Artists Reveal Their Best And Worst Christmases Ever

Guy Garvey, Elbow

What’s the worst present you’ve been given anyone?
“I bought my missus an electric blanket once. I said I’m gonna be away a lot and then I split up with her for seven years! It was pretty bad. I gave her an electric blanket and then finished with her.”

Did you buy her a great present to make up for it?
“I need to balance my public image now… I bought her a public access course at Manchester University that was on astrophysics because she loves her science. She loved it; she said it was full of argumentative old men.”


Well saved. What’s the worst Xmas party you’ve been to?
“I spent Christmas day once in a bedsit, alone, listening to ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’ by Mansun. All I had was that record and a bottle of Jamesons. I don’t think I went near another human woman for about 18 months at that point. I was living with Pete our drummer and he’d gone home for Christmas so I was left there and it was a kind of self-flagellation thing, like, ‘Fuck Christmas, fuck the world, I’m gonna do this on my own’. It put me off Mansun forever. Jamesons is still a very good friend.”

Well that wasn’t exactly a party. And the best?
“Me and [wife] Emma had a New Year’s Eve party in our old flat with a balcony. We managed to get 140 people in a one bedroom flat. I’d bought a big rocket to set off at midnight and there was so little space I’d have to light it and turn my head away, and I ended up with scorch marks on my clothes from where I’d almost set myself on fire.”

Aluna Francis, Alunageorge

What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?
“My mum bought me a sewing machine when I was little and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I’m a really bad sewer but I can’t keep my hands off stuff. I made a patchwork quilt with my best friend, that was pretty cool.”

And the worst you’ve received?
“My gran bought me a concrete cat that had not been painted at all, just that outdoor, grey concrete. She got it for me because I really wanted a real cat. She told me she’d got me one and I was beside myself with excitement and then there was this grey concrete thing outside.”

What’s the best Xmas present you’ve given someone else?
“Last year I reserved a few rooms at a beauty parlour for my family and friends and they all got massages. But no-ones getting presents this year – they’re gonna get a burnt CD of my music and a printed out picture of my face.”


Orlando Weeks, The Maccabees

What’s the worst present you ever gave anyone, Orlando?
“I gave my brother a book from a charity shop, I didn’t notice that it had the price tag still on inside the sleeve. I don’t know if he read it, but he definitely commented on the price.”

And the best?
“There are no particularly good ones that I can think of. I’m better at birthdays than Christmas; Christmas comes with too much pressure.”

What’s the worst present you’ve ever received?
“I’m pretty sure I got that book back; I knew exactly what he was saying with that one.”

And the best?
“I don’t know about the best one. We don’t really do Christmas presents within the band because we’re never together.”

Depressing. But what’s the best Christmas party you’ve been to?
“There was a Christmas when I was three and we’d just got a swing and it snowed. You know those memories where you can’t quite decide whether it’s just a photo you’ve seen a lot – that’s where I’m at with this. That’s gotta be up there I reckon.”

Felix White, The Maccabees

What’s the best present you’ve ever been given, Felix?
“Last year Hugo [White, Maccabees guitarist and his brother] got me ‘Oh Lucky Man’ on vinyl, which is the Adam Christ soundtrack to the film. Records are good presents aren’t they?”

What’s the worst one you’ve given someone?
“I bought a friend this bench-pressing weight with a spoon attached to the top so you can eat yourself fit. It’s literally just weights with an Ikea spoon welded to the top; I shouldn’t have spent so much money on it really. The idea is that even if you’re eating ice cream, you’re still putting a bit of effort into it.”

What’s the best Christmas bash you’ve been to?
“Two years ago when I was living in New Cross, I told my flatmates I was just gonna have a few people round. Jessie Ware turned up at my house with human-height speakers. We ended up having to break in two doors. I took everyone to the fireworks up my road so there were 100 people dragging mud round my house; I’ve never cleaned so much in my life as I did the next morning.”

