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Biffy Clyro

Biffy Clyro
Biffy Clyro signing copies of "Mountains" in a shop in Glasgow, 2008
Background information
Origin Kilmarnock, Scotland
Genres Alternative rock,[1] experimental rock, new prog, math rock (early), post-hardcore (early)
Years active 1995 (1995)–present
Labels Beggars Banquet, 14th Floor, Roadrunner
Associated acts Marmaduke Duke, British Theatre, Oceansize, ZZC
Website .combiffyclyro
Members Simon Neil
James Johnston
Ben Johnston

Biffy Clyro are a Scottish rock band that formed in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire,[2] comprising Simon Neil (guitar, lead vocals), James Johnston (bass, vocals) and Ben Johnston (drums, vocals). Currently signed to 14th Floor Records, they have released six studio albums, three of which (Puzzle, Only Revolutions and Opposites) reached the top five in the UK Albums Chart, with their sixth studio album Opposites claiming their first UK number one album.[3]

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.

Their 2009 album, Only Revolutions, reached No. 3 in the UK chart and went gold within days of its release in 2009, going platinum later in 2010 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 of 2010.

In 2011 the band was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Group.[4] At the 2013 NME Awards they received the award for Best British Band.[5] 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.


  • History 1
    • 1995–2000: Early years and formation 1.1
    • 2001–2005: Blackened Sky, The Vertigo of Bliss and Infinity Land 1.2
    • 2006–2008: Puzzle and mainstream success 1.3
    • 2008–2010: Only Revolutions 1.4
    • 2011–present: Opposites 1.5
  • Artistry 2
    • Name 2.1
    • Musical influences 2.2
  • Band members 3
  • Tours 4
  • Discography 5
  • Awards and nominations 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


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 recruited Kilmarnock-born Ben Johnston. Soon brought in was Ben's twin brother James Johnston, and the three 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.[6] In 1997, the 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.[7]

Biffy Clyro performing live in Leeds, 2006

After playing gigs around Glasgow and receiving positive and enthusiastic reactions from audiences,[8] 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.[8] 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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] 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 fanbase. 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 in the opening song).

"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.[11][12][13]

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.[14] 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.[15]

2011–present: Opposites

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.[16] 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. [1] 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.[17] 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 have announced that 2015 will 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.



"'Mon the Biffy!" or, in more recent times, "'Mon the Biff!", are well known chants among Biffy fans,[18] 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 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.[19] Another interview claims that the name Biffy Clyro comes from an acronym for "Big Imagination For Feeling Young 'Cos Life Yearns Real Optimism".[20] The band also state in an interview for BalconyTV that the band name was that of a Finnish footballer from the 17th century.[21] 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…".[22] 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.[23]

Musical influences

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. Members of the band have been reported to listen to bands such 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 that Queens of the Stone Age are "The Greatest Rock Band in the Fuckin' world".[24]

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.[19] The band is currently scheduled to share the stage with Danielewski at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles during a 2 March Spin magazine benefit that will raise funds for Homeboy Industries.[25]

Band members

Current members
Touring members


  • 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)


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
3 4
Q Awards
2 4
Radio 1 Teen Awards
1 1
Kerrang! Awards
3 4
Bandit Rock Awards
0 2
Barclaycard Mercury Prize
0 1
Awards won 9
Nominations 18
MTV Europe Music Awards
Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2007 Biffy Clyro New Sounds of Europe, Regional Competition Nominated
Bandit Rock Awards
Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2009 Biffy Clyro Best International Breakthrough Act[27] Nominated
2009 Only Revolutions Best International Album[27] Nominated
Kerrang! Awards
Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2010 Biffy Clyro Best British Band[28] Nominated
2010 The Captain Best Music Video [28] Won
2011 Biffy Clyro Classic Songwriter[29] Won
2013 Opposites Best Album Won
NME Awards
Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2010 The Captain Best Music Video[30] Won
2011 Biffy Clyro Best British Band[31] Nominated
2011 Biffy Clyro Best Live Band[31] Won
2013 Biffy Clyro Best British Band[31] Won
Barclaycard Mercury Prize
Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2010 Only Revolutions Album of the Year[32] Nominated
Radio 1 Teen Awards
Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2010 Bubbles Best Song[33] Won
Q Awards
Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2010 The Captain Best Track[34] Nominated
2010 The Captain Best Video[35] Nominated
2011 Biffy Clyro Best Live Band[36] Won
2013 Biffy Clyro Best Album Opposites[37] Won
BRIT Awards
Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2011 Biffy Clyro Best British Group[38] Nominated


  1. ^ "Biffy Clyro: Puzzle". NME. 31 May 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Official Biffy Clyro UK website". 14th Floor. 
  3. ^ "Biffy Clyro score first UK number one album with 'Opposites' – Music News". Digital Spy. 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  4. ^ "BRITs Profile: Biffy Clyro". Retrieved 28 March 2013
  5. ^ "Biffy Clyro: 'NME Award makes us better than every single English band'". NME. Retrieved 20 May 2013
  6. ^ "January 1995 Archive". 
  7. ^ "Biffy Clyro Biography".  on Beggar's Banquet USA
  8. ^ a b c "Biffy Clyro Biography".  
  9. ^ Review"The Vertigo of Bliss".  
  10. ^ "Puzzle > Overview". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 9 May 2010. 
  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". 
  15. ^ "Biffy Clyro pull out of Rhythm and Vines". Libel Music. 
  16. ^ Bhamra, Satvir (6 December 2010). "Biffy Clyro to join Slipknot at Sonisphere". Retrieved 22 February 2011. 
  17. ^ "News – Biffy To Unveil New Track Stingin' Belle!". Biffy Clyro. Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  18. ^ "Biffy Clyro – Glasgow Barfly". NME. 2 November 2003. 
  19. ^ a b Simon Neil meets with Eve Jackson. France 24. 1 September 2010.
  20. ^ "Biffy Clyro – 2007 – IX". FaceCulture Online Multimedia Magazine. Retrieved 25 July 2008. 
  21. ^ "balcony TV interview". 
  22. ^ Presenters:  
  23. ^ "Pop Quiz: Biffy Clyro". March 2013. 
  24. ^ "Biffy Clyro heads to Australia". 6 March 2008. Retrieved 20 December 2009. Biffy Clyro cite a range of influences, like Pixies, Fugazi, Weezer, Rush, Metallica, Ice Cold idiots, but always operate on their own terms. 
  25. ^ benefit"Spin"Author Danielewski, Biffy Clyro set for .  
  26. ^ "British Theatre, Biffy Theatre". Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  27. ^ a b "Biffy nominated for two awards at Bandit Rock Awards". 
  28. ^ a b "NME noms announced". Sky News. 
  29. ^ "Biffy Clyro in second Kerrang! Award win". Kerrang!. 
  30. ^ Shockwaves NME Awards 2010: all the winners NME
  31. ^ a b c Shockwaves NME Awards 2011Nominations NME
  32. ^ "Mercury Music Prize 2010". Clash Music. 
  33. ^ "Awards Winners RADIO 1". Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  34. ^ "The Awards 2010: Best Track – Florence – News". Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  35. ^ "The Awards 2010: Best Video – Chase And Status – News". Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  36. ^ "The Awards 2011: Best Live Band – Biffy Clyro – News". Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  37. ^ 
  38. ^ Award nomonation joy for Biffy Clyro

External links

  • Official website
  • Biffy Clyro discography at Discogs
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