After 25 Years, Snow Patrol Gets More Honest Than Ever

Apr 28, 2019
Originally published on April 29, 2019 5:29 pm

The members of Snow Patrol are celebrating 25 years together. From providing the unofficial theme song to Grey's Anatomy to its 2006 album Eyes Open being certified eight-times platinum according to BPI, the Northern Ireland rock band has found success many times over. Now, after a seven-year hiatus, the bond between band members has never been stronger.

"I think we've been through everything you could possibly get thrown at you in a band," lead singer Gary Lightbody says. "Bands split up usually over personal differences. They'll call them musical differences, but they're usually personal ones. And I think if it's a friendship first then you're golden."

Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol performs live at NPR's Washington, D.C. headquarters.
Brad Quinn / NPR

Many songs on the band's latest album, Wildness, touch on the necessary bond of strong relationships. "Don't Give In" was inspired by one of Lightbody's friends who was struggling with depression and, in turn, Lightbody says writing the song helped him get through his own tough times. "Soon" tackles the topic of Lightbody's ailing father. Much of the lyrics on Wildness reflect things that the members have been meaning to say over the years and that level of honesty has resonated with their fans.

"They respond to honesty," Lightbody says. "They responded to this album with probably with more intensity than they have to any other record."

While on tour for Wildness, three members of the band — Lightbody, guitarist Nathan Connolly and pianist and guitarist Johnny McDaid — visited NPR's Studios in Washington D.C. for an interview and to perform.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Finally, today, we're going to check in with a band that you've surely heard even if you didn't know it, especially if you're a fan of the long-running hit TV show "Grey's Anatomy." Here's "Chasing Cars."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHASING CARS")

SNOW PATROL: (Singing) If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?

MARTIN: And it's not their only claim to fame. Their first major label album was certified five times platinum in the U.K. Their next release became the U.K.'s best-selling album of 2006. I'm talking about Snow Patrol. Their latest album is "Wildness." They're on tour with it now. And three members of the group were nice enough to break off and join us at NPR studios in Washington, D.C.

Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

GARY LIGHTBODY: Thanks for having us.

MARTIN: OK. And I'm joined here by Gary Lightbody, Johnny McDaid and Nathan Connolly. You're celebrating 25 years together. Do I have that right?

LIGHTBODY: You do, yeah.

MARTIN: Does it get easier or harder the longer you're together?

LIGHTBODY: Easier.

MARTIN: Really? How so?

LIGHTBODY: Because I think we've been through everything that you could possibly get thrown at you in a band. And we've come out the other side of any difficult situation we've ever had. And we're - everything is just - everything's just easier once you've gone through it all. There's nothing that we can't really get through anymore because we've seen it all. So yeah - 25 years, you pretty much know what you're doing by now - or you should do, anyway. I mean...

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Well, what about you two - easier or harder? Nathan?

NATHAN CONNOLLY: I think it is easier. We've learned how to communicate better, talk to each other. There's times when you're on tour, you know, it's easy to just enjoy the good stuff and not bring up difficult stuff, which I think we've got better at doing.

MARTIN: That sounds like marriage - sounds like good marriage advice.

CONNOLLY: (Laughter).

MARTIN: But OK. You're going to play a song.

LIGHTBODY: Yeah.

MARTIN: What would you like to play first?

LIGHTBODY: We'll play "Don't Give In" if that's all right.

SNOW PATROL: (Singing and playing guitar) Don't give in. Don't you dare quit so easy. Give all that you got on the sword. Don't say that you won't live forever. I know, I know. It's in your blood, and it's in your making. So don't hold your tongue because it's no longer working. Don't fall on your sword. Just follow your instinct like an old lesson learned, like an old lesson learned. Only you know what it, what it is to see through, see through the eyes that are trained on me now. I can, I can only tell you how it, how it looks from here. I think you've made up your mind. This is your grace, and I don't know why, and I don't know why. This is your grace, and I don't know why, and I don't know why. Don't give in. Don't you dare quit so easy. Give all that you got on the sword. Don't say that you won't live forever. I know, I know.

