Whacky ideas work in their favour
Whacky ideas work in their favour

Though there have been many superb double albums over the years, such releases can also often mark a tipping point in a band's career where ambition and talent get way out of sync with each other.

One could think a similar fate has befallen Scottish mega-sellers Biffy Clyro after hearing extras such as bagpipes, kazoos, bell whistles and even tap-dancing appear on their new two-disc release, Opposites.

Fortunately, frontman Simon Neil and his band mates have the musical nous and ability to make the slightly whacky ideas work in their favour.

Crucially, they also knew when things had got too far out of hand.

"I know it's self-indulgent to make a double album," Neil concedes from a German hotel, "but I think we've made one of the least self-indulgent double albums.

"We had a rule where nothing was too ridiculous to try, and bizarrely most of the really stupid ideas worked. We did try a gospel choir though," he adds with a chuckle. "That was the only thing where we just thought 'God, this sounds absolutely ridiculous, horrible, it doesn't work'. My whole life flashed before my eyes, y'know?"

It also helps that Opposites is not a double release born of ego.

While Neil did strike a rich vein of songwriting form and struggled whittling down about 45 new songs, releasing a lengthy piece of music was also a way to challenge 21st century listening habits where music is often bought and consumed one song at a time.

"I want this record to be a companion piece for people the way albums were for me when I was a teenager," Neil explains. "An album would be like a friend rather than just a distraction. I hope it's fun for people, we don't want this to be a test or challenge for people. But I do like that if people want to get to know it, they'll have to sit down and kind of make friends with it."

Opposites could make many, many friends should it perform as well commercially as the trio's two previous albums, 2007's Puzzle and 2009's Only Revolutions, which saw Biffy Clyro graduate from underground noise-makers to platinum-selling, chart-dominating, Wembley-headlining superstars.

It's a strange position for them to be in. Rock bands are increasingly scarce a the top end of the charts, let alone one that often draws upon decidedly non-commercial influences in songs - hit single That Golden Rule is a rock jam owing more to prog and stoner

rock than perhaps any top 10 hit ever.

It's a level of popularity which doesn't necessarily intimidate Neil, but leaves him and his band mates scratching their noggins and shrugging their shoulders.

They were especially flummoxed when English X Factor winner Matt Cardle recorded a cover of Many of Horror that became a UK Christmas number one single.

"Yeah, that was f…ing nuts," Neil says with a bewildered chuckle. "It's just strange a band like us who are influenced by, like, Lightning Bolt and Fugazi and Sunny Day Real Estate gets covered in a f…ing TV show.

"I kind of compare it to getting a song on The A-Team; if I was young and Mr T was cavorting around singing a song that would have made my day."


The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

More from The West