Snow Patrol

Snow Patrol
Snow Patrol

Snow Patrol, from L–R: Nathan Connolly, Gary Lightbody, Jonny Quinn, Tom Simpson, Paul Wilson
Background information
Origin Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom
Genres Alternative rock, power pop, post-Britpop, indie rock
Years active 1994–present
Labels Fiction/Interscope
Electric Honey
Associated acts Shrug, Iain Archer, Belle & Sebastian, The Reindeer Section, File Under Easy Listening, Terra Diablo, The Cake Sale, Little Doses, Listen... Tanks!, Tired Pony
Gary Lightbody
Jonny Quinn
Nathan Connolly
Paul Wilson
Tom Simpson
Past members
Mark McClelland
Michael Morrison

Snow Patrol are an alternative rock band from Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland.[1] Formed at the University of Dundee in 1994 as an indie rock band,[2] the band is now based in Glasgow. The band's first three records, the EP Starfighter Pilot (1997), and the studio albums Songs for Polarbears (1998) and When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up (2001), were commercially unsuccessful and were released by the independent labels Electric Honey and Jeepster respectively. The band then signed on to the major record label Polydor Records in 2002.

Snow Patrol rose to national fame with their major label debut, Final Straw, in 2003. The album was certified 5× platinum in the UK[3] and eventually sold over 3 million copies worldwide. Their next studio album, Eyes Open, (2006) and its hit single "Chasing Cars", propelled the band to greater international fame. The album topped the UK Album Charts and was the best-selling British album of the year, selling over 6 million copies worldwide. In 2008, the band released their fifth studio album A Hundred Million Suns and in 2009 their first compilation album, Up to Now.

During the course of their career, Snow Patrol have won five Meteor Ireland Music Awards and have been nominated for three BRIT Awards. Since the release of Final Straw, the band have sold over ten million albums worldwide.[4]

The group is currently preparing themselves for the release of their sixth studio recording, entitled Fallen Empires, and a tour of the UK and Ireland in early 2012.



Early years (1994–2001)

Snow Patrol originated from a band called Polar Bear, which formed in 1994 and consisted of Gary Lightbody, Michael Morrison and Mark McClelland.

Originally formed in late 1994 by University of Dundee students Gary Lightbody, Michael Morrison and Mark McClelland as the Shrug,[5] the band started by performing gigs at the university and surrounding pubs such as Lucifer's Mill. Their first EP, called the "Yoghurt vs Yoghurt debate", was a rousing success. In 1995, they changed their name to Polar Bear (or Polarbear) to avoid issues with any American bands that were also named Shrug. Shortly afterwards, drummer Mike Morrison left the band after suffering a breakdown and returned to Northern Ireland. In mid 1997, Polar Bear released a three-track EP, Starfighter Pilot, on the Electric Honey label.[6] The band again renamed, this time to Snow Patrol,[2] because of a naming conflict with another band of the same name fronted by Jane's Addiction's ex-bassist Eric Avery.[7] At this point, Jonny Quinn, from Northern Ireland, joined as permanent drummer.

Jonny Quinn, who joined the band before their first studio release.

Snow Patrol joined Scottish independent label Jeepster in 1997, home of Belle & Sebastian.[8] Jeepster had the same idea for Snow Patrol as the approach they had with Belle & Sebastian, who had become popular by word-of-mouth, and not heavy promotion. The band were happy to be associated with an indie label, because it provided them the independence. At that time, they felt all Jeepster records would work like that, and did not deem it necessary to have a work ethic or promotion behind them.[9]

Snow Patrol debut album was Songs for Polarbears, released in 1998 after the band had started living in Glasgow.[10] Lightbody used to hold a job at the Nice n Sleazy's Bar in Sauchiehall Street.[11] The album was a critical success, but did not make any impact commercially.[9] The same year, the band came close to get featured in a worldwide advertisement for Philips. Gomez was ultimately signed.[12][13] In 1999, the band won the "Phil Lynott Award for Best New Band" by Irish music magazine Hot Press.[14] In 2001, still living in Glasgow, the band followed up with When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up.[15] Like its predecessor, the album was praised by critics, but did not sell.[9]

