At this summer’s Warped tour in Minneapolis I was fortunate enough to talk with the intriguing Simon Neil and brothers Ben and James Johnston of Biffy Clyro. The band originates from Glasgow, Scotland but has been recently spending most of their time in North America recording their new album and touring. Their latest effort, entitled “Puzzle”, is available now.
“This is our fourth album and the past three albums came really quickly…we did an album each year. We recorded them really quickly and knew what we wanted to do so we went ahead and did it. This time we wanted to do something a bit different; we felt [that] if we started from a different place then there was more chance we’d end up with a different end result,” they explain. “I think it’s important; you don’t want to repeat yourself all the time. We worked on a lot of things back home before we went to Canada to record. We recorded with a great producer called Garth Richardson (Rage Against the Machine, Rise Against, Atreyu) and it was mixed by Andy Wallace (Bad Religion, Foo Fighters, Blink 182). We spent about a year and a half writing the record and when we went to record we were stuck up in the mountains and didn’t see a soul for about five weeks. We were going crazy by the end of it but it gave the album a nice intensity.”
As if to add to the drastic range of artists their producers have worked with, describing their kind of rock seems to create a genre of its own.
“We always kind of say ‘weird rock’ music. Sometimes we play more heavy band music but then we play something where we’re not heavy -- in the way that a lot of other bands are. Then we’ll think maybe we’re indie rock, and then we’ll play with a certain band and realize that we’re totally not [indie rock]. So…we bring all the best bits of rock music together! It can be kind of boring if a band starts to sing the same things over and over again.”
For those who aren’t familiar with Biffy Clyro, they have a very unique and humble approach to the way they treat their fans. This modesty has helped create a tight knit group of loyal followers; so tight in fact, they have given themselves a name.
“Team Biffy!” the guys laugh. “They’re going to take over the world one day! You know, we’re lucky enough to make music. That doesn’t make us any better than anyone else. We just enjoy what we do and we love the fact that people come to our shows and buy our records. That’s why we’re so excited to be here. It’s a nice change for us and we get to start things up over here. Hopefully [we’ll] spend more time here and in the northwest.”
All musicians are fans themselves, and while some influences can have so much meaning that they warrant a tattoo across ones chest, others might be better left in the “guilty pleasure” closet.
“James loves Shania Twain!” muse Simon and Ben.
“ I only like one song,” admits James, “ ’I’m Gonna Get You’; and that Rihanna song, ’Umbrella’. We all really like that song.”
In fact, the guys like it so much that they actually did an acoustic cover of it on BBC Radio 1. However, when asked about his tattoo, (Simon has a tattoo across his chest that reads “God only knows what I’d be without you”), Simon takes a more serious route.
“Well me and my finance, our first dance is going to be The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’, and this, (Simon points to his chest), is for my babe.”
Biffy Clyro has been making waves in Europe for several years now and are about to take North America by storm. Make sure you’re strapped in for the ride; oh, and don’t forget your “umbrella”.