Snow Patrol’s Nathan Connolly talks artistic freedom and newfound inspiration ahead of debut solo album

Nathan Connolly (L) and Simon Neil (R) pose in the studio with guitars. Nathan Connolly and Simon Neil, by Bradley Quinn

We spoke to Snow Patrol guitarist Nathan Connolly ahead of the release of his debut solo album, The Strange Order of Things, due out on April 21st.

By Erin Howatson (she/her)

I had the pleasure of speaking to Nathan Connolly about his experience making his first solo record, his thoughts on how to stay relevant in the new age of music, and Snow Patrol’s plans for a new album.

So, how was your experience making your first solo album?

NC: “Great, I mean it was kind of made sporadically over the space of five years. I started it at the end of 2017 and finished it in 2021. In hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise that I had time to go away and get a bit of perspective on it instead of going in for three months and trying to finish.”

“I felt less pressure in making it. No one was expecting it, it wasn’t like this was another snow patrol record or another project I’d already done, no one knew I was doing it. Of course, there was internal pressure, I wanted to make it good, but it was a labour of love and I felt free and open, so it was a really great experience.”

I guess having all that time to make an album means you can really tweak and perfect it.

NC: “Absolutely, I mean sometimes there is too much time because you can overcook and keep going and sometimes it’s hard to let things go. I think in this case it really allowed me to get perspective on it.”

Were there any aspects of making a solo project that you weren’t really expecting?

NC: “I certainly missed elements of collaboration and that’s probably just from being in a band for about two decades. There’s sometimes those happy accidents that happen or someone does something that just takes you down a different avenue in a song.”

“To get Simon (Neil, Biffy Clyro’s frontman) in was just brilliant … I sent him ‘Fires’ and he just connected with it instantly. Part of the joy of collaboration is not knowing what someone’s gonna send, it’s part of the excitement. I was just thrilled when he sent back what he had … I wasn’t happy with what I was adding and Simon just turned that song around hugely.”

Music has changed and evolved so much since you first started, do you ever worry about staying relevant to the new wave of music and its new generation of listeners?

NC: “Yeah of course, I mean you always want people to discover your music. But [Snow Patrol] are all music fans so we try to keep up in the sense of what we listen to. Influences or excitement from other records can spur you on to make yours better and I think that certainly happens with all of us, probably collectively and individually. I think when it comes to making Snow Patrol records, we just try to be as honest to ourselves and create music that we make.”

Is there anything that personally inspires you to create music?

NC: “Part of it is a necessity at times, the need to, the want to. But so much – books, film, tv, just random things that create emotions or ideas. It can come from anywhere really. But mostly excitement and other music, bands, soundtracks, or maybe a genre that I don’t really listen to that catches me off guard and I fall in love with.”

Do you think after the release of this album you would consider creating another solo project?

NC: “Yeah absolutely. Time is obviously a factor, but I think I would. Maybe it’s the start of me having time away or in between Snow Patrol to keep creating. With this it allows me to maybe have a bit more freedom. I’m trying to enjoy this one, enjoy the moment and then move on instead of skipping past it which can happen. But yeah absolutely.”

You seem fairly busy at the moment between the release of your debut solo album and various projects within Snow Patrol, do you have any other plans for the future?

NC: “The plan is to work on a Snow Patrol record, we’re gonna make sure to take our time and make sure it’s right for us. Hopefully it’s not as long as last time but we’ve done a lot of work so far. I’m gonna do a handful of shows for the solo stuff in hopefully early summer, and then probably get back to working on Snow Patrol stuff.”

And just to finish on a wildcard question: If aliens were to land on Earth tomorrow and request only one song of yours to listen to, what song would you give them?

NC: “I’d have to say ‘Make This Go On Forever’ live. It’s one of the only non-singles that’s still sort of dominating the set and on album tracks it’s always there.”

Nathan Connolly’s debut solo album, The Strange Order of Things will be released on April 21st and is available for pre-order on Bandcamp.