“I’ve unlocked this part of my mind and body now”: Simon Neil on why Empire State Bastard’s forthcoming album won’t be a one-off

“I think it would be a damn shame not to do more,” says Mike Vennart.

Empire State Bastard on stage. Mike Venart is playing guitar whilst Simon Neil stands with one leg on the drum podium and his arms in the air.

Image: Katja Ogrin / Getty

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It looks as though Empire State Bastard – the side project lead by Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil and the band’s touring guitarist Mike Vennart – are in this for the long haul. According to Neil, their forthcoming record, Rivers Of Hersey, isn’t set to be a one-off release.

The project officially launched early into 2023, and the pair have since slowly trickled out releases such as Harvest, Stutter, The Looming and Moi. The duo have also been accompanied by the likes of Dave Lombardo (Slayer) on drums, and Naomi Macleod (Bitch Falcon) on bass for their first official live shows.

In a new interview for the print edition of Total Guitar, the pair were asked if there will likely be more material from ESB after their debut or if this will be just a one-time project. And it turns out it’s good news if you’ve been digging their tracks so far: “I’ve unlocked this part of my mind and body now. I know I’m gonna need to open this tap every couple of years and get the vitriol out. It also makes me fall back in love with Biffy again, because it’s so different,” says Neil.

“I think it would be a damn shame not to do more,” adds Vennart. “I don’t really care if anybody likes it one way or the other. I’m very lucky that anybody does, but we’re all having such a good time that it’d be ridiculous not to do more of it.

Elsewhere in the interview, Neil explained his approach to guitar on their new album: “I was trying to play in a way that I have never played my guitar. At points, I was trying to play left-handed, so there was no delicacy or subtlety.”

He later adds, “A couple of things that sound like keyboards are actually guitars – the way bands like My Bloody Valentine would approach their songs. You, it’s about texture and scope and trying to make it a bit more cinematic.”

Rivers Of Hersey lands on 1 September. You can pre-order it now, and view the full list of tour dates on the Empire State Bastard official website.

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