Under pressure: interview with Biffy Clyro
Biffy Clyro is preparing to release their seventh album, “Ellipsis”, in which they managed to ditch the brain-blowing prog rock of their last three records in something even more, hmm, crazy.
Greg Cochran heard the depression, the writer’s crisis and the mentality of the good old gang spilling into a powerful new sound.
At lunch time, after yesterday’s emotional night, Biffy Clyro appear with muddy eyes. They enter Sound Factory, a recording studio a few steps from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located directly opposite the Big Wangs bar. The musicians, dressed in black, follow each other, clutching in their hands glasses of coffee and cigarette self-rolled cigarettes.
Yesterday, in a house on the Hollywood Hills, which the band had been sharing for the last six months, they had a private party listening to the new album “Ellipsis”, which will go on sale worldwide only in July. Fortified by tea and sandwiches, the trio, which includes frontman Simon Neal and two twin brothers James (bass) and Ben (drums) Johnston, also has to listen to his own creation, smoke marijuana, laugh, celebrate and reflect. They felt a mixture of relief with euphoria, and the closer the dawn came, the more they laughed and boasted: “We are the best group in this fucking world!”
Tomorrow the trio will fly home to Scotland, where in one of the rooms of their village house they will rehearse before their summer shows, which include the headlining of the Reading & Leeds festival. But today, the group needs to dot all the “i” in their new album. The trio decided to do it in Los Angeles, in the same place where “Only Revolutions” was recorded in 2009 and “Opposites” in 2013, because the musicians love the quality of the studios, the work ethic and the local mentality that “everything is possible” . Simon himself says the following about this:
“Do you want to create albums that are on par with the best recordings you’ve ever made?” – due to the fact that our mood was just that, in Scotland with a similar mentality we simply would not have taken root. ”
Sound Factory Studios are a real paradise for tech geeks: rivers of wires, strange instruments and lively musical history. In one corner is a plain-looking microwave-sized computer where you can find Peter Gabriel’s original recordings. Not far from it you can see the synthesizer played by Kate Bush, and some kind of musical sequencer, similar to R2D2. At various times, this place was home to Beck, Morrissey, The Black Keys, and the team recording the soundtrack to Frozen. For Biffy Clyro, it has become a children’s sandbox. In other words, the use of all these cool pieces clearly appealed to them.
Since Ayrshire, the group has always perceived their albums as trilogies, so this one, bearing the number seven, marks the beginning of a new chapter. And in “Ellipsis” the musicians went completely apart. In their first single “Wolves Of Winter” you will hear a real Napoleonic charge. This is Biffy Clyro in their booming perfection: a fire-filled rock anthem inspired by David Attenborough’s documentary about a group of animals that protect their own territory from intruders.
“We literally grab the listener by the collar and shout:” This is our fucking group, you can hate us as much as you want, you can love us as much as you want, but this is our fucking group! ”
But at the same time, “Wolves Of Winter” is a typical composition for Biffy Clyro when compared to the rest of the tracks on the new album. Prior to our conversation, 6 out of 11 tracks with “Ellipsis” sounded insanely loud from wood-paneled speakers, causing the air itself to shake. There were trap beats and vocoders (“Rearrange”), American and piano boogie-woogie (“Small Wishes”), simplified acoustic things (“Medicine”) and much more. In the album you can hear the synthesizer DJ funk of the 90s, drum machines and even a children’s choir. These are the best and most advanced songs of all that the group has ever written. And when producer Rich Bones, swarming around the studio, described him as “the band’s most exploring album at the moment,” he was not exaggerating at all.
“What is the point of being in a group if you are only going to crush the water in the mortar and adjust to the format? I think our fans, real hardcore artists, are now enjoying the excitement. They want to think that we will lose the old sound. And this is part of the challenge,” says James. “There have always been those who believed that we were beautiful and those who believed that we were disgusting. And I want everything to go on like this. I don’t want us to seem like a reliable group to people. Nobody needs’ old- good fucking Biffy Clyro. “It’s not romantic or mysterious. I want a reaction like:” Who are these fucking morons !? What are they doing? “. I hope this album reminds people that we can be connected to completely different power sources.”
The new experimental turn of the group should not be perceived as an absolute shock. After all, this is the very trio whose last album “Opposites”, released in 2013.