Snow Patrol to release Eyes Open
Since we last caught up with UK rock sensations Snow Patrol, much has changed. For one, the band holed themselves up in a cottage-turned studio right the shores of Ireland (think: crashing waves, pastoral bliss and the lingering threat of falling into the sea) to create the follow up to 2004’s wildly successful Final Straw, the hypnotic, beautiful and sure to be equally massive Eyes Open, which is due out in America on May 9th on A&M/ Interscope Records.
Produced by longtime friend/studio impresario Jacknife Lee, Eyes Open is every bit a huge rock record and one that is teeming with future classics and fan favorites. Grounded by singer/chief songwriter Gary Lightbody’s bold and poignant lyrics and melodious arrangements, the album marks a new era for the band on many fronts.
Artist: Snow Patrol
Title: Eyes Open
Release date: 05/9/06
Single: Hands Open
Buy at: Amazon
Throughout Eyes Open’s eleven songs, Lightbody and his band mates channel thunder and sunshine, hate and love to create their most introspective and hard hitting creation to date. Don’t fret about Eyes Open being all about the impending doom of falling into the raging sea, however. The band have included more than a few gleaming rock songs including the driving “You’re All I Have” and the track that Lightbody cites as his most “pure and open love song” to date, “Chasing Cars”, to round things out and give listeners a total experience.
To help realize his musical ambitions of making a “proper front to back album,” Lightbody recruited Big Star and REM’s touring keyboardist, Ken Stringfellow and (get this!), a choir of elite Celtic musicians including Eugene Kelly and Charlie Clarke to add their talents to Eyes Open. And—just for good measure—he got Martha Wainwright to add her hypnotic vocals to the majestic album track “Set The Fire To The Third Bar”.
Although it’s just the beginning of what is sure to be a flood of critical praise, the UK press is already gushing over Eyes Open. The music bible Q Magazine has already raved that Snow Patrol “have taken a huge leap forwards” and are “on their way to becoming essential” in their four star review of the album in their May issue.
But what’s in store for the US, you ask? Fans lucky enough to catch Snow Patrol’s sold-out performances at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin and select venues across the country this past March received a taste of what’s to come—but starting May 23rd, the rest of the US and Canada will have their turn to experience the band’s mesmerizing live show.
Armed with an arsenal of brand-new material and the now-classic songs that made them on of rock’s most acclaimed acts, the new Snow Patrol is ready to take on America the only way they know how—one amazing song at a time.
"There are swaggering bands, bands who are in your face. And then there are bands who get hold of you somewhere else. I think it’s a heart thing, an intimacy thing. Like you know them and they know you. I think we are one of those bands."
So says Snow Patrol singer and chief songwriter Gary Lightbody. And all the proof you’ll need is Snow Patrol’s new album "Eyes Open”, a collection of songs which more than makes good on the promise of it’s predecessor, 2004’s two million selling Final Straw.
Recorded during a tumultuous and tempestuous 2005, "Eyes Open” is the work of a band who have scaled the heights supporting U2 through Europe, appearing at Live 8 in both Hyde Park and Scotland but somehow stuck to their core values: beautiful powerful songs underscored by some of the most poignant and telling lyrics in rock.
"It’s been an amazing couple of years. But when it came to writing the new album we were quite monastic. It was a question of "We’ve had our fun. None of that counts now. Don’t look back admiringly at your own footprints. It’s all lost unless this next step is truly exceptional."
And so in February 2005, Snow Patrol convened in Dingle on the west coast of Ireland. Drummer Jonny Quinn knew the area well and convinced the band the remote cottage once used by Kate Bush would best channel the Snow Patrol spirit. Lightbody and producer Garret ‘Jacknife’ Lee arrived with three songs in the making. Everything else was crafted there, on the edge of a precipice. "I read meaning into everything." Says Lightbody. "And yes, the studio was on a cliff edge with the sea crashing just beneath."
Snow Patrol have been up against it before. It’s two years now since their unforgettable anthem of love and longing "Run" was released, reaching number five in the UK charts and propelling "Final Straw" to number three. After ten years together it was the culmination of years of faith and hard work. "I defy any band not to be a bit shell shocked." Says guitarist Nathan Connolly. "The world decides they like you and suddenly your heroes are in the audience. Michael Stipe was very nice to us at the Isle Of Wight festival. But we have our own checks and balances. We know when we’re at our best". "We’re quite hard on ourselves." adds Lightbody. "Snow Patrol wouldn’t be what it is if we didn’t have that inner core of self-criticism and without wanting to sound like some kind of self-flagellating monk, a truthfulness and an honesty."
Lightbody and drummer Jonny Quinn are from Belfast and it's environs but met at Dundee University in 1994. In 1997 they released an EP as Polar Bear on Electric Honey records in Glasgow. They were then picked up by Jeepster records, changed their name to Snow Patrol and released two albums – 1998’s "Songs For Polar Bears" and 2001’s "When It's All Over We Still Have To Clear Up". In 2003 they signed to Polydor/Fiction Records and began work on “Final Straw” with Garret "Jacknife" Lee, honing their distinctive and evocative sound.
"Once we’d found him we really couldn’t consider anyone else. He’s like a band member. He knows what we can do and he won’t let us go to bed or crack open a beer until we’ve done it." Lee returned to produce "Eyes Open”. The first thing he did was sit down with Lightbody and apply a rigorous critical eye to the demos accumulated over more than two years. The exponential leap in the Snow Patrol’s ideas and sound was soon evident.
The album’s driving opener "You’re All I Have” thrums with bold power. Then there is the stunning guest vocal of Martha Wainright on "Set The Fire To The Third Bar”. Lightbody wrote the song towards the end of the album sessions and thought it would fit Wainright’s voice perfectly. By chance she was touring Ireland at the time. "I’m not a great believer in fate." Says Lightbody. "But when someone called to say "She’s here, in this country and she wants to sing it, that was definitely "a moment”.
Listen too for the choir of Celtic indie elite (which includes Eugene Kelly, Charlie Clarke, Jenny Reeve and Iain Archer), who appear on four tracks and the keyboard contributions of Posies /Big Star and REM live player Ken Stringfellow.
The hymn-like electronica of the album’s closing track "Finish Line” is another departure but it’s on the stunning "Chasing Cars” that the album’s inner spirit resides. "That’s the most pure and open love song I’ve ever written." Says Lightbody.
What you hear on "Eyes Open” is the sound of a band playing at the height of their powers. Hardly surprising since the band have spent the best part of the last two and a half years on the road. But also, they have added a new dimension in two new members. In February 2005 bassist Mark McClelland left the band. Multi-instrumentalist Paul Wilson, a long time friend and regular member of their live line-up, took his place. "In terms of songwriting he’s like having a spare brain." laughs Lightbody. "You think 'Why can't we do that?”, and then Paul can. He's given this album something extra." And completing the new five-piece line up is Tom Simpson. His keyboard and programming skills have been complimenting the band on the road for some time and now a permanent member, his addition in the studio adds yet another element to “Eyes Open”.
"Eyes Open” is Snow Patrol's post card from the cliff edge. It’s going to be hard to ignore these songs in 2006.
The album ‘Eyes Open’ is released on May 9th.
Eyes Open Tracklisting
1. You’re All I Have
2. Hands Open
3. Chasing Cars
4. Shut Your Eyes
5. Beginning To Get To Me
6. You Could Be Happy
7. Make This Go On Forever
8. Set The Fire To The Third Bar featuring Martha Wainwright
10. Open Your Eyes
11. Finish Line
"Eyes Open" by Snow Patrol - release date: 05/9/06..