Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil says issues with mental health led him to doubt songwriting ability

Frontman fell into "funk" trying to write new album 'Ellipsis'

Biffy Clyro‘s Simon Neil has admitted that he was in a “terrible headspace” during the early process of making the band’s new album, ‘Ellipsis’.

Speaking to NME as part of this week’s cover feature, Neil discusses his mental health and reveals that touring around the band’s last album ‘Opposites’ saw him struggling.

Following a UK headline tour in April 2013, the band called off a series of shows, citing the frontman’s “serious respiratory problem”.


“I had a bit of a ‘do’,” Neil says now. “This is going to turn into a right downer interview, but before that our very first tour manager died of leukaemia; Storm [Thorgerson, designer of their artwork] died; my gran died; my best friend’s brother died on Christmas Day… It felt like when things couldn’t get any worse, they just kept getting worse.”

Neil then fell into a five-week period that he describes as a “funk”, during which his confidence in his own songwriting deserted him: “I was just in a terrible headspace,” he explains. “It’s just the way I am. I’m always going have a bit of trouble convincing in here [taps his head] that everything’s going alright, when it is going alright. I needed to shed a skin in a serious way last year. We’d done more things than I could ever have dreamed of and I still felt slightly unfulfilled and unhappy.”

After deciding that he “needed to sort my fucking shit out”, Neil and his wife left Scotland and went to LA for two months. This was where his mood changed and ‘Ellipsis’ began to take shape.

“It happened when I least expected it,” says the singer. “I was sat at the piano and wrote three songs, sending them to the boys, going, ‘I’m really excited by these,’ and they got back, saying, ‘They’re fucking unbelievable’. I’ll always remember that, because that day was the turning point in getting my confidence back.”

‘Ellipsis’ will be released on July 8 via Warner Bros Records and 14th Floor Recordings.


Biffy Clyro recently announced that they’ll headline this summer’s Reading (August 28) and Leeds Festivals (August 26).

They will also play their biggest Scottish show at Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park on August 27. Part of this year’s Glasgow Summer Sessions, the 35,000 capacity show features special guests Fall Out Boy, Wolf Alice and Cage The Elephant.

Read the full interview and see the brand-new photoshoot in the all-new free NME, available nationwide tomorrow (April 22) and on Find out where you can get your copy from the full list of pick-up points.

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