“When’s the next time we have a day off?”
“2022, I think.”
Being in one of the world’s best-known rock bands means fame and adulation but it also means hard work.
That is apparent in Snow Patrol: 25 Years on the Road – a new BBC Northern Ireland documentary about the group.
It follows Gary, Nathan, Johnny, Jonny and Paul as they tour the US alongside Ed Sheeran before returning home for sell-out shows in Belfast in December 2018.
Programme-makers Paul McClean and Gary McCutcheon had exclusive behind-the-scenes access to gigs in Dallas, Mexico City and New Orleans.
As a result we see the band joking around in fancy dress, waiting for planes, warming up backstage and even getting a police escort.
After 25 years together, it is clear how much they mean to each other.
The band’s singer Gary Lightbody talks frankly about how the other four members brought him through some dark times at the height of their fame.
He has previously spoken openly about his mental health.
“There have been some frustrations over the years, but they are overwhelmed by the joy of what we’ve got through, what we’ve been through, what we’ve achieved,” he said.
Guitarist Nathan Connolly describes the band as “brothers”.
“My whole adult life’s been in this band, it’s family.”
“As people, as brothers, as friends, we’ve learned how to respect each other more, care about each other more, love each other more.
“It’s massively shaped me and there’s not a better bunch of men that could teach you and shape you.”
‘Wee sideways glance’
That close relationship means they instinctively know when to go off-script on stage, according to Lightbody.
“We will be changing things, we will be looking at each other halfway through songs to go ‘ok let’s bring it down, let’s bring it back up’,” he said.
“Because we’ve played together for so long we almost don’t need to signal each other – it’s just a look, an eyebrow raise, a wee sideways glance and everybody goes up, down, sideways.”
And it obviously works – one fan in Mexico City calls Snow Patrol “perfection in music”.
But that music is not without effort.
There was a seven-year gap between the band’s 2011 album Fallen Empires and 2018’s Wildness – a hiatus during which Lightbody felt the pressure to come up with more hits, before resolving to write about who he was and what he knew.
“I think it is very important to not worry about trends or shifts and just think about where you are, stand very firmly on your own two feet on the ground and feel, and feel where you are,” he said.
“Because nobody wants to hear anything else other than that, and you will reach people in ways you’ve never reached people before.”
The viewer – and the band – travel back to Northern Ireland from the US for two sell-out shows at the SSE Arena in December 2018.
Lightbody does not have far to travel to get to the venue as he lives only a few miles away on the North Down coast, not far from where he grew up in Bangor.
He often gets inspiration for songs and lyrics while walking on the beach close to his home.
And it is apparent that the Belfast concerts mean that little bit extra to the group, as Connolly admits.
“There’s nothing like that split second when your adrenalin is kicking in – it’s a wave, you can feel it,” he said.
“There is something special when you do it at home, of course there is.
“Whatever that is if you could just bottle it, it’s magnificent, it’s just incredible.”
Local fans will get the chance to experience that “something special” again when Snow Patrol headline a day-long festival in Bangor’s Ward Park at the end of May.
And the good news for their many fans around the world is that they have no intention of bowing out, according to Connolly.
“We can’t do anything else, I don’t see us stopping anytime soon.
“We’ve only just got started again.”
Snow Patrol: 25 Years on the Road – BBC Arts NI Presents, will be shown on Wednesday 24 April, 22:35, BBC One Northern Ireland.
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