Success for Bell XI has always been something of feast or famine. For more than a decade the band have been household names in their native Ireland with a string of platinum-selling albums and number one hits.

But overseas recognition has remained tantalisingly elusive. Last year they took matters into their own hands and split from their record label, forming their own BellyUp Records. With a new album and a punishing American and European tour schedule, Bell XI seem set to finally glean the exposure they deserve.

Traditionally, audiences in the UK embrace small-time American bands, such as Kings of Leon or Scissor Sisters, and turn them into worldwide sensations. Bell XI have been embraced by the Yanks but largely ignored on these shores.

Says singer Paul Noonan, "I don't think there's any point to it really; we is what we is. The fact that we were big in Ireland before going to the UK was a bit of a handicap - as in the thinking in certain quarters that they weren't going to take pointers from the little neighbour.

"Whereas in America it's been a help, partly due to the fact there are many there with Irish heritage, and also the widely held notion that Ireland gives a good tune.

"We've been wary of playing the Irish card, as much as their notion of Irishness - mad craic and boozing, wild-eyed playing till you bleed - is not what we are."

Bell XI started life in 1991 as a band called Juniper with Noonan on drums and Damien Rice singing, backed by guitarists Dominic Philips and Brian Crosby. Multi-instrumentalist David Geraghty completed the quintet a year or so later and the group signed a six-album deal with Polygram.

But after two singles and several artistic differences, Rice left to grow organic tomatoes in Italy and pursue a solo career. Meanwhile, the band regrouped as Bell XI; Noonan emerged from behind the drum kit to take the frontman's place and their first album, Neither Am I, was released in 2000.

In Ireland, the band shot up like a rocket; their albums went platinum, their singles reached number one slots. However, beyond the attentions of faithful Irish ex-pats, Bell XI failed to make a mark overseas.

After years of fruitlessly cajoling their label, Island Records, to release their albums in Europe and America, the band decided to form BellyUp Records. At the same time, Crosby left to concentrate on solo projects.

Now the remaining trio have earned their chops at home and have set their sights on mainstream success. Later this year they will support U2, surely a sign Bell XI are on the up.

Blue Lights on the Runway is their fourth studio album and, they hope, the record that will make their name outside of Ireland.

So far, success. Numerous appearances on David Letterman and glowing critical reviews have ensured healthy album sales and sell-out gigs across both coasts. Last year the group toured America four times.

The band pride themselves on their liberal, indie credentials but last year allowed coffee behemoth Starbucks to use one of their songs on an in-store CD. They are, perhaps, not selling out but, rather, taking their chances where they can.

"We made a call on that and decided to do it," says Noonan. "It is contradictory, but we chose to be selfish and take the exposure. If you investigate all platforms on which your music takes a whirl, you'd be drained of the will to live, let alone make music, and would find unsavouriness related to many radio stations, promoters, retail outlets and media."

New album Blue Lights on the Runway is a wonderfully odd mix of genres and as changeable as coastal weather. The songs are minutes-long short stories; musical vignettes as bright and pulsing as stained glass.

The band, who play King Tut's in Glasgow tonight, have yet another tour of America planned as well as several summer festival dates and the support slot with U2. Bell XI have always had their sights on the long game.

They have created a dazzling album that deserves a wider audience. Bell X1 play King Tut's tonight.