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Hannigan has admitted one song on Passenger, 'Little Bird', was inspired by her break-up with Rice.
The lyrics capture the end of the relationship: "When the time comes / And rights have been read / I think of you often / But for once I meant what I said." Rice was said to be heartbroken after the split and poured out his heart to Hot Press in an unusually candid interview.
” laughs Lisa Hannigan, describing the end of her working relationship with Damien Rice.
Hannigan met Rice during Fresher’s Week when they were both at Trinity College. The pair played their first gig at Whelan’s, throughout which she stood petrified, three feet from the mic, her head down and thumbs through the hooks of her skirt.
“For the ten years before Run I used to think, ‘If only we could have a hit, then everything would be okay.’ Then we did and I was like, ‘Why has nothing changed? That yo-yoing between the two means you’re never fully peaceful.” Where does it come from, that self-loathing he talks about? A teenager, when the hormones kicked in and I started feeling things, in the way teenagers do. Lightbody already had a side project going with members of REM, the country-tinged supergroup Tired Pony. I had always been warned against that by my father and my friends. It was horrible to go a day without drinking.” The feelings he had suppressed for years surged up to overwhelm him and Lightbody admits that he lost the will to live. I was drinking because I was unable to write and I was probably unable to write because I was drinking, so this snake was eating its own tail and I fell into this cycle of self-loathing compounded by my own actions.” He thought about “not existing” – but had not got as far as working out how to actually end his life when a nasty infection gave him a jolt. And he did the CT scan again and it was clear.” The song Heal Me on the new album is dedicated to Gabrielle. They talk about not making any big life decision within the first two years of your recovery and I’m still within that framework. I think that’s probably a good benchmark, before making any significant changes in my life.” So come June, romantically, he will be open for business again? “So we went out and got drunk together and we had a really good laugh. ’ That’s how we became fast friends.” Did Lightbody get the tattoo? “After the gig they would go to the hotel room to write songs together and they would always ask me ‘Do you want to come? The new album features proper big Snow Patrol blockbusters like Life On Earth and Empress but there are also haunting ballads, including one called Soon. “He was diagnosed three years ago but he was showing signs long before that. Maybe there’s something of my childhood in there.” And he’s come full circle, because after all these years Lightbody is living in Northern Ireland again. When I finally bought a house there, in my thirties, I fell deeply in love with the place again. We punch well above our weight in sport, in music, culturally, all the art forms.
That album, Sea Sew, earned her Choice Music Prize and Mercury Prize nominations and she followed it up with the chart topping Passenger.The song was an unexpected hit in 2005, then again when Leona Lewis took a cover to number one. Eyes Open became the biggest-selling album of the year in Britain in 2006 and gave the world Chasing Cars, one of those songs you hear everywhere, all the time.The video has been seen on You Tube 185 million times.Snow Patrol are about to make a comeback after a very long time away, but they are still one of the biggest rock bands in the world. That coincided with us coming off tour seven years ago. And I thought, ‘That’s another reason not to get involved with anyone.’ I didn’t want them to be with me in this mess…” And what a terrible mess he was in, it turns out as we talk in a deserted hotel bar in New York, ahead of an intimate warm-up gig at the Irving Plaza They are warming up to release and tour a terrific new album called Wildness, featuring songs as good as any they have recorded – but Lightbody admits it nearly didn’t happen. The story of how he got himself and his band back together is a fascinating one, involving a therapist called Gabrielle, a singer called Ed Sheeran and Monica from Friends. So on that last one everybody was in the middle of a nervous breakdown at some point.Lightbody can connect with whole stadiums full of people, so why does he have nobody to connect with as a partner? We sort of swapped nervous breakdowns.” They had been together since their days at Dundee University in the early Nineties, and slogged away as a band for a whole decade without any success, before sudden global fame brought a relentless schedule.