lördag 20 januari 2018

Snow Patrol - från Fozzie 10, 2005

 Våren 2003 blev jag tipsad om The Reindeer Section av en kompis. The Reindeer Section är ett skotskt band bestående av 27 mer eller mindre fasta medlemmar, hopsamlade av Gary Lightbody, till vardags sångare och gitarrist i Snow Patrol. De har gjort två skivor, varav den andra, "Son Of Evil Reindeer", var den som jag fastnade för. Det är en fantastiskt vacker och stillsam skiva, och det är Gary Lightbody som sjunger i de flesta låtarna, med en änglalik stämma som hjälpt mig somna många kvällar och tagit mig igenom många jobbiga stunder i livet.
     När jag upptäckte The Reindeer Section kollade jag också upp Snow Patrol, men tyckte inte att de var något speciellt, tills en dag våren 2004 när jag såg en video med dem på tv. Det var första singeln från deras nya, tredje album, "Final Straw", och nu hade de plötsligt hittat något som fastnade hos mig. Skivan blev det enda jag lyssnade på under några månaders tid, och när jag såg att de skulle spela på Hultsfredsfestivalen kontaktade jag deras management för att höra om jag kunde få en intervju. Till min stora lycka blev jag beviljad en intervju med Gary och gitarristen Nathan Connolly, men tyvärr på en tid som jag omöjligt kunde hinna ner till Hultsfred till. Mycket vånda och många mail till promotiontjejen följde, och två dagar före festivalen fick hon loss en tid som funkade!
Jag brukar vara ganska lugn inför intervjuer, men den här gången var jag helt nojig. Tänk om Gary, vars röst jag somnat med månader i sträck, inte var så trevlig som jag hoppats? Tänk om han inte tycker mina frågor är bra? Tänk om jag gör bort mig? Tänk om...?
Jag kom i god tid till intervjun, och trummisen Jonny Quinn och basisten Mark McClelland satt vid ett bord och gjorde en intervju och Gary och Nathan satt vid ett annat och såg väldigt snälla ut. Gary tittade upp och råkade få syn på mig och log till och med lite.
Jag blev lite förvånad när jag såg Gary, för han såg helt annorlunda ut i verkligheten än på bilder och i bandets videor - han såg mycket bättre ut i verkligheten, och den allvarliga killen från videorna syntes inte till alls, tvärtom log han stort mest hela tiden. Han och Nathan var dessutom förvånansvärt långa - de flesta musiker är alltid kortare än man tror.
     När det var min tur kunde jag inte låta bli att börja med att erkänna att jag var "ridiculously excited to meet them", vilket väl förhoppningsvis gjorde dem lite glada, eller så tyckte de bara att jag var konstig, jag vet inte.
     Fast Snow Patrol numera bor i Glasgow kommer de ursprungligen från Nordirland, så både Gary och Nathan pratar med en väldigt charmig irländsk dialekt.
I discovered The Reindeer Section last year, and I got almost addicted to "Son Of Evil Reindeer". I fell asleep to it like every night - not that I fall asleep to your music, but...
Gary: - Oh no, it's okay. It's a good album to fall asleep to, isn't it? There's no real surprises in there that'll wake you up.
Except in the end.
Gary: - Well, yeah. "You Are My Joy" will get you to wake up a little bit. (Nathan giggled) The first album, that was the plan... have you heard the first Reindeer Section album?
Yes, but I don't like it as much though.
Gary: - Yeah, that was the plan for the first album, because I always remembered Mogwai's first album, "Mogwai Young Team", was... you'd fall asleep to the album, and it'd get towards the end and it just goes (made a crashing sound), kind of explodes, and it just wakes you up, so I always wanted an album to do that. Lure you to fall asleep and then... Well yeah. Quite a lot of people that we've met have said that they first heard about Snow Patrol through The Reindeer Section.
How do you think your music has changed since the beginning of Snow Patrol? I think that the earlier material is a bit different.
Gary: - Yeah. I mean, the early material was just a bunch of kids, really, finding their way in the studio, and listened to too much Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr and Sebadoh. Now I think our music taste is a lot more universal, we listen to... everything. So this album has been sort of informed a lot by stuff outside indie rock, you know, our first album is kind of heavily indie rock, this album is a lot broader in scope I think. Still it's pretty  much indie rock, but other stuff that we were listening to in the studio, soul music and funk music and hip hop, Super Furry Animals are inspirational to us you know, because of the way they do it. We're trying to make a record like that. It's really our main inspiration I suppose, trying to make a record to rival with Super Furry Animals. It'll never happen, but we'll keep trying.
I think you're better than them.
Gary: - Oh that's very kind of you, but they're my heroes.
Do you think that your work with The Reindeer Section has inspired you to work differently with Snow Patrol?
Gary: - I think this Snow Patrol album would been a lot softer, a lot more... pastoral, if it hadn't been for The Reindeer Section. It kind of exorcised my Joni Mitchell demons in The Reindeer Section... not just Joni Mitchell, but I listened to a lot of her albums. That's the great thing about music, isn't it, you can go through your whole life and not hear it all - I'd never really heard Joni Mitchell and stuff like Tom Waits even, until that period of my life when somebody introduced me to that. And then that was all I could listen to, and that made me a lot quieter in terms of the stuff I was writing. But then I came back to doing a Snow Patrol album, and I just remember cranking the guitar up and going "Yes, this feels good!". So I guess it made me excited about making rock music again. And everybody else was really excited too. Jonny and Mark both played in The Reindeer Section, and Jonny would use brushes you know, so he was excited to get the big sticks out again. (he smiled)
I read in a review in a Swedish magazine that Snow Patrol is "stadium rock without the big gestures". What do you say about that?
Gary laughed and said: - Yeah, I guess... I don't think it's stadium rock, but I don't think there's too many grand gestures in our music. I talk about simple things, I talk about human relationships and details of those relationships - generally the end of relationships. So yeah, definitely not big ideas, just the things that we all deal with, at least, sorry to say we all have to deal with them, but definitely a few times in our lives.
Yeah, some of the lyrics are a bit tragic...
Gary: - Yeah. Well I guess they're tragic... (he thought for a few seconds) But there is as much hope in the record as there is tragedy.

