What did you do during the pandemic? How did you cope? It’s a question people often ask you. If you’re asking Elvis Costello, he’ll tell you he has managed to release an album titled ‘Hey Clockface’, a french language EP ‘La Face de Pendule à Coucou’ – featuring the voices of Iggy Pop and Isabelle Adjani, an audio book ‘How To Play Guitar & Y’, ‘Spanish Model’, a remake of his 1978 album This Years Model, this time featuring Spanish artists singing in Spanish, and released the lavish vinyl box-set edition of the 1979 album, “Armed Forces” containing facsimiles of his original lyrical notebooks bound as pulp novels and comic books. He’s also recorded a brand new record with The Imposters, ‘The Boy Named If’ … plus wrote and illustrated a book that comes with it (A limited run of 6,000 copies of the book have been produced). It’s fair to say Elvis Costello is allergic to boredom.

Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips had the pleasure of sitting down with Elvis over a zoom call to discuss the newest album and accompanying book, both titled The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories).

Costello says, ”The full title of this record is ‘The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories).’  ‘IF,’ is a nickname for your imaginary friend; your secret self, the one who knows everything you deny, the one you blame for the shattered crockery and the hearts you break, even your own. You can hear more about this ‘Boy’ in a song of the same name,”On January 14th, 2022, Elvis Costello and The Imposters release, ‘The Boy Named If,’ a new album of urgent, immediate songs with bright melodies, guitar solos that sting and a quick step to the rhythm.

Speaking of the lyrical content of the record, Costello added, “Once upon a time, when I didn’t know what a kiss could do and didn’t even dare to caress, the way ahead was a mystery; a departing from that magic state called innocence for the pain that leads to pleasure and all that jazz.”

“Don’t get me started about the guilt and shame and all those other useless possessions that you must throw overboard before you set sail with your dreamboat (and a runcible spoon),” remarked Elvis.

‘The Boy Named If,’ – Produced by Sebastian Krys & Elvis Costello – is a collection of thirteen snapshots, “That take us from the last days of a bewildered boyhood to that mortifying moment when you are told to stop acting like a child – which for most men (and perhaps a few gals too) can be any time in the next fifty years,” as Costello put it.

The record comes from EMI, with Capitol Records as the release partner in the US. It will be available on vinyl, compact disc and cassette formats or as a download and in the stream with all the other pilchards. The 8-Track and Flexi-disc releases will come later.

For those who like to hold something more substantial in their hands, the record can also be found tucked into an 88-page hardback storybook edition – each one numbered and signed by the artist.

This edition features thirteen illustrated short stories, which have the same titles as the songs on the record. Some of these fables set the scene for the songs, others are sequels, or a clue or hint to what might have been going on before the music began.

The lyrics can also be found in bold print alongside the colourful, dashing, sometimes macabre, daubs from the electric pencil of Eamon Singer.

Costello added, “Whatever you take out of these tales, I wrote them for you and to make the life of these songs a little less lonely, if you should care to dive in a little deeper.”

“I started ‘The Boy Named If’ with just an electric guitar, some sharps and flats, high heels and lowdowns, with five songs in bright major keys and carried on to write a whole new record for The Imposters to play,” Costello said.

Speaking of recording sessions, Costello said, “The initial rhythm section for this record was my guitar and Pete Thomas’ Gretsch drums, recorded down in Bonaparte Rooms West. Our Imposter pal of 20 years standing, Davey Faragher soon dialed in his Fender bass and vocals while we awaited dispatches from France.”

“If the record sounded swell as a trio, Steve Nieve’s organ was the icing on the cake, the cherry and the little silver balls,” Elvis added.

“Sometimes I sit and write things down, the rest of the time I play guitar in a rock and roll band. I love my family. I really love everybody, especially the people I can’t stand, even those who trespass against us and there are a lot of them.”  “Yer pal. Elvis Costello”

‘The Boy Named If’ Track Listing:

1.         Farewell, OK
2.         The Boy Named If
3.         Penelope Halfpenny
4.         The Difference
5.         What If I Can’t Give You Anything But Love?
6.         Paint The Red Rose Blue
7.         Mistook Me For A Friend
8.         My Most Beautiful Mistake (guest vocal by Nicole Atkins)
9.         Magnificent Hurt
10.       The Man You Love To Hate
11.       The Death Of Magic Thinking
12.       Trick Out The Truth
13.       Mr. Crescent

‘The Boy Named If’ New Album from Elvis Costello & The Imposters. Released January 14th, 2022 on Universal
CD, Vinyl, Cassette, Download, Streaming and Numbered and Signed 88-page Hardback Storybook Edition on EMI

Preorder ‘The Boy Named If’ HERE