When you look back over your four albums, can you see how your sound has evolved?
Yeah I think so. To be honest with you, we try to change it up on every record. We’re really proud of Puzzle , but when we go to do the next one we’ll step away from what Puzzle’s about. I think that’s important for bands—to take a chance really and not worry about how others are going to take it. You have to trust your instincts. We’d always just rather try something and make a mistake than not try it at all. I think you can see that over our four records, the evolution from album to album. The first record’s just got the teenage angst songs, the pop songs almost. And then we just went nuts on the second album and put as many ideas in it as we possibly could. The third one we managed to get the melodies in there and make some really complex pop songs. And I guess that’s when we made this epic, kind of rock record. You can definitely see the evolution of the band. I think the album makes more sense if you’ve heard the other ones. You can see how we’re growing as a band constantly.
When was Puzzle written?
Over the last couple of years really. Basically since Infinity Land came out. We’ve always been a pretty quick band with making our records, and this time we had about a year to sit at home doing nothing because we were changing record companies, which was very frustrating at the time but meant that we just had such a huge batch of songs to choose from and meant that we knew which ones were our favorites and which ones were stronger. Every new song you write feels like the best one you’ve ever written, but maybe in six months it won’t stand up to that. It was a different way for us to work.
Has the songwriting process gotten any easier as you’ve progressed as musicians?
It does sometimes, but the more you do it you can end up getting in a rut with your songwriting. I always find that I’m very aware if I’m doing similar chord patterns or similar rhythms, so we always really push ourselves do different things, which keeps it just as hard as the first time you wrote a song really. I’m always paranoid about getting stuck in a rut with songwriting. It gets slightly easier, but that doesn’t mean it gets quicker.
Which usually comes first—the instrumentals or the lyrics?
On the first three records it was always the music, but on this record it was mostly the music, but a lot of it was shaped by the lyrics. The arrangements of the songs on this record were more reliant on the lyrics because they seemed slightly more important this time. The vocals very much came at the same time as the instrumentals.
What was it about this record that put significance on the lyrics?
The record’s about losing someone very close to you, about people passing away. I think if you’re singing about something that’s so life-changing, inevitably the lyrics just become the most important part. The record’s about losing someone and trying to deal with that and all the things that are on your mind.
How does the title of the album relate to that?
The two years since our last record a couple people close to us passed away. For the first time ever, life seemed very unsure. I think when you’re a teenager and then you turn 20 or 21, the world is your oyster and there’s such an amazing life ahead. And then you get hit with something everyone gets hit with, a horrible situation, and you just have to deal with that. I think Puzzle just references the two years, the years I was trying to deal with that and sort things out for the people around me and not lose my mind. Puzzle just refers to trying to solve things and make yourself as happy as possible.
Do you play all your shows without shirts on?
Yeah. We play so many shows and for a while I would play every show with a gig shirt and then set it at the bottom of my bag until the end of tour, and it would get absolutely ruined. It costs so much money that now I don’t even bother. I sweat through a t-shirt and then I don’t have to worry about buying gig clothes. It’s an economic thing.
Biffy Clyro will be performing in NYC at Madison Square Garden Theatre on Oct. 13, Northern Lights on Oct. 17 and Blender Theater@Gramercy on Oct. 18.