Simon Neil - guitar / vocals
Ben Johnston - drums / vocals
James Johnston - bass / vocals
"The people that have heard us seem to love us. And that's the important thing: there's still so many more out there who'll potentially feel the same way. But our only real ambition is to be our own favourite band and I think we're succeeding."
- Simon Neil
In a time when the term punk rock is bandied about for easy access to credibility, Biffy Clyro are true exponents of a punk rock sound and ideal for 2003 - one which ensures everything centres around a constant musical (r)evolution They're signed to an independent label, still rehearse in the same YMCA room for £10 a week - and happily boast about the fact - and patently don't give a flying fig for notching up the obligatory Top 20 hits that are demanded of their contemporaries. Think back to all the great bands who have done it their way, who turned down or tuned up for no-one, regardless of commercial consequences.
It's this attitude on which careers are built and respect earned. And so far for Biffy Clyro its working like a dream.
The trio's recent thirty-date UK tour saw sold out shows the length and breadth of the country, with six hundred rapturous converts cramming into London Underworld to sing every single word to <> in what will turn out to be one of the capital's most over-subscribed gigs of 2003. A beautiful, beautiful sight. These recent rapturous shows are testament to Biffy Clyro's expanding fanbase, one which transcends the usual demographic, and draws in both young kids falling in and out of love for the first time and those who've been waiting patiently for a band who exude that same heart-stopping dynamic and raw, bloodied purity last heard with Nirvana in '91. Plus the high female quota shows is tribute to the refreshing feminine streak running through Simon Neil's lyrics - a real rarity in rock 'n' roll these days.
"We're in for the long haul... this isn't about having 'hits' or having money"
Formed by singer/guitarist Neil and drummer Ben Johnston in the mid-1990's while in their mid-teens, Biffy Clyro's formative years were a trial-by-fire apprenticeship that saw them quickly move on from their Nirvana + Guns N' Roses fixation and a brief period as Screwfish. Ben's twin brother came in on bass and Biffy Clyro debuted at a local youth centre supporting cult favourites Pink Kross. In 1997 the trio relocated to Glasgow to study audio engineering and electronics in music, but primarily to turn Biffy Clyro into a full-time proposition.
As is the way for young men stepping out into the world the next couple of
years saw the trio hardening their sound and broadening their musical horizons to take in the intelligent post-hardcore of Fugazi and the DC sound, influential emo
originators such as Far and Mineral, the broken-hearted laments of Red House
Painters and all manner of other such heroes of the alt-rock hinterlands. Five minutes in their company reveals Biffy Clyro to be true aficionados of music. Today they're namedropping Dillinger Escape Plan, Rush, Cave In, Stevie Wonder, tomorrow will bring a new discovery.
So far, so what?, then. But then at some point Biffy Clyro got good. <> good. Debut single 'Iname' was unleashed in May 1999 by manager Dee Bahl, with the charmingly-titled 'thekidswhopoptodaytwillrocktomorrow' EP following soon after on Electric Honey (the label that released Belle & Sebastian's 'Tiger Milk' album). More importantly they played show after show, refining their taut, emotionally charged sound alongside fellow Scots Eska and Lapsus Linguae. Spotted playing the unsigned stage at 2000's T In The Park festival, they promptly signed to Beggars Banquet and released debut single - and Kerrang! Single Of The Week - '27' in October 2000.
And that's when things really started happening. With all three members sharing vocal duties and Simon's heart-achingly powerful lyrics painting pictures of both despair and elation, betrayal and celebration, their fanbase swelled inconsiderably.Ê Off the back of blitzkrieg tours that saw the band hitting every town that would have them, Biffy Clyro recorded tracks with Paul Corkett (Placebo, Six By Seven) and Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, Idlewild). 'Justboy' preceded debut album 'Blackened Sky', released in early 2001. A slow-burner complimented by seemingly endless shows alongside the cream of the Britrock crop and a European tour with The Cooper Temple Clause, ÔBlackened SkyÕ was one of the most critically-acclaimed underground albums of 2002. And its from the underground that Biffy Clyro shall rise to dizzier heights.
There's only a year between the two albums, and that's a deliberate move. What's the point in being in a band otherwise?
Get this: Biffy Clyro's new album 'The Vertigo Of Bliss' was recorded in one
day. One day. Guns n' Roses they aren't. Thank God. Ensconced in Great Linford Manor studio with Chris Sheldon they ripped through a set of fifteen songs and spent the rest of the week on Playstation. The result is a rich, diverse album of angular post-hardcore / alt-rock. Call it what you want. Taking it's title from a phrase in contemporary novel 'I Lucifer', 'The Vertigo Of Bliss' is an inspired rush of emotion, contemplation and twisting melodies. Those in the know have had Biffy Clyro pegged as leading lights in a grass-roots scene for some time now. With their sophomore album, the likeable trio are set to soundtrack the lives of those whose path they cross. As Simon Neil says: "Guitar, bass, drums... it's been done before and it'll be done again. But if the song is amazing it doesn't matter. You can't polish a turd."
And the name? Best not ask. Just listen with open ears.