Despite the record deal, the band was doing fantastically. They had started to work harder by touring more, but continued to be in control. They slept on fans' floors after concerts and pretended to be members of Belle & Sebastian to get into nightclubs.[16] They owed rent to their landlords and used to receive regular visits and letters from them when on tour.[9] After the failure of the second album, the band began to think what was going wrong. They realized that the label's lax attitude towards management and record promotion was harming their career, even though these were the qualities they had liked before. They realized that a lot of help was needed to succeed.[9] The band's manager at the time was Danny McIntosh. Lightbody has described him as "the angriest man in pop: great, great man". He has said that he loved the band "with every atom in his body", and was never angry towards them. He has credited him with keeping the band together in those years. McIntosh had a gold colored splitter bus in which the band used to travel to play concerts.[17]

Final Straw (2001–2005)

Nathan Connolly was asked to join the band in 2002.

Jeepster dropped Snow Patrol in 2001,[18] a decision that was criticized by Hot Press magazine as brainless.[19] Then band manager Danny McIntosh compared the band's relation with the label to a marriage gone sour: "they gave us our big break, so we fell madly in love with them. Then the fighting and the arguing started and, well, let’s just say that both sides filed for divorce".[20] By July 2001, many major labels had started showing interest in Snow Patrol,[20] but the band were cash-strapped and had no record deal.[21] Lightbody sold a major part of his record collection to raise money to keep the band going. Lightbody calls the time "miserable", but was confident of getting signed to another label quickly. However, the music scene in the United Kingdom had turned its attention to American bands and British bands were not getting signed. The band spent this time constantly writing songs. Lightbody, bored at this point, assembled The Reindeer Section, a Scottish supergroup, and found a record label to release the group's recordings.[22] Quinn said that though the time was hard for everyone involved except for Nathan, the question of splitting up never arose. It was during this time the band wrote "Run" (which had been around since 2000)[21] in a room on an acoustic guitar, which later became the band's breakthrough single. The band's "low point" came when they played a concert to 18 people at a popular strip club in High Wycombe.[18][23][24] The show took place in a shoddy VIP area, and the management had to unscrew poles used by pole dancers in order to make space for the band to play. Quinn calls the show "horrendous". Desperate for attention, the band raised £200 to nominate themselves for a Mercury Prize, but failed to get shortlisted.[23]

In 2002, the band started to be managed and published by Jazz Summers of Big Life.[25][26] Guitarist Nathan Connolly, previously of F.U.E.L.[22] had been working in an HMV store room in Belfast at the time.[27] Connolly and the band had a mutual friend, who introduced them to him. Connolly moved to Glasgow to join the band in the spring of 2002.[28][29] His mother commented that he had been "kidnapped by rock stars".[30] By 2002–2003, the band had started to lose faith of getting signed, and was considering getting jobs to raise money to finance the album themselves.[21] During Lightbody and McClelland's years at the University of Dundee, they had been noticed by Richard Smernicki, a senior student. Through Richard, brother Paul too had come to know the band. Richard graduated in 1996, two years before Lightbody and McClelland, to become Polydor's Scottish A&R representative. Paul became Polydor's Press and Artist Development Manager[31] and Fiction's label manager.[32] Later, Jim Chancellor, an A&R executive for Fiction, and fellow talent scout Alex Close[33] approached the band in Glasgow to listen to their demos, and judged them on "the quality of the songs", according to Lightbody.[21][34] However, Lightbody later contradicted himself, saying, at the time, he exasperatedly questioned Chancellor whether he will sign them. And he replied: "Yeah, I only came here to make sure you weren't dicks."[34] The band then contemplated their future for a few months before eventually signing. Manager Summers too had a major part in getting the band signed.[25]

