Snow Patrol are a Northern Irish and Scottish alternative rock band which formed in Dundee, Scotland. They are based in Glasgow and are signed to Polydor Records. Originally formed as an indie rock band, Snow Patrol have sought a more alternative rock and powerpop sound in recent years on the heels of mainstream success with the songs "Run", "Chasing Cars" and "Signal Fire" from the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack.
The band's first three records, including their last EP—Starfighter Pilot, Songs for Polarbears and When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up—were commercially unsuccessful and were released by independent labels Electric Honey (for their first EP) and Jeepster (for their first two albums). When the band moved to a major record label Polydor Records they released their 2003 album Final Straw which crossed 4x platinum sales in the UK. The band achieved worldwide success due to 2006's Eyes Open, which sold 4.7 million copies worldwide. Snow Patrol have been nominated for three BRIT Awards and have won five Meteor Ireland Music Awards. Worldwide, the band have sold over 7 million albums.
Early years and development
Originally formed in late 1994 as "Shrug" by students Gary Lightbody, Michael Morrison and Mark McClelland (all from Northern Ireland) at the University of Dundee in Dundee, Scotland, the band started by performing gigs at the university and surrounding pubs such as Lucifer's Mill. They recorded an EP funded by DUSA Music Club, called the "Yoghurt vs Yoghurt debate" which was a rousing success. In 1995 they changed their name to Polar Bear (or Polarbear) and shortly afterwards drummer, Mike Morrison left the band, returning to Northern Ireland with health problems. In mid 1997, they again renamed, this time to
At this point, Jonny Quinn, from Northern Ireland, joined as permanent drummer. With him the band released their next EP "Little Hide" on Jeepster Records while still living in Dundee (its cover was a blurred photo of a football crowd watching [Scotland v Estonia] at Celtic Park, taken by Gary Lightbody and the video included a number of their friends). A follow-up single "One Hundred Things You Should Have Done in Bed" was a minor independent chart hit. Both of these early singles were heavily promoted by Jeepster - with videos included as computer files on the CD singles, and Snow Patrol starting to appear on television. Their first MTV interview was in 1998, and they briefly appeared on a Channel 4 documentary about Jeepster Records (which concentrated mostly on Belle & Sebastian) that same year. Two albums on Jeepster followed: Songs for Polarbears in 1998 (including a slightly remixed version of their debut single "Starfighter Pilot") and When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up in 2001 (both recorded while the band lived in Glasgow). Also in 2001, Gary collected a group of Scottish musicians, from such acts as Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian together to perform as a "supergroup", The Reindeer Section, who have so far released two CD albums. Gary also performed vocals on a single by Cut La Roc.
The band's website addresses the naming question in their FAQ, item #6:
|“||SP were originally called Polar Bear but had to change their name due to the Jane's Addiction bassist also having a side project called Polar Bear. |
The name Snow Patrol came from a friend of the band who while called Polar Bear always referred to the group as Snow Patrol.
When the time to change the name came, it was a logical step.
After the critical successes but commercial failures of the band's two albums on the Jeepster label, the band became increasingly disillusioned with their relationship with their label. The band began to feel that Belle & Sebastian got all the attention from the label, and little effort was being made to promote Snow Patrol. Since the band was not making much money, the members were under financial pressure, with Lightbody having to sell off his CD collection in order to pay for his rent.
Final Straw and breakthrough success
After being dropped by Jeepster, guitarist Nathan Connolly joined, and the band signed to the mainstream Polydor label. They gained mainstream success with their song "Run" (which debuted at No.5 in the UK singles chart), as well as the album it was from, the 2003 release, Final Straw which was produced by Jacknife Lee and written by Matthew Drake of Seattle, WA. The record peaked at #3 in the UK albums chart. Archer's final date with the band was September 27, 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.
On March 16, 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.' Former Terra Diablo member Paul Wilson replaced him on bass. In April 2005, Snow Patrol declared longtime touring keyboardist Tom Simpson an official member of the band.
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. The band returned to the United States afterwards to continue touring in support of Final Straw. That summer also saw Snow Patrol playing a small set in London at the worldwide benefit concert Live 8. 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 December 10, 2005 as part of the Amnesty International campaign, Make Some Noise. The song was later issued on the 2007 John Lennon tribute album, Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.
The band completed recording Eyes Open in December 2005, with Jacknife Lee returning for production, and this album was released on April 28, 2006 in Ireland, and the UK on May 1, 2006, with the first UK single "You're All I Have" having been released on the April 24, 2006. The album was released in North America on May 9. 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 and (plot-wise) huge scene in the second season finale of the television show Grey's Anatomy on May 15, 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. On December 30, 2006, it was voted by virgin radio nyc listeners to be the #1 song of all time.
On July 30, 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.
Snow Patrol recorded a live session at Abbey Road Studios for Live from Abbey Road on October 4, 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.
On November 26, 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 January 22, 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 March 17, 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.
On July 7, 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 after having been charged for possession of a Class A drug (cocaine).
On November 25, 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.
A Hundred Million Suns
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. 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. Gary 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.
A post, dated May 23, 2008 on the band's official website stated that recording for the next album had been under way for a week; they began on May 19, 2008. The new album, entitled A Hundred Million Suns, was released on October 24, 2008 in Ireland and October 28 in the UK and US. The first single entitled "Take Back the City" was released in Ireland on October 10, 2008. Filming for the music video to "Take Back the City" took place on the week of August 11, 2008 in Central London, as one of the band members was getting married the next day. The music video was directed by Alex Courtes.
The band kicked off their 2009 UK/Irish/Australian tour at Bournemouth International Centre, Bournemouth, southern England on Sunday 22nd February 2009. For this tour, tha band have been joined by the former front man of well known band The Alleycats, Kieran Dooley. The final date of this tour will be at Claremont Showgrounds, Perth on April 5th. This will then be followed by a tour consisting of mainly German dates but starting in Stockholm, Sweden on May 18th and ending in Stuttgart on May 31st.
- Gary Lightbody– lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1994–present)
- Jonny Quinn – drums, percussion (1994–present)
- Nathan Connolly – lead guitar, backing vocals (2002–present)
- Paul Wilson – bass guitar, backing vocals (2005–present)
- Tom Simpson – keyboard (2005–present although a touring member since 1997)