It probably says more about the age of your correspondent than it does about Elbow, but Designer Magazine remembers the days when Pete was still a barman at legendary Manchester venue The Roadhouse.

Since then we've met the band on a number of occasions, witnessed legendary gigs such as the one at the Ritz and the support slot with Muse at the MEN Arena. Nothing however could prepare us for the live debut of the new album "Leaders Of The Free World" as part of Carling Live 24. An album recorded over 4 seasons in Manchester it takes us on a rollercoaster of emotions and live the band have really come in to their own.

Read on for the transcript of that interview which took in table tennis and why they chose to record in rainy old Manchester. Later on we look at some exclusive photo's of the band a few months later playing a sold out show at the Manchester Apollo.

Q: You played an intimate event at the studio last night. How did that go?
Pete: It went great. It was like a launch really for the album. We're recording another DVD for this album and they were filming as we went along through all the writing and recording so there's a lot of footage to go through. We've done little pieces for each song so last night we played about 6 tracks off the DVD and then we went on stage and played live.

Q: The venue you've chosen for your Carling 24 Live gig is quite an unusual one. It's a studio but as soon as I walked in it felt like being back at school, I was looking for the ropes to climb up the gym walls.
Craig: That's the room where we wrote and recorded the album. That's been our room for the past 6 months so it's pretty weird now it's a gig cos it's looks completely different than when we recorded it.

Pete: Yeah, totally. It's quite a big space really and it was literally just everything sprawled across the length and width of the room. We had the computer at one end then we had Jupp (drummer) at the other end with the kit. It was like a factory atmosphere, but that since last August has been our day to day thing. We'd get there at eleven in the morning and sometimes leave at eleven at night.

Q: It's been a long journey then recording "Leaders Of The Free World"
Pete: Yeah, we actually started in Hull for a 2 week run before Glastonbury. The reason that this place was so good was that we all wanted to be close to home for our family and friends. It was good because we'd get in at eleven in the morning, have a break at five so you could go home and have your tea and then get back at seven to carry on in the evening. It was a lot easier to do long hours if you're happy because you're a stone throws home so you can just pop home and see your girlfriend

Craig: We tried to be regimented and have set hours where you'd get down to work straight away, but we'd end up coming in and just playing table tennis or falling asleep.

Pete: That's the good thing, it was kind of like going to work....except we were actually getting stoned and playing table tennis.

Craig: Table Tennis man, we're absolutely great at it now. If the next record doesn't do very well we've got a backup plan

Q: So who's the best and worst table tennis player in Elbow?
Craig: I'm the best....and he's the worst

Q: Any other sports? Pool?
Pete: Nah...we'd have to mix with the public (laughs). Upstairs in the gods it's just us, talking about us with pictures of ourselves. We have pictures of ourselves all over the walls. Totally Morrissey-esque? Bigger than that

Q: As well as the added bonus of table tennis, the way you recorded this album was totally different as well. You recorded it live together as a band - how was that different from previous albums?
: We did it ourselves so we just thought we'd give it a go. We didn't know how it was going to turn out, but we went in to mix a few tracks with Tom Rothrock and Marius De Vries. Originally we thought we'd go in with a producer, but these mixes came out so well we thought we might as well do the whole thing

Our recordings were pretty rough and roomy things so the mixers could only work with what they've got. They were both really enthusiastic about the whole thing tho. I really liked the Rufus Wainwright album so that's why we went with Marius, but more than anything when you're picking a producer or mixer it's more about how you get on with someone than anything.

Pete: Marius was just really enthusiastic from the first time we met him and the first time he came up here. Marius and Tom were the first guys we worked with on the mixes

Craig: With a lot of the budget we bought a load of gear instead of going in a studio.

Q: People have a very defined sound, but on "Leaders Of The Free World" you've tried to break free from it. Would you agree?
Pete: Whatever the five of us do it will always be that sound. It's a not a conscious thing to think we need to sound like that. It's just the five of us working together in a room and this time there tracks that are heavier than we've ever done before. Sometimes in the past we've probably not been that confident about whether we can do it or not.

Craig: The sound has definitely changed. Not consciously. Each song just started from an idea and developed like they always do. They just go where they go.

Pete: Everyone can do what they want and play whatever instrument they want. Craig pretty much tends to controls things just because he's always on pro-tools.

Q: Did recording in old rainy Manchester affect things?
Pete: We saw just being in that room, you won't see it now but when the curtains are back there's absolutely huge beautiful windows. We started in August we caught the back end of Summer and then watch Autumn, Winter and then Spring happen and come back round to Summer again. And we just watched it from this little place seeing seasons changing.

Words: Alex McCann
Backstage Photos: Shirlaine Forrest  www.shirlainephotos.co.uk
Live Photos below: Philistyne  www.philistyne.net

"Leaders Of The Free World" is out now on V2 Records

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