Initially the band were nervous about label's influence, worried they might push them around and make them do things they did not want to make money.[9] Alarm bells sounded when Chancellor introduced them to producer Jacknife Lee, who despite having been a guitarist in 90s punk rock band Compulsion had no rock production experience at that point, being known at the time for his work with Basement Jaxx and Eminem.[9][35][36] Lee was chosen because Chancellor believed he would facilitate a move out of indie and into a more mainstream pop-rock sound.[35] Although, during the first couple of weeks recording their third studio album the band struggled to adapt to a new direction, the collaboration ultimately proved a very successful one.[35] Lee offered advice on how to both simplify their songs and augment them with other sounds such as strings, and Snow Patrol proved very receptive and credited producer Lee for truly helping the band and doing "an amazing job".[9][21][35][37] According to Chancellor in an interview with HitQuarters, "Some bands tend to be more defensive about what goes on in the studio. Snow Patrol weren’t. They were very much like, "Yeah, we really want to be successful this time."[35]

"It was called Final Straw because in some ways it was the final throw of the dice. But the title was also taking the piss out of people who thought we were really over. A lot of them didn't give us much of a chance. When we wanted to release the third album, we came up against many obstacles. To most record companies we were considered failures."

—Gary Lightbody, on the naming of the band's third album[38]

Final Straw was released on 4 August 2003, under Black Lion, a subsidiary of Polydor Records.[10] Its music was along the same lines as the band's first two albums, and no attempt was made to change the sound to something more radio-friendly.[9][10] The album, along with "Run" (which debuted at #5 in the UK Singles Chart), gave the band their first taste of mainstream success. The record peaked at #3 in the UK Albums Chart. Archer's final date with the band was 27 September 2003 in the St Andrews Students' Association. They followed the success of "Run" up with three more singles from the album: "Chocolate", as well as a re-release of "Spitting Games", both reaching the top 30, and "How to Be Dead" reaching number 39.

The release of Final Straw in the United States in 2004 saw the album sell more than 250,000 copies and become the 26th most popular album in the UK of that year. In mid-2005, during their tour to support Final Straw, the band toured with U2 as an opening act on U2's Vertigo Tour in Europe.[39] The band then returned to the United States to continue touring in support of Final Straw. That summer also saw Snow Patrol playing a short set in London at the worldwide benefit concert Live 8.[40] After finishing their opening act duties and extensive 2-year tour of Final Straw in late July, the band took a few weeks off and began writing and recording songs for a new album. Snow Patrol's new version of John Lennon's "Isolation" was released on 10 December 2005 as part of the Amnesty International campaign, Make Some Noise.[41] The song was later issued on the 2007 John Lennon tribute album, Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.[42]

On 16 March 2005, McClelland left the band, with Lightbody stating 'a whole new set of new and unexpected pressures... have unfortunately taken their toll on working relationships within the band, and it was felt the band could not move forward with Mark as a member.'[43] At the end of March 2005, former Terra Diablo member Paul Wilson was announced as the official replacement for McClelland and Snow Patrol also declared longtime touring keyboardist Tom Simpson an official member of the band.[44]

Eyes Open (2006–2007)

Paul Wilson took over bass duties after McClelland's departure.

The band completed recording Eyes Open in December 2005, with Jacknife Lee returning for production, and this album was released on 28 April 2006 in Ireland, and the UK on 1 May 2006, with the first UK single "You're All I Have" having been released on 24 April 2006. The album was released in North America on 9 May. While "Hands Open" was the first American single, "Chasing Cars" pushed its way onto the download and pop charts after it was heard during an emotional scene of the second season finale of the television show Grey's Anatomy on 15 May 2006. Due to the song's surprise popularity, it was released as an overlapping single in early June and the video was re-recorded to include clips from the show. "Chasing Cars" was also nominated for 'Best Single' in the 2006 Grammys.

