Biffy Clyro are a Scottish rock band that formed in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire comprising Simon Neil (guitar, lead vocals), James Johnston (bass, vocals) and Ben Johnston (drums, vocals). Currently signed to 14th Floor Records, they have released six studio albums, three of which, Puzzle, Only Revolutions and Opposites reached the top five in the UK Albums Chart. They also claimed their first number one album in the UK Albums Chart with their sixth studio album, Opposites.
After their first three albums, the band expanded their following significantly with the release of their fourth, Puzzle in 2007 creating more mainstream songs with simpler rhythms and distancing themselves from their more unusual dissonant style that was present in the previous three albums. Puzzle peaked at number 2 on the official UK album charts on 16 June 2007. The album went Gold in the UK, selling over 100,000 units and later went Platinum in the UK in 2012 selling over 300,000 copies. Biffy Clyro's popularity was built upon further in 2008 and 2009 with the release of the singles "Mountains" and "That Golden Rule", which both reached the top 10 of the UK Singles Chart.
Their 2009 album, Only Revolutions, reached No. 3 in the UK chart and went gold within days of its release in 2009, later going platinum in 2010 and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. Only Revolutions included the UK hit singles, "Mountains", "That Golden Rule" and "Many of Horror" all of which reached the UK Top Ten. The latter reached number eight on the UK Singles Chart after The X Factor 2010 winner, Matt Cardle covered the song. It became the UK number one Christmas single for the year of 2010. In 2011 the band was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Group. At the 2013 NME Awards they received the award for Best British Band.
1995–2000: Early years and formation
The first incarnation of what would eventually become Biffy Clyro, but was at the time called Screwfish (after a brief flirtation with the name Kuntozoid Spamcocky), was formed in 1995 by fifteen-year-old Ayr-based guitarist Simon Neil, who recruited Kilmarnock-born Ben Johnston. Soon brought in was James Johnston, Ben's twin brother, and the three spent the next two years rehearsing, writing and covering songs. Simon Neil has commented on this period of time, saying:
On 31 January 1995, they played their first gig under the name Skrewfish as the support for a band called Pink Kross at the Key Youth Centre in East Kilbride, now known as Universal Connections East Kilbride. In 1997, the trio then moved to Glasgow, where Neil went to the University Of Glasgow and the Johnston twins went to Stow College, studying Electronics with Music and Audio Engineering respectively.
After playing gigs around Glasgow and receiving positive and enthusiastic reactions from the audiences, the band were spotted by Dee Bahl, who soon became their manager. Bahl offered them a chance to release an independent single on Aereogramme's Babi Yaga record label. "Iname" was released on 28 June 1999, with Northsound Radio's Jim Gellatly (later of Beat 106 & Xfm Scotland) giving the band their first radio play. This first release led to the band being chosen by Stow College's Electric Honey record label to release a record. thekidswhopoptodaywillrocktomorrow was released on Nerosa on 13 June 2000, and after hearing it, BBC Radio Scotland DJ Vic Galloway gave the band airplay. A few days prior to the release of thekidswhopoptodaywillrocktomorrow, the band were spotted at the Unsigned Bands stage at T in the Park 2000 by a Beggars Banquet representative. Soon after, the band was signed to the independent Beggar's Banquet.
2000–2005: Blackened Sky, The Vertigo of Bliss and Infinity Land
On 9 April 2001, previously unreleased song "27" was released as a single. On 1 October 2001, a song from thekidswho... was re-recorded and released as a single, "Justboy". This was repeated again on 4 February 2002, when the song "57" was released. On 11 March, the band's debut album, Blackened Sky, was released to generally positive reviews. It was around this time that the band began touring extensively, including being the support for Weezer on 20 March at the Barrowlands in Glasgow. On 15 July, the fourth single from the album, "Joy.Discovery.Invention" was released as a double A-side with a newly recorded song, titled "Toys, Toys, Toys, Choke, Toys, Toys, Toys", which later appeared on The Vertigo of Bliss.
