Biffy Clyro Talk "Only Revolutions," Sheep Guts and More
Mon, 31 Jan 2011 13:42:50
Scottish trio Biffy Clyro - singer/guitarist Simon Neil, bassist James Johnston and his twin brother, drummer Ben Johnston- are bigger than Jesus and the devil back home in the UK. Their stellar, sophisticated fifth album, Only Revolutions, was a Mercury Prize nominee of for best album, which means it was considered one of the best musical works from the UK and Ireland in 2010. ARTISTdirect.com thinks that the Mercury Prize nomination was much deserved, because the band's driving alt rock prowess caught our ears. Only Revolutions soothes and soars.
But what about America? History tells us that regardless of a band's deafening Euro buzz, American music fans often yawn at bands that are revered overseas. That's not going to stop Biffy Clyro, though. Despite having won (after a hard fight) the hearts of their brethren, Biffy Clyro, which isn't named after a person, have America in their sights.
ARTISTdirect.com News Editor Amy Sciarretto spoke with James Johnston, who was cooking haggis for a local holiday, on the eve of the band's upcoming headline tour of our fine country, which is sponsored by Alternative Press.
Your band was nominated for a Mercury Prize in 2010. Is it that big a deal for the band or is it similar to how American bands feel about Grammy nominations; that is, that they are a nice accolade but somewhat overblown and not a yardstick by which they measure themselves?
It is a big deal for us, since it's not the type of thing that includes rock bands since rock music isn't cool to the mainstream. It was nice to be nominated and it was very nice to be a part of it.
If the Mercury Prize doesn't really recognize rock music, why was your record selected? It must have made some sort of impression for the genre.
Because the album is great, I hope. [Laughs] That's what it is supposed to be about. We think it's good, since we put our heart and soul into it. We made it. We're proud of it. It's up to you to judge how you feel, and not about how others react. We went for 10 years as a band without anyone giving much of a shit.
Right, and then you guys blow up and became bona fide rock starts back home in the UK. How do you or why do you want to put biffy clyro's fingerprints on the untouchable American market?
Bands always want to conquer the world and we want to get to a larger audience and it has been a dream for us to come to the States. We grew up listening to American bands. It's a huge country that has the variety that we like.
How did you feel when the band eventually blew up overseas?
We've been doing it a long time, but we were fairly underground for quite some time. We had a hardcore following but we were not on magazine covers, but we got better as a band as we have gone along and had the time to develop. We had a lot of time, so it was a combination of that. People will eventually take notice.
I think your music is sort of Foo Fighters-like. Do you agree or disagree with that sentiment and assessment?
Putting music into words is difficult. We make intense melodic rock that has both powerful moments and fragile moments.
What are you looking forward to seeing or doing when you get here next month for tour?
We've been over a few times and we have done a lot of tourist stuff, but as I've been looking at dates, we look like we will be pretty busy with lots of shows. It's nice to play gigs in a different city every night; that is exciting about band life.
What are some of your non-music interests?
I am interested in tradition and lots of ways that families and society interact. For example, this evening in Scotland is Robert Burns Night. It is a day of national celebration. Everyone eats haggis, are you aware of what haggis is?
Isn't it sheep guts?
It is. I have it cooking in the oven, but it's pretty gross for you right? [Laughs] We enjoy cooking. I will enjoy having the meal tonight.
Who is/was Robert Burns?
He was a Scottish poet from 250 years ago.
How about biffy clyro? Is biffy a person?
It's an acronym about the big imagination for feeling young. It's about optimism. It's a crazy thing we came up with when we were kids. We don't say what it stands for.
Have you heard Biffy Clyro yet?