How did Biffy Clyro get their name?

14 June 2021, 16:14

Biffy Clyro in 2012: Ben Johnston, Simon Neil and James Johnston
Biffy Clyro in 2012: Ben Johnston, Simon Neil and James Johnston. Picture: Adam Gasson/Total Guitar Magazine/Future via Getty Images

Get the stories behind the band's strange moniker... and find out why there are so many different tales.

Biffy Clyro have experimented with many sounds and genres since they first formed in 1995.

The Scottish trio - who consist of frontman Simon Neil and twin brothers James and Ben Johnston - have gone on to gain legions of fans who shout "'Mon the Biff" whenever they get the chance. Their latest studio album A Celebration Of Endings was released in August 2020.

Biffy Clyro - Instant History (Official Video)

But what is the story behind the band's name? One theory is that it's all about football.

While appearing on Soccer FM, it's believed the band attributed their funny sounding name to a Finnish footballer from the 17th century who played for their local team Ayr United.

However, there's very little proof there was anyone known by that name, so it seems pretty unlikely it can be true.

Watch Simon Neil and Ben Johnston appear on the show below:

Biffy Clyro on Soccer AM (Part 2)

One explanation, which seems to have stuck the most, is that the name was inspired by Cliff Richard and a Biro pen.

As Digital Spy reported in 2010, Simon Neil told Spin magazine: "There's a famous British musician called Cliff Richard [...] And when me and Ben were 13 and bored in our little Scottish town of Ayr, we'd think up imaginary Cliff Richard merch products."

Sir Cliff Richard in 2018
Sir Cliff Richard in 2018. Picture: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage/Getty Images

"We thought of things like Cliff Richard coat hangers and Cliff Richard Jesus dolls - he's a big Christian singer. In the UK there's a cheap kind of pen called a Biro pen and we thought about making Cliff Richard Biro pens."

He added: "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."

Biffy Clyro in 2020
Biffy Clyro in 2020. Picture: Warners/Press

In 2011 drummer Ben Johnston muddied the waters again, coming up with yet another reason for their moniker.

As the Daily Record noted, the sticksman said Biffy was the spy who inspired Ian Fleming to create James Bond, and Clyro in Wales was where they used to holiday as children.

And while you're thinking you have no idea if either of these things are true, we can confirm that Clyro does exist and it is described as a village and community in Radnorshire, Powys.

The Telegraph also explains that Wilfred Dunderdale was a British spy and intelligence officer who was known as Biffy "because of his prowess as a boxer in the Royal Navy at the end of the First World War".

Chris quizzes Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil on the first album he ever bought...

If that wasn't confusing enough, bassist Ben has been quoted as saying Biffy Clyro is actually an acronym for “Big Imagination For Feeling Young ‘Cos Life Yearns Real Optimism."

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald in 2008, the Wolves of Winter rocker said it was the definitive answer, but added: "we don't always tell that story, we've got a few".

That's an understatement!

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