In 2003, the band retreated to the Linford Manor recording studio in Great Linford, Milton Keynes, England to record the follow-up to Blackened Sky. On 24 March, a new single was released titled, "The Ideal Height", followed by another new single titled "Questions and Answers" on 26 May. The band's second album, The Vertigo of Bliss was released on 16 June, to positive reviews, which focused on the more experimental style of the album in comparison to Blackened Sky, as well as the introduction of string sections.
After touring relentlessly for The Vertigo of Bliss, the band retreated to Monnow Valley Studios in Monmouth, Wales to record a follow-up album. As with the previous album, two singles were released before the actual album; "Glitter and Trauma" and "My Recovery Injection" on 9 August and 20 September, respectively. A digital download was also released; "There's No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake", on 31 May. On 4 October, the band's third album, Infinity Land was released, and on 14 February 2005, the last single from the album, "Only One Word Comes To Mind" was released. On 16 February, the band performed a cover of Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" live from Maida Vale on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show. Simon Neil's side project, Marmaduke Duke, also released an album in 2005, The Magnificent Duke, and toured the UK, along with the Johnston twins accompanying on bass and drums.
2007–2009: Puzzle and mainstream success
In 2006, Biffy Clyro left Beggars Banquet and signed a deal with 14th Floor, an offshoot of Warner Bros. In September, the band went to Canada to record their fourth album at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver where it was engineered by Mike Fraser, and The Farm Studio in Gibsons. From these sessions the song "Semi-Mental" was released as a digital download on 25 December. In 2007, the song "Saturday Superhouse" was released on 5 March, where it reached No. 13 on the UK Singles Chart; at the time, the band's highest single chart position to date.
Puzzle was released in June, and helped the band to reach their highest UK Albums Chart position ever. The album reached No. 2 in the first week of release, and was voted the best album of 2007 by Kerrang! and Rock Sound. The album also reached No. 17 in Ireland, and No. 39 in the overall world charts. The album is certified Gold in the UK, having sold over 220,000 copies. It has as of February 2009, sold over 300,000 worldwide. This album is notable for having somewhat more straightforward song structures and a more melodic overall sound than their previous work, while still retaining some more unusual elements.
Support slots for acts such as Muse at the new Wembley Stadium, The Who, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Rolling Stones were significant in expanding Biffy's fanbase. The band also played the Download 2007, Glastonbury 2007, Reading and Leeds Festival and T in the Park for a record seventh time. On 25 August, it was announced that "Machines" would be the next single from Puzzle, and was released on 8 October. The band opened for Linkin Park during January on their European tour. In 2008 the band toured with Queens Of The Stone Age on their European and North American tours for Era Vulgaris, and opened for New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi at Twickenham during the Lost Highway Tour.
2009–2011: Only Revolutions
The band released a new single entitled "Mountains" in July 2008, which reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart – the band's first song to reach the top 10, and their highest charting single to date. Originally released as a stand-alone single, "Mountains" went on to be included on the album. In December 2008 the band played their biggest headline shows including a date at Glasgow's SECC, a 10,000 capacity venue. In an interview with NME the band stated that they had started work on a follow up album to Puzzle. Simon Neil noted that the album would include some of the band's "heaviest riffs to date," while Ben Johnston, in an interview with XFM, revealed that the forthcoming album would be "Oli Coates" and that they already had 16 demos laid down. Simon Neil told Kerrang magazine in 8 December about the new album, playfully saying "The soft bits are softer, and the hard bits are harder...", mocking how bands always label their new albums the most heavy and yet melodic so far. The band are working with Puzzle producer Garth Richardson again at Ocean Way studios, many videos on the net have been shown of them playing along to Shania Twain's "You're Still the One". A Kerrang! magazine article, published in March 2009, stated that they planned to enter the studio in April. This article also revealed a working title for the upcoming album – "Boom, Blast and Ruin". However on their official site, a series of updates were shown every week, slowly revealing letters of the new album title. After Rock Sound revealed a mistake in the albums name "Only Exceptions", it was revealed officially that the album would be titled 'Only Revolutions'.
