|Years active 1994–present|
Siblings Sarah Lightbody
|Name Gary Lightbody|
|Born 15 June 1976 (age 39)
Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland (1976-06-15) |
Genres Alternative rock, power pop, indie rock
Occupation(s) Singer, guitarist, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals, keyboards, glockenspiel
Associated acts Snow Patrol, The Reindeer Section, The Cake Sale, Listen... Tanks!, Tired Pony, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran
Music groups Snow Patrol (Since 1994)
Movies Made in Belfast, The Snow Patrol Phenomenon
Parents Jack Lightbody, Lynne Lightbody
Similar People Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Nathan Connolly, Jonny Quinn, Paul Wilson
Gary Lightbody (born 15 June 1976) is a Northern Irish singer, songwriter, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the Northern Irish-Scottish rock band Snow Patrol.
- Gary lightbody
- Lisa hannigan gary lightbody some surprise live
- Early life and education
- Snow Patrol
- Other projects
- Other musical projects
- Views on music industry
- Personal life
- Gary lightbody at tedxstormont
Lisa hannigan gary lightbody some surprise live
Early life and education
Born in Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland, to Jack and Lynne (née Wray) Lightbody, on 15 June 1976, Jack Lightbody has been an independent business owner and has roots in Rosemount, Derry. Gary Lightbody has one sister, Sarah, and attended Rockport School and Campbell College.
In 1994, Lightbody left home for Scotland to study English literature at the University of Dundee.
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. 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. 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.
In the early days, Lightbody used to drink very heavily, and in his words, was "irrational, erratic, neurotic". 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 bandmates for the turnaround. 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. He has a baritone vocal range.
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.
Lightbody later co-wrote "What Are You Waiting For" on the album Strangest Things, with Anu Pillai for Freeform Five. "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.
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. 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.
In addition to his work with Snow Patrol and DJing, Gary Lightbody has contributed to other projects and works.
Lightbody writes as essayist articles or columns in variously music magazines and newspapers like Q magazine 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.
In 2011, he wrote as an essayist for The Huffington Post.
Other musical projects
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. The group released Y'All Get Scared Now, Ya Hear! in 2001 and Son of Evil Reindeer in 2002.
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.
As a boy, he dreamed of becoming "the biggest rock star on the planet" like Bono, but he was never "cool".
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". 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. 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. 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.
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.
Views on music industry
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.
Of Snow Patrol, Lightbody has said that all albums they managed to sell in the early days were from touring, as there were no unauthorized 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. 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.
Lightbody is known to keep his personal life private.
Lightbody is passionate about football and has been known to support both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland national football teams. This is supported by the song "Lifening", in which he sings the lyrics "Ireland in the World Cup, either North or South".
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".
Despite having written several romantic songs, Lightbody has been reported as having had trouble talking to women. 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.
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.
Lightbody has worked with the aid organisation Save the Children in Uganda, an experience on which he has written in New Statesman. He has also been involved in raising awareness of depression, a condition that he himself has struggled with.
In July 2012, Lightbody received an Honorary Doctorate in Letters from the University of Ulster at a ceremony in the Millennium Forum, Derry/Londonderry. See also Snow Patrol Awards.