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Empire State Bastard unveil debut single ‘Harvest’ – listen

Simon Neil and Mike Vennart of Biffy Clyro have launched their metal side project

By Joe Goggins

Empire State Bastard press shot, 2023
Dave Lombardo, once of Slayer, plays drums on 'Harvest'. (Photo: Press)

Empire State Bastard have unveiled their debut single, ahead of a sold-out headline tour of the UK next week.

The band, comprised of Biffy Clyro frontman Simon Neil and the Scottish rock giants’ live guitarist, Mike Vennart, have finally emerged from the shadows after Neil first teased the existence of a metal-inspired side project as long ago as 2020; the band was born out of hypothetical conversations on the back of the Biffy tour bus about the heaviest sounds their minds could conjure. Their first track, ‘Harvest’, is streaming now – you can hear it below.

As promised, the track is punishingly loud, with screamed vocals, towering riffs and thumping percussion, taking its cues from such niche influences as Siege, Slayer, Melvins, Sleep and Mike Patton. It arrives as the band head out on their first-ever run of club shows in the UK next week, where Vennart, who writes the music, and Neil, who pens the group’s lyrics, will be joined by legendary Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo behind the kit.

Rounding out the Empire State Bastard live lineup is Naomi Macleod of Bitch Falcon on bass. They play Glasgow, Manchester and London starting on Sunday (March 26); all shows are sold out. A simple statement from Neil and Vennart on the release of ‘Harvest’ read: “Empires fall, States rise, Bastards sing…it’s Harvest time motherfuckers!” The artwork for the new single was designed by Daniel P Carter, host of BBC Radio 1’s Rock Show.

After the club gigs sold out rapidly earlier this month, the band signed with esteemed metal label Roadrunner Records. More music is expected soon; you can se the group’s full live itinerary below. Talking to NME back in August 2020, Neil described Empire State Bastard as “grindcore extreme metal,” as he discussed a raft of side projects. “It’s the one thing getting me through not touring,” he said, referring to the COVID-19 lockdowns, “just knowing I can spend the year making new music.”

Empire State Bastard, March 2023: 

26 – Glasgow, Cathouse

27 – Manchester, Rebellion

28 – London, Underworld

June 2023:

9 – Donington, Download Festival

18 – Clisson, FR, HellFest

July 2023:

7 – Withington, 2000Trees

August 2023:

17 – Somerset, ArcTanGent

21 – Nordfjordeid, NO, Malakoff Rockfestival