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A Reluctant Bassist – Paul Wilson

Posted by rafael on January 11, 2013 in Musicians

Paul Wilson is the current bassist of Northern Irish alternative rock band Snow Patrol which is a surprising career move for a Scot who finds playing bass guitar a bit of a challenge! Wilson, however, is a skilled musician who claims to be able to play any instrument that you don’t have to blow into and appears to be managing his issues with the bass rather well.

Early Years

Paul Wilson was born in Kinlochleven, Scotland in 1978. He had always wanted to be a musician and happily admits that it is the only thing he has ever really done. He has commented that if he had failed to make it professionally in popular music he would have had little choice but to become a music producer or instructor. He can play piano, guitar drums and banjo and attended music school to learn the piano. As it turned out finding an alternative career was not necessary as he joined Glasgow band Terra Diablo in 2000, a group who frequently supported Snow Patrol on tour. Wilson had known the members of Snow Patrol since 1995. as although co-founders Gary Lightbody and Mark Mclelland were originally from Northern Ireland they had relocated to Scotland as teenagers to study at the University of Dundee. Whilst supporting Snow Patrol, Wilson often joined them on stage during their set playing guitar and keyboards.

Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson

Snow Patrol

In 2005 Wilson left Terra Diablo for reasons which were not publicised and was then invited to join Snow Patrol after the firing of their bassist and founder member Mark McClelland. He accepted the invitation but had to switch from his favourite instrument, guitar, to bass. He usually plays a black Rickenbacker on stage. He had been playing guitar for some 19 years before switching to bass and has found his new calling a difficult thing to master but enjoys the possibilities of the instrument and the ability to change a piece with just one note. Wilson writes bass lines for the group but sometimes also plays guitar and piano. He plays both guitar and bass left handed.


Joining a band after a founder member leaves can lead to disaster but things worked out very nicely for Paul Wilson. Shortly after his arrival the band opened the gigs on U2’s European tour before recording their new album” Eyes Open” which was released in May 2006. The album was a great success, eventually turning platinum in America and included the iconic and enduring track “Chasing Cars” which cemented the group’s position as international superstars. The track was voted the song of the noughties in a UK television pole. The success of “Eyes open” was followed by another triumph with the album “A Hundred Million Suns” in 2008 and the band joined U2 on tour again playing stadium venues across Europe and America. In 2011 the band’s sixth album “Fallen Empires” was released to mixed reviews but reached the top five in both the UK album and US billboard charts. Not bad achievements for a band who had lost its founder member and gained a bassist who was a little uncomfortable playing bass!

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Sally S is a company owner and blogger, writing on subjects as diverse as music and travel. You can find out more about Sally Stacey via her Google+ profile.

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