Gary Lightbody

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Gary Lightbody
Garylightbody berlin2010c.jpg
Gary Lightbody at Tempodrom (Berlin, Germany) in 2010
Background information
Born (1976-06-15) 15 June 1976 (age 38)
Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland
Genres Alternative rock, power pop, indie rock
Occupations Singer, guitarist, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals, keyboards, glockenspiel
Years active 1994–present
Labels R
Associated acts Snow Patrol, The Reindeer Section, The Cake Sale, Listen... Tanks!, Tired Pony, Taylor Swift

Gary Lightbody (born 15 June 1976)[1] is a Northern Irish multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter best known as the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the alternative rock band Snow Patrol.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland, to Jack and Lynne (née Wray) Lightbody, on 15 June 1976,[2] Jack Lightbody has been an independent business owner and has roots in Rosemount, Derry.[3] Gary Lightbody has one sister, Sarah, and attended Rockport School and Campbell College.[4][5]

In 1994, Lightbody left home for Scotland to study English literature and English language at the University of Dundee.[6][7]

Career[edit]

Snow Patrol[edit]

Lightbody formed a band with Mark McClelland and drummer Michael Morrison in 1994, called Shrug. Morrison left the band later, and the band were forced to change the name to Polarbear, as another band had claimed the name.[8] In the band's first seven years of existence, they added drummer Jonny Quinn, released two albums (Songs for Polarbears, and When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up), and toured with bands such as Levellers, Ash and Travis. The band stayed in Glasgow during the recording of the first two albums. Lightbody used to hold a job at the Nice n Sleazy's Bar in Sauchiehall Street.[1][9] Today, Lightbody owns a small place in Glasgow and says he will never leave the country behind, though he resides in Belfast. He feels an attachment to the place, as it gave him his first taste of success.[10]

In the early days, Lightbody used to drink very heavily, and in his words, was "irrational, erratic, neurotic".[11] He had become frustrated by Snow Patrol's lack of financial success and felt lost and aimless. He started cursing at the audience and demolishing the band's equipment. He found himself breaking guitars they could not afford. This phase ran for two years. He later gave up drinking and now does it "for fun" and credits his band mates for the turnaround.[12] The song "Disaster Button" (A Hundred Million Suns) deals with this topic. Though a musician, he cannot read music and has said that he "guesses" his way through chords.[13] He has a baritone vocal range.[14][15]

DJing[edit]

When at the University of Dundee, Lightbody met Nick DeCosemo, a fellow student, and the two became friends. DeCosemo also moved in Lightbody's Springfield apartment when he moved out of his parents' house. Nick had formed a club night called The Spaceship at the Tay Hotel. Along with Lightbody, friends Roy Kerr, Tom Simpson, and Anu Pillai also used to DJ there. They mixed up various styles of music as house, rock, and hip hop. They gained a loyal following and socialised together for about two years.[16][17][18]

Lightbody later co-wrote "What Are You Waiting For" on the album Strangest Things, with Anu Pillai for Freeform Five.[16][19] "What Are You Waiting For" was written before Snow Patrol released Final Straw, during a time when Lightbody was staying over at the band's place for a few days. Pillai had to literally drag a hungover Lightbody to the studio. Once there, however, Gary would come through for them.[18]

Lightbody has filled in for DJ Zane Lowe on his BBC radio show on one occasion during the 2007 takeovers. He was subsequently voted the best fill-in DJ amongst them by the listeners.[20] He has compiled two DJ mix albums, one in The Trip series: The Trip: Created by Snow Patrol, and another with bandmate Tom Simpson, called Late Night Tales: Snow Patrol on the Late Night Tales series.

Other projects[edit]

In addition to his work with Snow Patrol and DJing, Gary Lightbody has contributed to other projects and works.

