The Biffy Clyro frontman found a way to express himself when he started playing guitar, making him the perfect choice as winner of the inaugural Q Fender Play Award.
Hi, Simon. You’re the recipient of the Fender Play Award for being a guitar icon. How does that feel? Unreal! It feels amazing. When I grew up, my guitar was such an important part of my life. I was a bit shy, not great at communication, but as soon as I learned guitar I felt I had a way to express myself. It gave me a level of confidence I needed. I wasn’t great with words. Hopefully I’m better now because I’m meant to be a fucking lyricist! And receiving it from Duane Eddy? Oh my God! How to make a guy getting an award feel that small. Here’s a guy that’s created the guitar world as we know it – a guy who changed the landscape. So the twang’s the thang? Absolutely. When you’re a teenager you think that distortion is the thang. But you listen to something like Duane Eddy’s Rebel-’Rouser or Peter Gunn and you realise, “You know what heavy guitars are? They’re clean guitars.” It’s not distortion that gives you intensity, it’s the way you attack it. Duane Eddy teaches you that. Who have you been excited to see here today? Duane Eddy, of course – none of us would even be in this room without someone like him. I just saw Shaun Ryder – looks like he’s had a skinful; you wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m a fan of IDLES, as I think most people are. For me, at this moment in time, that’s what guitar music’s about – not about being pretty, but expressing how you feel. That’s exciting. I just met Novelist, too – he’s an absolute talent. I thought he was going to hug the life out of you. I know! That’s what I like about music in Britain. You get all the fucking genres mixed up together. Even the new acts, you see guitars, hip-hop, pop, a bit of everything. I think Britain’s always had that wonderful balance. Good music is good music. But fucking care about it. Apart from tonight, what was your highlight of 2018? It was probably playing the Bataclan [ on 25 September]. We hadn’t been back since the horrific attack. We played an acoustic show and there was a real heavy vibe in the room – you could tell a lot of people hadn’t been back there since 2015. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but it’s like only something so outrageous could have created such a spiritual vibe in the room. It felt like a victorious evening for humanity. A real emotional moment, something I won’t forget for a long time. And what’s coming next year – another Biffy album presumably? We should have two albums out next year. A director approached me to make a record and he’s making a movie in response to it. So we’ve been collaborating most of the year and he finished the film last week. The album should hopefully be out in January and the film in March or April. Then we’ll be in the studio making the eighth album with Rich Costey in January or February and the sooner we can get it done the better. This is what we do! If you’re in a band you should be making music. It’s going to be a full-on year.
Nice coat! (main pic) Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil; (right) with Duane Eddy and his Q Fender Play Award.