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Simon Neil: ‘I Think That This Year We Became Not Necessarily A Big Band, But An Important Ban

Rock Sound
Rock Sound 19 December 2013 at 17.05

Excerpts from a great conversation we had with Biffy Clyro frontman Simon Neil. WHAT A BLOKE!

What was it like being on the inside of the biggest stories of 2013? In the latest issue we are taking an exclusive and uncensored look behind the scenes as some of the most recognisable faces in rock bare their souls for all to see. Get a taste of the extensive feature below and head to this link to get the full story in Rock Sound Issue 182.

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What was the high point of your year?
“This year as a whole has been phenomenal. After the O2 I didn’t think the year could get any better, that we couldn’t play any better than we had on the arena tour, but when Reading came around...I remember waking up at the start of that weekend and thinking ‘in two days, this whole thing will be over’. I wanted to make sure that I remembered every single moment, especially because the arena tour flew by in such a blur. Bizarrely, that kind of made me more relaxed. So when we were out there I was like ‘fuck it, I’ll set fire to my guitar, do this and that’ and it was completely liberating.

At certain points at the bigger shows there’s a lot of strain, you’re desperate to make sure you’re putting on the best show possible. It’s rare that you’ll get to play your biggest show and enjoy it, so that was why Reading and Leeds was so great. We could see so many friendly faces,some people had been following us for years, since our very first tour, and others were brand new fans, but everyone had the same kind of look on their faces. It was an incredible feeling. The danger didn’t really register, I felt invincible while we were playing. At Leeds I thought it would be a good idea to do a knee slide down our ego ramp, and managed to burn all through my trousers, right through my legs. I don’t even know how I managed to get through Reading with third degree burns! It was agony... I managed to scrape two massive gouges out of my leg, I had to get it dressed a week later. I have scars to match the measure of the weekend – that’s always the measure of a good show.”

Are you comfortable with where you’re at right now?
“We grew up in a real indie scene, doing everything ourselves, and for a long time we felt like that was the only honest and legitimate way to do it. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I know we’re on a major label now, but the way we’ve expressed ourselves has got us in this position. I’ve started to talk more onstage because I have the confidence to do it, I feel like people actually want to see us. For years it always felt like a battle, we had to win people over. Now I don’t see it as a fight. Life changes when you get older anyway, and you realise that this could all end tomorrow, you know. There’s no point in making yourself miserable or doubting yourself over silly things like that. For me now, it’s all about enjoying the moment, enjoying making music. Ben’s stopped drinking now, we’ve stopped partying in the way we used to, so we’re having a better time touring. There’s a better vibe on the road, we’re enjoying every show.”

How do you think you’ll look back on this year?
“It’s definitely been the best year we’ve had as a band, when you look at Reading & Leeds and the arena tour. We’ll struggle to top this year, but creatively we can always top things. Being able to get a double album to number one in the UK took us by surprise. I hope that we’ve become a serious band this year, a ‘proper’ band. It sounds ridiculous to say that after six albums, but I feel that we’re properly on the map, that people are listening. I think that this year we became not necessarily a big band, but an important band, that people are sitting up and taking notice, even outside the rock world. That’s bizarre for us because we’re inspired by all these underground bands, that’s the only way we’ve known how to do things. For things to still feel fresh and exciting on a sixth album is pretty incredible.”

What have been your favourite records of the year?
“The Bring Me Horizon record really blew me away, I thought it was a real step up. For a band as heavy as them to create such pretty music without losing the edge of what they do, I thought that was amazing. Portugal The Man’s record was great, I’m a huge fan. I think they’re a special band, they write great tunes, there’s a beautiful kind of oddness to what they do, which is appealing to me. The Kanye West record really surprised me, apart from the lyrics. The production on it was phenomenal, it’s such an aggressive and pretty mental record for a pop star to make. If you listen to that and the Jay Z record, you know who’s trying to push the boundaries, as much as he’s an egomaniac. Deafheaven’s record is an absolute beauty, I love it. Why did no one think to mix pretty post-rock and extreme black metal? I know Wolves In The Throne Room had a variation on it, but I think Deafheaven have hit on a beautiful marriage of those two things.
‘Dissilusion’ by O’ Brother is a phenomenal record, and one of the oddest of the year, Tanner’s (Merrit, guitar) vocals have really come into their own.”

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