Writing[edit]

Lightbody writes as essayist articles or columns in variously music magazines and newspapers like Q magazine[21] and previously wrote for The Irish Times music section as guest-editor. As an impassioned music fan and DJ, he recommends in his blogs or essays albums and artists of different and wide-ranging genres of music.

In May 2009, Lightbody commenced writing his music column, Gary Lightbody's Band of the Week, in the magazine Q The Music.com.[22]

In 2011, he wrote as an essayist for The Huffington Post.

Other musical projects[edit]

Lightbody performing live at Vega in Copenhagen in 2006

As a songwriter/bandleader, he has written songs and lyrics for a wide variety of artists and genres.

In 2000, he formed the Scottish supergroup The Reindeer Section, comprising 47 musicians from 20 different bands, including members of bands like Belle & Sebastian, Mogwai, Idlewild, Teenage Fanclub, Arab Strap and other musicians.[23] The group released Y'All Get Scared Now, Ya Hear! in 2001 and Son of Evil Reindeer in 2002.

2000–2002
  • In addition to work on Snow Patrol and side-project material, Lightbody has also lent his voice to the band Mogwai (one track on Rock Action).
  • In 2001, he contributed furthermore British breakbeat/electronica musician Cut La Roc's song Fallen.
2005–2006
  • In 2005, he was included in another musical collective, The Cake Sale, formed by Brian Crosby to raise funds and awareness for Ireland's Make Trade Fair campaign. He partnered with Lisa Hannigan to perform "Some Surprise", a song written by Bell X1's Paul Noonan. The song reached No. 5 on Irish charts as a radio–single release.
  • He contributed vocals to The Freelance Hellraisers Waiting for Clearance debut album in 2006 and for UK producer Kidda's debut album Going Up.[24]
2007–2008
  • As songwriter for the track "Just Say Yes" for Nicole Scherzinger's debut solo album Her Name Is Nicole but due to the album being shelved the single was re-recorded by Pussycat Dolls and remains unreleased by Scherzinger. In 2009 Gary Lightbody announced in an interview that Snow Patrol would be releasing "Just Say Yes" as the first single from their Up to Now compilation record.[25]
  • In 2007, he lent his voice to British house musician and DJ Cut La Roc's track Mishka on his album Larger Than Life which is yet to be released.[26]
Lightbody in 2008, Bloomsbury Theatre in London
2008–2009
  • In 2009, he announced that he had begun work on two solo side projects, a country group Tired Pony and an avant-garde group with Snow Patrol producer Jacknife Lee: Listen... Tanks!.[27][28]
  • August/September 2009: Gary Lightbody joined with bandmates Johnny Quinn and Nathan Connolly to form Polar Music, a publishing music company "run by artists for artists" in co-operation with Universal Music Group and which will be administered by Kobalt Music in London. Polar Music's debut signing is artist Johnny McDaid from Northern Ireland who is currently writing with German Electronica/Trance DJ Paul van Dyk for an album due in 2010.[29]
2010
2012
2013
  • Along with Johnny McDaid, performs at the Derry/Londonderry City of Culture Sons and Daughters concert, plays a three song acoustic set singing "Run", "Just Say Yes" (the festival's anthem) and "Chasing Cars".
  • Lightbody, Nathan Connoly and Johnny McDaid play at the Comic Relief 'Funny for Money' show and perform Lifening.
  • Forms "Gary Lightbody and the Assembly" at Stormont for TEDx, records a song, and speaks for TEDx.
  • Appears in a cameo in the Game of Thrones episode "Walk of Punishment"[32][33]
  • Appeared on The X Factor UK Season 10 in a duet with Taylor Swift. They sung The Last Time to promote it as a UK single on November 3, 2013.

