Snow Patrol

Big Life Music & Management’s Jazz Summers had a specific strategy for breaking Snow Patrol in the States: Instead of waiting for the Irish quartet to become a success in the U.K., he decided to build them in America. Judging by the band’s box office numbers, his plan worked.

“Luckily, everybody at Interscope liked the record and said they wanted to sign the band in America,” Summers told Pollstar from Big Life’s London office. “We said, ‘Let’s do this properly. Let’s not wait until we’ve got a hit in the U.K.; let’s start working it now.'”

According to Summers, American record companies tend to wait for European acts to break in the U.K. before sending them across the pond. And by the time they arrive in the U.S., “[people] don’t know who the hell the band is.”

To build a buzz early, Summers sent Snow Patrol to the U.S. on a couple of occasions to play a handful of gigs in support of the band’s third album, Final Straw. Once the album got into retail and the group started getting press, word spread quickly back home, subsequently earning Snow Patrol a No. 3 spot on the U.K. album charts.

“Everybody does it the other way around,” Summers explained. “But if you do it the way we’ve done it … then it starts to break in the U.K.”

By the time Snow Patrol finishes its next U.S. tour

which includes a headline slot on this year’s Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in California

Summers expects Final Straw to hit gold. At press time, the album had sold about 367,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Three and a half years ago when Summers was shopping the record to several labels in America and Britain “nobody took up with them.” Eventually, Polydor U.K.’s Jim Chancellor came on board and a deal with Interscope soon followed.

“From where we started, which was about 18 months ago, we’re achieving what we really planned to do,” Summers said.

During that time, Snow Patrol has been touring almost non-stop all over the world.

Frontman Gary Lightbody was taking a brief break from the road and catching up on some record shopping in London when Pollstar caught up with him. His bill was already up to œ400.

The singer/songwriter was due at the 2005 Brit Awards that night, where his band was nominated in three categories and going head-to-head with the likes of U.K. heavyweights Franz Ferdinand, Muse, Keane and others.

Snow Patrol

“I’m running around at the moment like a madman,” Lightbody said.

To focus strictly on the music, Lightbody and Snow Patrol leave the business side of the things to Summers and X-Ray Touring Limited’s Steve Strange (formerly of Helter Skelter).

“Musicians generally aren’t good at logistics in any form or sense,” the singer said. “I can barely find my house most nights.

“[Snow Patrol] just wants to concentrate on the music, but sometimes you need to take an interest in the state of the business because it does have a massive effect on all of us.”

Not only that, but on most nights, the band is too tired to think about anything but sleeping after a long day of press, meet-and-greets, soundchecks and gigs.

“It boils down to one thing: working and working and working,” Lightbody explained. “We’ve done three tours and countless visits to the States last year and we’ve hardly scratched the surface. … We’ve always wanted to do well in America so we’re willing to put the work in.”

Snow Patrol was recently asked to support U2 on eight dates in Europe. Lightbody said that is a “childhood dream.”

“There’s not a band that deserves it more than them,” Strange told Pollstar. “I’ve watched it go the full way. I’ve watched it go from them playing to 100 people in a 200-capacity club to selling out two or three nights at (London’s) Brixton Academy; I’m selling them out in a day.”

Strange believes Snow Patrol is one of the most hard working bands around and he pointed out the group’s determination and success in breaking into the U.S. market.

“They’ve taken the States very seriously and they put the right work ethic in,” he explained. “I think that’s the only way to break in America, to be frank.”

Despite the recent departure of bassis and co-founder Mark McClelland, Summers doesn’t see Snow Patrol losing momentum anytime soon. McClelland has already been replaced by Terry Diablo’s Paul Wilson, and a fifth member has also been added on keyboards/turntables. The band is kicking off a U.S. tour in late April.

“It’s a lifestyle thing with the guys of Snow Patrol. They’re committed to the lifestyle of being in a band,” Summers said. “They’re Irish as well. Irish bands seem to work at it pretty well; there’s a few examples before them.”