can hear it, can’t you?

So you’ve become the weird coffeehouse guy, furiously typing on his laptop in the corner every morning? I’m afraid I have. I mean, I always used to sit in the Night and Day Café and scribble in Manchester, with my notebook and a Bob Dylan cap, trying hard to look like a songwriter. So this is probably a natural progression from that, really.

Do waitresses ever say, “Hey, buddy — time to move along”? No. I’m way too charming. Plus, I tip really well. And nobody in Brooklyn knows what I do for a living, so I don’t get bothered at all!



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