On 30 July 2006, Snow Patrol appeared on the finale of the long-running BBC music show Top of the Pops, performing "Chasing Cars". The band was the last act to ever appear on the show.[45]

Snow Patrol's "Open Your Eyes" appeared on the season 12 finale of ER As well as the pilot episode of The Black Donnellys.

Snow Patrol recorded a live session at Abbey Road Studios for Live from Abbey Road on 4 October 2006. The performance was included on an episode shared with Madeleine Peyroux and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and shown in the UK on Channel 4 and the US on the Sundance Channel.

The band was forced to postpone a majority of the American Eyes Open tour after polyps were discovered on Lightbody's vocal cords, and failed to heal after initial postponement of three dates on the tour. Dates were rescheduled for August and September. The year would continue to be difficult on the band for the U.S. legs of their tours, as they were also forced to cancel two west coast festival appearances in mid-August due to the threat of terrorist attacks on U.S.-bound flights from the UK. Two band members made it to the U.S. while two were stuck in London. Subsequently, they all made it to the lone U.S. tour stop in Boston days later but failed to recover any of their luggage, forcing them to shop for clothes on Newbury St. that afternoon. Their gear arrived hours before show time, just in time for sound check. The band also had to cancel appearances in Germany and France after bassist Paul Wilson injured his left arm and shoulder.

Performing at Muziekcentrum Vredenburg, Utrecht on 11 October 2006.

On 26 November 2006, Eyes Open had become the UK's best-selling album of the year, overtaking previous leader Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not by Arctic Monkeys. Despite very strong sales for Take That's comeback album Beautiful World, Eyes Open marginally earned the title of the UK's best-selling album of 2006, with 1.6 million in sales. The album reached platinum certification in the US as well, selling over 1,000,000 copies, and it maintained a spot in the upper quarter of the Billboard 200 list for over fifteen weeks, on the heels of the popularity of "Chasing Cars". The band also holds the distinction of having one of iTunes' top downloaded albums and songs of 2006. Ahead of the band's February tour, Eyes Open topped the Australian charts some eight months after its release on 22 January 2006. Back home in Ireland, Eyes Open became one of the best selling albums of all time, staying at the top of the charts from the end of 2006 to early–mid 2007, and remaining in the charts to the present.

Snow Patrol appeared as the musical guest on the 17 March 2007 episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. They performed "You're All I Have" and "Chasing Cars". The band toured Japan in April, followed by European festival dates, Mexico, and the US in the summer. They ended their tour in Australia in September 2007.

The band contributed the song "Signal Fire" to the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack, as well as the film. The song was the lead single from the soundtrack and was featured in the credits to the film.

On 7 July 2007, the band performed at the UK leg of Live Earth at Wembley Stadium, London. Shortly after the band's performance, Simpson was arrested at RAF Northolt for missing a court date in Glasgow, having been charged with possession for cocaine.[46][47]

1 September 2007 saw Snow Patrol headlining a "home coming" mini-festival in Lightbody and Jonny Quinn's home town of Bangor, County Down. Around 30,000 people came to see the band.[48][49]

On 25 November 2007, Snow Patrol performed an acoustic session for the charity Mencap, in a small chapel in Islington. They were one of the main bands to take part in the project, called "Little Noise Sessions" which was curated by Jo Whiley.

Chasing Cars was voted the song of the decade on Channel 4's programme 'The Song Of The Decade' which was broadcast on 28 December 2009.

A Hundred Million Suns and Up to Now (2008–2009)

Gary Lightbody stated that recording for the follow-up to Eyes Open was to begin in Autumn 2006, with Jacknife Lee returning a third time for production.[50] Since then the band stated that they wished to take a year off after the back-to-back tours of Final Straw and Eyes Open and intended to emerge at the end of 2008 with their next album. Lightbody is also set to release an album as part of a solo project called "Listen... Tanks!" but a date for this has not yet been publicly announced.

