After their most successful album to date, Anne Waites talks to Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro about Puzzle, Dave Grohl stealing his beard/hair combo and receiving elaborate portraits from Japanese fans.
How would you sum up the first half of 2008?
“Hectic! It’s been amazing actually, we’re going to places we’ve never played before, doing things that we never thought we’d get a chance to do. Spreading the word of our music.”
How was your first trip to Japan?
“It was really full on. People just obsess over the bands that they like. They seem to research what you’re really like. We kind of thought the shows might be quite quiet atmosphere-wise. But it was the exact opposite of that.”
Did you get any good presents?
“James did! He’s written on the on-line blog that we didn’t get to see the cherry blossom because it was the wrong time of year. A girl did this crazy airbrushed painting of James with his glorious ginger locks standing in front of this big blossom tree. It must have taken her ages! Me and Ben got a couple of letters saying ‘thanks for coming’, and James got this beautiful portrait. I think he’s a messiah over there because he’s got ginger hair.”
Watch the video to ‘Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies’ by Biffy Clyro
What was the biggest culture shock?
“They don’t really do hangover food. It’s still all fresh fish first thing in the morning. Which is lovely, but if you’re feeling green you don’t really want to eat a bit of raw squid. But the biggest surprise is that people are the same everywhere. And Marty Friedman who used to play guitar in Megadeth is a huge megastar over there. He’s got his own TV show, we went on it. He was absolutely tiny! But with a big poodle perm on top.”
What’s the new single ‘Mountains‘ about?
“It feels like an in-between albums song. It’s kind of putting a full stop on Puzzle lyrically. It’s taking up from where ‘Machines’ left off, with its little bit of hope. With this one it’s where you’re completely trying to start again and just have confidence in yourself again. Just having the bit between your teeth and going for it. I try not to think too much about what I’m writing about, but that’s the impression I get from it!”
Watch the video to ‘Machines’ by Biffy Clyro
How’s the other new stuff sounding?
“We’ve got some quite bizarre songs. We’ve got one that’s sleazy, a bit like Nick Cave. We’ve got a big dumb rock song. There’s one with this groovy riff, a southern rock riff, which is my favourite to play. It puts a smile on my face every time I play it. I’m really pleased we can still take ourselves by surprise. It feels like we’re constantly evolving, and that feels mega.”
Last year was a bit of a rollercoaster. How’s that affected you? Are you getting big headed yet?
“We’re confident in what we’re doing musically, but we’re not really hugely confident dudes. So I feel as if we’ve almost got more to prove now than we did before. It felt like with Puzzle we took a huge step forward, as we have on every record hopefully. We want our next record to be better than Puzzle. We’ve put a lot of pressure on ourselves, so we definitely don’t have an abundance of confidence, but I think that’s a good thing. I think if you start thinking you’re the dog’s b******ks you forget why you’re doing it. And we still live in Scotland so we can’t get too carried away.”
Watch Biffy Clyro perform ‘Folding Stars’ in a Virgin Radio Session
Would that be a sure-fire way to a beating?
“Exactly! Actually, there were two Russians found dead in a big ship, and they were docked across from our flat. There were two dead Russians facing me when I got back from Madrid. And a young mum was stabbed to death just up the road. Ayrshire is kicking off. People are losing their f*****g minds, I can’t believe it.”
The Daily Mail can always blame it on emo.
“It’s unbelievable. Movies and music cannot make people into psychopaths. It’s got nothing to do with it! There’s always going to be something that triggers a maniac to do what they do. It’s nothing to do with what you listen to. We’d all be f*****g nuts if that was the case!”
Heard any good rumours about yourself lately?
“No, I try and stay far away from news about our band as possible. Before the Foo Fighters shows everyone kept saying we were playing with them, which was just because Dave Grohl’s nicked my beard and hair combo.”
Biffy Clyro support Bon Jovi at Twickenham Stadium on 27 June 2008
‘Mountains’ is released on 25 August 2008 on 14th Floor Records