As their Belfast-born guitarist Nathan Connolly says, ‘We party a lot. We keep each other in check.’ Lightbody is a thoughtful interviewee, measuring each word carefully. His unshapely haircut would strongly indicate that he’s a complete stranger to the attentions of stylists and image-makers.‘Stylists have had a try with us but they haven’t got very far,’ he says. Despite appearances, the band’s fan sites teem with testimonies from female Snow Patrol fans, attesting to Lightbody’s irresistible sex appeal. The average age of the band now is 30 and it would be a little sad and seedy if we were concerned with keeping count of notches on the bedposts.’ As the only unspoken-for member of Snow Patrol (the other members, Connolly, drummer Jonny Quinn, bassist Paul Wilson and keyboard player Tom Simpson, are all in committed relationships), there’s a delicious irony in the fact that the runaway success of the band has largely been built on songs that document Lightbody’s abject failures with the opposite sex.
At least it has been up to now.’Lightbody is now in his backstage dressing-room.
There are no scantily clad groupies, hard liquor or class-A drugs.
‘I’m getting worse, if anything, when I should be maturing,’ he says.
‘Maybe being in a band for 12 years has stunted my growth in some way.
My problem is that I’m terrible in relationships and just as terrible out of them.
When I’m in one, I always start out with the best of intentions.
Then calling themselves Polarbear, they were forced into a name change after legal threats from an American band of the same name.
Britpop was about to break but Snow Patrol’s sound, heavily influenced by leftfield American guitar groups, ensured that they were hopelessly out of step.
As newspapers and magazines were publishing their traditional end-of-year round-ups, all the musical accolades were being handed out to Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen, 2006’s most conspicuous breakthrough acts.
Then the year’s sales figures were released, revealing that it was Snow Patrol who set Britain on fire.
This is a staggering change of pace for a band that first came into being in provincial Scotland 12 years ago and who, even as recently as 2003, were being thought of as also-rans.