Thursday, May 25, 2006

Interview - Tom Simpson of Snow Patrol

Snow Patrol is a band that seems to be gaining a lot of momentum and fame, and with that a lot of haters. People seem to overlook the fact the band has had a long, hard road to get to where they are today, and assume Final Straw was just a PR plugged album from another UK band.

Sitting down with long-time touring keyboardist, and now fulltime member Tom Simpson, we had a chance to talk about all that is new with the band.

HH: Hey Tom. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us. I know you must have been doing hundreds of these, so hopefully we can talk about some stuff you haven’t answered 50 times already.
TS: Ha. As long as you don’t just ask me to recite our bio or Web page, I’ll be happy!

HH: Well, I can’t guarantee anything, but I’ll try. So, new album, new tour. How’s it going out there?
TS: Well last night was the first stop, in Denver. It wasn’t bad. We were all kind of jet-legged and being a mile high wasn’t all that fun, but it was great to get out and start playing. We just got through a 17-hour bus trip to Denver, so we are glad to have a night off before playing tomorrow. It’s tough, because we are a live band. We love to play, and we are doing a lot of promotion right now, which is great, but it seems like we are doing endless interviews. We don’t really want to just talk about the music, we really just want to get out and play the new stuff for people.

HH: So is this the first time you’ll be playing a lot of the new material, or did you add it slowly over the last year?
TS: No, no. We actually did a promo tour through the US, Japan and Thailand. And of course shows in Glasgow and Ireland. But for a lot of people, this will be the first time they get to hear it. We are also excited to try the older stuff live now too. We had to change it so much to make it work with the new songs, so it is great to be playing those songs too. I mean, numbers are great, but until you start playing things live, you have no idea if people really like it. I mean, seeing numbers on a page doesn’t really mean much to us.

HH: Excellent. But, I mean, you have to be happy the numbers are a lot bigger this time around. I don’t think people over hear really understand the long road you guys took to get to where you are. I mean, you got dropped and really I think people think Final Straw was like your first album and it just hit.
TS: For sure. It’s really crazy to see that we were at number one in the UK. I mean we got bumped out of number one this week, but it was by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, so I don’t think we can complain about that. We’d love to be able to stick it out with these numbers for a few years, but you can never really tell. The numbers are great, no question, but we really did go through struggles. We slept on floors or even in the back of the van. So we can really appreciate the position we are in. We really cut our teeth playing small shows so we will never take this success for granted.

HH: So now that you are a full time member, which I’m sure involved some decisions and politics you are sick of talking about, were you more involved in the writing process? I mean, you’ve always been a touring member, but did anything change this time around?
TS: Yeah, I was going to say, I’ve kind of been around since the beginning, but this time around was a different experience. We all stayed in one place and I had a great relationship with Garrett. He’d always be checking in on me and seeing how things sounded. Even when you weren’t in the live room, you knew you would be soon, so something was always going on. It was really cool. Something was always happening, but they way we approached this album was different too. We always want to get better, so like I went out and took piano lessons. I’ve never had training as a keyboard player, so I went to the Royal College and took lesson from ladies with pencils and rulers. It was crazy. And then, I mean, I had to play the grand piano and it was intimidating. I’d never played one before, so I would go in a few hours early when it was empty and just keep practicing.
Oh, can you hang on one second?

TS: Sorry mate. That was Jonny, our drummer. But yeah, the process was great. Everyone was always doing something.

HH: So, let’s be honest. Did you feel more pressure this time out? I mean, a lot more is expected from you guys now
TS: Um, not really from the label, because our label is great. They didn’t really ask anything, but as a band, we wanted to make a better album, and I really think we did. Our manifesto is always get better, so we wanted to make an album that was better than Final Straw. Something the fans can really like.

HH: Speaking of fans, do you guys notice your fan base changing? You’ve gone from an Indie band, to playing Live 8 and opening for U2.
TS: Of course it has a little beat. We have a very strange demographic at our shows. There are 16 year old kids, and people who’ve been into us for 10 years. Like, my 5 year-old nephew like Snow Patrol, but so does my Aunt. I know we used to be an Indie band, but you always make connections. You can’t help it. You write songs and people either like them or don’t. I mean we play shows and you can tell fans are new, but we play in Glasgow or something and people are vocal, singing along to every song.

HH:It must be different too, as in the UK, being on the radio is a good thing. Over here, people hear a band on the radio, and even if they are fans, they assume they changed and you start hearing bands sold-out.
TS: Yeah, some of the radio stations in the UK are great. It is amazing to be played on the radio. As for sellouts, its weird. When you start a band, you never envision playing for 10,000 people, but you can’t do much about it. Everyone dreams about it, but you never expect it to happen. Maybe you can record a shitty record, so people hate you and then come back with a great one. Maybe that is what we should do (laughs).

HH: I’m not sure anyone wants that. So here’s a question we ask everyone, since artists are people that can recommend things and fans of the band will actually check them out. So what are three things you would recommend?
TS: Well for sure the last book I read that I really enjoyed was the Time Traveler’s Wife. It was great. A great record is Waiting for Clearance. It is kind of electro-dance, heavy in samples. Gary actually sings on a song. And let’s see. Oh Duke the Spirit. We have been trying to get them out on tour for a long time, and we finally can. Their record, Cuts Across the Land is great.

HH: Excellent. Ok, one last question. How did you guys get Martha Wainright on the record?
TS: Martha is fantastic. Oh that’s right, she’s Canadian. Well we were working on the record, and we were all really enjoying her record, and Gary wrote a duet with her voice in mind. So we called up her management, and then it was a lot of chance. She like the song, and was in Ireland for her tour and had a day off, and it was the last day we were going to record, so we went up to Dublin. We made this makeshift studio in a hotel room and luckily in one day we got her voice recorded. It’s perfect too, because if it was any other voice, the song wouldn’t have been nearly as good. Her voice is so beautiful and haunting. It’s great.

HH: Excellent. Thanks Tom. Good luck with the tour, we will see you in Vancouver.
TS: Thanks mate. Come up and say hi at the show. See you soon.

Posted at 5:35 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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