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Biffy Clyro are a Scottish rock band that formed in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, composed of Simon Neil (guitar, lead vocals), James Johnston (bass, vocals) and Ben Johnston (drums, vocals). Currently signed to 14th Floor Records, they have released seven studio albums, four of which (Puzzle, Only Revolutions, Opposites and Ellipsis) reached the top five in the UK Albums Chart, with their sixth studio album, Opposites claiming their first UK number-one album. After their first three albums, the band expanded their following significantly in 2007 with the release of their fourth, Puzzle, creating more mainstream songs with simpler rhythms and distancing themselves from the more unusual dissonant style that was present in their 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 in 2012 went Platinum in the UK, having sold over 300,000 copies.
The band released Only Revolutions in 2009 which reached No. 3 in the UK chart and went gold within days of its release in 2009, going platinum later in 2010 (achieving double-platinum status in August 2011) and receiving a Mercury Music Prize nomination. 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, and became the UK number one Christmas single for the year 2010. In 2011 the band was nominated for the Brit Awards for Best British Group. At the 2013 NME Awards, they received the award for Best British Band. On 25 August 2013 Biffy Clyro headlined the main stage at Leeds & Reading Festival. Based on their album and single certifications, the band have sold in excess of 1,240,000 albums and 400,000 singles in the UK alone.
As of 2016, in total, the band have spent 155 weeks in the top seventy-five of the UK Album Charts, with two of those weeks being at the top position at number one and seventy weeks within the main top forty of the albums charts. The band's singles have spent a total of seventy-nine weeks in the UK Singles Charts, with six weeks in the top ten and forty-two in the top forty.
1995–2000: Early years and formation
The first incarnation of what would eventually become Biffy Clyro was formed in 1995, when fifteen-year-old Ayr-based guitarist Simon Neil met another guitarist, 20-year-old Boyan Chowdury and the pair recruited Kilmarnock-born Ben Johnston. Soon brought in was Ben's twin brother, James Johnston, and the four spent the next two years rehearsing, writing and covering songs. 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, guitarist Boyan left the band and moved to Liverpool (where he would eventually form The Zutons) and the resulting trio 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 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, receiving airplay from BBC Radio Scotland DJ Vic Galloway. 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, and were signed to the independent Beggar's Banquet soon thereafter.
2001–2005: Blackened Sky, The Vertigo of Bliss and Infinity Land
On 9 April 2001, the previously unreleased "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 supporting 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 called "Toys, Toys, Toys, Choke, Toys, Toys, Toys" (which would later also appear on their next album 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 called "The Ideal Height", followed by a further new single "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 Studio 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. An additional digital download was also released on 31 May, called "There's No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake". On 4 October, the band's third album, Infinity Land was released, followed by the final single from the album, "Only One Word Comes To Mind", on 14 February 2005. 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, known as The Magnificent Duke. He toured the UK together with the Johnston twins accompanying on bass and drums.
2006–2008: 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. On 5 March 2007 "Saturday Superhouse" was released, reaching No. 13 on the UK Singles Chart, 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, hitting No. 2 in the first week of release, also reaching 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, and as of February 2009 has 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. Puzzle was voted the best album of 2007 by Kerrang! and Rock Sound. On 25 August, it was announced that "Machines" would be the next single from Puzzle, which was released on 8 October.
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 fan base. The band also played the Download 2007, Glastonbury 2007, Reading and Leeds Festival and T in the Park for a record seventh time. 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. In December 2008 the band played their biggest headline shows, including a date at Glasgow's 10,000 capacity SECC.
2008–2010: 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. "Mountains" would later be included on their new album.
In an interview with the NME, the band stated that they had started work on a follow up to Puzzle, with Simon Neil saying that the album would include some of the band's "heaviest riffs to date". In an interview with XFM, Ben Johnston revealed that the forthcoming album would be "Oli Coates", and that they already had 16 demos laid down. Simon Neil told Kerrang magazine about the new album on 8 December, 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 worked with Puzzle producer Garth Richardson once again at Ocean Way studios. Many videos were shown on the internet 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, revealing a working title for the upcoming album: "Boom, Blast and Ruin". A series of weekly updates on their official site slowly revealed letters of the new album title, and, after Rock Sound mistakenly revealed the album's name as "Only Exceptions", it was officially announced that the album would be titled Only Revolutions.
In July 2009, Kerrang reported that they were filming the video for the first single from the album, "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, playing the song twice in a row; 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 their set on the Chelmsford leg, the band experienced power failures twice during the opening song "Glitter and Trauma").
"The Captain" was released as a single on 26 October 2009, following its first radio play on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show on 8 September. Only Revolutions was released on 9 November 2009. On 24 February 2010, "The Captain" won an NME Award for Best Video.
