The British rock band, Snow Patrol brought their stadium spine-tinglers to Byblos Festival for one night of sweaty power pop. TOB spoke to all round nice guy, drummer Jonny Quinn.
Your tour experience must be a world away from what it used to be – there are stories of when you used to sleep on fan’s bedroom floors and pretend you were in Belle and Sebastian to get into gigs. What’s been the hardest price of fame?
We didn’t do that actually that was a rumour. Knowing what you’re doing this day a year from now is kind of daunting, to have it mapped out and so definite. It’s also weird living out of a suitcase, always in hotels.
Are you comfortable being in the spotlight?
Not really no, but it comes with what we do. We’re quite shy about that, but I don’t mind it. As long as you don’t take it so seriously.
You’ve survived through a crossover from indie to more mainstream pop/rock and against changing musical landscapes and tastes towards electro-tinged music. What’s the secret to Snow Patrol’s success?
Well we weren’t in fashion in the first place. Bands who were very of the moment, you’d see their fans almost dress like them, they’d get five or six years and then disappear. But we were never in fashion so you can never go out of fashion [laughs].
How do you keep the balance between sticking to a tried and tested sound you know fans love and venturing into something new?
Well you have to trust that they’ll go with you on that, but if it’s a good song you can play it on acoustic guitar or you can make it dance. You can’t try to follow whatever you think your audience might like, you just have to do what you think is right at the time. Maybe you look back and think ‘that was a mistake’ but you also learn what worked and what didn’t.
Do you ever get an urge to do something completely off track, like say a happy hardcore record? Yeah but then we would alienate our audience rather quickly [laughs]. We love hip hop and electro music. We all DJ a lot, playing electro, house and Northern Soul. I have an idea to get together a lot of singers, have a writing weekend and do something really, really odd. I want to do Crosby, Stills and Nash style harmonies but with really contemporary electroey beats. Despite your commercial success, you’re not exactly darlings of the critics.
Do you still read the reviews?
I do, Gary doesn’t. I think they can’t always be wrong. A lot of the criticism is a trend though and they take influence from what other people have written. It’s a bit lazy. No one’s prepared to go against the grain and say ‘you know what actually I think this is cool.’
Do you take pride in being uncool and doing your own thing?
No I think we’d like to be cool [laughs]. Everybody would like to be like the Strokes kind of cool but you can’t try and manufacture that. If you did it would just look even worse, even uncooler than we maybe are. Fast forward ten years.
Where will Snow Patrol be?
We never think that far, only one album at a time. I’d hate it if our audience dropped to 300 people a night. I think if we can keep a level of 5,000 to 10,000 people that would be amazing. And to still make good music, not get carried away and lose the plot.