Jag läste i en annan artikel att min favoritlåt på skivan, "Chocolate", kom till när Gary var på väg hem till sin flickvän efter att ha varit otrogen:
"This is the straw, final straw in the
roof of my mouth as I lie to you
Just because I'm sorry doesn't mean
I didn't enjoy it at the time
You're the only thing that I love
it scares me more every day
On my knees I think clearer"
Just de textraderna är mina favoriter på skivan, jag vet inte riktigt varför, men när jag hörde hur de kom till känns de ännu mer gripande.

I noticed that the titles are not always directly connected to the lyrics...
Gary: - No, it's because I write... I generally try to name a song with one word that I think describes it, rather than just calling "Chocolate" "Final Straw".
Yes, I thought it was called that at first... But why "Chocolate"?
Gary: - Because it's something that I shouldn't be eating, but I inevitably do. So that is a micro cosmos of the lyrics in that song.
"How To Be Dead" - I'm curious of that title?
Gary: - It's when you wish the ground would swallow you up in the middle of an argument. You'd rather be anywhere else.
"Spitting Games"?
Gary: - That's about first love. It's about the way people describe to you how... simple things like "Where do babies come from?", or your idea of how you kiss someone, when you're six years old.
Nathan: - Playground love.
Gary: - When your friends are telling you when you're six years old how you kiss a girl and they're like "You have to spit on her", or something like that (Nathan and I started laughing and Gary smiled). It's horrible, but it's... it's a juvenile thing that you know, kids get confused and they mix it up, and I guess the way I thought about things when I was six, I was trying to think about things... A lot of the lyrics in that song are sort of quite twee and very very simple, but it's because I'm writing like I'm six years old and I'm writing a song. A love song to someone that doesn't love me back.
Nathan: - I think that's probably one of the most obvious lyrics.
     Gary såg mig i ögonen hela tiden när han pratade med mig, med fast blick och blå ögon. Och när spänningen och oron inför intervjun släppte i och med att Gary och Nathan var så trevliga kom jag på mig själv med att sitta och tänka oerhört fåniga och brudiga saker som ifall jag skulle kunna tänka mig att flytta till Skottland för att bli ihop med Gary... Jag erkänner det för att jag en tid senare såg en filmad intervju med Gary och Nathan, där Gary lite skämtsamt beklagade sig över att de två ser ut som bröder, men att Nathan är den snyggare av dem, så på deras konserter står alla tjejer framför Nathan och ser drömmande ut, medan Gary själv bara får en bunt killar som kollar vad han använder för distpedaler.
I read in your biography that I got from the record company that the lyrics were inspired by the Iraqi war.
- No, that was... (Gary sighed)
I didn't really find that, except maybe in "Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking".
Gary: - Yes! That was... ehm... What I actually said, it just got misquoted, they asked me about the record, and I said that at the time we were making it the Iraqi war was what was happening, it was on the tv every day, so we'd go in to the studio and turn the tv on and it would be on, and you couldn't help but be moved by this... travesty. So you kind of felt... it just made me feel very small and very insignificant, and I guess it had a lot to do with the mood of the record, but I didn't write a lot of songs about it, because I'm not really very good at writing songs about politics or the bigger ideas. But in "Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking" I refer to it but it has more to do with my own fear of how the world is at the moment.
Do you take all inspiration from your own life otherwise, or is it from your friends' lives as well, or...?
Gary: -Yeah, a lot of the songs are written about things that other people have told me as well, it's not just about me and a girl.
Good for you! (because the lyrics are, as we said, a bit tragic)
Gary: - Yeah, good for me yeah... Although  always the songs that are about me and a girl are always my fault, so I never write that it's the girl's fault, because it's never her fault. I've never been mistreated by a girl, it's always me being an idiot, you know, so...
But isn't it in "How To Be Dead" where you say "you can't put all the blame on me"? Or is that from her point of view?
