Snow Patrol are an alternative rock band from Bangor, County Down. They formed in Dundee, Scotland in 1994 and rose to prominence in the “post-Britpop” era. The band are most famous for their world-renowned track ‘Chasing Cars.’ The band was inactive for a 7 year period from 2011-2018 but has now made an astonishing comeback with their latest album ‘Wildness’ and their world tour.
Snow Patrols Background:
When Snow Patrol originally formed in Dundee University in 1994 it was under the band name ‘Shrug.’ The original members were Gary Lightbody, Michael Morrison and Mark McClelland. They later changed their name to Polar Bear to avoid conflict with an American band who shared the same name.
Shortly after this, drummer Michael Morrison departed the band after suffering a breakdown. The band then renamed again in 1997 for the final time and Jonny Quinn joined as drummer. Snow Patrol’s debut album ‘Songs for Polar Bears’ was praised by critics far and wide, however, it did not make a good enough impact with the general public and therefore did not sell.
The band tried again with ‘When It’s All Over We Still Have To Clear Up” and achieved a similar result to the first album. Snow Patrol was then dropped by record label Jeepster in 2001 and was then broke with no record deal.
Lead singer Gary Lightbody had to sell a significant amount of his personal record collection to raise money to keep the band going. The band stayed positive however and continued to write songs. It was in this dull period that the band wrote ‘Run’, which later became the band’s breakthrough single.
Gary and co went on to have several worldwide-selling albums including; Final Straw, Eyes Open, A Hundred Million Suns and Fallen Empires. After the release of Fallen Empires in 2011 Snow Patrol drifted away from the limelight for many years.
Gary Lightbody’s Struggles
Gary self-admittedly fell into a period of depression and has since bravely spoken openly about his mental health struggles. “Plenty of people reached out to me to try and find me in my darkness, bless their hearts for doing that. It means a lot to me now – but at the time I felt hurried. I wanted to stay in the place that I was in,” he told BBC News.
This triggered a four-year period of writers’ block for the singer hence the seven-year gap between albums ‘Fallen Empires’ and ‘Wildness’. Steve Strange, Snow Patrol’s agent said: “when a band is away for seven years there’s always a little bit of a grey area as to what they are going to come back to, especially with such a changed landscape in the industry.”
Snow Patrol’s ‘Wildness’ tour turned out to be one of their most successful tours to date in terms of ticket sales. The single from the Wildness album is quite fittingly called ‘Don’t Give In’. Gary originally stated that he was writing this song about a friend who was going through a tough time but eventually realised he was writing it about himself and his own struggle. This track, you could say, sparked the fire in Gary’s belly to come back even stronger as a band and as a person.
In December 2018 Snow Patrol announced they would play their third and probably final Ward Park gig on 25th May 2019. On the day of the announcement, Gary said “Northern Irish music at the moment is in its rudest health.
It’s very exciting to be able to celebrate that at a time when it’s a good time to celebrate all the good things about Northern Ireland.” The gig at Gary’s hometown of Bangor was a memorable one and towards the end, he thanked all the acts that had performed before him saying they had done Northern Ireland proud.
He then went on to say he wanted to pay homage to all the great music that comes from the Republic of Ireland and said he wanted to sing ‘one’ song to represent this “just one.” Queue the one and only Bono of U2 to walk out and duet with Gary to U2’s hit song One.
What Snow Patrol Achieved
What Snow Patrol has achieved is nothing short of heroic. The obstacles they have overcome as a band and as individuals is inspirational to anyone and they will go down as one of the greatest alternative rock bands of all time.