Storm is coming

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FROM struggling uni band to international big-hitters, Snow Patrol are ready for the latest part of their journey. Ian Laws spoke to drummer Jonny Quinn.

IT’S the calm before the storm as I talk to Jonny Quinn. The snow storm, if you like.

 He’s counting down to what will be six uplifting but exhausting months for Snow Patrol as they prepare for a tour that started this week in Dublin and will take in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, France, Dubai the United States and Canada before coming to a halt in mid-July.

 Newcastle Arena is one of the calling points along the way, and imagine Snow Patrol will still be pretty fresh when they arrive in the North East on February 5.

 Back in the day, when audiences of 300 used to set the adrenaline running for a bunch of pals at Dundee University, Jonny could roll up and play.

 But this sort of tour needs a little more planning.

 “Playing drums for two hours a night for the next six month is demanding so I’ve been in the gym three days a week trying to build my stamina,” said Jonny, who, along with singer-songwriter Gary Lightbody, is one of the two original Snow Patrol members from their first release.

 “It doesn’t sound very rock ’n roll but as you get older and the tours get bigger, you can’t just turn up and play any more.”

 After 15 years in the business, you would think the laid-back sounding Quinn would have just about seen it all, but the months leading into this tour proved to be quite a different experience.

 He said: “The buzz of playing live never leaves you. We’ve been looking forward to touring again and bringing the new songs to people live.

 “We won’t flood the set with the new stuff because people don’t want that.

 “But the fact we’ve got a new album to play to people is a relief in itself.”

 That’s because, for the first time in his life, Lightbody had to overcome writer’s block as he tried to pen the songs for Snow Patrol’s current album Fallen Empires.

 “It was pretty scary for him,” said Quinn.  

 “Musically, we had plenty of ideas and that wasn’t a problem, but Gary got writer’s block and needed time to get through that.

 “We’re not a band that can just satisfy the label and just put anything out there to get a few more sales. Perhaps that’s what played on Gary’s mind.

 “We care about what we produce and we’re passionate about it being good.

 “He just needed the space and time to resolve things and I know he’s really proud of the fact he came through that and we came up with a record we feel represents us well.”

 It’s a tribute to Lighbody et al that they still care so much. After 11million album sales worlwide, some might have thought the pressure was off. That’s clearly not the case.

 I ask Quinn about the band’s popularity and the numbers game – on top of their album sales, a quick visit to YouTube shows that their biggest single success – Chasing Cars – has 48million views.

 Does that not blow his mind? “It does a bit, yeah – 48million of anything is a lot!” he ponders.

 “That’s what I mean about Gary’s writer’s block – feeling strongly about making sure the stuff we put out is good enough. It’s always exciting bringing that new stuff to live audiences and seeing how it works, so we’ll enjoy that.

 “As for Newcastle, well, the crowds generally get louder and more boisterous the further north you come so I imagine the fans will be up for it.

 “We will be.”