Gary: - Well, you see, it works... there's three sort of... verses, the first one is me, and the second one is her, and the third one is me again. And it's just... it's all the excuses that men give - I give, he's given probably (nodded towards Nathan), we all... we try to wiggle out of things, trying to get out of our blame, and... you know, the women in our lives have to suffer it. And they've heard these excuses from other men too. It's a song about clichés, and about how ridiculous they sound when you really think about them. So I guess I was just taking the piss out of myself.
Speaking about the lyrics, when I listen to "Son Of Evil Reindeer"... I lost my older sister to cancer a few years ago, and when I listen to "Cold Water" it sounds like you've lost someone, but is it someone who died, or...?
Gary: - My gran. She'd just passed away. The album is dedicated to her, Rebecca Wray. "Cold Water" is written about her. I'd never... I'd never lost anybody before that I remember, my three other grandparents died when I was very young, so I don't really remember, but she died sort of recently, so this was the first experience... I guess... you know I was 26 when she died, so I guess I've been pretty lucky, a lot of people go through... (he nodded at me), so I needed to write about it.
It felt good to listen to it. I really like the lyrics.
Gary: - Well, that's... good.
In the video for "Spitting Games" you're wearing a t-shirt that says "Stop Wars". Do you feel that it's important for musicians and other famous people to express political opinions publicly (Gary laughed a little) when you have the voice to say it?
Gary: - Yes. I think... just maybe not within... I wouldn't do it within my songs, but I think that if you feel strongly about something then you should. "Stop wars" is a very simple thing, do you know what I mean? (Nathan laughed a little)
It's a really cool t-shirt, it looks like it says "Star Wars", but when you look closer...
- It's made by a Belfast t-shirt company - I'm sure some of us are wearing some of their stuff now - called Apache Clothing. If any of your readers want to buy there's a link through our website, so you can go and buy those t-shirts, the "Stop Wars" ones and many other ones besides that are very funny.
In the sleeve notes it says "Mums and dads of the world be patient with your children" - why did you write that?
- Well, we've been very lucky with our parents, they've been wonderfully supportive. I mean there was nine years that we've been together before this year, of not really selling any records and most parents would say "Get a proper job". Our parents were very supportive of us - they probably did think that we should get a proper job, but they didn't push us too hard to give up. So we were lucky, and not everybody is that lucky, not everybody even has two parents, one parent, you know. So I guess we just felt like... it's a compliment to our parents more than anything, sort of acknowledging their support.
     Sedan den här intervjun gjordes har "Final Straw" sålt i över en miljon exemplar, och Snow Patrol har spelat förband till U2 i USA, så saker har äntligen lossnat för dem. Tyvärr har också Mark McClelland, som var med och startade bandet, slutat, och ersatts av Paul Wilson. Även Tom Simpson, som i flera år spelat keyboards med bandet live, har blivit en fast medlem.
     Snow Patrol hette från början Polar Bear, men tvingades byta namn för att ett annat band redan hette det.
The cover of the album then, the people there, what are they supposed to be?
Gary: - Ehm, I guess we... normally, the other two albums that we've made - well, The Reindeer Section albums as well, I've done the artwork. Well... actually, the second Snow Patrol was a picture my girlfriend took - ex girlfriend (smiled). So I guess this time around we just were so busy that we didn't have time to actually do the album cover ourselves, so we were just looking at all this artwork. And when we came across the guy and the girl we just really liked the image. You know, it's a nice image, it says a lot about the record, the record's about relationships you know, it's just...
Nathan: - It just looked right, yeah.
