Back in April, when Northern Ireland's Snow Patrol first started writing material for their forthcoming LP, A Hundred Million Suns, frontman Gary Lightbody said he decided pretty early on that he didn't want to write another dour breakup record.
He was through with moping, through with the introspective reflection that follows a relationship's end, and tired of trying to make sense of it all through his cheerless lyrics, as he had on 2003's Final Straw and 2006's Eyes Open. Instead, Lightbody wanted to write a record about love but not have it come across as a eulogy.
"It's different from the other records in that it's based around a relationship that's working rather than one that's falling apart," Lightbody told MTV News, adding that aside from a few one-off shows, the band has no plans to tour the States until early next year. "I wanted to make a record about love that was much more real than just saying, 'I'm happy.' I wanted to make a record that reflected on world situations within the context of seeing it through someone you love's eyes, and what that person means to you, despite how confused or frightened you may be. There's darkness in there, of course, but there's real, proper, functioning love too.
"I wanted to celebrate something extraordinary that happened in my life, and I didn't want to mope about the end of it," Lightbody said, referencing a relationship he'd had that went sour — the inspiration for his lyrics. "I wanted to remember the great bits of it, and I wanted to share them with everybody, because they were just an amazing part of my life, and I didn't see a point in dwelling on what brought it to an end. So on this record, I'm not talking about my sadness — I'm talking about my happiness."
It's possible Snow Patrol fans won't even recognize the band when A Hundred Million Suns hits stores October 28. According to Lightbody, the LP is a considerable departure for the band on several levels — for starters, the band was able to experiment more on this effort, working once again with producer Garrett "Jacknife" Lee (Bloc Party, U2).
"I don't know what we'd do without him, to be honest," Lightbody said. "He's really just come into his own. He's one of the best — if not the best — rock producers in the world right now, and he's a maverick genius. When people hear this record ... it's such a leap, sonically. [Lee] has changed the sound of the band into something dramatically more convincing and exciting. Each song is different from the next. I mean, it still sounds like one band, but each song is very different, and yet, it's all still very cohesive."
Before entering the studio to start tracking the effort, Lightbody said that some of the band's members actually took lessons to improve their playing. "We really had to step up a gear to meet the ambition that we had," he said. "We're all reasonably good musicians. I just think that, between the five of us, we make an awesome noise. We fit. We wanted to do something extraordinary this time, and we really needed to shape up to do it."
Lightbody is well aware that, by now, there may be a few perceptions people have about his band and what it's capable of. But those perceptions could be shattered with A Hundred Million Suns, so long as everyone keeps an open mind.
"I want everyone to give it a chance," he implored. "Some people may have written us off already because of various big singles we've had, and that's all they've heard, so they think they've got the measure of us. But I challenge them to listen to this record and say that it's like anything we've done before."