Interview With Snow Patrol
Snow Patrol may be the poster boys for heart-on-sleeve emotionalism, but no one is more surprised by their success then the band itself.
“Gary [Lightbody] writes the lyrics and I suppose he can be quite a romantic,” laughs Jonny Quinn, talking about the band’s frontman. “He‘s taken an interest in science the last few years, that’s why a lot of the references on the album are to that, but I think that’s just the subject of one album and it’ll probably change to something else. It’ll probably be marine life next.”
For a band that admits their success doesn’t have any overriding masterplan, they’re not doing badly at all. Their latest album, ‘A Hundred Million Suns’, has scaled the charts throughout the world and the lead single, ‘If There’s A Rocket, Tie Me To It’, has followed suit. It’s a far cry from their early days when the members couldn’t even afford to make rent.
“It was a long time before we got any recognition or [were able] to pay rent, but it’s been worthwhile and I wouldn’t want to change that for any reason. It does feel a long time ago, but at the same time you still have the same theories…it definitely feels a lot more professional than we were back then. It was very shambolic, it was just through persistence, like three years with a guitar without a case and off you go and sell a few T-shirts to buy some dinner.”
For a band who’ve experienced anything but a meteoric rise to fame, there’s no doubt that signing to major label Polydor and hooking up with producer Garrett ‘Jacknife’ Lee for the ‘Final Straw’ LP in 2003 was a milestone. “It was the first time we’d had a producer, before that we’d done it ourselves,” says Quinn.
The latest album finds the band back with ‘Jacknife’ Lee and more comfortable with their sound then when they were starting out. “Well I think we’ve created our own sound more than we’ve done in the past, and that was something we never really knew what it was - I think it takes a while to know what and who you are in a sense. I think this album is more of our sound, but yeah, we certainly don’t have any plans for the next album in terms of, ‘we want to do something radical’, because we don’t sort of have that skill as musicians really,” he says with a laugh.
“I think bands, when they set out they think they’re gonna be huge; I don’t think our expectations were ever that high. I think when that happened [the breakthrough success of ‘Final Straw’], that definitely took us by surprise … It’s nothin’ we ever actually dreamed of, we didn’t have that sort of ambition. That’s what shocked us about it.”
So then, in light of their commercial success, do the lads still consider themselves an indie/alternative outfit? “Alternative/indie,” offers Quinn, before adding, “I joke that we have pop sensibilities with alternative sound.”
Whatever you want to call it, it certainly beats a decade of indie obscurity. “Yeah, we spent plenty of time in there, in pop obscurity,” confesses Quinn, who sounds remarkably unaffected by success. Apparently the same goes for the rest of the band.
“I think everyone’s feet are firmly on the ground. I don’t think we’ve let anybody get too much above their station, ‘cos I think it can shorten the lifespan of a band. People thinking they don’t really need to work at whatever they do, like writings song. I’ve seen it happen to bands that get a hit album and the next one tends to be really weak and I think it’s because they think, well, their first album is a hit and then for me their second effort really tends to be a failure. I think that comes from believing the hype. We try not to think that too much. But it can also be a bad thing for us. People tell us we need to get more of an ego,” jokes Quinn.