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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Ice cool band warms hearts
As Snow Patrol returned to Belfast for a triumphant homecoming gig, BBC News Online's Bryce McGarel talked to the band about the road to chart success and hopes of making it big in the US.

It has been a long time since the music industry has been so excited about a band hailing from Northern Ireland.

Snow Patrol
Snow Patrol played a triumphant homecoming gig in Belfast
After a whirlwind ride up the album and singles charts this year, Snow Patrol's success looks set to continue in 2004.

The band played in its native capital last Friday for the first time since its single Run went to number five in the charts and its album Final Straw reached number three.

They showed an 800 strong capacity crowd at the Mandela Hall in Belfast just why they are being hailed by many critics as the next Coldplay.

Snow Patrol founding members, 27-year-old frontman Gary Lightbody, from Bangor in County Down, and bassist Mark McClelland, 27, from Belfast, met while studying at Dundee University in 1994.

They were later joined by drummer Jonny Quinn, 32, and guitarist Nathan Connolly, 24, both of whom also come from the province's capital city.

Despite living in Glasgow for the past five years and having formed in Dundee, McClelland told BBC News Online that the band still and always will class Northern Ireland as home.

"It is the Irish way isn't it? You grow up and leave to seek your fortune and then you come back," he said.

"That's what all my friends have done the only difference is that we are in a band."

Snow Patrol signed to indie label Jeepster after their move to Glasgow and released two critically acclaimed albums during their time with them.

But it was not until they were snapped up by Black Lion, a subsidiary of music giants Polydor, that the general music public really sat up and took notice of what the band had to offer.

Mark McClelland, Snow Patrol bassist
We would have been delighted if Run had just made it into the top 40, getting to number five in the charts came out of nowhere and just blew us away
Mark McClelland
Snow Patrol
Despite signing to such a major label, McClelland insists they have not been put under pressure to make their material more mainstream.

"We were very much a low budget investment for Polydor, we did our album for very little money and we originally had a very small budget.

"Once we delivered the album everything started to change, but they have not really pushed us, nor has it been a money-led thing.

"Polydor still have a very indie attitude, they didn't try to lead us anywhere or get involved with the making of the album whatsoever.

"They came down once with a crate of beer and went away.

"We get all the good points of being with a major label and miss out on the bad ones."

Since their recent success, the band's feet have hardly touched the ground.

They are currently coming towards the end of a UK wide sell-out tour and have just returned from playing one of the largest music festivals in the United States.

"We are just back from playing the South By Southwest festival in Texas.

"It was an absolutely fantastic experience and I had the time of my life.

Snow Patrol
The band has just returned from the South By Southwest festival in Texas
"There were thousands of bands there and tens of thousands of people there to watch them.

"We were lucky enough to be playing at one of the best venues at the festival and about 2,000 people turned up to see us play.

"Two thousand people was a good size of crowd when you consider it was the first time we have played in Texas, and also the fact that there was another 50 bands on at the same time that people could have went to see instead."

This hectic schedule looks unlikely to subside.

Word of mouth

With Final Straw due to be released in the US at the end of March, the band are jetting off on a 17 date US tour on 1 April, just two weeks before the UK release of the album's second single Chocolate.

"Judging by the response we got while we were out in Texas, we are relatively optimistic that it (the album) will do well.

"We have played eight gigs over there already and all of them have sold-out, just mostly through word of mouth.

"Chocolate is going to be released on 12 April and the BBC has already picked up on it so that is great news for us.

"Hopefully we can have the same success with it as we had with Run.

"We would have been delighted if Run had just made it into the top 40, getting to number five in the charts came out of nowhere and just blew us away.

"Now our expectations are up, I suppose everyone's expectations are.

"The idea is to sell more albums and get more people coming to our gigs, but it will be a success wherever it comes in."

The city of a thousand bands
17 Mar 04  |  Entertainment


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