Biffy Clyro were confirmed to be supporting Muse for 14 dates on their European tour, including Wembley Stadium on 11 September, performing after I Am Arrows and White Lies. Biffy Clyro performed on the Main Stage at the T in the Park, Oxegen and Reading and Leeds music festivals in 2010. The band were also 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 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. Biffy Clyro opened for Metallica in Bangalore, India in 2011.
The band revealed via the NME 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 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 Puzzle and Only Revolutions.
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 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 on Zane Lowe's show on BBC Radio 1 that the new album title would be Opposites . Their new single titled Black Chandelier premièred on BBC Radio 1 on 19 November 2012. 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 3 February 2013, Opposites topped the UK Albums Charts, giving Biffy Clyro their first 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 25 May 2013 in Derry, as well as the Cape Town and Johannesburg legs of RAMfest 2014.
It was reported on the NME website on 6 January 2014 that Biffy Clyro were to release an Opposites b-side compilation album, entitled Similarities, sometime later in the year. Being interviewed for the article, lead singer Simon Neil stated that the band had come up with "six or seven" riffs for new material, although he did point out that their next album would not be recorded until at least 2015.
The band announced that 2015 would be their 'year off.' In an interview with 3FM in June 2014, Neil stated that "[the band] will take a quiet year next year and disappear so people don't get sick of the lovely Biffy." In the same interview he stated that they were working on about 19 new songs, but felt it was too early to play them live. He confirmed that a new album was coming, most likely towards the end of 2015. The new album will feature tracks including "Wolves Of Winter", "Friends and Enemies", "Animal Style", "Re-arrange", "Herex", "Medicine", "Flammable", "On A Bang", "Small Wishes", "Howl", "People", "Don't, Won't, Can't" (deluxe release only), "In the Name of the Wee Man" (deluxe release only), and a film documenting the recording of Ellipsis (deluxe release only).
The first single "Wolves of Winter" was exclusively played as Hottest Record on Monday 21 March 2016 on Radio 1. On Monday 21 March 2016, during the live premiere of "Wolves of Winter" on Hottest Record on Beats 1, Zane Lowe, Neil announced that the band's new album will be titled Ellipsis. The album, due for release on 8 July 2016, was made available to pre-order in a limited edition box set on the Biffy Clyro web store.
Ellipsis was released on 8 July 2016, entering the UK charts at number 1. Following the successful launch of Ellipsis, the band performed co-headline slots (co-headlining with Fall Out Boy) at the Reading & Leeds festival. The new Ellipsis songs featured prominently in the set list. Between the two headline slots, Biffy Clyro also performed a huge outdoor show in Glasgow, with Fall Out Boy filling in as the support act. In November 2016, Biffy Clyro were announced as the Saturday headliners of the Download Festival 2017. This marks their sixth appearance at the festival and their first headline performance on the main stage.
To coincide with these headline performances, a U.K. arena tour was announced with Brand New announced as the support act. The tour culminated in a performance at London's O2 arena. In December 2016. In February 2017, Biffy Clyro performed at the Shepherd's Bush Empire as part of Brit's Week to raise money for charity War Child. To celebrate such an intimate performance at this point in their career, the band performed as their own support act with Simon Neil announcing "we are Biffy Clyro, circa 2003 to 2005", and they played an hour long set of material from their first three albums.
On 27 May 2017, Biffy Clyro performed to 25,000 people at the Radio 1's Big Weekend Hull 2017. They performed the songs Wolves of Winter, Animal Style, Biblical, That Golden Rule, Friends & Enemies, Many of Horror, Bubbles, Rearrange and Mountains.
The band also performed at Glastonbury on Sunday 25 June 2017.
"'Mon the Biffy!" or, in more recent times, "'Mon the Biff!", are well known chants among Clyro 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, giving 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 named Biffy Clyro who played for South Ayrshire football club Ayr United, whilst admitting at the same time that they also make up stories about how they are named because they are bored with being asked the same question. Another story is that the band members were thinking about manufacturing Cliff Richard merchandise and they thought about the Laszlo Biro pen and thought of "Cliffy Biro" that was then accidentally spoonerised on a drunken night out to 'Biffy Clyro'. 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. Another interview claims that the name Biffy Clyro comes 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.
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.
Simon Neil – lead guitar, piano, theremin, lead vocals (1995–present)
James Johnston – bass guitar, synthesizer, vocals (1995–present)
Ben Johnston – drums, vocals (1995–present)
Mike Vennart – guitar, backing vocals (2007; 2010–present)
Richard "Gambler" Ingram – guitar, piano (2012–present)
Early tours (1998–01)
Blackened Sky (2002)
The Vertigo of Bliss Tour (2003–04)
Infinity Land Tour (2004–06)
Puzzle Tour (2007–09)
Only Revolutions Tour (2009–12)
Opposites Tour (2012–14)
Ellipsis Tour (2016-17)