After five albums and nearly two decades with his anthemic Celt-rock combo Snow Patrol, when Gary Lightbody paused to study his existence, he saw something he hadn’t noticed before: children.
Several Irish chums had become parents. His producer, Garret “Jacknife” Lee, made him godfather to his two daughters. Lightbody says, “Now I have a little niece, Honey, so suddenly there are kids everywhere. So it’s obvious that at 35, I don’t have any, which made me think, ‘What do I really want out of life?’”
Lightbody got so wrapped up in this question, he dedicated an entire record — “Fallen Empires,” Snow Patrol’s sixth (which they’ll tout on tour in Oakland this weekend) — to finding the answer.
Its theme? “Continuation and mortality,” says the composer, who reflects on childhood (in acoustic ballads such as “The Garden Rules” and “Those Distant Bells”) and teenage camaraderie (a jittery “Called Out in the Dark”) before arriving at the gentle conclusion “Lifening,” which lists his relatively simple existential demands, such as “Ireland in the World Cup, either North or South” and “To share what I’ve been given/ Some kids eventually.”
“I never really thought about my place in the world before,” says Lightbody, known for heartwarming global hits such as “Chasing Cars.”
“There’s never been a ‘bigger picture’ thing with me — it’s always been about breakups or tiny moments. But my sister having a daughter just brought the whole thing into reality for me.”
Now he wants to settle down, too. But there’s only one problem: “It’s been a long, long time since my last girlfriend,” he says, adding that finding romance isn’t easy when you’re touring or recording nine months out of every year.
Luckily, the artist has plenty of work to distract him. The former Q Magazine and Irish Times writer is contributing to the Huffington Post, and he and Lee will be wrapping up their debut disc as the Listen…Tanks! duo.
He launched a publishing company, Polar Music, with signings including Vega 4’s Johnny McDaid (now part of Snow Patrol’s touring lineup) and Here We Go Magic.
He’ll also be re-teaming with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck as the folk-country outfit Tired Pony for a dark, brass-infused sophomore set. “My life is still just a clusterf---,” he says.
But don’t get Lightbody wrong. “I’m genuinely happy, and not in need of any therapy just yet,” he says. “Being settled is something that I want, but it’s not something I’m rushing towards. Because I just don’t feel like that’s the right approach to take.”
Where: Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday Tickets: $37.50
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com