MARTIN: That was lovely. Thank you. Can you tell me a little bit about it?

LIGHTBODY: Yeah. I was writing it about a friend of mine who was going through a terrible time - an end-time, I guess. And then I realized halfway through that I was also kind of writing about myself.

MARTIN: By an end-time, you mean...

LIGHTBODY: Yeah. He was struggling on the verge of - kind of on the verge of existence. But yeah, I was kind of right on that edge myself. So it was a song that kind of brought me back. I hadn't written a song in a long time. I'd had a lot of writer's block. And that song actually kind of became a bit of a talisman because not only was it sort of an appropriate song for the time, but I actually hadn't written a song in such a long time that it actually sort of reminded me that I could, you know, write again.

MARTIN: How are you doing now? You seem so - you seem - you look great. I mean, I have to be honest. I mean, you've been very honest, and you've even shared here about some of the things that you've been living with like addiction, depression. And, you know, not unusual for artists, unfortunately, to be the people who speak that truth of others. But I've just - but you seem - how are you? How are you doing?

LIGHTBODY: I'm good. Thank you for asking. I'm very good these days. I'm - very little to complain about. You know, just being back on the tour again, being back with the guys, just having got a new album. I think that's maybe part of - I'd always had depression from when I was a teenager, but it comes harder when you're more static. That's for sure.

So actually getting up and moving again (laughter), being active definitely helps. You know, so you want to make sure that you're still checking in with yourself. Make sure you're not just letting things sort of - leaving the shop front unattended, you know, as well. But I - you know, I'm doing really good. I feel a lot calmer than I used to do as well, which is (laughter) I get a sense...

MARTIN: Is he? Is he calmer than he used to be?

CONNOLLY: Yeah, I think so. There's - you know...

MARTIN: That's Nathan.

CONNOLLY: We've all had certainly periods of interest and relationships with alcohol and partying and things like that. And I think we're all trying to be a bit more mindful.

MARTIN: Well, thank you for coming. Thank you for coming while you're on tour and taking a break and taking a detour to come by and see us. Thank you for coming back after your hiatus - or sabbatical, I guess I would call it. How about that?

LIGHTBODY: Yep.

MARTIN: That was Gary Lightbody, Johnny McDaid and Nathan Connolly - three members of the group Snow Patrol. They were kind enough to join us in our studios in Washington, D.C.

And I understand that you're going to play one more song to take us out. Is that right?

LIGHTBODY: Sure. Yes. Of course.

MARTIN: All right. What is it going to be?

LIGHTBODY: This is going to be "Heal Me."

MARTIN: "Heal Me," OK. Snow Patrol, thank you all so much.

CONNOLLY: Thank you.

MARTIN: ...For coming to see us.

LIGHTBODY: Thanks for having us.

SNOW PATROL: (Singing and playing guitar) Can you heal me, baby? I've been dancing in this fire for way too long. But I kind of like it. Oh, I like it 'cause it's more dangerous than me. There's a siren somewhere, but I'm pretty sure it's only in my head. So tell me, how'd you hear it? Is there something supernatural in your bones? Oh, this is love like wildness coursing through you like a drug. And this is hurt like kindness breaking you with gentle hands. I call out your name, it feels like a song I know so well, and it whispers and roars like an orchestra. You call out my name like no one before, it sounds like I am called to a home that I never had.

MARTIN: That's Gary Lightbody, Johnny McDaid and Nathan Connolly. They're members of the band Snow Patrol, performing their song "Heal Me" here in our Washington, D.C., studios. They were kind enough to stop by while on tour.

SNOW PATROL: (Singing and playing guitar) Can you heal me, baby? I've been wasted in the arms of everyone. I wasn't looking for you, but I think maybe I was and didn't know. Oh, this is love like wildness coursing through you like a drug. And this is hurt like kindness breaking you with gentle hands. I call out your name, it feels like a song... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.