Paul Wilson Left Snow Patrol to Make Heavier Music. Now He’s Rising Above a Messy Split

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above-as-below-luna - Credit: Andrea Bussell*
above-as-below-luna - Credit: Andrea Bussell*

Paul “Pablo” Wilson left Snow Patrol after nearly two decades in the band last year — but he waited to announce it. Now, as he wants to move on with a metal-leaning project he’s calling Above as Below, he’s making sense of how the world has perceived the way he left Snow Patrol.

When the band posted about the bassist’s departure earlier this month, a liberating moment was soon overshadowed by rumors of intraband tension. After the Scottish indie rockers announced Wilson’s departure at the same time as that of longtime drummer Jonny Quinn, Quinn’s wife Mariane wrote a series of comments online that alleged her husband had been “fucked by you know who.”

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“I’ve not heard from [Jonny and Mariane] or anyone in the band,” Wilson tells Rolling Stone on a phone call from his home in Scotland. “But I’m glad to talk about this because I feel like my narrative has been completely lost. After being in this band for 20 years, and then all of a sudden there’s this salacious gossip. It’s like, ugh. This has completely ruined my moment of leaving and doing my own thing.”

As far as the messy split goes, he says, “I don’t really know what went down, but I’m guessing there were creative differences in the studio; I can’t imagine it was anything too crazy.”

Wilson says he left Snow Patrol in November simply because he wanted to work on his own music, beginning with Above as Below. Less and less of his input was making it into Snow Patrol, and he wanted to make music that was, frankly, heavier. “I don’t have any ill feelings towards the guys,” he says.

Just before Covid, Wilson moved from Los Angeles to the highlands of Scotland and started to feel like he was at home again. He could work on music and reconnect with his record collection and nature. When the band reunited post-lockdown for a tour, he realized his heart wasn’t in it anymore. “It’s quite a tough decision to walk away from a huge entity like Snow Patrol,” he says. “But my priorities shifted so much.”

Wilson traveled after the tour, spending a lot of time in Egypt, which he found inspirational for Above as Below’s debut EP. One side, “Luna,” looks at how ancient Egyptians viewed the moon, while the other, “Star of Flame,” looks at the sun.

“Luna,” premiering here, is about the “divine feminine,” Wilson says. The song undulates with a weighty riff as Wilson sings about celestial bodies. “It’s the idea of the moon orbiting and drawing you in like a divine feminine,” he says. He performs all of the instruments on the track. For the drums, he edited all of the cymbals and high hats separately since it was not his primary instrument.

In Egypt, he and his wife (who were honeymooning) visited the pyramids and the Gnostic museum, the Nag Hammadi library, which provided the wellspring for some of the EP. “It’s got a lot of esoteric writings, different accounts of religious stories, and odd things,” he says. “The ‘Thunder Perfect Mind’ is very interesting. The Gnostics believed the moon was the mother of the earth. I was also influenced by the Luna and Juno from my visit to the Roman Forum earlier this year. It’s about the whole pantheon of history’s divine feminine. ‘Star of Flame’ is about the Sun, divine masculine demiurge.”

Wilson is especially pleased with the 12-inch, which will be available on limited green vinyl and will come out on Friday, the same day as a full moon, the last supermoon of the year. He’s also excited for listeners to find a “locked groove,” similar to the secret run-out track on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, on the release.

Although some Snow Patrol fans might be surprised at Above as Below’s sound, Wilson says he came by it naturally. “I’ve done Bon Iver-style stuff, and I thought, ‘This isn’t good enough,'” he says. “It’s not authentic. And I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I love metal mostly.’ My old before, Terra Diablo, was a metal band, and I played lead guitar in Nate Mendel from Foo Fighters’ band, Lieutenant. But heavier music is what I’ve listened to.” When he returned to Scotland, he reconnected with music by Spotlights, Killing Joke, and Tool, as well as “old stuff” like Metallica and Pantera.

Wilson expects to release more music next year. He’s still deciding whether that will be an album or a series of singles. Once he’s done with the album, he’ll find musicians he can tour with.

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