"I have a severe problem with the past," Gary Lightbody said.
The Snow Patrol frontman — a history major and self-proclaimed "hopeless romantic" — has some baggage when it comes to relationships.
"I've always ruined the situation [with], 'It's not you, it's me.' My guilt overwhelms me," he said. "That's why I write songs about it. But these songs are not written apologies, because most of the girls I split up with, I am still friends with."
However, for a band whose name suggests enforcement officers of dismal climates — both emotional and environmental, evidently — Snow Patrol has gotten a lot of sunshine in their lives of late, particularly with the top-five U.K. success of their latest album, Final Straw, and its nomination for the Shortlist Prize (see "Franz Ferdinand, Killers, Wilco, Ghostface Make First Round Of Shortlist Prize").
The 7-year-old band has come a long way in the last few months. "We were a straight line on the heart monitor for many years," Lightbody said. Final Straw is Snow Patrol's first album in four years, and the band was without a record deal for a spell. In the interim, Lightbody turned his attention to forming Scottish supergroup the Reindeer Section with members of Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian. That group released two albums (2001's Y'all Get Scared Now, Ya Hear! and 2002's Son of Evil Reindeer), but Lightbody longed for the Patrol, and the band got a second wind early in 2003.
"We started on a new label [Interscope] and nothing was really expected of us. We were very much the underdogs. We wanted to prove that we could do it."
Now, the so-called overnight sensations are recognized on the street by rabid fans, have become press darlings in the U.K. and mainstays at every major British music festival. Thanks to their stirring single "Run," the Glaswegian quartet has even been dubbed "the new Coldplay."
"I don't think there's anything wrong with the old one," Lightbody said modestly. "There's certainly a lot of worse bands that [we] could be compared to."
Despite these and other recent accomplishments — Final Straw was also nominated for Britain's prestigious Mercury Music Prize — the Scottish rockers are still relatively unknown in the U.S. That could all change with the impending launch of their first substantial North American tour, which kicks off on September 3 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The 29-date trek hits both coasts and Canada before concluding on October 16 at the Voodoo Music Experience festival in New Orleans.
Although "Run" landed in the top five of the British charts, the group's initial American single was the deceptively dark "Spitting Games."
"It's about first love, but twisted," Lightbody said of the song, which depicts a schoolboy breaking into the house of the girl he's crushed-out over. "I thought it would be weird — a little kid breaks into a house and just leaves a note.
We've all done mad things for love. I've still not broken into a girl's house, but I'm not that romantic."
While Final Straw is more polished, mature and radio-ready than anything Snow Patrol have ever released, the record still maintains a wistful and melancholy take on relationships. And the songs are connecting with audiences, particularly "Run." "It's the ultimate love song," Lightbody said. "I've never written anything more passionate or more from the heart. People write me e-mails every day about the song that make me cry."
Whether or not the songs evoke similar reactions from U.S. fans, Snow Patrol is primed to give it their best shot. "We've been given a second chance [and] we're not going to squander it," Lightbody said.
Snow Patrol's tour dates, according to the band's Web site.
- 9/3 - Fort Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room
- 9/4 - Saint Petersburg, FL @ State Theatre
- 9/7 - Atlanta, GA @ Cotton Club
- 9/8 - Norfolk, VA @ The NorVa
- 9/10 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
- 9/11 - Providence, RI @ The Call
- 9/13 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
- 9/14 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
- 9/17 - Toronto, ON @ Opera House
- 9/18 - Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews Hall
- 9/19 - Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
- 9/20 - Chicago, IL @ Metro/ Smart Bar
- 9/22 - Minneapolis, MN @ Quest Club
- 9/23 - Lawrence, KS @ The Bottleneck
- 9/24 - Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theatre
- 9/28 - Vancouver, BC @ Richard's On Richards
- 9/29 - Seattle, WA @ Showbox
- 9/30 - Portland, OR @ Aladdin Theater
- 10/2 - San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
- 10/3 - Sacramento, CA @ Harlow's
- 10/5 - Los Angeles, CA @ Avalon
- 10/6 - San Diego, CA @ Canes
- 10/8 - Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre
- 10/9 - Tucson, AZ @ Plush
- 10/11 - Austin, TX @ La Zona Rosa
- 10/12 - Houston, TX @ Meridian
- 10/13 - Dallas, TX @ Gypsy Tea Room
- 10/15 - Birmingham, AL @ Zydeco
- 10/16 - New Orleans, LA @ Voodoo Music Experience