Simon Neil on overhauling the band's sound while centring their approach on basic decency...

If, by some superhero future-vision, Simon Neil was able to see the condition of the world that ‘A Celebration Of Endings’ would be released just one year after writing the record, Biffy Clyro’s ninth studio album might have sounded something a little different.

“A lot of the lyrics have become so much more relevant during isolation while being locked down at home,” says frontman and genius behind Biffy’s lyrical magnum opus, Simon Neil. “I have a slight distance from the record this time since we’re not out performing it every single night.” 

Gaining a colossal tide of die-hard fans since their fresh beginnings two decades ago, Biffy Clyro have pushed their way to the forefront of British music. A slew of nominations have come their way, to prove that the Scottish trio have had one hell of a ride thus far. But now, back at the very roots of their fruition, they’re only humble about the journey which led them here.

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As Simon calls me from the band’s hometown of Kilmarnock, Scotland, admittedly wrapped up in a dressing gown mid-afternoon, he realises that this is the first time in Biffy history that the three-piece have ever celebrated an album release at home, surrounded by family.

“We’re normally half way around the world at this moment,” Simon laughs. “But there’s something so liberating about it. It stripped things back to the essence for me, making this album. All I care about currently is making music; me, Ben and James. My family are healthy, everything else comes and goes.”

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He relays the troubles he was faced with when creating the album; relationship breakdowns and the likes, all feeling minor in the face of the current world. But now it creates its own meaning, all eleven tracks melding together in a wave of gritty riffs and orchestral merit; with a conventionally Biffy ring to it.

The record’s finale boasts the enormous ‘Cop Syrup’ - a six-minute mega-track which runs through a spectrum of sonic influences, dubbed by Simon as “non-sensical, but hopefully also completely sensical”. Having recorded some of the tracks at Abbey Road Studios, the three-piece paid homage to their musical predecessors with the use of old equipment. “I remember sitting there after recording 'Cop Syrup' thinking about how I just played this orchestral punk-prog maze on a Beatles piano,” Simon muses.

“I cannot overstate how magical that place feels,” he continues. “Our producer is a Beatles fanatic, so he was there asking things like ‘do you have this desk from 1961?’ or whatever. It ended up taking over three days of recording just plugging in old Beatles equipment, and none of it even worked,” he laughs.

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Although Simon’s on-stage demeanour always resembles that of a celestial rockstar, his Spotify playlists stay true to the more softly spoken man behind the mask. From Tina Turner to Phoebe Bridges, his current music selection flaunts a range of unexpected influences. “For the last couple of months I’ve been obsessed with the new Fiona Apple record, it just sounds so free!”.

It wouldn’t be a far cry to assume Simon were a doting activist with an excitement and passion in his voice that only a songwriter of his magnitude can convey. “We’re going to lose a lot of the complications and things we were carrying coming into this,” he theorises about the world post-pandemic. “Sometimes I talk about the record and it might sound political, but it’s really just about decency.”

Even with 25 years of music under their belts, Biffy Clyro are still finding ways to stay original. Consistently enticing with a new latitude of sound and what feels like a lifetime of stories behind each album, there’s something so faithfully Biffy with each release. ‘A Celebration Of Endings’ is the perfect product of a time in which music is needed most.

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'A Celebration Of Endings' is out now.

Words: Gemma Ross

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