What I dig about the arts is their collective ability to influence one another. Case in point, Mark Z. Danielewski’s works and Biffy Clyro’s works. The two will be coming together to do a special intimate performance at the Bootleg Theater on March 2 to benefit Homeboy Industries.
The respective influences both the band and the author have on one another is the perfect example of what a symbiotic relationship should be, and offers a unique perspective at the composing and writing process. Accidentally the two artists have been exploring the same themes, culminating in the title Biffy Clyro anointed their latest project with, “Only Revolutions” paying homage to Danielewski’s latest work.
Bestnewbands.com was able to get the two respective perspectives and you can read on for interviews with both Biffy Clyro and Mark Z. Danielewski to get an idea about the uniqe event and what sort of experience were all in for in just a few nights!
Lauren Novik: Let’s start by talking about your major musical influences as a band!
BC: Oh my lord- that would take forever! I guess we’ve been influenced by all the different types of music we’ve heard over the thirty-one years we’ve been on this planet! I’ve been influenced by bad music as well as good music- sort of tells you what not to do. But I guess when we started out we were influenced by bands of the moment like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden- those were the sort of bands that really hit home with us when we were teenagers. I guess when we started we wanted to sound like all those bands put together. It’s been mostly American bands that have influenced us over the years to be honest- it wasn’t until a bit later on that we started getting interested in more Eastern European stuff- I could list bands that have influenced us, but we’d be here all day- it’s mostly been rock-based music that we’ve been into.
LN: You have a big show coming up at the Bootleg Theater with author Danielewski who wrote Only Revolutions- what your latest release is based on! Let’s talk a little bit about his influence on your music!
BC: The way it came around was basically that Simon is a big fan of Mark’s books and he’d just written this book called “Only Revolutions” and then we’d written the new album and it was kind of a fluke that the album ended up going over a lot of the same themes as the book, and they kind of correlate together- and it seemed like a very fitting title. It wasn’t like we wrote the album about the book or anything- it was just more of a coincidence! The first time Simon read the book and he was doing lyrics and stuff and he was like “oh wow- it’s talking about the same sort of things” so it seemed fitting to name it after Mark’s book.
LN: Is this the first time that you guys will be doing a show in conjunction with Danielewski?
BC: It certainly is! It’s the first time we’re doing anything like this- it’s pretty exciting! We’re all fans of his work- he’s a very respected author. He’s a very cool author and it should a very cool night.
LN: The event is going to be very unique indeed- it’s actually taking place at a very intimate venue called the Bootleg Theater- a little bit different for you guys since you’re used to selling out large arenas! Do you prefer the bigger venues as opposed to the smaller ones?
BC: It’s hard to say whether we prefer bog or small- like all gigs each has its pros and cons. We actually played the Bootleg Theater not that long ago and it’s a cute little venue. You can actually see the whites of peoples eyes, and they can smell your sweat so like you said it makes for a unique little experience. It’s like back in the day kickin’ around Britain in a van playing towns- it’s the same sort of thing but now, in America- we still enjoy it!
LN: You’ve just released your first album in the U.S.- do you plan on releasing any of your former albums as well?
BC: Hopefully! We’ll see what happens with this. We’ve got five albums for people to listen to. We’d love for people to get their teeth into all of our stuff, not just the most recent one. Hopefully they’ll take this one to the heart and be able to get their hands on our others.
LN: Any pre-show vices or rituals you guys always do prior to a performance?
BC: We’ve got a few things we do like warm-ups and stuff for the body, we have a couple of drinks and right before we go on we have a huddle- a small huddle- just to wish each other luck, and they we go and rip it up!
LN: What other major festivals do you plan on playing this year- anything lined up?
BC: We are playing Bamboozle actually, in America which is pretty exciting to get to play that festivals as there are a lot of really cool bands, and obviously we’re holding out for offers from other American festivals. But over in Britain we’re playing Sonisphere which is really cool, and we’re doing Glastonbury and a couple of cool European festivals too.
LN: Glastonbury this year?
BC: Yeah we’re doing it this year- we’ve done it a couple of times before. Also, we’re playing a really cool thing with the Foo Fighters at the Milton Keynes Bowl which’ll be really special.
LN: Any insanely memorable on the road experiences you can share with us?
BC: Over the ten years we’ve been touring? I should really prepare for questions like this because they always come- but I never really have any answers. We’re a fairly mundane band- well, we’re not mundane- but we keep ourselves to ourselves. So anything that we find funny or crazy probably doesn’t sound fun to anyone else. I can’t think of anything too crazy recently- but we did get told off by the police for driving too close to the Capital Building in Washington DC the other day- which is kind of bonkers! Apparently the vehicle we were in was too big to be driving that close to the building.
LN: What’s up next for Biffy Clyro in 2011? Just touring non stop or do you plan on getting back to recording a bit?
BC: It’s tough to say really, we want to do a bit of both but we’ll have to pick our moments as we’re in America for these gigs coming up and then we’re back in Britain and then we come back to America to tour with a band called Cage The Elephant- who are awesome. Then try and spend a bit more time in the U.S. after that. Then it’s back home to start recording again hopefully.
LN: Always non-stop, eh?
BC: Pretty much! We stayed at home in January- which was the first time we’ve had off in about 4 years.
LN: Okay so you’re stranded on a deserted island and you can only bring three CDs- pick your poison.