Gary Lightbody and Snow Patrol perform "The Lightning Strike" live in May 2009.

A post, dated 23 May 2008 on the band's official website stated that recording for the next album had been under way for a week; they began on 19 May 2008. The new album, entitled A Hundred Million Suns, was released on 24 October 2008 in Ireland and 27 October in the UK and US. The first single entitled "Take Back the City" was released in Ireland on 10 October 2008. Filming for the music video to "Take Back the City" took place on 11 August 2008 in Central London. The music video was directed by Alex Courtes.

The band kicked off their Taking Back the Cities Tour on 26 October 2008.[51] Singer Miriam Kaufmann tours with the band and sings backing vocals, most notably on "Set the Fire to the Third Bar", which originally featured Martha Wainwright.[52] The 'UK & Ireland Arena tour' ended on 23 March. The final show was played at the Odyssey in Belfast to a 9,000 strong crowd including family and friends of the band, and the Northern Irish football squad. It also reported that the band played to an estimated 200,000 fans during the tour.[53]

The band next visited South Africa to play a couple of dates at the Coca-Cola Zero Festival, supporting Oasis[54] before beginning a European leg of the tour.[55] In June they supported Coldplay for a month on the Viva la Vida Tour,[56] and joined the U2 360° Tour in July/August.

In April 2009, following the conviction of the founders of Swedish file sharing website The Pirate Bay, Lightbody commented in interview that "They shouldn't have been jailed... the punishment doesn't fit the crime."[57] In an interview to Xfm, Lightbody revealed that the band is recording some new songs that are set to release later in 2009. He commented that the band felt the songs act as a "bridge" between A Hundred Million Suns and the next album.[58]

Snow Patrol are set to release the 22nd album in the Late Night Tales series of mix albums by artists, which has been curated by Lightbody and Simpson. The band covered INXS's song, "New Sensation" for the occasion.[59] Lightbody has also spoken of plans to release songs from the Listen... Tanks! project (with Snow Patrol producer Jacknife Lee) and Tired Pony, a country group.[60]

"You know you've made it when you have your own coffee table book."

—Gary Lightbody

The band also released a compilation album featuring tracks from the band's 15 year history,[61] Up to Now, on 9 November 2009. It includes thirty tracks spanning two CDs, of which three are original new songs. "Just Say Yes", a song written by Lightbody and earlier recorded by Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger and X Factor star Diana Vickers, was released as the lead single[61] on 2 November. The album additionally contains past singles, covers and rarities, including songs from the band's side-project The Reindeer Section.[62] A limited edition coffee-table book is also in the works.[63] The band also wishes to make a tour documentary in the future, on the lines of U2's Rattle and Hum.[64]

In January 2010, the band was nominated in three categories in the annual Meteor Awards.[65] The band will also play at the event, scheduled on 19 February 2010 at The RDS.[66]

Fallen Empires (2009–present)

Snow Patrol will enter its "next phase" with their sixth album.[67] The band has taken a new musical direction, and Connolly has advised fans to keep an open mind. The band currently has some unreleased material, which Connolly has described as "very different from each other", but emphasized that they have the lyrics of Lightbody, and strong melodies. He predicts a mixed reaction out of listeners.[68] The album is said to showcase techno music and will be released in late 2011.[34][69] However, Connolly has stated that "Just Say Yes" "isn’t necessarily a hint of where we’re going".[70]

On 12 January 2011, Lightbody launched a blog to give details about the progress of the next release from the band.[71] Initially, the posts included photos and stories from the 2010 tour but in February the first details about new material started to emerge. "We’ve ten songs in progress, some missing choruses or missing verses or missing something as yet undefined. Our goal is twenty songs." Lightbody said on a post dated 4 February.[72]