Musicianship[edit]

Influences[edit]

Growing up, Lightbody listened to artists like Super Furry Animals, Quincy Jones, Kool & the Gang, and Michael Jackson. He subsequently got into hard rock bands AC/DC and KISS as a teen, and then alternative acts like Sebadoh, Mudhoney, Pixies and Pavement.[34]

As a boy, he dreamed of becoming "the biggest rock star on the planet" like Bono, but he was never "cool".[13]

Songwriting[edit]

Lightbody started writing songs at the age of 15, in a little room under the kitchen of the family's house. He had few guitar lessons where he learnt the basics of the instrument but did not continue them, as he felt that one should not know any instrument "inside-out". He preferred to invent rather than use a formula. Today, he is not too fond of his earliest songs and thinks they "sucked".[citation needed] His songwriting style is mostly simple and basic, and he acknowledges that, saying he "[never] advanced past rudimentary". He feels the best way to write an honest song is to be simple, and that trying to complicate matters distorts the intended message. He believes the band has always tried to keep things as "simple and pure" as possible and has written from the heart. One of Lightbody's major inspirations to begin writing was notable Irish poet Seamus Heaney; which is alluded to on the B-side track on Snow Patrol's The Planets Bend Between Us single, named 'Reading Heaney To Me'. It also refers extensively to Heaney's poems throughout the lyrics.

Lightbody's lyrics typically deal with the topic of love. Although he considers himself a political person and has tried writing songs with such themes, he eventually abandoned his efforts as he found all of them awkward.[35] Lightbody has said that all of the songs from the first two albums; Songs for Polarbears and When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up were written from personal experience.[36] His lyrics often criticise himself or are self-deprecatory. He has cited "Chocolate" as an example, which he wrote after cheating on his girlfriend. He also considers writing a sort of "therapy" for himself.[35]

Lightbody's songwriting has earned him much praise. In October 2009, he revealed that a certain "public figure", whom he wanted to remain nameless, told him that the band had written songs that were standards in today's world, and that Snow Patrol songs had become a part of the public consciousness. He compared their work to that of artists like Frank Sinatra and The Beatles. Lightbody realises this and cites performances of their songs on reality TV shows as an example.[13]

Views on music industry[edit]

Lightbody has held the view that Snow Patrol may have had an easier time succeeding in the music industry than a band forming at the present time and attempting to become successful, given the changed state of the music industry, specifically how music is obtained by consumers. He questions the public's motive to buy the songs which they have already listened to, and blames Myspace for it.[citation needed]

Of Snow Patrol, Lightbody has said that all albums they managed to sell in the early days were from touring, as there were no pirated copies of their music available then. He believes if the current state of the industry continues, it would become impossible for bands starting out to become full-time.[37] Despite this, he observes that the band might not have survived if they had been successful early in their career, as they would have subsequently taken that success for granted.[38]

Personal life[edit]

Lightbody is known to keep his personal life private.

Lightbody is passionate about football (soccer) and has been known to support both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland national football teams.[39][40] This is supported by the song "Lifening", in which he sings the lyrics "Ireland in the World Cup, either North or South".[41]

He is a fan of the X-Men, particularly Wolverine, and owns a stack of comics. He bought several comics as a kid and has some that he has never opened, hoping they would become rare collectibles someday; in a later interview, he light-heartedly mentioned that they could earn him a small pension. He considers himself a "comics freak".[42]

Despite having written several romantic songs, Lightbody has been reported as having had trouble talking to women.[43] Lightbody has been in many doomed relationships, and he blames their failure on only himself, considering himself "rubbish with women". He attributes the failure partly to him "never being in the same place for very long", and admits that at times he's been hopelessly in love.[13]

Philanthropy[edit]

Lightbody has been involved in numerous causes, mostly related to music and football. He is currently on the board of directors of the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Northern Ireland, a project set up to give young artists a place where they can share ideas and kick-start their music careers, as often is the trend of talent leaving the country from lack of appraisal. He supported young bands from Northern Ireland and involved them as support bands to shows of Snow Patrol's UK & Ireland Arena Tour of February–March 2009.

