A chance encounter with the seldom seen kid
You know why Manchester is a fantastic city? It is one of the few places in the world that is so abundant with raw musical talent that when you step out onto the street you can, more frequently than one might expect, come face to face with an Ivor Novello award winning artist on a ‘stomp’ around his home territory. This was the situation that I found myself a few weeks ago, when I was delighted to speak to the charismatic Guy Garvey, who fronts the world renowned rock band, Elbow.
It was only the second week of my masters degree in multimedia journalism at Manchester Metropolitan University, and only the very first time that I’d been introduced to the sound recording equipment that we’d be using for our course in order to interview the good Mancunian folk on the street. We were shown how to hold the microphones, how to eliminate the dreaded ‘pop’ that features on so many amateur recordings, and what to do in the event that we were mugged for the valuable equipment we were being trusted with. [The answer: defend it with every fiber of your being! “Take my life but not the microphone!”]. Then we were wished the best of luck, teamed up with a ‘buddy’ so as to reduce the seemingly significant risk that we might genuinely become the victims of street crime, and released on an unsuspecting public. A mini hoard of fresh-faced journalist hitting the pavement, looking high and low for a story, a scoop, or a scandal.
Had it not been for my ‘buddy's’ extraordinary endeavor to find the nearest caffeine vendor before starting the task at hand we might not have spotted anybody worth mention at all that day! But it was with the type of sudden urgency that wouldn’t normally be associated with a person desperately low on coffee supplies that we bolted from the university building, and in doing so bumped almost immediately into the distinctive front man of the famous band.
Guy Garvey has an immediately relaxing presence and was gracious enough to not only stop for an interview, but to lend his experience to two newbies in the game. He explained to us the best way to shield the mic from the wind using our bodies, and that a good interview is short, sharp and to the point.
I probed Guy with a line of hard hitting journalistic inquiry, slicing through the guff I unloaded the full force of my interrogation cannon.
"So how’s it going?… Why are you in Manchester?“, I grilled the singer.
He hit back without pause or sweat,
"just havin’ a stomp – as I call it. I’ve lived here my whole life, so at this time of year I like wanderin’ around this particular area, Oxford road, just checkin’ out the new faces"
The consummate professional, Guy went on to withstand my inquisition explaining that he was in town for a few drinks with a friend. He displayed a palpable ease at being in the city that seemed to come from a genuine affinity with the Manchester way of life. The ever changing, yet constantly familiar landscape and skyline of the city is something that I too have spent many a spare hour admiring in an aimless wander. As Guy talked he explained that he was out, simply “enjoying his city“, and soaking it all in, on his way to meet his friend – it sounded like a perfect afternoon. As a place to lose yourself amongst faces and mixed architecture, I couldn’t help but agree that there isn’t a place more enjoyable to while away the hours as Manchester on an Autumn afternoon.
I thanked him for his time and wished him a pleasant evening. Knowing that a belly full of ale was on the cards for Guy, I suspected that this brief interaction was unlikely to be the highlight of his day – but it was certainly the highlight on mine.
As first interviews go, his has certainly set the bar quite high.