Biffy Clyro‘s Simon Neil has explained the band’s decision to release their covers of songs by David Bowie and Frightened Rabbit for Record Store Day this weekend.
For safety reasons due to Coronavirus, the event has been divided into three different days in 2020. The first ‘Record Store Day Drops‘ will take place on Saturday (August 29), with the first batch of limited edition vinyl releases and rarities made available through select independent record shops.
Among this weekend’s releases, Biffy will be releasing a white seven inch vinyl featuring their covers of ‘Modern Leper’ by Frightened Rabbit and ‘Modern Love’ by David Bowie. Proceeds will go to the the mental healthy charity Tiny Changes, set up in memory of the late Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison.
“‘Modern Leper’ by Scott Hutchison has been one of my favourite songs since it came out 13 years ago,” Neil told NME. “It was the first song I heard by them and it just blew me away. I couldn’t believe Scott was singing in such a beautiful Scottish accent.
“They were a combination of so many things that I love, but he was still such a unique character and voice. I can’t tell you how much this song means to me, especially since Scott passed.”
Of their rendition of ‘Modern Love’, Neil told NME: “It may not sound like we’ve ever been influenced by David Bowie, but I listen to so much of his music that it’s unbelievable. My formative years were as a heavy metal dude, but ‘Modern Love’ is just one of my favourite songs. The way that Bowie sings from low to high was so fucked up. It’s become normal in pop music but every decision he made was something else. Bowie was the shock of the new 100% of the time.”
“It just felt really appropriate. Here are two modern songs by two modern fucking icons. It’s a testament to the people who have inspired us.”
While their take on ‘Modern Love’ was recorded for a Bowie tribute album compiled by Howard Stern, while ‘Modern Leper’ came out on last year’s ‘Tiny Changes’ – a record of covers of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ release in Hutchison’s memory.
Speaking to NME about Frightened Rabbit’s influence, Biffy drummer Ben Johnston said: “They just have the honesty. A lot of people are pedalling something, or trying to make sure that there’s an aesthetic to their band. There was nothing contrived about the nature of Frightened Rabbit. They were exactly what they said they were. They weren’t perfect, but who wants perfection anyway? But they were fucking close. They had the passion and that’s what it was for me. When you watched them play it was so engaging and so visceral. It set them apart from everyone.
“When you shut your eyes and listened to Scott, you were welcomed into that world. But, it was a tough one to be in. There was a lot behind what was being said, but if you didn’t get it then it didn’t matter. It was cathartic for them, but you were welcome to be a part of it.”
Hutchison passed away in May 2018 after taking his own life and years of battling depression. In his memory, his family set up the Tiny Changes charity last year to fund and find inventive ideas of how to improve mental health services for young people.
Biffy Clyro meanwhile, are currently at Number One in the charts with their acclaimed ninth album ‘A Celebration Of Endings‘. The band spoke to NME recently for its In Conversation With….video series, with Neil revealing that they already have a “sprawling” sister record coming as well as three other records from side projects.
Speaking about the forthcoming new songs, Neil said: “Some of them are like, right electronic. There are a few that just BIG. We’ve got this song called ‘Slurpy Slurpy Sleep Sleep’, that’s just one of those rhythms you can listen to all night and makes me feel so good. There will be a different aim to that record from ‘A Celebration Of Endings’. I want it to be a bit more sprawling and a little bit less, song-y.”
The first Record Store Day Drops event will take place this weekend on Saturday August 29, with others to follow on September 26 and October 24. Check out the full list of releases here and all the participating UK record stores here.