Gary: - And the picture behind it, originally the... (the promotion girl came up to us and said that our time was up, but Gary continued:) originally for the first 5 000 copies in the UK the guy and the girl was printed on the front, on the actual cd cover, so you could interchange the pictures, so you could make your own like four or five different album covers.
The pictures are very beautiful.
Gary: - Yeah, I really like them, and I really like the space. People are like "Why didn't you put the lyrics on there?" and I'm just like "I really like the space". It's just...
Nathan: - We all like different ones.
And you can find the lyrics on the website.
Gary: - Yeah, I mean that's the thing.
Where does the name Snow Patrol come from? I read that you were called Polar Bear before, but why did you want a cold name?
Gary: - That's the thing, we just called ourselves Polar Bear because polar bears are cool. You know, they're massive, cuddly white animals that...
Nathan: - ... are killers.
Gary: - ... will kill you. You know. We like the difference, the dicotomy I suppose. And then Snow Patrol came along by accident, have you heard the story? A friend of mine came up to me in the street and asked "How's your band going, how's Snow Patrol?" and we were called Polar Bear at the time, so I was sort of "Eehm, we're not called Snow Patrol", and then we had to change our name, because there was another band called Polar Bear - that was like a week later, so it was sent down from somewhere.
     En förklaring som jag läst på ett annat ställe kan också vara denna, som Gary sagt:
- My mother said there was a white Christmas on my first Christmas and I don't think there has been one there since.
The Reindeer Section then, why that name?
- The Reindeer Section was something I just made up off the top of my head, I wish there was a story for it, but I don't know what a reindeer section is. I guess I just liked the idea, it sounds like a group, it sounds like a gang.
Will there be another album with The Reindeer Section?
Gary said without a moment's hesitation: - Yes. When, I don't know. But whenever we can all get together. We talked about it, we do a gig every year at Christmas time, for charity, so we're still playing together, and... hopefully after this Christmas time gig we'll say that we're all available in January and we can make another record, but...
Then a question that I always ask because of the name of the fanzine: which is your favourite Muppet?
Gary: - It's got to be Animal, really.
Nathan: - What do you call the wee Mexican guy with the wee eyes and the big hair? (Gary laughed) He's really really tiny and goes "mi mi mi mi", I can't remember his name. He's my favourite.
Nathan illustrerade en scen ur Mupparna med figuren han pratade om, men jag fattade aldrig vilken han menade.
Gary: - You need a video camera just to get that.
And you said Animal?
Gary: - Yeah, he's the most iconic I suppose. Probably the one everybody says.
And then a kind of stupid question, but what question would you most of all like to answer?
Gary: - Ehmm...
Nathan: - What is the square root of 252, eehmm... (laughter)
Gary: - So... that's a really good question, and I should be able to think of a really good question, but I'd never be able to answer this... What's it like winning your first Oscar? (laughter) That's the question.
Nathan: - How does it feel to have five Grammys? (laughter)
Yeah, I'd say wouldn't you rather win a Grammy?
Gary: - No, an Oscar. For best... hair. (laughed) No, I don't want to be an actor. I don't know, I can't think of anything that I want that I don't already have; we've made an album and we're on tour, we're touring the world, that's the only thing I've ever wanted to do. So I don't ask for anything else.
     Detta var deras sista intervjuer före soundchecken, och promotiontjejen var på dem om att de var tvungna att gå, men alla fyra ställde ändå snällt upp sig för att bli fotade och småpratade lite mer.
     Spelningen var en succé, och Gary kunde inte låta bli att le precis hela tiden, vilket var väldigt charmerande. Jag hade hoppats på att träffa dem senare under kvällen på backstageområdet, och det gjorde jag faktiskt också. Gary hade stannat på hotellet, men det föll sig så att jag gick på Pixies spelning med Nathan, Mark och Jonny, och visade dem bästa stället att se scenen på utan att behöva trängas. Så min dag som började med så mycket oro slutade med att jag stod och tittade på en bunt legender med ett av mina favoritband. Att göra ett fanzine är världens bästa grej.


