Biffy Clyro

Biffy Clyro
Biffy Clyro

Biffy Clyro signing copies of their "Mountains" single in Zavvi, 2008.
Background information
Origin Kilmarnock, Scotland
Genres Alternative rock,[1] post-hardcore, new prog, indie rock
Years active 1995 (1995)–present
Labels Beggars Banquet, 14th Floor, Roadrunner
Associated acts Marmaduke Duke
Simon Neil
James Johnston
Ben Johnston

Biffy Clyro are a Scottish rock band from Kilmarnock,[2] comprising Simon Neil (guitar, lead vocals), James Johnston (bass, vocals) and Ben Johnston (drums, vocals). 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 the 16th of June 2007. The album went gold in the UK, selling over 100,000 units. 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 latest album, Only Revolutions, reached #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.



1995-2000: Early years and formation

The first incarnation of what would eventually become Biffy Clyro was formed in 1995 by fifteen-year-old Ayr-based guitarist Simon Neil, who recruited Kilmarnock-born Ben Johnston and someone known as Barry on drums and bass respectively, calling themselves Screwfish.[3] Barry was soon replaced by 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:

At that point we probably sounded like every other band who'd ever heard Nirvana. We were just discovering distortion pedals, really. Then we went slightly more punky for a time. I guess it takes a while to work out exactly what you want to do. At the start you just want to sound like your favourite bands, but after a while you realise, maybe you could become your favourite band.[3]

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.[4] 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.[3]

After playing gigs around Glasgow and receiving positive and enthusiastic reactions from the audiences,[5] 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.[5] 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.[5] 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.[6]

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

Biffy Clyro performing in 2008.
Guitarist Simon Neil performing in July 2007.

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 #13 on the UK Singles Chart; at the time, the band's highest single chart position to date.

Puzzle was released in June to critical acclaim, and helped the band to reach their highest UK Albums Chart position ever. The album reached #2 in the first week of release to widespread critical acclaim, receiving several perfect ratings and was voted the best album of 2007 by Kerrang! and Rock Sound. The album also reached #17 in Ireland, and #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.[7]

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-present: Only Revolutions and continued popularity

Ben Johnston drumming for Biffy Clyro at the Hammersmith Apollo in May 2010

The band released a new single entitled "Mountains" in July 2008, which reached #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.[8]

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.[9] 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 the 8 July and it was then announced that the single would be released on the 23 August 2009. It went on to reach #10 on the UK Singles Chart. "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.[10] On 24 February 2010, "The Captain" won an NME Award for Best Video.[11][12][13] Biffy Clyro performed on the Main Stage at the T in the Park, Oxegen and Reading and Leeds music festivals in 2010.[14] They were also announced as the main support act for Muse at Wembley Stadium on September 11, performing after I Am Arrows and White Lies. Oceansize guitarist Mike Vennart has been performing live with the band as a second guitarist since the band's April/May 2010 UK Tour. Biffy Clyro are due to go on tour again this year[when?] in the months of November and December. They will perform on three consecutive dates in Scotland at the end of November before playing in Nottingham, and one date at Wembley Arena, England in early December. They also mentioned that they have plans to record for their next full-length album at Christmas. In a recent interview with Kerrang! magazine, the band stated that at the end of their tour next February, they would take a small holiday and on their return to Scotland, they will begin work on their sixth album.

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. In 2011, Biffy Clyro will headline the Saturday of the Sonisphere Festival in Knebworth.[15] They headlined the lineup for Wakestock festival in Wales.

They have stated in a recent NME magazine that they are set to record their next album and are working on 22 tracks. Two entitled "Black Chandelier" and "The Joke's On Us" which has been added to many of their recent live sets.

Biffy Clyro opened for Metallica in Bangalore, India in 2011.


The modern day Biffy logo

"'Mon the Biff!" or "Mon the Biffy!" is a well known chant among Biffy fans,[16] usually shouted in between songs at gigs, or before the band comes on stage. The band have never actually disclosed exactly 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.[17] 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".[18] The band also state in an interview for BalconyTV that the band name was that of a Finnish footballer from the 17th century.[19] 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 was based on and Clyro is a town in Wales where both our families…used to go on holiday…”.[20]

Musical influences

The band themselves 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 as diverse 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.[21] 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.[17] The band is currently scheduled to share the stage with Danielewski at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles during a March 2 SPIN Magazine benefit that will raise funds for Homeboy Industries.[22]

Band members

Current members
Touring musicians
  • Mike Vennart – guitar (2010–present)
  • Shane Murphy – keyboard (1995–1997)


