Out of the box
SNOW Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody should not be left alone in a recording studio.
‘‘ Things tend to catch fire when I touch them,’’ the Northern Irishman admits.
‘‘ And not in a Jimi Hendrix kind of a way, more in an ‘ I accidentally exploded the studio kind of way’.’’
With this in mind, there’s a piece of equipment Snow Patrol will bring to Australia for two acoustic shows in September/ October that Lightbody should keep his distance from.
‘‘ Johnny McDaid [ keyboardist and guitarist] has built a machine and built it from scratch, as in from blueprints to building it with his own two hands that is going to make this show something extraordinary,’’ Lightbody says.
‘‘ It’s a box with an orchestra in it. I’m not allowed to touch it. The box is off- limits to me. I have to wear gloves at all times, even when holding the box by the handle.’’
The shows will see a stripped- down Snow Patrol, just Lightbody, McDaid, guitarist Nathan Connolly and the orchestra- in- abox deliver hits such as Chasing Cars, Run and Spitting Games in a unique format.
Their first tour here in almost four years, it comes off the band’s own bat, after last year’s album Fallen Empires failed to reach far beyond their dedicated fanbase.
‘‘ This album didn’t really connect with Australia, not yet anyway, so it was on my demanding that we go, and it’s on our own dime,’’ Lightbody says.
‘‘ It’s gonna be a very different show than anybody else in the world is getting. We’re thinking about it in a completely new way. So you’re getting something unique.
‘‘ Yes, I apologise, you’re only getting two shows. But those two shows will be probably the most different shows we’ve done in 10 years. You’re getting more than most, but by no means more than you deserve.’’
When Snow Patrol released Fallen Empires, they already had a sequel album in the can. But with time, the plan to release that long- player has been superseded.
‘‘ The songs we’re writing now are light years better than those,’’ Lightbody says.
‘‘ We might sneak those out on the internet, but unfortunately those guys won’t make it [ on the next album].
‘‘ Those poor little songs, they had notes from their mums, they didn’t want to attend.’’
Lightbody suffered writer’s block while creating Fallen Empires, but says he now can’t stop songs from gushing out.
That includes writing with other artists, something he’s rarely done.
‘‘ A lot of people have asked over the years would I write songs for them and sometimes I say that I will and just hope that they won’t get back to me, because I never really wanted to, but I didn’t want to be impolite.
‘‘ But recently, a few people have chased me down. And certain people I’ve bitten their hand off when they asked me to write some songs with them, because they’re extraordinary songwriters that I respect and love.’’
The most un- Lightbody of the songs, he says, is one written for a very popular female pop star.
Songwriting with others is not the only new thing Lightbody is trying out.
A couple of weeks ago, he tweeted a picture of himself in medieval costume on the set of cult sex- and- violence- filled TV drama Game Of Thrones.
‘‘ I’m friends with the creators so I asked if I could be an extra.
‘‘ But instead, this part came up. I can’t say much about it, but really, it’s blink and you’ll miss it. If I’m on the screen for more than 20 seconds I’ll be happy. It was amazing to be on set and see behind the scenes.
‘‘ And I’m very proud it’s made in Northern Ireland; our country has never looked better on screen.’’