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Snow Patrol’s Empires

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The road to success has been a rather long slope for Northern Irish alt-rockers Snow Patrol, but in 2012, they can look back and say they’ve come a long way. A new band record was set last year with Snow Patrol’s sixth studio album, Fallen Empires, debuting at #5 on the Billboard charts, followed by an international tour. But like many rising acts, it wasn’t always this way. Snow Patrol survived two name changes (“Shrug” and “Polar Bear” were already taken), local gigs and jobs at strip clubs, pubs and bars called Lucifer’s Mill and Nice N Sleazy, and the departure of a drummer (though the band did have better luck with drummers than Spinal Tap), before even getting signed. And once they had made it onto Scottish independent label Jeepster, home of Belle & Sebastian, they still didn’t see the progress they’d hoped for. With the freedom of an independent label came lax promotional efforts and the label dropped the band after the second album, which sold many critics but not enough copies to make a great profit. Since the band wasn’t selling enough records, lead singer Gary Lightbody had to sell his record collection to pay rent, and the band got by sleeping on fans’ floors and getting into nightclubs by pretending to be members of Belle & Sebastian. Though slightly disheartened, the band stuck with it, encouraged by manager Danny McIntosh and his gold colored splitter bus that the boys traveled in. During the band mates’ transition phase, they grabbed an acoustic guitar and wrote “Run,” which would be released on the ironically titled 2004 album Final Straw, their first success with Polydor Records. From there, “Chasing Cars” on 2006’s Eyes Open became a Grammy-nominated hit favorite and the band continued to lace more of their songs with pop hooks and radio-friendly melodies. On the band’s most recent Fallen Empires, walls of guitars are softened with simple synths and electro beats, but earnest lyrics and rock integrity remains.

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