Lightbody is one of the supporting voices for the growing music-scene in his hometown Belfast in Northern Ireland and once stated in an interview to have grown up as an "Indie rock kid" inspired to become a musician through influences of artists and acts such as Kurt Cobain, Super Furry Animals, and Sebadoh.[44]

Lightbody has worked with the aid organisation Save the Children in Uganda, an experience on which he has written in New Statesman.[45] He has also been involved in raising awareness of depression, a condition that he himself has struggled with.[46][47]

Recognition[edit]

Honours[edit]

In July 2012, Lightbody received an Honorary Doctorate in Letters from the University of Ulster at a ceremony in the Millennium Forum, Derry/Londonderry.[3]

Awards and accolades[edit]

Year Publication Entity Rank
2005 Scotland on Sunday The Eligibles[48][49][50] 4
2006 1
2007 Top 10
2006 Daily Record 100 Hottest Scots[51] 5
2007 9
2009 Social and Personal Sexiest Irishmen[52] 96
Q Artists of the Century[53][54] *

Musical equipment[edit]

Guitars[edit]

Amplifiers[edit]

Effects[edit]

Gary's Pedalboard
  • BOSS TU-2 Tuner
  • BOSS TR-2 Tremolo
  • BOSS CS-3 Compression Sustainer
  • Two BOSS SD-1 Super Overdrives
  • BOSS GE-7 Equalizer
  • BOSS RE-20 Space Echo (seen on 2009 board?)
  • Boss DD6/7 (Seen on 2009 board?)

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Picks: Dunlop Tortex Standard Orange .60mm
  • Strings: Gauge .010
  • Pickup Preference: Neck Position. Amplifier EQ set quite bright for jangly tone
  • Vocal Mic: Shure Beta 58

