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Gary Lightbody pays tribute to NHS heroes and feels for how Covid-19 has rocked the music industry


Snow Patrol

Gary Lightbody has said he feels for how the coronavirus has rocked the music industry - and believes if it had happened when he was starting out his band Snow Patrol would not have made it.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Sunday Life from his home in the States, the singer also paid tribute to the "legends and heroes" of the NHS and said he is looking forward to playing gigs again when it is safe for fans.

Gary said that the effects of lockdown will be felt far and wide, calling on the Executive to try and keep the creative sector in mind during the battle against Covid.

He said: "It impacts the actual infrastructure of gigs all around the world and in our own country so many small venues across the board are struggling.

"The smallest ones are always going to be affected first, just like the newest bands are going to be affected first, you know?

"Snow Patrol took 10 years to have a hit. If Covid had happened within those first 10 years of Snow Patrol, we wouldn't have made it.

"So there's an awful lot of bands and an awful lot of artists that are in that position right now where they need help. I think that health and safety are the most important things of course, but our culture is so important too because it's the thing that we look forward to.

"These are people that need to be protected and you know it's down to governments and it's down to our government in Northern Ireland to help struggling people across the board and hopefully that extends to people in culture."

The rockers were scheduled to play a series of concerts over the summer and Gary (44) said it has not been lost on him that postponing those gigs will also hurt all the crew members that are part of the wider Snow Patrol family.

He explained: "We definitely want to make some music but whenever that's possible to get together I'm not sure. The main thing I'm thinking about is making sure my mum and my family are safe and I don't come home with something that's going to affect that.

"The thing that is easy for me in these times and easy for a lot of musicians is to go online and play a song on Instagram Live or whatever.

"But the people that miss out are the people that are involved in live gigs, the crew members and freelancers, people that take care of the sound and the lights and the staging and driving the trucks and basically all the people that make the gig happen.

"It's like the three or four or five or six people on the stage are just the tip of the iceberg of how a gig works, you know, and there's a lot of people.

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Gary on Instagram

Gary on Instagram

Gary on Instagram

"And I know it's across every industry that has taken a massive hit, but the industry that I'm in, the industry that I love, you know I really feel for the crew members and the freelancers that are really out of work."

Gary has been in lockdown in Los Angeles since the pandemic struck and it has given him time to reflect and be grateful, not least for frontline workers. He said: "Absolutely, I mean goodness me, what an absolute bunch of legends and heroes and heroines they are.

"But as well, I think it certainly made me appreciate a lot of things in my life. I like to think that I haven't taken stuff for granted but there are times, of course, when you're in the middle of a tour and you think, 'Oh God, you know I'd love to be home,' just because you're homesick, everybody gets it. But my goodness, the thought that I'm having is that I wish I could shake that guy that ever had that thought by the shoulders and say, 'You don't know how good you've got it.'

"So I try not to take things like that for granted ever, in any context - being out on the road touring, even just hanging out with friends, seeing people that you love, being with your family, all these things that are being missed by a lot of people."

Gary has been open about struggles he has had with his mental health in the past and said he recognises that life in lockdown will be a test for many people, just as he has had to find a way to keep his own demons at bay.

He said: "I meditate most days. I try every day but it doesn't always happen and I keep exercising, do yoga when I can. I just try and keep as healthy as possible and it keeps the brain, keeps the mind healthy. Obviously, it's something you just got to be vigilant about if you have a propensity for it.

"And I feel for an awful lot of people, especially people that went from one extreme to the other, being out of work to being at home all the time is probably not an easy thing to kind of get used to and causes an awful lot of mental health problems.

"Plus the financial insecurities that people are going through at the moment and there's so many things that are affecting people's businesses and mental health and health. Oviously there's the pandemic as well so there's the direct impact on the health of people as well, so there's so many factors that are potentially causing people harm."

And Gary's most productive coping mechanism during lockdown has seen him rely on what he knows best - making music.

After starting with regular live performances on social media, he began collaborating with fans in Saturday songwriting sessions - with the result being a charity EP called Fireside Sessions in aid of anti-poverty organisation The Trussell Trust.

He said: "Yeah, it definitely helped me a lot doing the gigs and doing the Saturday song-writes.

"I'm very, very lucky. I realise that, and I feel like I don't forget that - that my job is my hobby, and I get to do it at home and I get to do it whenever I want. And I'm very, very lucky because not everybody's in that position."

n The Fireside Sessions EP by Snow Patrol and the Saturday Songwriters and the new single Reaching Out To You are both out now. All proceeds go to the Trussell Trust, visit www.snowpatrol.com for details.

Belfast Telegraph