Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Video: Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody always defends Northern Ireland – despite our ‘warped’ image

He's been selling Northern Ireland on a world stage for years, but Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody admits that, at times, watching our local news makes him think: “Oh f***”.

Back in Belfast to publicise Snow Patrol's upcoming headline show at Tennent's Vital, Bangor man Gary said he will always defend the country he loves "heart and soul".

And while he's now based in Santa Monica, the 37-year-old told Sunday Life he still calls his Crawfordsburn place his home and keeps up to date with local news.

When in the States earlier this year, he watched as images of violence were beamed around the globe following the recent union flag protests at City Hall.

"I do get defensive because a lot of people have a very warped idea of what Northern Ireland is because they only see the negative stuff," he said.

"Sometimes people pat me on the arm and speak to me as if they're concerned about me because I'm from Northern Ireland. They ask me if I'm okay.

"I tell them it's not like the country's at war -- we're not back in the dark days again.

"This is just a small group of people protesting.

"So I do get defensive because I love this place, heart and soul.

"It upsets me when I see violence on the streets, of course it does, but you have to put it in context as well -- it's not how it was."

Despite the fact Northern Ireland may still have its divisions, the musician said he feels pride rather than pressure to be a global ambassador for his country.

"I feel pride -- for the most part," he said.

"But sometimes I see the news and think, 'Oh f***'.

"But I'm extraordinarily proud to be from Northern Ireland and of the music scene here and the fact that every film-maker worth their salt wants to come here to shoot.

"It's an incredible time for Northern Ireland and we should try to celebrate that and try to embrace our victories more."

Just last week Gary brought director pal Brett Simon to Northern Ireland to scout locations for his upcoming horror movie.

"I read the script and told them they had to make the movie here," he said.

He describes the psychological thriller, which he says is in the same vein as cult classic Rosemary's Baby, as "one of the scariest things I've ever read".

"It's very, very good.

"It's frightened the hell out of me," he said.

"Brett did all our videos for the Fallen Empires album and when he and his producer got to Belfast they both immediately fell in love with the place.

"I took them to The Crown, we went to Mourne Seafood for dinner then caught a gig at the Oh Yeah centre -- then to the Duke of York.

"We had the best day, it was one of my best days in Belfast.

"They had a ball, I don't think they would consider anywhere else to shoot the film."

In April Gary took a massive step outside his comfort zone when he addressed politicians and other dignitaries at Stormont on Northern Ireland's wealth of young musical talent.

He described the experience as "absolutely terrifying".

"I've never been so terrified in my life -- just because I've never done anything like it before.

"I don't get nervous before gigs but that was horrible," he said. "I was supposed to be there talking up young talent like the Wonder Villains, David C Clements and Soak, but they were the ones comforting me and telling me I would be fine -- Soak was only 16 at the time! Public speaking is not my thing."

Gary's involvement in the prestigious event set tongues wagging that he had political ambitions for the future -- but he said nothing could be further from the truth.

"I have respect for people who try to make a change -- not necessarily politicians," he said.

"Some politicians are great, some aren't, but I have respect for people who stand up and speak for the voiceless and for those who can't speak for themselves.

"I'm not the right man for that job."

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