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Ice cool band warms hearts". BBC. 29 March 2004. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  2. ^ "Sunday Times Magazine: The Grim Reapers". Sunday Times Magazine. 
  3. ^ a b "Fond memories of Derry as UU honours Lightbody". Derry Journal. 10 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Where are they now?". Rockport School. Retrieved 30 October 2009. 
  5. ^ "Run for cover". Daily Mirror. 21 July 2006. Retrieved 28 October 2009. 
  6. ^ "Viewpoint: Oh yeah, good idea!". The Belfast Telegraph. 22 February 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  7. ^ "University of Dundee Ranking, Address, Information and Facts". Plant-biology.com. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  8. ^ Thrills, Adrian (23 October 2008). "How Snow Patrol began to thaw: The band reveals its lighter side". The Daily Mail. 
  9. ^ "Scottish Music in the US". Scotland. March 2007. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  10. ^ "Exclusive: I won't turn my back on Scotland, says Show Patrol's Gary Lightbody". Sunday Mail. 1 November 2009. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  11. ^ Patterson, Sylvia (28 November 2011). "Gary Lightbody: I'm my own prison guard". Big Issue. 
  12. ^ Wasser, Chris (1 December 2009). "The Light fantastic". Evening Herald. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  13. ^ a b c d Heawood, Sophie (30 October 2009). "Snow Patrol: 'We're not ready for greatest hits'". The Times. Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  14. ^ "Gary Lightbody". Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Snow Patrol Rules Manila Empire". Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "From small beginnings ...". Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  17. ^ Sun, Sunday (17 October 2004). "Five out of four's a top score". Sunday Sun. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  18. ^ a b Barrie, Stuart (24 August 2007). "The DJ Q & A – Freeform Five". Daily Record. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  19. ^ "What are You Waiting For – Freeform Five". Macrovision. Allmusic. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  20. ^ Cashmere, Paul (22 January 2007). "Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol voted BBC's Best DJ". Undercover. Retrieved 21 July 2009. 
  21. ^ Lightbody, Gary (4 August 2009). "Gary Lightbody's Band of the Week: week 12". QTheMusic.com. 
  22. ^ "Gary Lightbody's Band of the Week". News.qthemusic.com. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  23. ^ "Gary Lightbody and the Reindeer Section". Belfast Music. 15 April 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  24. ^ "Skint Records". Skint.net. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  25. ^ Praxis Media. "Radio1 Rodos Greece ::: UK Forthcoming Singles ::: Charts, DJ Promos, Dance, Lyrics, Free Mp3 Samples Downloads". Radio1.gr. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  26. ^ "Mishka recorded". Hotpress.com. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  27. ^ "Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody going solo". NME. 
  28. ^ Lanham, Tom (8 October 2009). "Gary Lightbody quite busy on patrol". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 8 October 2009. 
  29. ^ Californiachronicle[dead link]
  30. ^ Lightbody, Gary (11 January 2010). "Tired Pony". snowpatrol.net. Retrieved 11 January 2010. 
  31. ^ "Gary Lightbody works with Peter Buck". Hot Press. 5 January 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2010. [dead link]
  32. ^ "So, did you spot Gary Lightbody in this week's Game of Thrones?". The Daily Edge. 16 April 2013. 
  33. ^ "Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody to appear in Game of Thrones". NME. 24 July 2012. 
  34. ^ Dworken, Arye (2004). "Snow Patrol". CMJ New Music Monthly (CMJ Network, Inc.) (122): 11. ISSN 1074-6978. Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  35. ^ a b Debrebant, Serge (29 November 2009). "Interview mit Gary Lightbody" (in German). Frankfurter Rundschau. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  36. ^ van der Linden, Nils (26 November 2009). "Chasing Snow Patrol". iAfrica.com. Primedia Online. Retrieved 29 November 2009. 
  37. ^ Dowling, Stephen (23 November 2009). "Snow Patrol get revolutionary with back catalogue". Spinner.com. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  38. ^ "Lightbody glad first album failed". 4Music. 8 December 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2009. 
  39. ^ "Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody defends Republic of Ireland football support". The Independent. 14 June 2012. 
  40. ^ "Lightbody defends football support". Belfast Telegraph. 14 June 2012. 
  41. ^ "SNOW PATROL - LIFE-NING LYRICS". SongLyrics.com. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  42. ^ Shirley, Ian (2005). "X Marks the Spot". Can rock & roll save the world?: An illustrated history of music and comics. London, England: SAF Publishing Ltd. p. 168. ISBN 0-946719-80-2. Retrieved 30 October 2009. 
  43. ^ Brouwer, Julian (3 November 2008). "Gary: I've Snow idea how to talk to girls; shy star opens his heart with music". The Mirror. 
  44. ^ "Snow Patrol declare 'Super Furry Animals are our generation's Beatles' | News". Nme.Com. 23 September 2008. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  45. ^ Lightbody, Gary (22 November 2007). "Africa's unsung heroes". New Statesman. 
  46. ^ "Support the Aware Defeat Depression Awareness Week". Down News. 16 April 2013. 
  47. ^ Johnson, Neala (17 November 2011). "REM's Michael Stipe saves Gary Lightbody who had writer's block before Snow Patrol's new album Fallen Empire". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  48. ^ "The Eligibles 2005 – Top 50 men". Scotland on Sunday. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  49. ^ "The Eligibles 2006 – Top 50 men". Scotland on Sunday. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  50. ^ "Dr Who star tops list of eligible men". Metro. 19 November 2007. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  51. ^ Dingwall, John; Lyons, Beverley; Fulton, Rick; Sutherland, Laura; Coventry, Laura (20 December 2007). "The 100 Hottest Scots: The Men". Daily Record. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  52. ^ "Baz gets top billing as sexiest man in Ireland". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
  53. ^ Baker, Rosie (26 November 2009). "Q special edition celebrates end of the decade". Marketing Week. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  54. ^ Yates, Matt (January 2010). "Artists of the Century – Gary Lightbody". Q (282): 82. ISSN 0955-4955. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  55. ^ "Lowdens on YouTube". Lowden Guitars. 

External links[edit]