More about: Biffy Clyro
It’s British summer time which means sun, rain, or whatever - but no doubt, regardless, you’ll be spending some time in a field watching live music. The festival season kicked off last month with Radio 1's Big Weekend, where the crowd were treated to a mix of sounds ranging from Grime heavyweight Skepta to pop favourite Ellie Goulding, but it was Biffy Clyro's triumphant slot on the In New Music We Trust stage which was a highlight.
It left us hungry for their first album in three years, and for them to dominate Reading & Leeds with a game-changing headline set yet again.
The Scottish trio are festival veterans, in fact they've barely had a summer off since 2000 as they've climbed up the bill, playing the long game. At the end of August, Simon, James and Ben will be headlining Reading & Leeds festival, three years after their last main stage slot - a rare achievement, especially for a British act.
A lot has happened to one of the hardest working bands in the UK since releasing Opposites, in 2013. July sees another turning point for the band, who formed in 1995, as they release Ellipsis, their seventh album, and it looks like another busy summer ahead - but they're not complaining.
I caught up with bassist James Johston for a quick chat about what comes next for the band, as they played an intimate acoustic set for just a handful of lucky Leeds Festival ticket holders.
What does it mean to be headlining the festival for the second time?
"We were so lucky to headline the first time, it’s a real honour to get asked back. It’s a festival that's been close to the band's heart for the past 10 years, as it's where we learnt to play festivals. We’ve been on every stage, it’s been a constant in the band's journey, and I suppose you can use it as a bit of a barometer for how well it has been going, building our way up slowly. I think the audience that goes to that festival is really unparalleled, the energy in the north - they really just go for it!"
Do you prefer Leeds or Reading?
"It’s a difficult one. Of course we love Reading but there is just something about the Leeds crowd - nobody is trying to be cool, everybody is just wanting to have a good fucking time. For us that is just what it's all about. The crowds are different at every festival, there’s just something about the energy up here and we have fond memories of playing in Yorkshire. Sheffield has a great scene with bands like Bring Me The Horizon and we’ve had great gigs at the Leadmill."
What can we expect from the stage show?
"We’ve got tentative plans. Things will kind of build as the summer goes along. Last time we had a theatrical stage set, but this time we will try and do something different, architecturally-led, sleek and simple, but still a good looking show. As each festival passes and the run-up continues we’ll add more lights."
You've played the festival several times, what are your highlights?
"There are two. The first time we played, we travelled down in the van from Glasgow, shaking with nerves the whole way. Ben was sick before the show, it was just the thought 'we’ve actually made it to Leeds Festival’! Getting to headline is an obvious highlight too.
"To work our way up at the festival, feels like we belong and have the support of the people there. It’s going to be hard to top that this year but we are on a mission to do so."
You play so many festivals, do you ever camp?
"There’s usually a festival the next day in some other muddy field unfortunately so we don’t get that chance very often."
How was Radio 1’s Big Weekend?
"It was really fun, it was nice to be back out. Big Weekend has always been the start of our summer every time we've done it, and to be down in Exeter, a beautiful part of the world, debuting some of the songs, it's really incredible. It feels like things are going for real now - the new songs went down really well.
"It always takes a few times of playing them before it becomes second nature and those first few times are really exciting because you don’t know what is going to happen. When you are making an album, it never really feels alive until you start playing them in front of an audience."
'Wolves of Winter' has the classic Biffy sound, yet 'Animal Style' is full of surprises. How did that come about?
"It’s a different vibe for us. In the past maybe we would have tried to mess up the song even more but its got a real drive and energy to it, it’s a really fun song to play."
How would you describe the spirit and feel of Elipsis as a whole?
"It’s a bit more stripped-back - a direct result of the last three albums, which were getting bigger and bigger, a big lush sound, and we just wanted to mess with the sound more this time. We worked with a new producer, Rich Costey, who really helped us bring different elements to our sound, with programming, loops or fucked up synths. The album is really direct, it’s the shortest record we’ve ever made, it’s to the point with great songs, we couldn’t be more proud of it. It feels like we are starting again as a band, we’ve been reborn, learning everything again for the first time, it’s exciting and that can be heard on the album."
Ellipsis is out on 8 July.
Reading & Leeds takes place from 26-28 August 2016, and you can get tickets and more information here.
More about: Biffy Clyro