Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil finds use for the “best band name of all time” with Empire State Bastard project

Roadrunner Records; Artwork by Daniel P. Carter

If you know anything about Biffy Clyro, it’s probably that they’re from Scotland. So why did frontman Simon Neil reference New York with his new project, Empire State Bastard?

As Neil tells ABC Audio, he’s had that band name in his pocket for quite a long time.

“We were mixing a Biffy record, I think it was Only Revolutions in 2008, and literally out my mouth came … ‘We need to go up and see the Empire State bastard,'” Neil remembers. “And as soon as it fell out my mouth, I was like, ‘That’s the best band name of all time!'”

“I’ve been cursing the name of ‘Biffy Clyro’ since the moment we f****** started,” he laughs. “So I didn’t want to make that mistake with this project.”

Eventually, Empire State Bastard became the name for Neil’s extreme metal collaboration with longtime Biffy touring guitarist Mike Vennart. The duo’s debut ESB album, Rivers of Heresy, drops Friday, September 1, and also features contributions from ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo.

“We hit [Lombardo] up and he got back to us immediately, and it was f****** game on, we couldn’t believe it,” Vennart says. “He f****** brought the goods. He delivered the goods, to quote Rob Halford.”

Given the heavier nature of ESB’s music, Neil found himself screaming a lot more on Rivers of Heresy, which he says was a “different thing entirely” compared to the singing he does with Biffy Clyro.

“With Biffy there’s kind of a bit of romance and mystery and soul in the delivery, and it’s gonna try and get an emotional message across,” Neil explains. “This is literally a full-body physical reaction to the music.”

Empire State Bastard will play their first U.S. show at Chicago’s Riot Fest, taking place September 15-17.

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