Thursday, April 7, 2011

Additional Q&A with Biffy Clyro

Here is more from my interview with bassist James Johnston of Biffy Clyro...

Q: Last time I caught Biffy perform was outdoors at the Epicenter Festival in Fontana, Calif. - probably not the ideal environment to experience the band live. It was a small crowd in the mid-afternoon.
We’ve played similar things in the UK. Never something quite so hot. We were really sweating and playing midday, right in the middle of the sun. So it’s wasn’t really the best place or a great rock ‘n’ roll environment. We’ve done that a lot in the past. You’ve got to give it your all. We certainly enjoy playing every show, even the ones less successful than others.

Q: The three of you have played America quite a bit over the past six months. Do you think you’ve made strides in getting name recognition and building an audience here?
We’re starting to. You country is such a huge place. It’s bigger than the whole of Europe in some sense. It just takes time. It took us a long time in the UK. It’s something we’re prepared to spend a lot of time at. It definitely feels like we’re building an audience. However slow that may be isn’t something that concerns us. We’ve got a lot of time on our side.

Q: It’s good to see a band willing to put the effort in, rather than just playing New York, Chicago and LA like so many do.
I think they’re lazy and get used to the short drives we have here in the UK. They think it’s just going to come easy. I don’t think that’s fair. It’s such a huge place. You’ve got to go to people’s hometowns if you can and let them judge for themselves.

Q: “Only Revolutions” has been your most successful album to date at home. Is it a relief to see your 16 years of hard work finally paying off?
I think in some ways it has. We’ve been afforded a lot of great opportunities directly as a result of the success of the record. But honestly, in some ways, it feels like we’ve been a successful band for a long time...That feels great despite measuring record sales...It’s good to get a chance to open for bands like the Foo Fighters on these huge [upcoming UK] shows and do some big shows on our own. That’s really exciting stuff.

Q: Biffy has shared a stage with some premiere acts, like Bono & The Edge and the Rolling Stones, over the years. Have you learned anything from watching them onstage?
Yeah. We all know how Mick Jagger likes to move. Watching him up there - I don’t know what show number it was for them, but it was probably in the thousands – he can move like a man half his age. We got a chance to meet [The Stones] before they went onstage. They’re getting ready and got a huge show about to happen and they’re still very happy to come and meet you, shake hands, get a photograph and be really courteous. That was really nice to see. I guess we learned a lot from that: 'you’re never too big to be nice to somebody.' Also, to go put on a great show. You can’t rest on your laurels and say, ‘we did a great show in 1974.’ You have to keep it going.

Q: When you first heard Neil’s lyrics on the current album were you amazed at what he’d come up with?
Yeah, Simon has always got really interesting lyrics; some that are easier to decipher than others. A lot of people have talked about how the lyrics are more uplifting. Sometimes they just sound that way and are actually a little darker than you might think. That’s the sign of a good writer – somebody that can make you see, depending on your mood, different messages. I don’t think Simon puts in hidden messages for people. He just writes for himself in some regards.

Q: Since “Only Revolutions” was inspired by the book of the same name, I wondered if you are all avid readers.
We all like to read on tour. It helps abate the boredom a little bit. We all read quite different things. The last few books I’ve read have all been Scottish crime fiction, which is bizarre. Simon likes wild books and is a huge fan of Danieleski and his first book “House of Leaves.” Ben reads a whole mixture. Books and movies, they all filter through your mind and inspire you in different ways. I think that’s always important.

Q: How would you say Biffy’s music has evolved since the band started?
We can say what we want to say quicker and be more to the point. I remember thinking after a few albums we almost trimmed away the fat and some of the excess and were able to get straight to the heart of the matter. We’re immensely proud of all the records we’ve made. We’re quite an ambitious band. I really think it’s worth for people to come back and check out [the entire catalog]. We still play songs from the first two records and still think they’re really important.

Q: Some groups, once they get to their fifth album, they disavow the early ones entirely.
They might be somebody’s favorite. Once you’ve made the record, it belongs to the listener. It’s theirs. We still occasionally put them on. Don’t get me wrong: we sometimes have a bit of a laugh, but we’re also very proud.

Q: It’s been 1 ½ years since “Only Revolutions” came out in the UK. Have you started work on the next album?
We haven’t committed anything to tape or made any recordings, but we do have a bunch of songs we’ve been working quite hard on. We’re eager, as every band is, as soon as you start thinking about a new record, you just want to get it done. But we’ve been enjoying our time in the States. Thankfully we’re getting a chance to play shows there. We feel if we don’t come now, then what’s the point? We want to show our dedication. As soon as we get some time off the road, we’ll get into the studio [possibly] in the fall. We’re very excited and hopefully we can make another great record.

Q: Any idea whether you’ll tap Garth Richardson to produce again?
There’s a good chance. We do have a good relationship with him and it’s one that we’ve nurtured. Every great relationship has its ups and downs. We’ve got to a great place with him. We get on super well. He’s definitely part of the family. It would be very difficult to choose somebody else. Put it that way.


No comments: