Snow Patrol Singer Discusses Alcoholism, Depression

By Victoria Kim 03/27/18

Singer Gary Lightbody says an intervention by the band's drummer saved his life.

Gary Lightbody

The alt rock band Snow Patrol is gearing up for a new tour and the release of their seventh studio album, Wildness, on May 25th. Lead singer and guitarist Gary Lightbody is another musician who has long struggled with alcohol use disorder.

The Snow Patrol frontman has discussed his problem in the past, but recently revealed that he had a bit of a lapse during the making of Wildness.

In the seven years since the band released Fallen Empires (2011), Lightbody said that “pretty much five of those were spent drinking solidly.” His depression would hit during idle moments when he was not working. The feeling would “incapacitate” him.

“It’s not something that’s every day. It comes and goes, and if I’m busy I’m not in that place,” he said in a BBC Radio 2 interview. “But I’ve had a lot of time. It took seven years to make the album so you can do the math yourself. There was a lot of time that was spent on my own and in that time you just fall down that hole.”

Looking back, he said that reaching his lowest point made him realize that “I didn’t want to go any further.”

The musician counts himself lucky to have had people to confide in. “Not everyone has that, I’m very lucky,” he said.

The band is gearing up to go on tour in April. Lightbody says he has been sober for two years now. He credits his support system, meditation, and his therapist for helping him get through it all.

“The only thing that worked for me in the end was reaching out to people, plenty of people reached out to me to try and find me in my darkness,” he said. “It means a lot to me now, but at the time I felt hurried, I wanted to stay in the place I was in.”

Snow Patrol’s upcoming album, Wildness, came from “quite a lot of heavy soul searching,” Lightbody said. He drew from his experience suffering with depression as a child, and his father’s dementia, to create the album.

Looking back on everything in recovery, the singer said he’s now “able to speak about it with clarity and with hope.”

Ten years ago, Lightbody described getting to a point “where I was destroying everything in my path. I was like a whirlwind, a calamity magnet.” Booze fueled his downward spiral, until a bandmate intervened.

“There was a six-month period where I was completely out of control,” he told The Sun in 2008, ahead of the release of A Hundred Million Suns. “I wouldn’t listen to anyone. If I’d have carried on at that rate, I would have ended up dead.”

An intervention by drummer Jonny Quinn “saved my life,” said Lightbody. “I wasn’t listening to anyone but he had a word in my shell (ear) and I eventually realized the pain I was causing to everyone around me.”

Snow Patrol will kick off their tour in London on April 11.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr