Biffy Clyro Singer Simon Neil Is In A Grindcore Band & They Have An Album Coming Soon

6 June 2023 | 10:43 am | Mary Varvaris
Originally Appeared In

Neil's intention for the album was “Just f*cking mayhem."

Photo of Empire State Bastard

Photo of Empire State Bastard (Source: Supplied)

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Biffy Clyro are one of those bands that have a distinctive arena-rock sound these days, and singer Simon Neil is integral to that sound quality. So, if he wants to branch out and do something different, he needs collaborators who truly understand his vision.

Enter Empire State Bastard, Neil’s grindcore outfit formed with ex-Oceansize vocalist and Biffy Clyro guitar tech Mike Vennart, metal drumming legend Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Misfits, Mike Patton collaborator in Mr Bungle, Dead Cross) and bassist Naomi MacLeod (Bitch Falcon) joining them for live shows.

Their debut album, Rivers Of Heresy, is out on Friday, 1 September, via Roadrunner Records.

In a new interview with Kerrang!, Neil and Vennart discussed their intentions behind making a band far heavier than anything you can find in Biffy Clyro’s expansive catalogue.

Vennart, the lead riff-writer and guitar player, admitted, “I set about making the most fucking poisonous vile music I possibly could, just unabridged hatred in musical form.” Neil refused to play lead guitar for the project, claiming that “as soon as I pick up a guitar, it’s going to sound like fucking Biffy.”

Neil explained, “We wanted to push that extremity and get ourselves into the right headspace for it.” The Scottish vocalist has “been needing to make a record like this for a long time” and pushed for “provocative” reactions.

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“I said to Mike that I don’t want to sing any melodies – although there are a few melodies on the record, which is me following the service of the song – but my intention was no melody at all,” Neil told Kerrang! 

His intention for the album was “Just fucking mayhem. We wanted people to feel that they’d almost struggle to get to the end of the first song.”

Describing how Empire State Bastard harkens back to Neil’s teenage years of listening to heavy music as a form of self-expression, he said, “I felt that I was a bit of an angry young man who needed to bond with music that helps you get angry.”

If you’re curious about Rivers Of Heresy, a press release describes the album as "a collection of songs which adventurously probes slamming hardcore in the vein of Siege; the frenetic, visceral thrash of Slayer; the claustrophobic sludge of Melvins; the freeform vocal dexterity of Mike Patton; and the gargantuan stoner riffs of Sleep.”

Empire State Bastard have an exciting festival season coming up, booked to perform at Download in Donington this Friday and at Wacken Festival this August.

You can pre-order/pre-save the album here and check out the first singles Stutter and Harvest below.