Welcome to the new weekly SPIN.com feature “Name That Band!” inwhich we get the inside stories behind the mysterious monikers of some ofour favorite artists. (See past episodes of Name That Band! here.)
This week we tried something different. We spoke with Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro, who are known to tell false stories about the origins of their name. The tale they made up for us may not be true, but we found it witty and charming nonetheless. Enjoy.
The band’s new album, Only Revolutions, hits U.S. shores on March 9.
Why Biffy Clyro: “There’s a famous British musician called Cliff Richard,” explains singer-guitarist Simon Neil, “and when me and [drummer] Ben [Johnston] were 13 and bored in our little Scottish town of Ayr, we’d think up imaginary Cliff Richard merch products. We thought of things like Cliff Richard coat hangers and Cliff Richard Jesus dolls — he’s a big Christian singer. In the U.K. there’s a cheap kind of pen called a Biro pen and we thought about making Cliff Richard Biro pens. We’d call them Cliffy Biros. Somehow that turned into Biffy Clyro. Bizarrely, we weren’t high at the time. There’s just not a lot to do in Ayr. The weather is terrible.”
Previously Rejected Names: “We were called Screwfish for a while. We just used to fling random words together — Empire State Bastard; Jahames Brown.”
Best Band Names Ever: “There’s an Irish band called And So I Watch You From Afar. I always liked that name. The band Oceansize has a great name — it fits their music so much. They sound huge. And I once saw a band whose name was a play on Godspeed You! Black Emperor called Bill Cosby! You Black Entertainer. I thought that was amazing. “
Worst Band Name Ever: “The other night in Switzerland I saw a sticker for a band called Coleslaw. That’s an even worse name than Biffy Clyro. Arctic Monkeys is pretty atrocious, but I’m a fan of the band.”