Scottish alt band Biffy Clyro are about to rock their way around the U.S. of A. with none other than megagroup Muse. Their sixth studio album, Opposites, was released early this year, topping the U.K. album charts at number one. They’re also slated to be one of the headliners for the Reading and Leeds Festivals. It’s a good year for the Biffy Clyro boys, and before it got too crazy we asked frontman Simon Neil about living on the road.
Playboy.com: What’s the major difference between Scottish bars and American bars? Could you give us a story that would happen in one of those places that wouldn’t happen in the other?
Neil: The main difference between Scottish and American bars is the number of drunken people. A tip in a Scottish pub is to not stare at the guy with the scar sitting at the end of the bar. A tip in an American bar involves dollars.
Playboy.com: What’s the best venue you’ve played at and why?
Neil: The Royal Albert Hall in London. It was almost a religious experience. It’s got so much history and there’s something brilliantly odd about our rock band playing in such an iconic, prestigious venue.
Playboy.com: You’re one of the headliners for the Reading and Leeds Festivals. What’s your favorite part about playing festivals?
Neil: Apart from hanging out with your friends backstage and getting drunk in a field in the middle of nowhere, it’s an unbelievable experience to stand in front of people singing your songs back at you. It’s as close to god on earth as I’ve ever seen or felt.
Playboy.com: What’s your craziest story from the road?
Neil: Whenever magic mushrooms were involved things always went a bit crazy. The worst night was when we were on a long drive after a gig in Amsterdam and James [Johnston] completely lost his mind and almost killed us when he wrestled our driver from the wheel while we were going at 100 mph on the autobahn as he thought there were aliens on our tail, and the driver was in on it! We had to restrain him for four hours. He only calmed down when chocolate milk piqued his interest. Don’t do drugs!
A bit more of a family-friendly story is we were playing an acoustic show in London. We had heard that there would be a surprise support band, thought we didn’t know who it would be. When we turned up, we saw two guitar cases sitting next to the stage with “Bono” and “The Edge” stenciled on them. U2 were our support band for the evening. They even apologized for stealing our dressing room. A nice bunch of Irish boys.
Playboy.com: What’s the influence behind your album Opposites? What sets it apart from your other albums?
Neil: It’s about the breakdown and rebuilding of a relationship. It was inspired by the last two years of our lives, lyrically. Musically, it was inspired by Simon and Garfunkel and Guns N' Roses—we're trying to find that middle ground! There was no such thing as a ridiculous idea on this album. We used a lot of strange instruments and sounds on this record which are not often used on a rock album. We used kazoos, a mariachi band, a tap dancer, an orchestra, a choir, bagpipes, beards [sic] as percussion, a church organ…I also think these are the best songs I have ever written. I believe it is our band at our very best!
Playboy.com: What’s your first Playboy memory?
Neil: I remember buying Playboy when I was 13, because I was the old-looking one in my group of friends. I remember falling in love with Stephanie Seymour, who was in that particular issue. I still have those images etched in my brain.
Playboy.com: What do you guys listen to while you’re on the road? Why?
Neil: I listen to a lot of noisy music when I’m at home, but not so much on tour. I listen to a bit of Nick Cave, Band of Horses, Red House Painters, Frank Ocean, Clint Mansell, Hans Zimmer…When you’re on tour playing really loud rock shows every night, the last thing you want to do is listen to loud guitars. As much as I love, live and breathe rock music, a little change is good!
Playboy.com: Which city has the sexiest girls?
Neil: I’ll say…any city in Italy. And my wife is of Italian descent!
Playboy.com: Are there any places you’re looking forward to playing that you haven’t been before?
Neil: I would love, love, love to go to South America and RRRRRRRRRRussia. Two very different parts of the world, but two places I’ve been intrigued by since I was very young, and can’t wait to visit and play. The people seem so, so wonderful and full of life.
Playboy.com: What’s your favorite bar or nightclub to hit up while you’re on the road?
Neil: We don’t. We are the fucking nightclub!
Playboy.com: You’ll be the supporting act for Muse in Canada and the U.S. in April. Do you want to talk a bit about that?
Neil: We’re buzzing to get back to the U.S. and Canada. A lot of the people at the shows will be unfamiliar with us, but I cannot wait to introduce them to our band. And to do two nights at MSG with Muse is going to be an absolute honor and unforgettable. It’s always fun to play shows with Muse, they’re great people, they’re a great band and they’ve got a fucking private jet. What’s not to love!