Saturday 18 August 2018

'I thought about not existing' - Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody on battle with alcohol and depression

Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol
Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody has revealed that his battle with alcohol and depression is the reason behind the band's seven year stretch between albums.

The 41-year-old from Bangor, Northern Ireland, has opened up about his struggles ahead of the release of the band's new album, Wildness, on May 25, their first since Fallen Empires in 2011.

Speaking to the Telegraph, he revealed that he has suffered from anxiety since he was a teenager and witnessed The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

“I just used to think, ‘I don’t want to be here.’ And that took root. And it’s something I’ve fought with my whole life," he said.

MTV Europe Music Awards 2011 - City Hall Broadcast...BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 06: Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol performs live for the MTV Europe Music Awards 2011 at City Hall on November 6, 2011 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)...E
MTV Europe Music Awards 2011 - City Hall Broadcast...BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 06: Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol performs live for the MTV Europe Music Awards 2011 at City Hall on November 6, 2011 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)...E

Before the band signed with Universal and had success with their hit Run from their album Final Straw, they were dropped by another label and Lightbody resorted to drinking during this period. 

Touring following the release of Final Straw, however, kept him in check as drinking affects his voice so he did not drink on tour.

<p>
<b>Snow Patrol - The 02, Dublin, January 20 & 21</b>
</p>
<p>
What a soggy, sorry letdown Fallen Empires was. We'd been promised Snow Patrol's latest album would mark a move into LCD Soundsystem-style electronica and an overhaul of their gooey arena sound. Instead, we got Gary Lightbody at his gushy worst (with the exception of the brilliant The Symphony, one of the finest songs he's penned). Still, they remain a fantastic live band and, before descending into sub-Coldplay mulch, wrote some cracking anthems. Any band that has Chocolate, Hands Open and Run up their sleeves are worth going to see. </p>

Snow Patrol - The 02, Dublin, January 20 & 21

What a soggy, sorry letdown Fallen Empires was. We'd been promised Snow Patrol's latest album would mark a move into LCD Soundsystem-style electronica and an overhaul of their gooey arena sound. Instead, we got Gary Lightbody at his gushy worst (with the exception of the brilliant The Symphony, one of the finest songs he's penned). Still, they remain a fantastic live band and, before descending into sub-Coldplay mulch, wrote some cracking anthems. Any band that has Chocolate, Hands Open and Run up their sleeves are worth going to see.

However, when the band completed their tour for Fallen Empires in 2012, the star began drinking heavily again.  Speaking to Jo Whiley on BBC Radio Two recently he said he also felt "incapacitated" by depression during this time and was unable to write new music.

It was not until 2016 when he had a health scare that he turned his life around. 

Musicians Paul Wilson, Nathan Connolly, Gary Lightbody,Johnny McDaid and actor James Corden attend the Oscar Wilde Awards at Bad Robot on February 25, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for US-Ireland Alliance)
Musicians Paul Wilson, Nathan Connolly, Gary Lightbody,Johnny McDaid and actor James Corden attend the Oscar Wilde Awards at Bad Robot on February 25, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for US-Ireland Alliance)

A trip to the gym resulted in an emergency doctor's visit which revealed he had a massive sinus infection, "both sinuses, eye infection, ear infection… my whole head was basically a mess,” he told the Telegraph.

He immediately gave up drugs and alcohol and has been sober ever since.

However, while he was sober he also had to come to terms with his depression.  He says he "started feeling a wave of self-hatred" and began avoiding friends and family, who were reaching out to help him.

Speaking about feeling suicidal, he said, “Yeah, I thought about not existing.  I just felt really, really sluggish… my will to live had kinda ebbed away.”  However, while he thought about not existing, he said he didn't "think about how to get there".

With the help of aforementioned friends and family and a psychotherapist he is feeling well and looking forward to the release of Wildness, which draws from his struggles, including the fact that his father was diagnosed with dementia three years ago.  He dedicates a song on the album to his 80-year-old dad.

While it explores some tough themes, however, Lightbody has described Wildness as a "hopeful" record.

"I am sober now for two years and I am able to speak about it with clarity and with hope," he told Jo Whiley.  "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."

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