WHEN you've written the most played song of the 21st century on UK radio, you're a brave man to consider messing with it.
However, that's exactly what Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody did when the Scottish-Northern Irish heavyweights sat down in various hotel rooms across the globe to record new versions of their biggest hits for their forthcoming Reworked album.
None of their songs are more beloved than Chasing Cars. The 2006 track won a Grammy, featured on seminal TV drama Grey's Anatomy, has been streamed 500 million times on Spotify and is arguably the signature rock song of the 2000s.
"I toyed with the idea of doing this really big kind of monstrous version of it, somewhere between The Polyphonic Spree and Arcade Fire mixed with a little bit of [metal band] Mastodon," Lightbody jokes from Los Angeles. "Something really menacing, but with joyousness in it."
In the end sanity prevailed. Snow Patrol stripped Chasing Cars down to its essence, without the lighter-waving chorus.
"We just left the song be and what it was when it was written, when it was formed," he says. "Whatever platonic ideal of the song is, it feels like this is it."
Snow Patrol toured Australia in 2018 on their worldwide Wildness tour and again in August, when they performed acoustically.
It was during that Wildness tour that the five-piece of Lightbody, Nathan Connolly (lead guitar), Paul Wilson (bass), Jonny Quinn (drums) and Johnny McDaid (guitar/piano) recorded Reworked in hotel rooms across the world.
Lightbody estimates he sung and played guitar in 30 different cities, including Sydney, for the album. McDaid, who produced Reworked, recorded and mixed tracks in over 100 cities.
As Snow Patrol deconstructed their greatest material like Run, Just Say Yes and Open Your Eyes Lightbody says the band came to uncover pieces of magic they never noticed when regularly blasting them in arenas.
The version of Run is potentially Reworked's most controversial moment. The epic rock track has been almost stripped of guitar and drums, leaving spacey synths and Lightbody's computerised voice.
"In every single new version we found something in the song," he says. "Because of the nature of recording in hotel rooms and dressing rooms, you're not setting up the drum kit in a hotel room, so they're not going to be rock versions of the songs.
"They're not all down tempo, but we picked a lot of high-tempo and louder songs to rework so we could rework them in a way that's different from the original and it fitted in with not waking up a family of four in the next room at midnight in a hotel.
"Long gone are the days of us wrecking hotel rooms. That was in our 20s. In our 40s we're very good. We're the type of people you want next door as we go to bed early."
Reworked has also given Lightbody a chance to reflect on Snow Patrol's 25 years since he formed the band as Shrug in Dundee, Scotland when he was 18.
It would take Snow Patrol three albums and a decade of failure before they finally tasted success in 2004 with the record Final Straw. Two years later Eyes Open, which featured Chasing Cars, broke the US and made Snow Patrol global stars.
In hindsight, Lightbody says the years of struggling financially and touring in a bus that was like a "Flintstones car" with no floor and you could "put your feet on the motorway", prepared them perfectly for Chasing Cars' monster success.
"I started the band at 18 and I thought this time next week I'll be famous," he says. "I had that attitude.
"Obviously it took 10 years to have any success and in those 10 years your ego gets worn away.
"Of course everybody who gets on a stage has some sort of ego, if anything, you need that. There's a positive ego, which gives you confidence, and there's a negative type of ego which makes you an arsehole.
"You get the arsehole part worn away and the confidence part dulls over time. That's a pretty healthy balance.
"Not that I'm never not an arsehole, of course I am, but I'm a different beast now. Back then I wanted everything now and I was impatient, and I was arrogant.
"Now I feel like I do have patience and I do have a lot of gratitude for what we have. Every day I'm grateful for everything we've got and the things we went through."
- Snow Patrol's Reworked is released on November 1.
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