Simon Neil

Simon Neil
Neil in 2020
Neil in 2020
Background information
Birth nameSimon Alexander Neil
Born (1979-08-31) 31 August 1979 (age 44)
Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland
GenresAlternative rock, post-hardcore
Occupation(s)Singer, musician, songwriter, record producer
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar, piano
Years active1995–present
Member of

Simon Alexander Neil (born 31 August 1979) is a Scottish singer, guitarist and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist for rock band Biffy Clyro. In 2003, Neil formed the side project Marmaduke Duke with JP Reid, releasing two studio album's The Magnificent Duke (2005) and Duke Pandemonium (2009). Another side project fronted by Neil, Empire State Bastard, released their debut studio album Rivers of Heresy in September 2023, reaching number three in Scotland, forty six in the United Kingdom, number three on the UK Rock & Metal Albums Charts and sixty-nine in Germany.[1][2][3][4]

With Biffy Clyro, Neil has released nine studio albums, five of which have topped the Scottish Albums Charts (Puzzle, Opposites, Ellipsis A Celebration of Endings and The Myth of the Happily Ever After). The band have achieved considerable mainstream success across continental Europe, with Opposites topping the UK Albums Charts, whilst Ellipsis topped the charts in Switzerland, Ireland, Germany and the United Kingdom. A Celebration of Endings also topped the UK Albums Charts.[5]


Biffy Clyro

Neil performing with Biffy Clyro at Rock am Ring, Germany, 2013

Born in Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland and grown up in Ayr, Neil formed a band in 1995 at 15 years old, recruiting Kilmarnock-based Ben Johnston and someone known only as Barry on drums and bass respectively, calling themselves Skrewfish.[6] Barry was soon replaced by James Johnston, Ben's twin brother, and Biffy Clyro was effectively formed. In 1997, the trio moved to Glasgow, where Neil studied Electronics with Music at the University of Glasgow. He also studied Film and TV for a year before leaving to pursue music full-time. By then, Simon's musical tastes had expanded; In 2000, the band were spotted at the Unsigned Bands stage at T in the Park by a representative of the independent record label Beggars Banquet. Soon after, the band was signed to the label.

Biffy Clyro have since released nine albums, signed to a major record label, and toured relentlessly. Neil has stated that Biffy Clyro lyrics often come from phrases he writes down in a notebook he keeps by his bed. In 2011, the band was nominated for the Brit Awards for Best British Group.[7] At the 2013 NME Awards, they received the award for Best British Band.[8] On 25 August 2013 Biffy Clyro headlined the main stage at Reading and Leeds Festival.

As of 2021, in total, the band have spent 165 weeks in the top seventy-five of the UK Album Charts, with three of those weeks being at the top position at number one and 76 weeks within the main top forty of the albums charts. The band's singles have spent a total of 79 weeks in the UK Singles Charts, with six weeks in the top ten and 42 in the top forty.[9]

Marmaduke Duke

Neil plays with JP Reid of fellow Ayrshire group Sucioperro in Marmaduke Duke, under the pseudonym "The Atmosphere", which released their first album, The Magnificent Duke, in 2005. It was announced in late 2008 that the Duke was to make a return in 2009 with the follow-up album and second in the trilogy, Duke Pandemonium. The first single from the second album, "Kid Gloves" was released on 9 February 2009. Marmaduke Duke have thus far only played two small tours, during which they played at venues in Edinburgh, Dundee, London, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Cardiff and Birmingham. On 9 June 2009, they were added to the Reading & Leeds Festival lineup, headlining the Festival Republic Stage on the Friday in Reading and the Sunday in Leeds. They also played T In the Park In 2009 on the Radio 1/NME stage.

Live, the group consists JP Reid (vocals, guitar) and Simon Neil (vocals, synth, guitar and bass). The duo are augmented by James Johnston (bass, vocals) and drummers Fergus Munro and Ben Johnston. There is usually also a cloaked/masked figure on stage during performances, known only as "The Duke"; played by Sucioperro's ex-bassist Michael Logg also known as "The Big Slice". This character might be construed as the band's own version of Public Enemy's Flavor Flav or the Happy Mondays' Bez.

