Biffy Clyro: Hitting Things Is Fun!

If you're reading this then you may know that Ben Johnston is the drummer of Scotland's hottest power trio, Biffy Clyro. What you might not know it that he's also an avid fisherman.


"We were just touring America, with a band called Manchester Orchestra and I caught a ten pound carp, which is my biggest fish to date!" Ben chuckles, clearly chuffed. It may be his most recent achievement but it's far from an isolated incident.


Biffy Clyro have just released their new LP Only Revolutions, an exhilarating slice of punk energy, metal power chords and pop sensibility. It's a wild ride, with latest single ‘Bubbles' featuring Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Josh Homme. I asked Ben about the experience.


"He's awesome. We toured round the States with them [QOTSA] twice and we just became friends with them. We happened to be recording in LA and Josh Lives near the studio and we said ‘Do you want to come and do a space rock solo?' He had time for a few tequilas and a few smokes before he recorded it. We all grew up listening to Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss and so to call him a friend is quite weird I guess. He is as cool as everybody thinks he is, I can absolutely justify that."


Johnson is one half of the band's sibling (twins in fact) rhythm section.


"You can't really get much better than a twin rhythm section, ‘cause we do lock in real tight. It's not something that's noticeable; I suppose it's a subconscious thing. I think that's the case with Simon too, when you have been playing together for fifteen years, and if you spend that much time playing with someone for that long you're definitely going to have some kind of psychic connection."


As tight as they are musically, however, Ben say he doesn't pry into the meanings of singer/guitarist Simon Neil's lyrics:


"This might seem weird to say but, being a Biffy fan myself, I kind of like some element of it to remain a mystery. Sometimes if you find out what lyrics are about it can ruin a song for you.


"Obviously though, we do interviews together and that's when I tend to find out most about the lyrics. He's not mad about talking about the lyrics but if asked he will answer. To me the song ‘That Golden Rule' is incredible, because I don't know how he manages to fit so many words into one sentence."


In terms of song craft, the Biffy boys are very focused. "With us it's always predetermined; we never go into the studio and make it up as we go. I don't understand bands that can do that. We're not really a jam band. Simon tends to write most of the songs on acoustic guitar, believe it or not.


"That's why every song has a tune. Simon will bring it in and then the first time we play it together is the first time he's heard it amplified. He writes the songs and I guess we all contribute to the music.


Heading our way very soon, Johnson is quick to praise the nation.


"We love Australia. For me, you guys have got all the best bits of Britain mixed with the US but with none of the crap bits!" He laughs, "I think I would live there if I didn't have such a massive phobia of sharks."


Of course, playing live shows must be a pretty cathartic experience especially for a drummer.


"There's just something about that connection you get with the kids I that love. It's so good to vent too. I mean I hit the drums pretty hard anyway, but if I get angry or upset I get to really hit them and try to break things. I break stuff all the time. Like on tour in America recently I broke two of the kick pedal plates. I have never done that before but on that tour I did it twice within the space of five days."


Hopefully some of his gear will remain intact for their coming tour of Australia.

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