Ben Johnston Of Biffy Clyro: Prog-Pop Invasion

Recorded at The Village Studios in L.A., Opposites is Biffy Clyro’s third consecutive release touting the massive sonic imprint of veteran rock producer Garth Richardson, but the first to feature multiple drum sets and tones. “I was like a kid in a candy store,” Johnston beams, recalling the arsenal of gear at his disposal. “We went kind of crazy. On many songs, the whole kit and the room we were in changes halfway through. For ’Picture A Knife Fight’ and ’Accident Without Emergency’ I did a pass with a full set of drums, then we got a bunch of 18" floor toms and snares set up so all the band members and our manager could play certain bits together.”

The polish and substance of Opposites will no doubt keep Biffy Clyro at or near the top of the U.K. charts for months to come. Will U.S. success follow? Springtime Coachella appearances and a direct support slot on several of Muse’s North American arena dates should help. But regardless of the outcome stateside, don’t expect Johnston to ease up on his all-in approach any time soon. “Every show could be the last show you ever play,” he says solemnly. “You’ve got to treat it like that. You’re only as good as your last show and you’re only as good as your last album.”


Band Biffy Clyro
Current Release Opposites
Age 32
Birthplace Glasgow, Scotland
Influences Dave Grohl, William Goldsmith, Neil Peart, Darren Jesse
Web Site


Drums Pearl Masterworks
Cymbals Sabian
Sticks Pro Mark Ben Johnston Signature Model (roughly based on Neil Peart’s 747 oak wood tip model)
Heads Aquarian
Hardware Pearl

Quick Licks

“Stingin’ Belle”

Biffy Clyro melds a strong pop rock hooks with progressive rock time signatures. Ben Johnston lays down solid odd-time grooves that are surprisingly accessible. At the first verse of “Stingin’ Belle,” Johnston plays an interesting triplet pattern on his tom rims. Following this he raises the volume and intensity by moving to his washy hi-hat, kick, and snare. At the chorus he moves to his ride and adds double bass embellishment to the groove.

DRUM! Notation Guide

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