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Nathan Connolly: The Strange Order of Things

After spending six years working on his debut solo album, Nathan Connolly is ready for the world to hear his voice.

Nathan Connolly has been a big part of the Northern Irish rock band, Snow Patrol for over 20 years. And after feeling the need to write and explore on his own, his debut solo album, The Strange Order Of Things, is ready to be released on April 21st.

Nathan Connolly Album front cover: The Strange Order of Things

Connolly said: “I don’t necessarily think it’s a step back from Snow Patrol, it’s just a sidestep, I think it’s healthy to create and collaborate with others, basically, that’s the main reason. I’ll come back to Snow Patrol having learned and experienced other things and hopefully bring that to the table.”

The musician let his gut decide when it came to making this album, Connolly said: “I had an idea and a vision, I kind of knew what I wanted to sound like, but I didn’t know how to explain it necessarily, it was more of a ‘this feels right’, or ‘this song belongs’.”

Once the album was finished Connolly said there are some parts that he wished he pushed more: “That’s inevitable when you make an album, it’s sometimes hard to not keep going back to it or changing things, but you have to call it at some point.”

The singer made the choice to not mess with it too much when it felt good to him: “It was very much, to quote a much better band ‘Let it Be’, it was just this is what it is, and as long as it’s making us or making me feel a certain way then that’s what is important.”

With this process, he decided not to push against anything that may have sounded like Snow Patrol like he has done before. Whereas his 2013 side project, Little Matador, was something that Connolly wanted to make different and allow them to go somewhere else with the band.

However, with The Strange Order Of Things, he didn’t fight against what has been a huge part of him for the past 20 years: “I just kind of wanted to see where it would go and let it be the way it was going to be. I mean, of course, there are moments of trying to navigate sounds and a lot of it was written in the studio, so trying to find out where they go… and I was pretty conscious not to tamper with that too much.”

Nathan Connolly, released his debut solo album in April 2023

Although there are no songs on the album about home, the Northern Irish singer felt compelled to make the album there. Connolly said that every other album he has made was in London, LA, or Berlin: “I wanted to know the place well enough so I could try and tune into what it was I wanted to say and write about. And that place was home”.

He said: “There isn’t any song about home on the album, but it was all written here, and I think I just wanted to see if I could make one at home because I never had. I don’t know the full reason, but I felt very strongly about it.”

Much like other artists Connolly drew his inspiration from past life events, delving into relationships, breakups and even becoming a dad. He said: “Not necessarily recent events but more things that have happened in the past, and trying to make sense of those and maybe take some accountability, even if it’s just to yourself.”

There are two songs on the record about Connolly becoming a dad despite not being sure if he wanted to talk about it in the first place, he said: “I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk about or mention it, but it was more about mortality and the changes that come with it and the absolute joy and fear that coexist with new life and being responsible for that.”

Connolly took the album name from the title of a book he read, he said: “It just seemed to encompass everything I was trying to say, and The Strange Order of Things sounds way better than Trying to Make Sense of Everything, but it is just life events… I guess it was a therapy of sorts.”

For Connolly, walking was a big influence when it came to writing lyrics. Being back home gave him this opportunity with there being a three-hour-long coastal walk where he lives, he said: “I find that when you stop thinking then things start to come to the surface, and walking over the years, is something I have found very useful. Not just for lyrical writing but for clarity and life stuff.”

However, he found that a lot of his good ideas came to him during the busier moments, he said: “it’s usually when I’m just at home messing around, you know waiting for family to get home or waiting to go out, or in the taxi and I’m like ‘Oh god that’s really good’, and I will throw it down on my phone.”

Connolly is also the lead guitarist and backing vocalist for Snow Patrol

Connolly always imagined there would be ten songs on the album, during the time he was writing, there were songs like Ghost that had been around for a while and then other songs that he didn’t even play to the producer.

He said: “Once we started and had got a good way into making the record and we could start to hear where it was going, all of that became much clearer, and then I became more inspired. That happens sometimes when other songs fall by the wayside.”

Simon Neil, lead singer of Biffy Clyro, features on Connolly’s new song Fires. The two of them have known each other for around 20 years and have always talked about working together but have never found the time.

Connolly found himself struggling with this song before deciding to reach out to Neil, he said: “I wasn’t very happy with what I was doing with Fires, and I didn’t want to just push through and accept something that I wasn’t very happy with or ‘that will do’, I don’t think that should ever be a phrase when making a record.”

The Biffy Clyro frontman was given free rein after he connected with the song and Connolly found that he had enhanced the track, creating something different from what he was attempting.

Connolly said: “It was straight away, as soon as he sent it, I was in the studio with the producer, and it arrived, and we played it, and we were like ‘Okay well that’s that’, it was perfect and we didn’t even go back to him, it was just great, and it may only be one song but we finally got to do a piece together.”

Biffy Clyro front man Simon Neil (left) and Nathan Connolly (right), wrote Fires together

With his song Ghost, Connolly always envisioned a female voice on the track and felt the lyrics lend themselves to a duet. The song is about relationships from over the years being merged into one ghost as if you are being haunted by them, and this can apply to either side of the relationship which emphasises the need for it to be a duet.

He said: “I was listening to Ailbhe Reddy’s record at the time and a song called Between Your Teeth specifically and I just heard Ailbhe’s voice and thought ‘Yes that’s the voice’. Call it serendipity or just sheer luck that I was listening to that song and thought that’s who I would like, so I got in touch and thankfully she said yes.”

Connolly felt the need to take this step and see what he could create on his own, his album The Strange Order of Things is Out Now.

You can buy tickets to his UK tour here.

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