MOST of us will never know what it’s like be on stage, in front of an ecstatic sea of fans singing our own emotions back to us.
Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody has been through this more times than he can probably remember, but it never gets old.
‘It feels like everybody in the space is connected together and that’s a beautiful side-effect of music, that it can create communion,’ he says.
‘When you see it happen, when thousands of people before your eyes are singing the same song, it creates some extraordinary feelings.
‘To have written a song, like Run for example, in quite a bad flat in the middle of winter, and for that to become a moment of mass singing-along, it’s the best feeling I know. I get to experience it regularly and you feel completely and utterly blessed. That’s a word that’s been ruined but there’s no other word for it.’
It’s been a remarkable 25 years for Gary, from Northern Ireland, and his band. They got together while at Dundee University (originally calling themselves Shrug) and put out six albums, including the hugely successful Eyes Open, Final Straw and A Hundred Million Suns.
They became a global phenomenon, with their anthemic indie sounds drawing vast, swaying crowds at festivals, but booze, drugs and mental health challenges began to take their toll and Gary quit drinking in 2016. He speaks openly about his experiences, dealt with so candidly on the band’s 2018 album, Wildness.
‘I was really just talking about what was going on inside my own head with this album,’ Gary says. ‘I didn’t want to shy away from any of it when we talked about it in interviews because there’s no point in writing a deeply personal record and then saying, “No, I don’t want to talk about it”.
‘Over the general course of life, talking about things that are painful, that have wounded you or prevented you from being your full self, is probably the best course of action and has certainly helped me a lot in my life.’
He feels his new music is as uplifting as it is open. ‘There’s a lot more to this record than depression, sobriety or dementia, the slightly more deeper, darker personal things,’ he says. ‘This is a record of hope and of joy and resolution. I wanted to be active in the recovery within the album, much as I have been within my own life.’
And has a different way of living affected his songwriting? ‘Oh, it’s night and day,’ he says. ‘That first year of sobriety was something I had to get through and I didn’t think of creating anything through that period. When the impulses of drowning the demons in booze or whatever had subsided, I was able to let them rise up and face them, to be able to see them and not shove them away — to stare at them.’
With a hectic touring schedule ahead, that fresh energy and clarity of purpose will come in very handy.
■ Snow Patrol headline Latitude on July 20 with Underworld and Tom Grennan, latitudefestival.com, and also play Glastonbury and TRNSMT in Glasgow, snowpatrol.com