For Johnny McDaid, playing a gig at home is “the absolute reason for it all”. The songwriter and musician is preparing to return home for a number of shows in Belfast tonight (Friday) and tomorrow with Snow Patrol, before embarking on a UK and European tour. The band recently supported Ed Sheeran on his US stadium tour, and were on the road for nearly four months.
Johnny said Snow Patrol’s new album, Wildness, had been very well received. Local fans will get the chance to hear them played live at the SSE Arena in Belfast over the newt two nights.
“It’s been going great,” he said. “What we noticed on the tour with Ed Sheeran was that the new songs went down as well as the old songs in general. “When you’re going to play stadiums, especially when you’re playing before Ed, it’s a bit of an odd space to be in.
“But when we play the new songs it’s really exciting and the reaction from it has been fantastic. “We’ve been doing our own shows as well on the side. We did an acoustic three-piece show in Mexico a few weeks ago, and the crowd were singing every word from the new record, and that’s really thrilling when you hear that.
“We’re just so excited to get back and play at home. Everything has pointed to us playing at home before Christmas.
“For us, playing at home is the absolute reason for it all. We talk about it all the time, but there’s nowhere like the crowds are like they are at home.”
Wildness was released in May and the band did an intimate Irish tour in support of the release, including a sold- out date in the Millennium Forum.
Johnny said the crowd in Londonderry was “amazing”, and coming home to play was “always really special.”
“I always think about the idea that you can take the man from Derry, but Derry never leaves the man, and that’s so true for me,” he said.
“Wherever I am in the world, there really is a part of home with me. I often think about home when I’m away from it. “Coming back to Derry, and Gary’s family is from Derry too, it really did feel like a real sense of coming back and coming home.
“The crowd was amazing there too. It was the first show on our Irish tour as a warm up, and it was just amazing. I wish there were more spaces in Derry we could play because I just love playing there so much.
“I really hope Derry fans make it to the Belfast gigs, we’ll make sure to be flying the Derry flag high.”
While at home in May, Johnny was also honoured with a Mayoral Reception in the Guildhall by then Mayor, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh. Joined by friends and family, he said it was “such an honour.”
He continued: “Any time where someone from home is seen by people from home, it’s just a really special honour, but it’s not just about me; it’s the amazing people I work with. “I couldn’t be out here without them, the band and the people I make records with. I really do see it as a shared thing. “It was lovely to bring Court (partner Courteney Cox) up there and my family up to the Mayor’s Parlour in the Guildhall.”
Johnny said that following the band’s recent US tour, there was “no down time” ahead of the shows in Ulster. “It was straight into rehearsals,” he said. “It’s a completely different show. “We will be putting it all together, it’s going to be a really big set. “Hopefully, it will be an unforgettable experience – we have put every single bit of ourselves into it. “It’s important for us to say that it is the people back home who go to the gigs who make it for us – without them there is no show.
“When we’re there playing the songs we’re very aware of it, and we hold that in our hearts and mind; it is about all of us together. “Snow Patrol has always been about that, it’s been about community and the union of us and the people coming to the shows, it’s not a band separately, it’s us together.”
Johnny said the band and many musicians had had to adapt to technological changes over the past few decades, but he stressed his belief that it was important not to “be at the behest of it.” “Gary (Lightbody) says the band is coming up on 25 years old this year, so we’re nearly old enough to rent a car in America. “Technology has changed massively, and music has too. The way we listen to music, the way we interact with music has changed completely. It’s changed since we put our last record out. “It’s important to stay true to what you do in spite of the way music changes.
“Attention spans are much shorter now than they used to be; people tend to listen to things as a very quick experience and move on. “When I was growing up in Derry, I would save up for a record, and queue up in a store in the Richmond Centre to buy what I’d been saving for that month, so it was a really different experience. “Now you can listen to a record on your phone. “It’s really important that we still deliver and we invest in ourselves to make the record feel like a record.
“We can’t change the way people listen to music, but what we can do is make the music we make and they can choose to listen to it.” The band get a chance to relax over the festive season, and Johnny said he would be “trying to catch up on sleep and working through jet lag” with family in Scotland. “We have about a week off. As long as there’s a fire and a blanket, I’ll be grand.”
Read the article at newsletter.co.uk.