In April 2009, Simon Neil stated: We start recording on the first of May and we’re going to do it in Los Angeles with Garth Richardson again who did the last album. We’re going to do it at Ocean Way Studios where Frank Sinatra did "My Way", in the same studio. We should have it all done by August and it should come out about September. Well, that’s what is on the schedule, but if not then, it will definitely be before the end of the year. On 20 April 2009, Biffy Clyro performed a rare version of "Mountains" on a Balcony overlooking the Reeperbahn, Hamburg on the music viral show BalconyTV. Simon Neil stated that "it was the coolest session they'd ever done."
Kerrang reported that they were filming the video for the first single from the album in July 2009, "That Golden Rule". It was filmed on 1 July in London, with the band saying that the song is "like Kyuss and Tool playing with some Scottish freaks screaming over the top of it." "That Golden Rule" got its first play on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show on 8 July, in which he played the song twice in a row, and it was then announced that the single would be released on 23 August 2009. It went on to reach No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart. Just before the official release of "That Golden Rule", Biffy Clyro performed on the main stage at V Festival, their second appearance at the festival. (The first time being in 2006, in a much earlier slot. During the set of the Chelmsford leg, the band experienced power failures twice in the opening song.) "The Captain" was released as a single 26 October 2009, following its first radio play on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show on 8 September. And were confirmed to be supporting Muse for 14 dates on their European tour. Only Revolutions was released on 9 November 2009. The band were slated to perform at New Zealand's largest music festival Rhythm & Vines at Waiohika Estate Vineyard in Gisborne on 29 December, but had to pull out due to "minor medical procedures" required by two band members. On 24 February 2010, "The Captain" won an NME Award for Best Video. Biffy Clyro performed on the Main Stage at the T in the Park, Oxegen and Reading and Leeds music festivals in 2010. They were also announced as the main support act for Muse at Wembley Stadium on 11 September, performing after I Am Arrows and White Lies.
On 2 and 3 July 2011 Biffy Clyro supported Foo Fighters in front of 130,000 fans (65,000 each night) at the Milton Keynes Bowl in the U.K. On Saturday 9 July 2011, Biffy Clyro headlined the main stage (Apollo Stage) at Sonisphere Festival at Knebworth House. The following day, they headlined the main stage (West Stage) at Wakestock in Cardigan Bay, North Wales.
They have stated in a recent NME magazine that they are set to record their next album and are working on 22 tracks.The band have also confirmed that the sixth studio album will be a double album, and that they hope to have it released in the Summer of 2012. Biffy Clyro opened for Metallica in Bangalore, India in 2011.
In NME, the band revealed that they would release two studio albums in 2012, The Land at the End of Our Toes, and The Sand at the Core of Our Bones.
From 17 May 2012 the band have allowed fans to watch the recording process of The Land at the End of Our Toes, and The Sand at the Core of Our Bones. via a webcam link-up on their official website.  The live feed has confirmed the involvement of frequent Biffy Clyro producer Garth Richardson who also produced the bands recent albums Puzzle and Only Revolutions.
On 8 June 2012 at their gig at the Swindon Oasis Centre, Biffy Clyro played four new songs, 'Modern Magic Formula', 'Sounds Like Balloons', 'Victory Over The Sun' and 'The Joke's on Us'. The band also played these songs during their slots at Download Festival and Rockness, bar Sounds Like Balloons.
On 13 June 2012, the NME reported that the band will not be using the album names 'The Land at the End of Our Toes' and 'The Sand at the Core of Our Bones'.
On 30 July 2012, the band announced on Twitter that a new track titled 'Stingin' Belle' would be given its official premiere in the UK on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show from 7.30pm the following evening and that the music video for the song would be available from 9pm for 12 hours to members of the band's official fan club. At 19:37 BST on Tuesday 31 July, Simon Neil confirmed that the new album title would be 'Opposites' on Zane Lowe's show on BBC Radio 1.
Their new single titled Black Chandelier premièred on BBC Radio 1 on 19th November 2012.
Opposites is the sixth studio album by Scottish alternative rock band Biffy Clyro, released on 28 January 2013.
The band announced they would be playing a large arena tour through March/April 2013, including London's The O2 Arena, with City and Colour in support.
On Sunday 3rd of February 2013, Opposites topped the UK Albums Charts. This is the first time Biffy Clyro had a number one album. The next day, it was announced on BBC Radio 1 by Zane Lowe that they were the second headliner for Reading & Leeds Festivals.
Biffy Clyro also headlined the second day of the annual Radio 1 Big Weekend festival on the 25th May 2013 in Derry-Londonderry.
"'Mon the Biffy!" or, in more recent times, "'Mon the Biff!" are well known chants among Biffy fans, usually shouted in between songs at gigs, or before the band comes on stage. The band have never disclosed where the name 'Biffy Clyro' originated. They have a series of stories as to how the name came about; whilst being interviewed on Soccer AM the band stated that they named themselves after a footballer called Biffy Clyro who played for Scottish side Ayr United, while also admitting that they make up stories about how they are named because they are bored with being asked the same question. Another story is that one of the members owned a Cliff Richard pen, i.e. "Cliffy Biro", which was accidentally spoonerised on a drunken night out. Simon Neil appeared to confirm this as the real reason in a 2010 interview with Eve Jackson on France 24, and said that it was "a stupid name" that was often "awkward" to explain its origins when the band started and when not many had heard their music. The name Biffy Clyro has also been claimed in another interview to come from an acronym for "Big Imagination For Feeling Young 'Cos Life Yearns Real Optimism". The band also state in an interview for BalconyTV that the band name was that of a Finnish footballer from the 17th century. On Off the Ball in August 2011 Ben Johnston claimed "Well it’s a marriage of two words: Biffy is in fact the nickname of the spy who the James Bond novels were based on and Clyro is a town in Wales where both our families…used to go on holiday…". In an episode of Music Choice's "Pop Quiz" Simon Neil explained that Biffy Clyro is the name of a Scotsman that built his own rocket and was the first man in space.
The band cite influences ranging from heavy metal luminaries like Metallica to prog legends Rush, while reviewers are often quick to link their sound to the likes of Nirvana and Foo Fighters – particularly in their use of shifting dynamics which they adapted from Pixies and Fugazi. Members of the band have been reported to listen to bands such as Burning Airlines, Far, Jawbox, Kerbdog, Pantera, Soundgarden, Lightning Bolt, Drive Like Jehu, Mineral, Red House Painters, Sunny Day Real Estate and Weezer. At the Leeds Festival 2010 Neil said of Queens of the Stone Age, The Greatest Rock Band in the Fuckin' world. Mark Z. Danielewski's second novel Only Revolutions was influential for the album Only Revolutions; the band have since met Danielewski, discovering that he was a fan when he attended one of their shows. The band is currently scheduled to share the stage with Danielewski at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles during a 2 March Spin magazine benefit that will raise funds for Homeboy Industries.
- Current members
- Simon Neil – lead guitar, lead vocals
- James Johnston – bass guitar, vocals
- Ben Johnston – drums, vocals
- Touring members
- Mike Vennart – guitar, backing vocals (2010–present)
- Richard "Gambler" Ingram – guitar, piano (2012–present)
- Studio albums
- Blackened Sky (2002)
- The Vertigo of Bliss (2003)
- Infinity Land (2004)
- Puzzle (2007)
- Only Revolutions (2009)
- Opposites (2013)
- Revolutions: Live at Wembley (2011)
Awards and nominations
- MTV Europe Music Awards
- Bandit Rock Awards
- Kerrang! Awards
- NME Awards
- Barclaycard Mercury Prize
- Radio 1 Teen Awards
- Q Awards
- BRIT Awards
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Image from Discogs