Kevin Parker, Tame Impala

Kevin – have you had some great Christmas parties back home in Australia?
“Well, last year we were in Perth because we knew we were gonna be away for a long time [touring]. So we put on a show with all the Tame Impala family; those times end up being pretty loose. Those of us thatdidn’t risk the gauntlet of driving home ended up at the beach, with the sun coming up, all asleep in a hammock in a tree.”

What’s the best Xmas present you’ve ever been given?
“My dad bought me an eight-track that I ended up recording the next five years of Tame Impala stuff on. I was only about sixteen, but that’s what I ended up recording the EP and the first album on. I’d had really crappy tape decks before, but it was so terrible I had to divideeach MP3 into quarters and put them onto a floppy disc.”

And the worst?
“Someone from my family usually gets me something in the shape of a guitar – my stepmum got me a spatula in the shape of a guitar once. I did end up using it on a barbecue, but I remember getting it and thinking, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’. I don’t think I’d ever used a spatula in my life.”

Rob Harvey, The DOT

What’s the worst Christmas present you’ve ever received, Rob?
“My worst present – this is when I was a grown up as well – was when my brother attempted to buy me a Volkswagen camper van piggy bank. He thought it would be cool and it was something he wanted; he keeps threatening me with it, but I don’t want it. At least it only almost happened. When it came to Christmas we were telling each other what we were getting each other, and when he said that I just told him, ‘No way. I’m not having it.'”

What’s the best present you’ve received?
“I think it was probably a Super Nintendo. I got that and Donkey Kong. I remember being really excited – it was kept in the cupboard and I kept opening it up to look before. I hope my dad doesn’t read this. I would have been about 11, even younger maybe – that’s when I was most excited. When you’re older the excitement starts to fizzle out.”

And the best present you’ve given?
“I gave my girlfriend something by [designer] Michael Kors to try and impress her – we’re still together so I think it worked.”

What’s the worst present you’ve given?
“I struggle every year with what to buy my dad. I usually buy him a golf voucher to buy balls and stuff. No imagination. Oh, wait – you know those t-shirts that used to change colour? I gave one of them to my cousin once. They looked a bit tye dye and they were all weird; I don’t know why people liked them…”

Roman Rappak, Breton

What was the best Christmas present you ever got?
“My mum bought me this circuit thing that was like, ’31 Things You Can Do With Some Electronic Stuff’. All of them just made horrible noises, that was it. It was meant to be educational but it was just used as a horrible drone-maker. I think my mum burnt it.”

Cripes. And the worst?
“My mate’s dad thought it was hilarious when I was about 12 to get me this Polish softcore porn puzzle. There was just softcore nudity in cartoon form. My sister got me a bong when I was 13 as well; I didn’t know what it was.”

Ever been to any cracking Xmas parties?
“The best one was probably last year’s New Year’s Eve. We went to this squat party. But there was one NYE where we planned it really badly and ended up having to do the countdown on the bus. It’s important where you are for that particular minute, and we ended up on the 484 to New Cross.”

Tim Burgess

Bet you’ve been given some good presents in your time, Tim? What’s the best?
“I always get great jumpers. I ask for crazy ones so it’s about how good they can be. I got a really good mohair one year, that was probably the best. I got an early Christmas present this year which was ‘Copendium’, the Julian Cope book – that’s good too.”

What’s the worst present you’ve been given?
“I got a picture once from a fan – that’s pretty mean picking on a fan isn’t it? – and it was the Mona Lisa smoking a joint. I think they thought it was interesting, but obviously it wasn’t.”

And the best present you’ve given someone else?
“Maybe a sun visor? I think that’s the best but it’s probably the worst because it’s Christmassy and snowing. I always think that onesies are pretty good presents or a nice jumper, maybe it’s because it makes me think of ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham!. People just get in the mood with that, keeps you warm and it’s practical. I’m going to be the practical man of this Christmas issue.”

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