The first song title to be announced was "Lifning", although the singer admits he is uncertain of the proper spelling since it is an imaginary word that he made up. Other ways of spelling it, according to Lightbody, are "Lifening" and "Life-ning", respectively. The meaning of the word is "to have lightning and light thrust into your life or to simply let them into your life" says Lightbody. The song features the dulcitone played by producer Jacknife Lee and the lead singer himself is seen playing a shruti box on the track.[73] Later in the day of 7 February, the first guest appearance was hinted at. In the post, Lightbody says that a Ladybug visited the studio for a few vocal takes, complimenting him on his Stevie Nicks-like vocal contribution.[74] Exactly who this person is remains unclear as there are several people in the music industry with that moniker. In addition, Lightbody did not state what track the guest vocal was recorded for.

On 2 March, Lightbody revealed the working title of yet another one of the new songs that the band had been working on. At the time, the track was entitled "Unspeakable Things" after being called "Overload" just a couple of days earlier on. This caused the singer to point out that track titles changes as the songs take shape over time.[75] The following week, Lightbody announced that he had finished writing another new song, "The Garden Rules". The attached photograph hints of instruments such as the melodica, celesta and mellotron flute being featured on the track. In addition, he says that the number of vocal takes are kept to a minimum similar to how he recorded the album with his side-project Tired Pony in contrast to previous recording sessions with Snow Patrol.[76]

During the first week of April, Lightbody wrote about a collaboration for the new record together with The L.A. Inner City Mass Choir. The group was discovered by Jacknife Lee after browsing YouTube a couple of weeks prior to the post by Lightbody.[77] A few days later, the singer stated that Jacknife Lee was once again playing the dulcitone, on a track that would remain nameless for the time being. However, later he claims it does in fact have a name but says: "I know it will change because I hate its name. Playing into the night". Whether or not "Playing Into the Night" is the working title or not remains uncertain, though.[78]

A third collaboration would be announced on 12 April when Lightbody said that the band had invited American folk rock artist Lissie to the recording sessions. Reportedly, she provided vocals to the previously mentioned "The Garden Rules" along with songs called "I'll Never Let Go", "Those Distant Bells" "West of Here" and "Fallen Empires". Lightbody particularly praised her for the vocals recorded for "I'll Never Let Go" and described them as similar in style to those of soul and gospel singer Merry Clayton on the track "Gimme Shelter" written by the English rock group The Rolling Stones.[79] Shortly afterwards, the band was said to have left the studio, The Eagle's Watch, in Malibu, California as declared by Lightbody on 17 April 2011. Moreover, he mentioned that the forthcoming album will probably have a Deluxe Edition which will feature a movie shot during the group's stay at the studio among other things.[80]

In May, Lightbody and Connolly were summoned to the studio of Jacknife Lee to supposedly record additional vocals.[81] In late May, Lightbody said of the progress that the album was to be finished "and therefore very likely" to see a release later in the year. He also expressed his content with the result saying "It's different but it's great."[82]

Lightbody mentions in a blog post in late June how Canadian musician Owen Pallett was called in to write string and brass arrangements for approximately 7–8 songs off the new record along with fellow composer Nico Muhly. According to the information given by Lightbody, the two were working with the band at Ocean Way Studios in the Los Angeles area at the beginning of the month.[83]

Snow Patrol released a new single for radio airplay, "Called Out in the Dark" on Thursday 21 July on BBC Radio 1 on Zane Lowe's radio show. According to official sources, the single itself will be released independently and as part of an EP later on and the UK release date is said to be 4 September.[84] More details on the EP were announced on 3 August, when the group's website revealed the artwork and tracklist contents. Along with the new single, the release will also contain three new tracks called "My Brothers", "I'm Ready" and "Fallen Empires", respectively. In addition, it was revealed that the EP is intended to be a digital release limited to the UK and Ireland.[85]

