Lucky us! Scottish rock legends Biffy Clyro are about to make their way back Down Under for the second time this year, following their impressive Soundwave performances. Bassist James Johnston expressed his excitement towards the September dates after having a ball on the Soundwave bill: “We’re the lucky ones,” he beamed. “It was incredible, it was just amazing fun. It was really nice to come back and play there with so many amazing bands! It was great to be a part of!”
The lads from Kilmarnock have been enjoying a big summer of European festivals, namely headlining the infamous ‘T in The Park’ festival in native Scotland. This was the very first festival the boys played at some 15 years ago, very young and unsigned. “That’s the festival we’ve always used as a bit of a benchmark. You know it was our first festival we ever played! We’ve kind of slowly worked our way up from the smaller stages all the way up to the main stage.
“It’s our national festival! It’s a really big deal over here so we feel really proud and really excited. I guess at the moment we’re still pretty nervous, but we can’t wait at the same time!”
Way back when the young trio consisting of James on bass, Simon Neil on guitar/vocals and James’ twin Ben on drums began to write and rehearse songs together, James reminisces on an Aussie favourite who originally got them dreaming about the big time. “I don’t know how people view them back home, whether you think they’re cheesy or if they’re a national institution, but Silverchair were really important to us growing up. I think just because they were such young guys when they started, it’d make you think, ‘Oh, well maybe we could have a go at this’. That was quite inspiring.”
The boys have come a long way since then and certainly made the big time, with six studio albums, countless world tours and some huge accolades including taking out ‘Best British Band’ at last year’s NME Awards, which James reveals was a pleasant shock. “I think it’s always a bit of a risk making a double album. I think you’re setting yourself up for ridicule and you could make things pretty difficult for yourself, but I think we’ve received the support from the fans that we have and from people in the press. To get a nod from your peers and people in the industry, it’s really, really nice.
“As you take steps forward, every time you try something new, it’s a little bit tricky, it can be a little difficult. I think having an extra couple of guys play with us live makes a bit of a difference. We’ve got Mike [Vennart – guitar] and Gambler [Richard Ingram – guitar, piano] who used to play in a band called Oceansize. They’re really great friends of ours, old friends, but most importantly really great players. They were able to help us re-create some of those really great sounds that you hear on the album.”
Don’t expect the festival circuit to weary these tour veterans. With over ten years of tour experience, James admits touring has become a way of life – a life they certainly love. “We’re gonna give every bit of energy and passion that we have and we’ll play a bit of a sing-song for people to sing along to. We always like it when that happens and they can create some real atmosphere. In the end that’s all that’s really important – a band that really loves doing what they’re doing.”
What will the boys be getting up to during their downtime this time around? James tells how they enjoyed a little excursion to ‘the water’ whilst in Queensland ahead of Soundwave earlier in the year, so I suggested testing the waters along the Great Ocean Road. Hire a surfboard? See how it goes? “We tried it before and we got fucking beat up. It was such an exhausting thing to do and I guess if you were good at it, it would be a bit easier. We found it so tough, a real challenge, but I’d love to give it a go again, definitely,” he laughed.
“But, it’s such an amazing country. I think I would love to go into the centre of the country a little bit – we’ve obviously gone around the coast earlier this year. I guess there isn’t really much in the centre, but it would be nice to go for a drive.”
When&Where: The Palais – September 7
Written by Abbey King