INTERVIEW: Johnny McDaid: ‘Wherever I am in the world, there really is a part of home with me’

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For Johnny McDaid, playing a gig at home is “the absolute reason for it all.”

The songwriter and musician is preparing to return home for a number of shows in Belfast with ‘Snow Patrol,’ before embarking on a UK and European tour.

Snow Patrol is currently supporting Ed Sheeran on his US stadium tour and will wrap up at the end of next week, having been on the road for almost four months.

Johnny spoke to the ‘Journal’ this week, and said Snow Patrol’s new album ‘Wildness’ has been very well received.

“It’s been going great. What we’ve noticed on the tour we’re on at the moment (with Ed Sheeran) is that the new songs are going down as well as the old songs in general.

“When you’re going to play stadiums, especially when you’re playing before Ed, it’s a bit of an odd space to be in.

“But when we play the new songs it’s really exciting and the reaction from it has been fantastic.

“We’ve been doing our own shows as well on the side. We did an acoustic three-piece show in Mexico a few days ago, and the crowd were singing every word from the new record, and that’s really thrilling when you hear that.

“We finish next week in USA, it’s been a fairly long run around this time. We’re just so excited to get back and play at home. Everything has pointed to us playing at home before Christmas.

“For us, playing at home is the absolute reason for it all. We talk about it all the time, but there’s nowhere like the crowds are like they are at home,” he said.

‘Wildness’ was released in May and the band did an intimate Irish tour in support of the release, including a sold out date in the Millennium Forum.

Johnny said the crowd in Derry was “amazing” and coming home to play in Derry is “always really special.”

“I always think about the idea that you can take the man from Derry, but Derry never leaves the man and that’s so true for me.

“Wherever I am in the world, there really is a part of home with me. I often think about home when I’m away from it.

“Coming back to Derry, and Gary’s family is from Derry too, it really did feel like a real sense of coming back and coming home.

“The crowd was amazing there too. It was the first show on our Irish tour as a warm up, and it was just amazing. I wish there were more spaces in Derry we could play because I just love playing there so much.

“I really hope Derry fans make it to the Belfast gigs, we’ll make sure to be flying the Derry flag high,” he added.

While at home in May, Johnny was also honoured with a Mayoral Reception in the Guildhall by then Mayor, Colr. Maolíosa McHugh.

Joined by friends and family, he said it was “such an honour.

“Any time where someone from home is seen by people from home, it’s just a really special honour.

“But it’s not just about me, it’s the amazing people I work with.

“I couldn’t be out here without them, the band and the people I make records with. I really do see it as a shared thing.

“It was lovely to bring Court (partner Courteney Cox) up there and my family up to the Mayor’s Parlour in the Guildhall,” he said.

Looking ahead to the December shows in the SSE Arena in Belfast on December 7 and 8, Johnny said that after the US tour finishes up next week, there is “no down time” for the band.

“It’s straight into rehearsals. It’s a completely different show and at the minute were working really hard on designing and building a new show for the arena tour back home.

Back in the UK and europe.

“That’s really our focus, getting this tour done, which is wrapping up at the end of next week, and then we’re straight back into production rehearsals the following week in London.

“We will be putting it all together, it’s going to be a really big set.

“Hopefully, it will be a really unforgettable experience - we have put in every single bit of ourselves into it.

“It’s important for us to say that it is the people back home who go to the gigs who make it for us, without them there is no show.

“When we’re there playing the songs we’re very aware of it, and we hold that in our hearts and mind, it is about all of us together.

“Snow Patrol has always been about that, it’s been about community and the union of us and the people coming to the shows, it’s not a band separately, it’s us together,” he said.

Johnny said that the band and many musicians have had to adapt to technological changes over the past few decades, but he said it is important to not “be at the behest of it.”

“Gary (Lightbody) says the band is coming up on 25 years old this year, so we’re nearly old enough to rent a car in America!

“Technology has changed massively, and music has too. The way we listen to music, the way we interact with music has changed completely. It’s changed since we put our last record out.

“It’s important to stay true to what you do in spite of the way music changes.

“Attention spans are much shorter now than they used to be, people tend to listen to things as a very quick experience and move on.

“When I was growing up in Derry I would save up for a record, and queue up in a store in the Richmond Centre to buy the record I’d been saving for that month, so it was a really different experience.

“Now you can listen to a record on your phone.

“It’s really important that we still deliver and we invest in ourselves to make the record feel like a record.

“We can’t change the way people listen to music, but we can do is make the music we make and they can choose to listen to it,” he added.

The band will get a chance to relax over the festive season, and Johnny said he will be “trying to catch up on sleep and working through some jetlag” with family in Scotland.

“My little sister who lives in Scotland is due to have a baby this week, so I think the whole family will gather up there.

“We have about a week off. As long as there’s a fire and a blanket, I’ll be grand!”

Snow Patrol perform in the SSE Arena Belfast on December 7 and 8. For tickets visit www.ticketmaster.ie