/Sara

Recension från Fozzie nr. 8, juni 2003:
The Reindeer Section
Son Of Evil Reindeer
Bright Star Recordings -02

Det var länge sedan jag fastnade så hårt för en skiva som jag gjort för "Son Of Evil Reindeer"!. Musiken är mjuk, varm, harmonisk och vacker, och tog mig igenom många kvällar i min lyhörda tredjehandslägenhet i Malmö där jag hade alltför festsugna och högljudda grannar.
The Reindeer Section är ett kollektiv av skotska musiker med Gary Lightbody från Snow Patrol som drivande kraft och sångare i de flesta låtarna. Hans röst är oerhört harmonisk och lugnande, och orden han sjunger kan appliceras på mitt liv på så många olika plan att jag ibland uppfattar texterna som uppmuntrande och andra gånger som frustrerande.
Flöjt, piano, stråkar, blås, steel guitar och moog dekorerar musiken och gör att den känns som en härligt mjuk, tröstande filt att krypa ihop under när jag inte mår helt bra. Det här är en helt underbar skiva.
"I just want peace. I just want peace and quiet in my head. I can't find it in the bars or in my bed"
("Where I Fall")


Recension från Fozzie nr. 9, juni 2004:
Snow Patrol
Final Straw
Polydor -04

Gary Lightbody har den absolut vackraste rösten jag vet. Jag hörde honom första gången i The Reindeer Section, men lärde mig snart att hans huvudsakliga band var Snow Patrol och att The Reindeer Section var ett sidoprojekt som han dragit ihop med sisådär 26 andra skotska musiker. Jag kollade upp Snow Patrol, och tyckte inte att det var sådär fasligt bra, men så en dag såg jag en video på MTV till en väldigt vacker låt som visade sig vara en ny singel med Snow Patrol ("Run"). Nu visade det sig att jag tycker att Snow Patrols nya album "Final Straw" är fantastiskt mycket bättre än deras tidigare material. I The Reindeer Section frossar Lightbody i stillsamhet, medan Snow Patrols tidigare album innehåller ganska mycket stök, och på den här nya skivan förenar bandet de båda sidorna och får ihop det till en väldigt bra enhet.
Inledande "How To Be Dead" är lugn och vacker, men spåret byts helt i de två följande låtarna, där basen distas och effekter ibland läggs på Lightbodys röst (vilket nästan borde vara straffbart). Tempot hålls uppe ett tag, men det blir lite mindre hårt, lite poppigare ett tag, innan det blir stillsammare igen på mitten, men farten ökas igen framemot slutet av skivan.
Tre singlar hann tydligen redan släppas i England innan skivan knappt kommit ut i Sverige, och jag blir alltid lika nöjd när det visar sig att jag har samma smak som band jag gillar (eller deras skivbolagsfolk, vad vet jag egentligen?): de tre singlarna är mina favoritlåtar på skivan:"Run", "Spitting Games" och "Chocolate". Framför allt "Chocolate" (som jag först trodde hette "Final Straw", för det sjunger han i refrängen) som har ett bestämt trumkomp och, hur illa det än låter, en gitarr som ibland kommer in och låter stadiumrockig, men där Lightbody sjunger som en ängel om saker som "you're the only thing that I love / it scares me more every day / on my knees I think clearer".
Helt klart ett nytt favoritband.