“So much metal is gridded and sterile. We call it ‘CGI metal’. It isn’t real, and it just doesn’t sound heavy”: Simon Neil and Mike Vennart are making metal heavy again with Empire State Bastard

Empire State Bastard's Mike Vennart and Simon Neil
(Image credit: Gavin Smart)

You probably didn’t have Biffy Clyro’s frontman Simon Neil and live guitarist Mike Vennart down as the guys most likely to produce 2023’s scuzziest metal album, but with the heavyweight additions of ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and ex-Bitch Falcon bassist Naomi Macleod, they have produced a serious contender. 

Empire State Bastard began years ago as a pipe dream that Simon and Mike discussed on tour. “It was always going to be extreme,” says Simon. “We didn’t want to just make a noisy record flippantly. We needed a valid reason to express that rage.” 

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Jenna Scaramanga

Jenna writes for Total Guitar and Guitar World, and is the former classic rock columnist for Guitar Techniques. She studied with Guthrie Govan at BIMM, and has taught guitar for 15 years. She's toured in 10 countries and played on a Top 10 album (in Sweden).