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Biffy Clyro

Written by Thomas Mitchell on March 17, 2009

It’s not often that meteorology and music meet, but you can thank the shitty weather conditions in Scotland for the creation of Biffy Clyro.

“I think, well it’s a small country. We often say it’s something to do with the weather. You can’t spend all day out on your surfboard, it’s basically lots of hairy guys in their bedrooms playing guitar. We all lived in dismal times, there wasn’t much going on. We all listened to the same types of music, like Nirvana. So we just thought why not start playing together?”

That flippant decision led to the birth of Biffy Clyro, the best thing to come out of Scotland since the funny tartan hats with red hair attached. So how did the band go from garage to greatness? Well, it first started in 2001 with label Beggars Banquet.

“We released three albums with Beggars, did a lot of touring in the UK and a little bit in Europe. But we ended up getting a little frustrated that we weren’t traveling further a field — Australia and America and stuff. Then we changed labels, released Puzzle, and it all kind of clicked.”

The big change, like puberty, was awkward. Biffy were criticised by fans for switching labels and changing their sound, but bassist James explains time was the deciding factor.

“We did make a conscious decision to change things because we’d made three albums, you can’t keep making the same album. We felt like we’d made three good albums, it just felt natural to try something a little bit different. At the end of the day we’re making music for ourselves, you can’t please everybody.”

Indeed, and although furious blogger fans curse Biffy for chasing the almighty dollar, the band remains unfazed, instead deciding to focus on why people enjoyed Puzzle.

“We felt we’d always written great songs but in the past they were disguised through lots of craziness, some really strange time signatures, but on Puzzle we tried to strip away some of those things, get to the point a lot sooner.”

Speaking of getting to the point, I ask James if the band is shaking in their kilts at the prospect of backing up Puzzle with another album.

“There is always musical pressure, to try and better what you’ve done before. You have to satisfy your own curiosity, but also with the success of Puzzle, there is a certain amount of commercial pressure but it doesn’t do you any good to focus on that. Of course the record label would love it to go well, but so would we, so we just stop thinking about it, and get on with it.”

Now my knowledge of Scotland is based on ninety percent of what Groundskeeper Willy says and ten percent imagination, but one thing I do know is that the band will be playing RockNess, a new festival in Scotland.

“Yeah, that’s only been around three years, but it’s a good lineup, in such a beautiful part of the world, next to Loch Ness, it’s a mixture of rock bands and dance music.”

The mash of bands seems fitting for Biffy, a band who mixes styles like my mum mixes prescription pills. Half rock, half pop, the blended sound of Biffy Clyro has led to some amusing gigs.

“It’s interesting. We’ve played at some real metal festivals and some real pop festivals and in both cases we’re always been a bit different from the other bands, sometimes you can see the blank faces.”

Being different isn’t a bad thing, and clearly other bands agree. These Scotsmen have landed support slots with The Who, Bon Jovi, Muse and most importantly, The Rolling Stones.

“I think the first show we did with Rolling Stones was in Rome in the Olympic Stadium. It doesn’t get much better then that, but people were there to see Mick Jagger and Mick Jagger only so we were well aware of that after doing a few shows. The crowd kind of had no reaction, so we were on stage just laughing, it was really funny, it just relaxed us.”

This relaxed attitude has attracted success; the bands new single ‘Mountains’ has commercial radio creaming itself, and will surely appear on Grey’s Anatomy or some similar medical drama. If it were up to James though, it would be the soundtrack to one show only.

“I love Neighbours, I think everyone does. When we were kids, as soon as you came home from school, it was on. It has that kind of kitsch appeal I think, I just love the accent.”

Catch Biffy Clyro at the Metro on 26th March and at

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