Band works through light, dark days on double-album

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Biffy Clyro
Thursday October 3, 2013 8:35 AM

The three Scottish lads in Biffy Clyro have been friends since they were 7 years old, making the struggles of the past two years that much more difficult and the resolution that much more sweet.

Therein lies the emotional concept behind Biffy Clyro’s new double-CD, Opposites. That, and the less dramatic reasons offered by singer/guitarist Simon Neil.

“It’s kind of a ‘classic rock’ moment. Making a double-album has been a dream of mine since I picked up a guitar,” he told The Beat, adding the band recognizes that two full discs of music is a lot in this era of Internet downloads and streaming.

“We know it’s a lot to ask people to sit and listen to a double-album. Whether it’s a good idea or not, we’re proud of it.”

That pride likely stems, at least in part, from the “really traumatic” couple of years that preceded Opposites’ completion. While success did not come overnight, by the time of the 2010 release of the band’s previous record, Only Revolutions, its fifth, the band was much in demand, spending more than two years on tour and playing festivals, headlining arenas and taking audiences by storm. The schedule took its toll.

“Things got a wee bit dark,” Neil said.

“It reached the point where (drummer) Ben (Johnston) had to give up the drink.”

Before settling in to begin work on what would become Opposites, the band “had to sort out being friends rather than being a band,” Neil said.

“We started when we were in our teens, and it was us against the world. We’re all married now with families, and we’re having to find our own identities. It’s tough growing up and realizing you’re not 19 anymore.”

“When we came back to the band, we found ourselves in the most positive place we’ve ever been. We love being in this band and love being with each other.”

So Opposites features a dark and light CD, a reflection of the struggles and affirmation that resulted in its creation.

“Why we love this album is that so much of the last two years have been poured into the songs. It was a complete thing, to get a clear head and process everything that we had gone through.”

Sonically, Opposites offers a variety of shades but adheres to the melodic rock that has come to be the band’s calling card.

“When you start out, you want to sound like your favorite band,” said Neil, who came of age listening to American bands such as Nirvana.

“But you soon find out that you shouldn’t try to sound like your heroes but just sound like yourselves, be your own band. We stayed in Scotland, and just sort of found out who we were. It was very organic. I started singing with my Scottish accent. We leaned toward progressive music for a couple albums but we just like that big, epic rock sound.”

Makes sense, for a gent who refers to his band’s approach to making records as “maximalist.”

“I guess when it comes to making records, no idea is a bad idea. We want a brass section? A church organ? We’re going to go find the biggest one we can. We’ll try anything from a kazoo to an orchestra. The more the merrier.”

“You can do that when you’re making a record. I like discovering new things each time I listen to something, so I hope our fans like that, too.”

Biffy Clyro plays the A&R Music Bar Monday, Oct. 7. Morning Parade opens. Tickets are $17/$20. Visit promowestlive.com.

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