Simon Neil is justifiably proud of “Only Revolutions,” the latest effort from his clever Scottish punk-metal trio Biffy Clyro.
While the band’s previous U.K. breakthrough “Puzzle” was mired in mortality — Neil’s mother had just passed away — this more celebratory set studies both the spiritual (“God & Satan,” “That Golden Rule”) and the equestrian life (“Whorses,” “Born on a Horse”).
“And love — love’s in there, too!” adds Neil, who recently married his longtime sweetheart Francesca. “But I’ve gotten a couple of horse tattoos, so maybe it’s become a metaphor for me. There’s a sense of freedom singing about horses. And religion, of course, always interests me.”
Neil — who brings Biffy to The City tonight — should be content resting on such laurels. But he’s currently juggling so many side groups, he barely has time to breathe.
He’s made cameo appearances on recent records from Gallows and the Bay Area’s Matches, and he’ll soon track a third album with his kooky duo The Marmaduke Duke, with whom he performs as the costumed character The Atmosphere.
Then there’s his hard-core thrash outfit, Empire State Bastards, with a celebrity-themed catalog (“Bjorn Cyborg,” “Heath Legend”), and Ronnie Hollywood and the Eager Dudes, which records campy singles for imaginary charities.
“I’m going to start working on this other project called People, which will be interactive,” says Neil, 30, “where everyone has to bring their own instruments to the shows and play along. So every night should be entirely different, because people will have their own perceptions of how each song should be in complete form. I think it’s the next step for concerts. One step up from ‘Guitar Hero,’ really, because you’re improvising real music.”
The band’s moniker is a goofy play on Cliff Richard’s name. Neil formed Biffy Clyro in his teens, and so had no trouble putting other current pursuits on hold for the “Revolutions” sessions.
“All these other things can be a bit more cerebral,” he says about his schizophrenic array of outfits. “But Biffy’s been such a big part of our lives for so long, it’ll always be our beating heart — it’s all about honesty, about whatever we’re feeling and the natural music that comes from that.”
Neil wonders why more musicians don’t follow his example, working on multiple projects.
But his brush with death taught him a valuable lesson: “We’ve all got limited time,” he says. “And our bodies will fail us at some point. So right now, while you’re still feeling creative, you’ve got to squeeze in as much work as you can.”
IF YOU GO
Opening for Manchester Orchestra
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today
Tickets: $16 to $19
Contact: (415) 885-0750; www.gamhtickets.com