Multi-award-winning musicians Elbow have been back in the brewery to create their second beer, Charge. Matt Eley headed to their local for a chat over a few pints.
Charge is your second beer. Is it similar to that tricky second album syndrome, or was it easier this time?
Guy Garvey (vocals): I suppose we were a bit more confident. It was a bit of an experiment the first one (Build a Rocket Boys!) having never had experience of doing anything like that. The first one went down so well we were looking forward to it.
Pete Turner (bass): We knew what we wanted more in the beer this time. First time it was flying by the seat of your pants a little bit.
What was your involvement in the creation of the beer?
GG: We had a great day out at Marston's designing our own ale and to launch it at our local is a bit of fun for us. Everyone at Marston's has been really cool and I like the fact that they're a socially oriented company. We went right through the brewing process with Gen [brewer Genevieve Upton] who is obviously an anomaly in the brewing world as a beautiful young woman and a brewer. This design of the beer was one of her babies,... well, not literally. We helped make a baby...
Richard Jupp (drums): It was fascinating going around the brewery and getting an appreciation of the beer. The process was a much more cohesive thing this time. We wanted to make more of a statement rather than just a chance thing. This one is more of a labour of love
How did you get a beer that the five of you were all happy with?
GG: I suppose it was just an extension of what we have been doing for 23 years, all of us being happy in our music is something we are well versed in. If you disagree, methods of compromise arrive. We rely on each other's enthusiasm for music for decisions, it is not necessarily three votes against two but it's whoever is the most passionate in their opinion. You trust them.
PT: It would be difficult to go too far wrong, because we all like a pint.
Are you all ale drinkers then?
GG: We all drink different beers, that's the thing. Some of us are ale drinkers, some are stout drinkers and some are lager drinkers. So between us all, liking this one was quite good.
How come you ended up with Marston's after brewing your first beer with Robinsons?
GG: Just spreading the love. We have drunk in Robbies' pubs for years, we have all drunk in Marston's pubs. We just thought we would go somewhere else and see what happened.
Are you still big pub-goers?
GG: Yeah, this one particularly [we are at The Eagle Inn, a short stumble from Elbow's Manchester studio] which is why we chose to launch the beer here. Esther the landlady has built a beautiful venue space next door, she's an old friend of the band.
Would you ever do an intimate gig there?
GG: There's every chance. Though I am not sure when.
PT: It would have to be a very stripped-down thing. I went there for the first time a few weeks ago. People would be right on top of you, which would be good fun but we couldn't have all the things we have in the show.
The beer is named after a song on the new album. Does it reflect that song in some way?
GG: The song is about an old guy in a young bar and at the beginning of the song he is quite vitriolic about his life and the young people around him and by the end of it you realise that he is begging company, he just hasn't got the social skills necessary. I think a lot of people come to pubs in order to be with other people, so it makes sense that one should be the beer. It's the social element of the pub that we love. It's why we have gone for a beer like this which is a homely, cosy Sunday afternoon of a pint. Plus it's a cool name for a beer.
The brewing notes says that Charge is a nod to American steam beers – do you think this one could break America?
GG: Well, that would be nice, wouldn't it? Most of our fans do enjoy a drink and we have got a lot of real ale fans in America.
PT: We could send the beer out there instead of us and it could tour all over.
Have you converted lots of Elbow fans to real ale?
GG: It's more the other way round. I think with the success of the first Elbow beer we found that lots of real ale drinkers suddenly got into the band, which is a really nice thing. It happens the other way as well.
PT: I think beer is just becoming more popular over here. My local pubs have guest ales and they are always changing around and there are more menus for beer.
GG: Yeah, it's not something that is reserved for morris dancers. It's getting a younger audience and people are getting more fussy about what they drink. It's not about bingeing at the weekend. Where our music is concerned, our fans range from seven to 70 and we are really proud of that. Music is more accessible, it isn't just for teenagers any more. It is similar with people getting into real ales and giving them a try.
Are pubs still important when it comes to breaking bands in the UK?
GG: It's really important. The music industry is under threat at the minute. Not just from download but also the ìyou might like thisî kind of playlist. Younger bands are not getting the platforms we got when we were coming through and in those terms the pub is the first stop. The first place we ever played was the pub. I was involved with the Live Music Act in 2012 that cut red tape around putting on live music. If kids can't get up and play a few songs in a pub they might never get that bug. The pub has been very important to us.
Ever walked into a pub and seen your own beer on the bar and heard your own music playing?
RJ: Never. It is always one or the other. I'd probably have to leave, even though nobody would recognise me, it would be too weird.
GG: Yeah, I have. It was all right. I demanded to be fed grapes. It's a nice collision of the worlds.
PT: The first time we saw our record in a record shop we were really excited. And seeing the beer on in the pub gives you that. It's brilliant.
Have you tried any of the other beers that bands have made?
GG: No, they're all shit... I have tried a couple, they're pretty good, just not to my tastes. I think the Manic Street Preachers would do particularly good ale. It would be spicy, earthy and Welsh.
The beer and the band
Charge is a golden pale ale with an ABV of 4.2 per cent. Marston's brewer Genevieve Upton describes it as "a classic, easy drinking Pale Ale with a blend of three malts that deliver a luscious malt biscuit flavour."
The beer's launch coincides with the release of the album The Take-off and Landing of Everything on March 10.
For more information visit www.elbowbeer.co.uk