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Snow Patrol is a Derry,Northern Ireland based alternative rock band. Formed in Scotland by vocalist/guitarist Gary Lightbody and former bassist/keyboardist Mark McClelland, they achieved sudden success with the Run single after years of obscurity in much the same way as Pulp. Originally highly lo-fi and guitar-driven, the band generally combine alternative rock with Coldplay style indie to create tasteful tales of relationships good and bad.
In mid 1997, they released a three-track EP, Starfighter Pilot, on the Electric Honey label. Richard Colburn, from Glaswegian indie band Belle and Sebastian, played drums on this record, and Stuart Murdoch, from the same band, sang on one of the b-sides. Due to legal threats from an American band with the same name (led by Eric Avery, the former bassist of Jane's Addiction), they became "Snow Patrol". There is a "thank you" to Gary's English tutor Peter Easingwood in the sleeve notes of the original 'Starfighter Pilot'.
At this point, Jonny Quinn, from Northern Ireland, joined as permanent drummer. With him rounding out the lineup, the band released their next EP Little Hide on Jeepster Records while still living in Dundee (its cover was a blurred photo of a football (soccer) crowd watching Dundee United at Tannadice Park). A follow-up single "One Hundred Things You Should Have Done in Bed" was a minor independent chart hit. Both of these early singles were heavily promoted by Jeepster - with videos included as computer files on the CD singles, and Snow Patrol starting to appear on television. Their first MTV interview was in 1998, and they briefly appeared on a Channel Four documentary about Jeepster Records (which concentrated mostly on Belle and Sebastian) that same year.
Two albums on Jeepster followed: Songs For Polarbears in 1998 (including a slightly remixed version of their debut single Starfighter Pilot) and When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up in 2001 (both recorded while the band lived in Glasgow). Also in 2001, Gary collected a group of Scottish independent musicians from such acts as Mogwai together to perform as a "supergroup", "The Reindeer Section", who have so far released two CD albums. The band also provided guitars and vocals on a single by Cut La Roc, and the track Post Punk Progession became a regular feature of Snow Patrol sets of this era.
Despite warm critical approval, "Songs For Polarbears" sold very little, as did its followup, "When It's All Over We Still Have To Clear Up", which softened those grunge tendencies with forays into post-rock and commercial indie music. Despite radio-friendly singles like "One Night Is Not Enough" and "Ask Me How I Am", the significant lack of acclaim following this album spurred Jeepster to drop Snow Patrol.
It wasn't until after being dropped by Jeepster that guitarist Nathan Connolly joined, and the band signed to the mainstream Polydor label.
Initially, their third album "Final Straw", produced by Jacknife Lee and possibly their most radio-friendly release to date, looked like being a similar flop, originally charting outside the top 150 in the album chart in August 2003. Iain Archer, a touring guitarist and songwriting collaborator from 2001-2003, won an Ivor Novello award for his contribution to the Final Straw album.
However, in November, mainstream radio started to play the single "Run", and it was released in January 2004, reaching number 5 in the chart, and the re-release of the album reached number 3 at first, before eventually peaking at number 1 in the charts. Further singles, "Chocolate","Spitting Games" and "How To Be Dead", all charted inside the top 40.
The release of Final Straw in the United States in 2004 saw the album notching up well in excess of a quarter of a million sales and becoming the 26th most popular British album of that year. Their single "Run" was the 22nd most played British song on American airwaves, having been played just under 28,000 times on US radio stations in that same year.
On March 16, 2005, McClelland was fired from the band, with Gary stating 'a whole new set of new and unexpected pressures… have unfortunately taken their toll on working relationships within the band, and it was felt the band could not move forward with Mark as a member.' Former Terra Diablo member Paul Wilson replaced him on bass. In April 2005, Snow Patrol declared longtime touring keyboardist Tom Simpson an official member of the band.
In the midst of touring on U2's Vertigo Tour in Europe in the summer of 2005 as an opening act, the band played in London at Live 8. After finishing their opening act duties and extensive 2-year tour of Final Straw in late July, the band took a few weeks off and began writing and recording songs for a new album. Snow Patrol's new version of John Lennon's "Isolation" was released on December 10, 2005 as part of Make Some Noise, Amnesty International's campaign about music with a message.
The band completed recording Eyes Open in December 2005, with Jacknife Lee returning for production, and this album was released in the UK on May 1, 2006, with the first UK single "You're All I Have" having been released on April 24, 2006. The album was released in North America on May 9. While "Hands Open" was the first American single, "Chasing Cars" pushed its way onto the download and pop charts after it was heard in the second season finale of the television show Grey's Anatomy on May 15, 2006. Due to the song's surprise popularity, it was released as an overlapping single in early June and the video was re-recorded to include clips from the show. Also, it was featured in another television show "One Tree Hill" during its season finale. Another of their songs, "Open Your Eyes", was heard on the season finale of another medical program, ER, on May 18, 2006, The 4400, and the season premiere of Grey's Anatomy on September 28, 2006.
The band was forced to postpone a majority of the American Eyes Open tour after polyps were discovered on Lightbody's vocal cords, and failed to heal after initial postponement of three dates on the tour. Dates were rescheduled for September. The year would continue to be difficult on the band for the U.S. legs of their tours, as they were also forced to cancel two west coast festival appearances in mid-August due to the threat of terrorist attacks on U.S.-bound flights from the UK. Two band members made it to the U.S. while two were stuck in London. Sequentially, they all made it to the lone U.S. tour stop in Boston days later but failed to recover any of their luggage, forcing them to shop for clothes on Newbury St. that afternoon. Their gear arrived hours before showtime, just in time for sound check.
Earlier on in the year at the Pukkelpop festival in Hasselt/Kewit Belgium, in which security problems regarding the bands equipment at Heathrow airport meant they lost all their instruments in customs, but managed to bring two of their acoustic guitars with them. This saw two members of the band perform a short acoustic set, with Gary Lightbody saying, "Next time we'll bring our equipment on the plane, even if it kills us!"
The band also had to cancel appearances in Germany and France after bassist Paul Wilson injured his left arm and shoulder.
As of 26 November 2006, Eyes Open was the UK's best-selling album of the year, selling 1.2 million copies. On the contrary, as of 27 December 2006, the album, or any released singles, have yet to be designated with either a platinum or gold certification in the U.S. This comes as quite a surprise, considering the consistantly strong sales of the album (maintaining a spot in the upper quarter of the Billboard 200 list for over 15 weeks), the popularity of the single "Chasing Cars", and the standing as one of iTunes' top downloaded albums and songs of the year.
Now 2007, Snow Patrol have released their next single, 'Signal Fire' as a part of the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack. The song can be heard in the trailer and rolling over the credits. A full set of festival dates have been announced and the band are heading back into the studio at the end of the year.
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