Snow Patrol

  • Scottish-Irish rock band formed in 1994 from Dundee Scotland. The founding members were Gary Lightbody (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards), Mark McClelland (bass, keyboards) and Michael Morrison (drums). Morrison was replaced on drums by Jonny Quinn in 1997, and McClelland was replaced by Paul Wilson in 2005. Nathan Connolly joined on lead guitar and backing vocals in 2002, and Tom Simpson was added as keyboardist, rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist in 2005 (and was subsequently replaced by Johnny McDaid in 2011). Lightbody is the lyricist, while all members contribute to songwriting.
  • Lightbody, McClelland and Morrison were schoolmates at the University of Dundee, and they formed a band called Shrug. They performed on campus and at neighboring pubs, and in 1995 they released an EP on cassette titled The Yogurt vs Yoghurt Debate. The following year, they changed their name to Polarbear, as they had heard that there were bands in North America using the Shrug name. Morrison left after suffering a breakdown and he returned to his home in Northern Ireland. Lightbody knew Quinn from secondary school, and Quinn was called to join the band as drummer. An student-run indie label agreed to release their next EP in 1997, titled Starfighter Pilot. Soon after its release, the band changed its name again to Snow Patrol, to avoid conflict with another American band named Polar Bear.
  • Later in 1997, a London-based indie label signed them, giving them the freedom to record whatever they wanted. The following year, they released their debut studio album, Songs For Polarbears. It was praised by critics, but without promotion from their record company, it did not sell. Their 2001 follow-up album, When It’s All Over We Still Have To Clear Up, faced a similar fate.
  • They worked harder and toured more, even though they had no money, often sleeping on the floors of their fans. Their label dropped them, and other major labels showed interest, but their lack of money and direction prevented a deal. They wrote songs and performed at small clubs – their low point was when they performed in front of 18 people at a strip club.
  • In 2002, they found a new manager, and they recruited Connolly to join the group. A former college friend who had connections in the music industry connected them with a label, who signed them after listening to their demos. In the summer of 2003, their Final Straw album was released, and it was their breakthrough. Though it sounded similar to their earlier work – not particularly radio-friendly – it reached #3 on the UK album chart, and ultimately was certified 6x platinum in England, and it also sold well in the U.S. Their biggest hit was Run, which peaked at #5 in the UK and at #15 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.
  • After touring to support their Final Straw album, they began to write for a new album. During this time, McClelland left the band due to conflicts within the group. He was quickly replaced by Wilson, and Simpson was brought on as a full-time member after supporting the band during concert tours. Now a 5-man band, they released Eyes Open in 2006. It was the best selling album of the year in the UK, and ultimately it was the 15th-best selling record of the 00s decade. It was certified 8x platinum in the UK and it achieved platinum status in the U.S., largely due to their hit Chasing Cars. The single peaked at #5 on the Hot 100, and it was #1 on three other Billboard charts. Its popularity was boosted when it was used in the season finale of year two of the television show Grey’s Anatomy. It held the distinction of being the most played song on UK radio from 2000 to 2019.
  • In 2007, they contributed the song Signal Fire to the soundtrack for the film Spider-Man 3. It reached #4 in the UK and #65 on the Hot 100. The following year, they released their next album, A Hundred Million Suns. It sold well in the UK and the US, though the singles from the album did not chart in the U.S., and only Take Back the City cracked the top 10 in the UK. During the 10s, they released two studio albums – Fallen Empires and Wildness. The former featured a new direction for the band, as they dabbled in electronica in their indie rock sound, while the latter was a return to the familiar sound of the band. Both were moderately successful in the UK, but they only managed to produce one hit – Called Out In the Dark reached #11 in the UK and #5 on the Adult Alternative Chart in the U.S.
  • Snow Patrol released three EPs in 2019 and 2020, and they resumed touring post-COVID in the UK and US during the back half of 2021. Chasing Cars is a cool song – I like it, very indie-sounding. Check out the video.

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