We spoke with Elbow drummer, Richard Jupps, on the eve of a huge promo tour and release of the band’s upcoming album The Take Off And Landing Of Everything, which comes out March 7th on Fiction records.
NT: Elbow has been described as a prog rock band, but without the long solos. Do you agree with this description?
RJ: That is absolutely perfect. We grew up on Genesis, King Crimson and quite a bit of folk. We tried to write in a similar style and failed miserably, lol. We then started listening to quite a bit of Talk Talk and really got inspired to write in a different style. I think from the way we play our instruments. I could definitely see the prog comparison, without the long solos.
NT: The band did have a bit of a rough beginning after being signed, then dropped, by Island then the collapse of V2. Did the band ever come close to calling it quits?
RJ: Yeah, it was tough in the beginning, but no. We all really have an amazing work ethic. A lot of the labels just simply didn’t work out. But we really do love each other, and truly are all dear friends. Our manager is the best out there as well; he really has helped us through many things.
NT: What was the experience like playing the closing ceremony at the Olympic Games in London. Was all the visual stuff going on a little distracting?
RJ: We were more distracted at having to play at the same time as One Direction, lol. We were also really thrilled to meet Brian May and Roger Daltry. It was pretty tough to keep our composure when we met those guys. Playing was actually the easy part. We have played so many shows together, even though there was ninety-thousand people watching, and all these athletes coming in. The whole thing was really fun. We brought in our own booze, lol, it was dry backstage. We were allowed to bring our families as well, our kids had a super time.
NT: You guys have been together for many years. Has the writing process become easier or more difficult for the band?
RJ: It has gotten much easier. The Take Off And Landing Of Everything was the easiest to write. The band took some time off. Guy went to Brooklyn to write. We had spent twenty years in each other’s pockets. In the beginning, it was a little scary having time off. The time off turned out to be a great period for writing. We have a studio close by to where we live, with so much space, so we had the opportunity to pop in and out as we wanted, there really wasn’t much pressure. I think we might try it again on the next album. We are a bit more confident to write on our own.
NT: How flattered were you when you learned that Peter Gabriel wanted to cover one of your songs? You covered his song “Mercy Street” in return. Did you get any feedback from him?
RJ: It was incredible. He did this project called “Scratch My Back.” Different artists would cover his songs, then he would cover theirs. It was a real honour being asked to be part of that project. We did get to meet him a couple of times. Funny enough, the first time we met him, we were really mucking about in the studio. He really is a great guy. He did our song “Miracle.” We really loved it. We saw him play it live — it was incredible. He also loved our version of “Mercy Street.” It was a great experience.
NT: Your last album, Build A Rocket Boys, contained vintage organs, various horns, even a bit of trip-hop in the mix and a few other influences along the way. Can we expect The Take Off And Landing Of Everything to be just as experimental?
RJ: Yes, I would say so. There are many Moog parts in songs and heaps of synth-driven tunes. There are many different flavours on the album. I would call it a smorgasbord, lol. We are really excited to get out and play the songs in a live setting.
NT: Are you impressed with the quality of music that’s coming out of people’s bedrooms these days?
RJ: Absolutely, there isn’t that much money out there these days for development deals. But there is so much high quality, affordable software on the market. It’s great people can make unique music. I remember working with four-tracks. It is really quite amazing that people can create music on a laptop. It also really inspires us as well.