Biffy Clyro to let their hair down at Singapore gig

(From left) James Johnston, his twin brother Ben and Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro got together as teenagers. -- PHOTO: FOREFRONT ASIA
(From left) James Johnston, his twin brother Ben and Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro got together as teenagers. -- PHOTO: FOREFRONT ASIA

Scottish trio Biffy Clyro are one band that stay true to their roots.

Despite hit albums, world tours and awards, the band still jam and work on music in the same farmhouse in the county of Ayrshire near where they started out nearly two decades ago.

"It's cut off from the world," bass player James Johnston tells Life! in a telephone interview from Glasgow in Scotland ahead of the band's first gig here on Monday.

They will perform at the Coliseum in Hard Rock Hotel at Resorts World Sentosa.

"We don't have a phone or the Internet. No one can bother us there. It's pretty nice that we can go there and all we can do is play music," Johnston, 34, adds.

"It's comfortable enough that we can relax but not too comfortable that we just sit around drinking tea and talk. We go to make music, it's not like a boy's club."

Johnston, his twin brother Ben, who plays drums, and singer-guitarist Simon Neil, 35, got together as teenagers.

While the band started to draw a significant following after the release of their debut album Blackened Sky in 2002, it was only in recent years that the trio gained mainstream success.

Only Revolutions, their fifth album released in 2009, was critically and commercially lauded, earning a nomination for the 2010 Mercury Prize, one of Britain's most significant music awards.

Calling the songs a "big, obvious, step forward", English newspaper The Guardian praised the album for its mix of "noisy roughness" and "attuned FM rock sound", while music magazine NME said it "springs the band instantly level with the greatest rock acts in the world".

Biffy Clyro picked up two accolades at the NME awards for Best Live Band in 2011 and Best British Band last year.

Its most recent album, Opposites, released last year, became the band's first No. 1 hit on the British charts and won Best Album at British music press awards Kerrang! Awards and Q Awards.

It contains 20 songs spread over two discs, or what is known in the industry as a double album.

"It felt great," Johnston says of its success, "especially because it was a double album. A lot of people said we were crazy, that commercially it was suicide. But we weren't too bothered by that. We're not too concerned about how many albums we sell... but to get to No. 1 for a double album of weird rock music felt really cool."

The band have a loyal and hardcore following in their home country. When they announced three nights of shows at the Scottish venue Glasgow Barrowland last month, all the tickets were snapped up within a minute of going on sale.

They are venturing further with their global tours and Johnston is excited about playing their maiden show in Singapore.

Asked to describe their set, which will feature home-grown indie band Another Sunday Afternoon as the opening act, he says: "It's going to be lots of passion and energy. It's going to be three bare-chested Scotsman shouting at you but hopefully having fun at the same time.

"We've enjoyed the shows even more these last couple of years, just enjoying trying to have an experience with the audience, for us all to be in it together."

The mood in the Biffy Clyro camp has never been better, he adds, and the camaraderie among the three members is at an all-time high.

"We started out being friends, playing football... and then real life comes along and you grow up together. We've been through many difficult moments, many happy moments and shared all those together. I think our bond has become stronger."

dinohadi@sph.com.sg