Shortly after the premiere of the new lead single, the quintet's official website confirmed the news that the name of the new album will be Fallen Empires.[86] Lightbody also confirmed in a Dutch radio interview that the album is due in the first weeks of November preceeded by another single before that. He revealed that the band intend to tour the UK and Ireland in January and February 2012 with details on the rest of the European tour to be announced at a later stage.[87]

A video for "Called Out in the Dark" was recorded in the Los Angeles area on 30 July and is based around an idea from Gary Lightbody. He stated in a Tumblr post that Brett Simon is the director of the video and that Noemie Lafrance is in charge of the choreography for it, previously known for her work with singer-songwriter Leslie Feist. Lightbody expresses some anxiety about the fact that he's part of the choreography but admits that "part of the idea is that I’m not supposed to be good at it" and concludes: "If you don’t try new things you fade away and die". [88]

"Fallen Empires" will be released 14 November 2011[89] in the UK.

On 5 September 2011 at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, Lightbody announced that Johnny McDaid had recently joined the band. [90]

The second single to be taken from the album "Fallen Empires", to be released on 13 November 2011, according to the band's website is "This Isn't Everything You Are".[91]

Influence and other ventures

Gary Lightbody at the Houndstooth Pub on 23 September 2009.

The success of Snow Patrol has influenced the thriving Belfast music scene positively. This includes Lightbody, who returned to the city and now lives there. The band's kindness towards local bands, partly by founding Polar Music, and Lightbody being an active part of the Oh Yeah Music Centre has resulted in high optimism in the scene.[92] Musicians like Bono (of U2), Michael Stipe (of R.E.M.), Nikki Sixx (of Mötley Crüe) have also expressed their admiration for Snow Patrol.[93][94][95] Terri Hooley, founder of the Good Vibrations label and a lifelong supporter of local Northern Irish music has expressed pride in bands like Snow Patrol.[96]

Gary Lightbody and Tom Simpson are both fans of the football club Dundee F.C.. In 2008, they met the club's board of directors to find ways to financially help the short-of-cash club.[97] The band also owns a stake in the Houndstooth Pub in New York City.[98]

Snow Patrol have founded Polar Music, a publishing company run through Kobalt Music. The venture is independent from the band's publishing deal with Universal Music. Polar Music will sign artists regardless of their genre, as drummer Jonny Quinn explained: "there is no agenda—if it's good enough and we believe in it 110%, we will sign it." Quinn, and his fellow band members Connolly and Lightbody are acting as A&R.[99] The company's first signing is singer-songwriter Johnny McDaid, previously of the Northern Irish band Vega4.[100] Quinn has said that they wish to sign artists to a one-album deal, and do not want to put undue pressure on the artists with a bigger, multi-year deal.[100] Polar Music had its first chart hit in the first week of October 2009.[101]

In June 2010, the band were commemorated with a Heritage Award by PRS for Music. A plaque was erected on the Duke of York pub in Belfast where the band performed their first gig. The band was the sixth to receive the award, with all the members turning out. They later performed a live set to a small crowd of around 30 people.[102]


Nathan Connolly and Gary Lightbody in 2009 donated plectrums and certificates to the Music Beats Mines project, that aims to clear unexploded mines/landmines from conflict zones. The items were auctioned on eBay.[103][104]

Band members

Current members
  • Gary Lightbody – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1994-present)
  • Jonny Quinn – drums, percussion (1997-present)
  • Nathan Connolly – lead guitar, backing vocals (2002-present)
  • Paul Wilson – bass guitar, backing vocals (2005-present)
  • Tom Simpson – keyboards, samples (2005-present; touring member: 1997–2005)
  • Johnny McDaid – Piano, rhythm guitar, backing vocals(touring member: 2005-present)
Former members
  • Mark McClelland – bass guitar (1994-2005)
  • Michael Morrison – drums (1994-1996)
Touring members
  • Richard Colburn – keyboards, drums, guitars, percussion (1996–1997, 2008–present)[105][106]
  • Iain Archer – guitar, backing vocals, songwriting collaborator (2001–2003),[107] guitar, backing vocals (2004–present)[108][109][110]
  • Ben Dumville – trumpet (2001–present)[109]
  • Colm MacAthlaoich – trumpet (2001–present)[109]
  • Johnny McDaid - guitar, piano and backing vocals (2005-present)
  • Miriam Kaufmann – backing vocals (2006–2007, 2008–present)[109][111]
  • Lisa Hannigan – backing vocals (2007)[109]
  • Graham Hopkins – drums, percussion (February 2007)[112]
  • Troy Stewart – guitar (2008–present)[106]
September 1994 – December 1996
  • Gary Lightbody – lead vocals, guitar
  • Mark McClelland – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Michael Morrison – drums
December 1996–1997
  • Gary Lightbody – lead vocals, guitar
  • Mark McClelland – bass guitar, backing vocals
1997–Spring 2002
  • Gary Lightbody – lead vocals, guitar
  • Mark McClelland – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Jonny Quinn – drums, percussion
Spring 2002 – March 2005
  • Gary Lightbody – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Nathan Connolly – lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Mark McClelland – bass guitar
  • Jonny Quinn – drums, percussion
March 2005–present
  • Gary Lightbody – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Nathan Connolly – lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Paul Wilson – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Jonny Quinn – drums, percussion
  • Tom Simpson – keyboards, samples
September 2011–present
  • Gary Lightbody – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Nathan Connolly – lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Paul Wilson – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Jonny Quinn – drums, percussion
  • Tom Simpson – keyboards, samples
  • Johnny McDaid – piano, rhythm guitar, backing vocals



Year Award Category Result
2004 Mercury Music Prize Album of the Year (Final Straw) Nominated
2005 BRIT Awards Best British Group[113] Nominated
Best British Rock Act[113] Nominated
Best British Album[113] Nominated
2007 Best British Group Nominated
Best British Album Nominated
Best British Single Nominated
1999 Hot Press Awards Phil Lynott Award for Best New Band[114] Won
2005 NME Awards Best British Band[115] Nominated
2005 Ivor Novello Best Album (Final Straw) Won
2007 MTV Europe Music Awards Best Rock/Alternative Act[116] Nominated
2007 Best Headliner[116] Nominated
2004 Q Awards Best Newcomers[117] Nominated
2007 Silver Clef Awards Best British Group[118] Won
UK Festival Awards Most Memorable Moment[119] Nominated
2009 Best Headliner – Radio 1's Big Weekend[120] Nominated
Best Headliner – V Festival[120] Nominated
2004 Meteor Music Awards Best Irish Band[121][122][123] Won
2005 Won
2007 Won
Best Live Performance Won
Best Irish Album (Eyes Open) Nominated
Most Downloaded Irish Song Award Won
2010 Best Irish Band[124] Won
Best Irish Album (Up To Now) Won
Best Irish Live Performance Nominated
2011 Q Awards Q Classic Song Award (Chasing Cars) Won
Other recognitions
  • 2009 – Snow Patrol ranked #22 in The Irish Times' The Best Irish Acts Right Now.[125]
  • 2009 – Snow Patrol ranked #10 in Ulster's Top 10 exports.[126][127]
  • 2009 – Snow Patrol ranked #6 in's Best Selling Artists of the Decade.[128]
  • 2011 – "Run" won 'Best Track of the Noughties' in STV's Scotland's Greatest Album.


Tour Supporting album(s) Start date End date
Final Straw Tour Final Straw 10 August 2003 23 July 2005
Eyes Open Tour Eyes Open 14 February 2006 22 September 2007
Take Back the Cities Tour A Hundred Million Suns 26 October 2008 20 October 2009
Reworked Tour Up to Now 18 November 2009 12 December 2009
Fallen Empires Tour Fallen Empires (album) 20 January 2012 25 January 2012 (more dates tba)


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