Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Out of the snow comes a reindeer

Neil McKay talks to the County Down musician behind pop's latest supergroup

A DRUNKEN night out has led to one of the best albums of the year - and it's all down to a Bangor man.

A DRUNKEN night out has led to one of the best albums of the year - and it's all down to a Bangor man.

Gary Lightbody, frontman for Snow Patrol, is the inspiration behind the Reindeer Section, a 'supergroup' comprising members of acclaimed Glasgow indie groups Mogwai, Arab Strap and Belle And Sebastian.

'Y'All Get Scared Now, Ya Hear!' was released recently on local label Bright Star, to some glowing reviews.

Lightbody explains: "It was the end of last November when I asked everybody if they wanted to do something together on a drunken night out at a gig.

"They all kind of said yes tentatively, not knowing that I was going to take it as far, and at the time I didn't really know what I was doing either.

"But the next day I'd written 15-16 songs, and I really felt that they should be on an album of their own given that they were written in the spirit of the adventure of the night before.

"I don't think they would have fitted with Snow Patrol. I kind of like the sparseness of these songs . . . we try to be as sonically devastating as we can with Snow Patrol, whether it be quiet or loud, we try and fill up every corner of a song, and that didn't happen here.

"It was a very relaxed thing with no pressure. There wasn't a second take done of anything, of any part, of any song, it was all just banged down, one run through then you're off.

"We had a lot of fun doing it - not that we don't normally have fun, probably too much - but the album just came together so sweetly.

"I think it's a pretty heartwarming story actually. Musicians generally are renowned for having ego, and to get 15 musicians to go into a studio together and be completely egoless and undemanding, and get on with things - it just shows me there is a different type of musician.

"I've no idea how it will go down. I suppose it has a built in audience for its curiosity value alone, and it would be nice to sell a few thousand copies, enough that we could maybe do it again next year."

The Reindeer Section played a gig in Belfast last month, and the project was an vital release valve for Lightbody.

Snow Patrol had been having problems with their label Jeepster, problems which eventually culminated in a parting of the ways after two albums.

The band are now on the lookout for a new deal, and Lightbody says: "We're going to go with a major label this time because there's no point in going through another 'we can't afford to let you tour and promote yourselves' fiasco.

"We paid for our last four tours ourselves and that's something that interferes with paying for the rent I can tell you.

"It won't compromise the music at all, it just means that we will have those funds that we can actually draw on to go and play to people, which is the most important part of what you do. After making your records you've got to go and play them to people.

"As far as Jeepster is concerned, it was a mutual thing. They let us go, but we were glad to go and find somebody else who actually likes us.

"I'm much more grateful to Jeepster than I maybe sound because we've obviously recently been burned. But if we hadn't been with Jeepster we wouldn't have had a couple of albums, we would probably have had our first album pulled before it even came out."

- Y'All Get Scared Now, Ya Hear! (Bright Star) is out now.

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