Studio albums

Awards and nominations

Biffy Clyro awards and nominations
Awards and nominations
Award Wins Nominations
Brit Awards
0 1
MTV Europe Music Awards
0 1
NME Awards
2 3
Q Awards
1 3
Radio 1 Teen Awards
1 1
Kerrang! Awards
2 3
Bandit Rock Awards
0 2
Barclaycard Mercury Prize
0 1
Awards won 6
Nominations 15
MTV Europe Music Awards
Year Nominated work Award Result
2007 Biffy Clyro New Sounds of Europe, Regional Competition Nominated
Bandit Rock Awards
Year Nominated work Award Result
2009 Biffy Clyro Best International Breakthrough Act[23] Nominated
2009 Only Revolutions Best International Album[23] Nominated
Kerrang! Awards
Year Nominated work Award Result
2010 Biffy Clyro Best British Band[24] Nominated
2010 The Captain Best Music Video [24] Won
2011 Biffy Clyro Classic Songwriter[25] Won
NME Awards
Year Nominated work Award Result
2010 The Captain Best Music Video[26] Won
2011 Biffy Clyro Best British Band[27] Nominated
2011 Biffy Clyro Best Live Band[27] Won
Barclaycard Mercury Prize
Year Nominated work Award Result
2010 Only Revolutions Album of the Year[28] Nominated
Radio 1 Teen Awards
Year Nominated work Award Result
2010 Bubbles Best Song[29] Won
Q Awards
Year Nominated work Award Result
2010 The Captain Best Track[30] Nominated
2010 The Captain Best Video[31] Nominated
2011 Biffy Clyro Best Live Band[32] Won
BRIT Awards
Year Nominated work Award Result
2011 Biffy Clyro Best British Group[33] Nominated


  1. ^ "Biffy Clyro: Puzzle". NME. 2007-05-31. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  2. ^ "The Official Biffy Clyro UK website". 14th Floor. 
  3. ^ a b c "Biffy Clyro Biography".  on Beggar's Banquet USA
  4. ^ "January 1995 Archive". 
  5. ^ a b c "Biffy Clyro Biography". Yahoo! Music. 
  6. ^ "The Vertigo of Bliss Review". Drowned in Sound. 
  7. ^ "Puzzle > Overview". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  8. ^ "New Biffy Clyro album expected in September". 
  9. ^ "BIFFY CLYRO - Video Archive - BALCONYTV - Over 15 million video views - Music with a View". Balconytv. Retrieved 2011-02-22. 
  10. ^ "Biffy Clyro pull out of Rhythm and Vines". Libel Music. 
  11. ^ "Biffy Clyro win Best Video prize at Shockwaves NME Awards". 
  12. ^ "Biffy Clyro win Best Video prize at Shockwaves NME Awards". 
  13. ^ "Biffy Clyro's delight as they land best video award at NME Awards". 
  14. ^ "Biffy announced for T in the Park festival".,biffy-announced-for-t-in-the-park-festival-2010_292.htm. 
  15. ^ Bhamra, Satvir (2010-12-06). "Biffy Clyro to join Slipknot at Sonisphere". Retrieved 2011-02-22. 
  16. ^ "Biffy Clyro – Glasgow Barfly". NME. 2 November 2003. 
  17. ^ a b Simon Neil meets with Eve Jackson. France 24. 1 September 2010.
  18. ^ "Biffy Clyro - 2007 - IX". FaceCulture Online Multimedia Magazine. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  19. ^ "balcony TV interview". 
  20. ^ "Off the Ball". Presenters: Tam Cowan, Stuart Cosgrove. Off the Ball. BBC. BBC Radio Scotland, Glasgow. 13 August 2011.
  21. ^ melbjuz (2008-03-06). "Biffy Clyro heads to Australia". Retrieved 2009-12-20. "Biffy Clyro cite a range of influences, like Pixies, Fugazi, Weezer, Rush, Metallica,Ice Cold idiots, but always operate on their own terms." 
  22. ^ "Author Danielewski, Biffy Clyro Set for SPIN Benefit". 
  23. ^ a b "Biffy nominated for two awards at Bandit Rock Awards".,biffy-nominated-for-two-awards-at-bandit-rock-awards_270.htm. 
  24. ^ a b "NME noms announced". Sky News. 
  25. ^ "Biffy Clyro in second Kerrang! Award win". Kerrang!. 
  26. ^ Shockwaves NME Awards 2010: all the winners NME
  27. ^ a b Shockwaves NME Awards 2011Nominations NME
  28. ^ "Mercury Music Prize 2010". Clash Music. 
  29. ^ "Awards Winners RADIO 1". Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  30. ^ "The Awards 2010: Best Track - Florence - News". Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  31. ^ "The Awards 2010: Best Video - Chase And Status - News". Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  32. ^ "The Awards 2011: Best Live Band - Biffy Clyro - News". Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  33. ^ Award nomonation joy for Biffy Clyro [dead link]

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