After seven years out in the pop wilderness, Snow Patrol made a triumphant return with their brand-new album, Wildness. Drummer Jonny Quinn talks chaos, the joy of live performance, and reveals just why it’s taken them so darn long.
In life, there are several milestones that swirl up an array of complex and conflicting emotions. Your first day at school, your wedding day or the birth of your first child – and, if you’re a musician, the release of every single record throughout your career. “It’s a combination of trepidation, excitement and relief,” says Snow Patrol’s drummer Jonny Quinn of the impending release of Wildness, the band’s seventh studio album.
He added: “People responding is what you hope for the record, but the truth is that you just don’t know. It’s mostly just a relief to be back at it and playing gigs after five-and-a-half years. And so far, everyone seems to be really happy that we’re back.”
You might wonder why artists of such esteem would feel any doubt, especially given their triumphant track record. This is the band whose major label debut, Final Straw, was a certified five-time platinum in the UK and eventually sold over three million copies worldwide. A band whose anthemic hits Chasing Cars and Run were the antidote to a generation’s glorious melancholy; a band who has successfully held their own for over two decades in an industry which has slowly been coming apart at the seams.
Being inherently humble, it’s not surprising that the Northern Irish rockers haven’t ridden back into the music scene on a gold chariot, fuelled by hype and braggadocio; however much of their introspection seems to be down to the sheer amount of time that has passed since Fallen Empires (their last album). Seven years in the music industry is a long time, particularly when those years have been some of the most turbulent for labels and artists alike. However, if there was ever a time the world needed a Snow Patrol album to galvanise and uplift our spirits, it’s now; fortunately, Wildness fits the bill perfectly.
Emotionally complex, intelligent and bruisingly honest, the album skimps on none of Lighbody’s soaring melodies. The lead single Don’t Give Up is a straightforward call-to-arms for the lost and the weary, Life on Earth is an existential triumph, and the entire record vibrates with an earnest, open rawness. “‘Wildness’ being that the world feels wilder. It feels like there is more chaos than there used to be,” explains Quinn. “A lot of the songs are also about Gary’s own depression and frustration about not being able to write songs and that fear that hits everybody at some point, in a creative sense.”
For the lead singer Lightbody, the last few years have been particularly brutal as his ongoing battle with alcohol abuse and depression manifested itself in a crippling writer’s block. Quinn reveals that the band actually was in the studio around two years ago, with most of the musical aspects of the album in place, but Lightbody simply couldn’t verbalise his experience. “Maybe he was trying to write songs without having a reason to, and he’s not that kind of writer. So, there was a big gap. But it had to be right; the songs couldn’t be forced,” concludes Quinn.
Certainly, Wildness wouldn’t be the record it is had Lighbody not dug so deep, for that kind of vulnerable grace and candour cannot be faked. In his own words, the 41-year-old frontman says it is the first record he has written where he didn’t just ‘ask a bunch of questions’, adding: “I actually tried to figure out why I was unhappy, why I feel out of place, why I’m afraid.”
Now fully recovered, Lighbody and co. are eager to release the record and crack on with what is arguably the most rewarding part of the process: touring. “That’s what we’ve been doing for 20 years and we’ve all missed that part of it. We like the studio, but getting to go out and play all over the world is the most thrilling part,” says Quinn.
“We also put a lot into the live aspect of it, and I want people to walk out of shows feeling like it changed their life a little bit, and they forgot about everything that was bad that day… playing live and having that experience is really special.”
But before the band leaves us to traverse the world, there is one burning question that needs to be asked: is Snow Patrol back for good this time? “Yes,” replies Quinn emphatically. “We won’t have another seven-year break this time.”
Written and interviewed by INTERVIEW HUB
Featured photo © Snow Patrol
All other photos © Snow Patrol