Belfast Telegraph

The show will go on: Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody opens up about depression and battle with the drink

By Jonathan Bell

Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, explaining the seven-year gap between the band's newest album and its last, has revealed how he battled alcoholism and depression and how he reached his lowest point and was pulled out of the darkness by his friends.

However, the Bangor superstar told his legion of fans how he was sober for two years and there would be no danger of a return of his demons for the band's forthcoming tour saying the one thing he hated more than anything else was letting them down by having to cancel shows.

"The show will definitely go on," he said explaining how he lost his voice when drinking.

"I know what it costs.. it costs me not being able to do a show.

"One thing I hate probably more than anything I have control of is not doing a show. We have cancelled so few shows in a near 25-year career."

The frontman was speaking on BBC Radio Two's Jo Whiley show promoting the release of new album Wildness. He said he "couldn't be more proud" of the finished piece.

"It took a lot out of me," he added.

"I wanted it to be right and it wasn't right until recently. The music had been written a while, the lyrics took a lot, lot longer. I wanted to delve deeper than I had ever gone before and talk about things I had never spoken about.

"Some of it is heavy stuff but I don't think the album is heavy, it is quite hopeful. It comes from a lot of heavy soul searching."

Plenty of people reached out to me to try and find me in my darkness and bless their hearts for doing that. It means a lot to me now but at the time I felt hurried.

Gary Lightbody said over the past seven years he had to come to terms with his alcoholism and his father's dementia, also revealing how he had suffered depression since he was a teenager.

He said he had been to "some desperate places" in the past couple of years.

In past albums, he said how he wrote songs about love and loss, but had not been in a relationship for a while and couldn't write about it with honesty.

"I felt the time was right to talk about something else.

"I am sober now for two years and I am able to speak about it with clarity and with hope. These things are not just sort of open ended in a way where they feel like a lost cause, I am actually talking about these things in a way that I have tried to deal with them positively and hopefully people will hear that in the record."

Nothing makes sense and there is no light and trying to write in that place is extremely difficult.

Of his depression, he said when it hit him "it takes so much".

"Nothing makes sense and there is no light and trying to write in that place is extremely difficult. You have to get out of that place before you can write about it ... the only thing that worked for me in the end was actually reaching out.

"Plenty of people reached out to me to try and find me in my darkness and bless their hearts for doing that. It means a lot to me now but at the time I felt hurried.

"I wanted to stay in the place I was in. When I got to my lowest I realised I didn't want to go any further. You have to get to your lowest before you realise where your ground is before you climb out and then it was really reaching out to friends and they pulled me out.

"Not everyone has someone to turn to... I am very lucky."

The singer said quitting the drink was very tough for him. He said it was a crutch and how he did not have to think when he was drinking. He said his family were shocked when they realised the extent of his drinking and how it was not for a year before he could be honest with his mum.

"I was hiding it .. they were pretty shocked.

"I didn't do rehab, I did what Irish people find difficult to do and saw a therapist who was very helpful."

He said mediating, the Chinese health exercise Qi Gong and acupuncture had been a great help to him in getting sober as well as regularly hitting the gym.

Gary said his dad was "doing grand" coping with dementia and there were days he was on "top form". He said recently they celebrated his 80th birthday at the Old Crawsfordburn Inn when his father gave an impromptu speech which the family didn't expect and he and Gary's mother performed a "kind of double act" on the night as she corrected him through the speech but he "blustering on regardless".

"He is a very funny, very sweet man," he said.

He said a song called Soon on the album had been written for his dad and "which time travels back" to his childhood with his father.

"Just seeing me and him together again in that time forever in the palace of his mind."

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