One does not simply talk to a member of Snow Patrol without talking about Chasing Cars.
First released on the band’s 2006 album Eyes Open, Chasing Cars is not only the band’s biggest hit ever, it was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song, and was recently acknowledged as the most-played song on British radio this century
Ideally, we would have loved to talk to the person who wrote the song – Gary Lightbody, the frontman and principal songwriter of Snow Patrol – but unfortunately, he was laid low by a throat and chest infection on the day of our interview
The baton was passed to guitarist Nathan Connolly instead, who gave us an account of what it was like to work on one of THE defining songs of this century so far.
“We were writing songs for Eyes Open at the time, and Gary was down with Garret (‘Jackknife’ Lee, producer of the album) in his studio. Gary’s story is that they had a lot of wine, and they just worked (on the song) through the night!” he recalled.
“There was just something about that song, and we knew it would be definitely on the record pretty much from Day One. I think the reason it works is it’s so honest and simplistic, and we just built around it.
“We didn’t expect it to become what it’s become! It’s almost public property now, people have adopted that song and turned it into something special in their lives, and it’s the best thing you can hope for in a song!”
Lightbody and Connolly were in town recently to play a show at KL Live, minus the rest of the band – Paul Wilson (bass), Jonny Quinn (drums) and Johnny McDaid (piano). Lightbody valiantly soldiered through the KL show despite his illness, but would later cancel the band’s subsequent shows in Jakarta and Singapore under doctor’s orders.
During the interview earlier in the day, Connolly spoke about the band’s latest record, Wildness, and why it took seven years to produce.
Gary has said in other interviews that he scrapped an entire album of songs for the follow-up to 2011’s Fallen Empires, and started from scratch. How did that affect the band and the album in particular?
It affected us massively. We actually did a session in 2015, where we got together for a week to play through it, then we kind of stalled. It was only the following year that we went back to the studio, but Gary was also going through some difficulties at the time, which he has been very vocal about. (Lightbody recently recovered from a life-threatening addiction to alcohol – in 2016, he was told by a doctor that he would die if he continued drinking.)
There was a lot of patience involved, but personally I was confident, or perhaps just blindly believing that we’d have an album! But that’s just the story of this record – it just took time (to make).
I think Wildness is pretty much like our whole career wrapped up in the right places. There’s moments of sparseness … allowing everyone to breathe as an individual musician. Obviously, there are still big songs, but that was intentional … to try and make it feel more spacious, in some ways.
Some of the songs kind of sound like the raw indie rock tunes in early Snow Patrol albums.
I think it was evolution. The first two records (1998’s Songs For Polarbears and 2001’s When It’s All Over We Still Have to Clear Up) are part of our history. It’s how we started out, we were a rock band. We still are a rock band. We just have elements of electronic and pop… but at least we’re still a guitar band!
With Final Straw, our songs got bigger, the choruses were connecting with people, and they were getting on the radio … I don’t think it was a conscious choice, it was just the avenue we took.
Then once you start playing bigger rooms and bigger venues, I guess that does influence what you do when you go back into the studio, whether you fight against it or become more epic in scope. But again, it wasn’t intentional. It just happened.
So where do you go from here?
After this tour, the next focus will probably be on the next album. It’d be nice to not have to wait seven years again!