BC: Oh that’s difficult. Weezer “Pinkerton,” I’ll go for Crowded House “Woodface,” and I’ll go for ACDC “Back In Black.”
LN: Well we’re all looking forward to the event- do you think you’ll continue to partner with Danielewski in the future for more shows?
BC: Well we’ll see how this one goes. I’m not really sure how it’s going to be set up on the night but if people enjoy themselves and have a good time we’d certainly be willing to do it again!
Keeping with difficult themes and knowing there are always two sides to every store (and often perspectives if you’re familiar with Danielewski’s work!) Here’s the other interview with the author about the band, and their upcoming collaborative show!
LN: I’m really looking forward to the event with Biffy Clyro at the bootleg Theater on March 2- it’s such an innovative idea! Have you ever done anything like that before?
MZD: You know I did something with Housing Works when my first book came out that had a musical element to it- it wasn’t quite as specific as this.
LN: You’re referring to House Of Leaves, correct?
MZD: Yes! And then of course I toured with my sister because we did the song “Hey Pretty”- and that went to like 13 in the country. We opened for Depeche Mode, we were on Conan- so I got to do a lot of neat events. We played Madison Square Garden- so that’s pretty cool for a novelist!
LN: How did you find out that Biffy Clyro was so influenced by your book that they entitled their latest release “Only Revolutions” after it?
MZD: It was one of those things that it slowly reached me. I started hearing rumors that there was this Scottish band, and heard that they were good and that it had something to do with my work. It was pretty much around the same time that I heard “Mountains” on the radio in L.A.- forgive me for not remembering exactly- it was either KROQ or KCRW and they said “this is Biffy Clyro” and I was like- this is GOOD! Then of course I immediately picked up on the themes and it was really wonderful for me. Simon was giving voice to a lot of the themes that are in the book- but he’s not enslaved by the book. It’s his own interpretation and his own willingness to embrace that feeling of being young and imaginative and forever in love and yet, diving into very complicated waters- it’s a complicated book, and I really credit him and the other members of the band for tangling with those themes.
LN: And you are certainly no stranger to difficult themes- I’ve read House of Leaves a few times!
LN: Now they were influenced by your book to an extent- are you in turn influenced by music when you go to write something?
MZD: Oh absolutely- and more than likely I will be influenced by them to a certain degree because following that introduction I got all of their CDs. In fact recently I got Infinity Land- which isn’t available on itunes, so I had to get it from Canada – so that’s been fun. It’s interesting even the title of it- here’s this CD called “Infinity Land” and that’s the actual territory that Sam and Hailey in “Only Revolutions” inhabit. There are sort of thematic elements that are raised in some of their earlier albums and that’s what I find fascinating. I feel like Simon was sort of drawn to “Only Revolutions” because these were some of themes that he was already exploring- you know Blackened Sky’s, “Kill The Old, Torture The Young,” “Christopher’s River”- it just kind of was interesting. The irony of “The Vertigo Of Bliss” is a title fitting for Sam and Hailey- just sort of interesting stuff.
LN: You can see the definite cross-pollination of the two forms of art- you finished your last book in about 2006 I believe- do you think this collaboration could lead or influence a future project of yours?
MZD: It definitely could- it’s just kind of something that you really can’t force. My sister and I are very close and so I’m constantly listening to her music and I’m sure a lot of the tracks that she hasn’t released yet influenced Only Revolutions. But a lot of the time it doesn’t come together as easily as it did with House Of Leaves- so it’s hard to predict. Certainly things get my head going and suddenly I’m listing to The National or Mumford & Sons or Yeah Yeah Yeahs and it takes me in a different way. There is something to be said about just liking those people that you’re in contact with. When I first met Simon I immediately took a shine to him and he’s just very friendly, very down to earth, very curious which- is a virtue that I have always admired.
LN: Your sister is Poe has definitely done a lot of stuff with your writings as well- will she be in attendance at the Bootleg Theater as well?
MZD: She will be- thank you for asking!
LN: Well the whole thing should be a really unique experience- and what I’m really excited about is the charity Homeboy Industries that you’ll be supporting! Are you familiar with their work?
MZD: I am! I actually suggested Homeboy Industries and as it turns out a few other people had the same idea- and so when they asked which charity I’d like to select on behalf of myself and Biffy Clyro I had to say that one. One of the things I really like about them is that they do something very specific- so people that are giving money know exactly what their money is going to. There are a lot of wonderful charities and a lot of wonderful things but sometimes you just get that feeling like what is the money going to- am I just buying like a roll of tape, whereas with Homeboy Industries what they’re doing is they’re removing tattoos from gang members who are marked and potentially marked for an early death with these inky signatures. So you’re potentially un-writing their past and giving them a future that is unwritten. As an author that interests me- sometimes what you learn as a writer is that the most important step is to un-write something, to get away from something, to return to the blank page and allow yourself the freedom of the future.
LN: The event should be great in all aspects!
MZD: You know my sister and I went and saw them at the Troubadour and we had that moment like before they came on of like oh god- are they gonna be any good!? When you live in this town- I’ve certainly hung around with my sister enough to have been exposed to some really phenomenal music- and they came out and they were REALLY good and my sister and I kind of just looked at each other and smiled and were like okay- they’re good.
Obviously after reading you can clearly see the event promises to be an intimate of unique experiences, and to be a part of it head over HERE to grab your tckets! Hope to see you all there for such a great cause- and a once in a lifetime night!
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