By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)
“I love you guys so much – thank you for the bday wishes. Day off today and then back to making the ALBUM OF THE FUCKING DECADE!!xx” With this one tweet in August, Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro sent social media wild. Speculations were thrown about like there was no tomorrow and the inevitable Instagram posts by band members Simon Neil (Vocals, Guitar), James Johnston (Bass) and twin brother Ben Johnston (drums) made sure that the rumours didn’t die out. What follows is a concise collection of the history of the band that help rejuvenate British Rock and put the small town of Kilmarnock on the map as a musical haven.
Big Biff Beginnings
It all started in 1995 when Neil, a guitarist from Ayr, formed a band with Ben and his brother James, writing and performing for 2 years under the name Skrewfish before the name Biffy Clyro came about. Neil stated that the origin of the name comes from discussing a line of Cliff Richard themed pens while in town. “”We’d call them Cliffy Biros. Somehow that turned into Biffy Clyro. Bizarrely, we weren’t high at the time. There’s just not a lot to do in Ayr. The weather is terrible.”
In 2001 Biffy played the unsigned band stage at T In The Park which resulted in them signing up to Beggars Banquet where they released their first album called Blackened Sky in 2002. Critics praised the album for its dark style and Nirvana influenced tracks,a band which Neil points out as being the band that made him want to be a musician. ““I guess for most people it’s the bands you listened to as a teenager than turn you on to making music, so Nirvana without a doubt. Kurt Cobain taught me as a 12-year-old that you didn’t have to be a great guitarist to write a song or to say something, so as a songwriter he’s my biggest influence”
After Blackened Sky came a further two albums in the space of two years: Vertigo Of Bliss and Infinity Land. The former, released in 2003, was recorded in Milton Keynes and has been claimed by many as the band’s best album to date. Crackling with creativity, VOB was universally applauded and helped the band get a support slot for American rock giants Weezer.
The 2004 released Infinity Land was also well received, resulting in some of the band’s best known tracks like Glitter and Trauma as well as a return to the darker style with the title of the album referencing to a serial killer. In numerous interviews, Neil stated that “It was in a Jeffrey Dahmer book, he talks about his ideal place, which is called Infinity Land – his idea of heaven – which is really grim, being surrounded by corpses and shit.”
2005 was a quiet year for the band with only a single released on valentines day to feed the spoilt fan’s appetites. Neil pursued a side project named Marmaduke Duke and that seemed to be it for the band at the time.
Then came 2007.
Renaissance of Rock
“The last thing we want to do is make something that anyone would expect us to make. We don’t want to go for the safe bet, it’s boring.” said Neil in a Soho Hotel in 2007, promoting the band’s long (well for fan’s anyway) awaited return with their fourth release Puzzle. Regarded by both Rock Sound and Kerrang as the best album of 2007, undoubtedly proving that Biffy were back with a bang and a more arena orientated sound. This new sound indicated that the band had an appetite that smaller venues would not be able to handle unless they kept an entire week free for them.
It wasn’t just critics and fans that were pleased with what they were hearing as other bands, including Foo Fighters, Muse, The Who and Red Hot Chili Peppers called on the band to support them on their tours between the albums release and 2009. This fitted in nicely with follow up album Only Revolutions in November of that year and although its pop orientated sound would influence their latest album Opposites in 2013, the album became the unofficial black sheep of the band’s discography but still managed to reach platinum in the UK and was nominated for a Mercury prize award.
And that’s the band’s history up to now. Having headlined T In The Park, Reading And Leeds and countless other festivals, it seems like there wasn’t much else the band could possibly do. Biffy themselves didn’t think so. “We’ve made double albums, we’ve played all over the world. Despite all that, we’re still buzzing to show you what we have to offer in 2016.” And they did: with a bunch of festival performances and a solid LP in the form of Ellipsis, Biffy are very much back and arguably better than ever. With a headline slot at TRNSMT this week, the band are set to get things into top gear once again.