Regarding the inclusion of Ben and James, Neil's Biffy Clyro bandmates, Neil states: "It wouldn't feel right to be out and playing without them, you know?".[10]

Empire State Bastard

Empire State Bastard is an extreme metal duo composed of Neil and ex-Oceansize frontman Mike Vennart. The project has been described as "grindcore extreme metal" by Neil,[11] with Mike writing the songs and recording all guitars, and Simon focused on vocals and lyrics.[12] The band currently tours with Dave Lombardo on drums and Naomi Macleod on bass. Empire State Bastard released their debut single "Harvest" in March 2023, with their debut album Rivers of Heresy released in September 2023.

Solo career

Neil performs under the name ZZC. His debut single, "To the Bone", was used in the BBC's 'Radio 1 Rescores: Drive (curated by Zane Lowe)' project. In 2017, Neil released a 7-minute instrumental track entitled "The Myth" under the ZZC moniker. Two tracks from an unreleased ZZC solo album, "Plead" and "Fever Dream" were released on the 2019 Biffy Clyro soundtrack album Balance, Not Symmetry.

Personal life

Neil lives in Ayr with his wife Francesca, whom he married at St. Columba Church in Ayr on 5 January 2008. The song "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys was used for their first dance, and Neil has the song's chorus, "God only knows what I'd be without you", tattooed on his chest.[13]

In 2021, he presented a series of shows on BBC Radio Scotland.[14]

Musical equipment used

Neil performing with Biffy Clyro, using one of his many guitars

The following is a list of musical equipment used by Simon Neil:



Effects pedals

Previous effects pedals



Biffy Clyro

Marmaduke Duke

Empire State Bastard

Other appearances

Year Song Artist Album
2001 "Zionist Timing" Aereogramme A Story in White
2002 "Hangover" Sucioperro Why Bliss Destroy
"Love in the Guise of Friendship"
"Capable of More"
2009 "Graves" Gallows Grey Britain
2010 "It's My Tail and I'll Chase It If I Want To" Oceansize Self Preserved While the Bodies Float Up
2014 "Sun Riders" Krokodil Nachash
2016 "Reason to Stay" Good Charlotte Youth Authority
2020 "Halogen Eye" O'Brother You and I
2021 "Goliath" Architects For Those That Wish to Exist
"Nervous" While She Sleeps Sleeps Society
"What Matters" Laura Mvula Pink Noise
2022 "The Resurrectionists" Frank Turner FTHC
"Superman" Goldfinger Never Look Back (Deluxe Edition)
2023 ”Fires” Nathan Connolly The Strange Order of Things


  1. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100 on 8/9/2023". Official Charts. 12 September 2023. Retrieved 7 June 2024.
  2. ^ "Official Rock & Metal Albums Chart on 8/9/2023". Official Charts. Retrieved 7 June 2024.
  3. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart on 8/9/2023". Official Charts. Retrieved 7 June 2024.
  4. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts - Offizielle Deutsche Charts". Retrieved 7 June 2024.
  5. ^ "BIFFY CLYRO". Official Charts. 16 February 2002. Retrieved 7 June 2024.
  6. ^ Biffy Clyro Biography Archived 8 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine on Beggar's Banquet USA
  7. ^ "BRITs Profile: Biffy Clyro" Archived 9 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 28 March 2013
  8. ^ "Biffy Clyro: 'NME Award makes us better than every single English band' | News | NME.COM". NME. Archived from the original on 4 June 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Official Charts Company". Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  10. ^ "DiS meets Simon Neil in his Marmaduke Duke guise / In Depth // Drowned In Sound". 10 June 2020. Retrieved 7 June 2024.
  11. ^ Trendell, Andrew (18 August 2020). "In Conversation with Biffy Clyro: "We've already got a sprawling new sister record coming"". NME. Retrieved 9 April 2023.
  12. ^ "Empire State Bastard Feat. Dave Lombardo: Debut Single 'Harvest' Available Now". 24 March 2023. Retrieved 9 April 2023.
  13. ^ Ayshire Post, 9 January 2008, Sweet music
  14. ^ "Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil to present six genre-focused shows for BBC Radio Scotland". NME. 2 June 2021.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u BiffyTabs Equipment – Simon Archived 7 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ a b c "Biffy Clyro – Simon Neil Guitar Rig Gear and Equipment". Archived from the original on 7 October 2009.
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