Catfish & The Bottlemen have just celebrated their debut album The Balcony reaching the top ten in the UK album chart. They have been relentlessly gigging for the past two years and are now seeing the effects by selling out their UK autumn tour dates in days. They are hotly tipped by the likes of BBC Radio 6 Music legend Steve Lamacq and BBC Radio One’s Zane Lowe. They can boast about Ewan McGregor as a fan and their current single feature on the new EA Sports FIFA 15 soundtrack . Not bad for a band from small town (Llandudno) in North Wales.
We asked front man Van McCann a few questions about life on the road and their future ambitions as the band head out on their first US tour.
HTF: The last time I saw you was Camp Bestival the first time you had to battle against a fireworks display. Did you think rock n roll won? Have you played in any worse condition?
VM: Yeah it was the first time we ever competed with fireworks. Though we’ve dealt with pretty much every situation really, cos we’ve played like so many gigs, we’ve battled with loads. We played a gig in a car park outside a Kasabian gig. We set up our generator and played a ninja gig, we used to call them, outside of Manchester Apollo. It was pissing it down with rain and like all our gear got ruined and stuff like that, but we still got fans that come see us now through those gigs.
HTF: As a well-traveled band, who have seemingly played every UK festival this summer, what are the tips for not killing each other and what is the best service station in the UK?
VM: The best service station is…. I don’t know what it’s called but it’s in Warrington and it’s got a Maccies ( McDonalds) and a Greggs in it. But that’s my favourite. I just wanted to say that it’s got a Maccies and a Greggs.
HTF: You’ve said that you have another two albums written. Will the sound progress from album to album or are these like a trilogy?
VM: It’s more like a sequel, more elongated, like a sequel stretched over the next two, more like The Hobbit. I don’t know, so like three different films … stretched out as long as I can possibly stretch it.
HTF: As the main songwriter, do you ever ask for the other members to deliver anything? Do you not mind the pressure as chief songwriter?
VM: No. It’s just the way it is really, it’s just the way it’s always been, since we started. Like I don’t like bands ( that don’t have a main songwriter), other than The Beatles. I am a big fan of the singer being the songwriter and really putting everything into every last drop of it because I think, it depends what type of band you are. Cos if you’re writing songs for the sake of writing songs and becoming a musician, then it’s fine. It’s probably better to write with loads of other people anyway if that’s the case. But, in terms of your soul focus being through a song I think it’s better that you’re the one that’s completely involved in every ounce of it. When we write songs it’s not like it’s about the way the lyrics are or the way the vocal line specifically is. Every single bit is thought out in a way that makes it hit you.
HTF: Are there any songs you’d like to cover?
VM: We did that Rita Ora one for ( BBC Radio One’s) Live Lounge ( ‘I Will Never Let You Down‘ ) and I enjoyed that. I’ve got a good idea for The Streets song ‘Blinded By The Lights‘. So I’ll maybe try that one.
HTF: Are there any other bands from Llandudno you can recommend, is there much of a live music scene?
VM: There’s a band called Screaming Citizens, I don’t know if they’re a band any more. But they’re like the tightest band I’ve ever seen. They’re like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but with (a) flute as their main instrument.
These three lads in the band with me are the only ones that I knew played instruments surrounding me at the time, and they still are, so I don’t know what it’s like now, but I hope there’s more bands coming through from Llandudno.
HTF: Do you really read any of reviews? Are there any publication that you want to like you?
VM: We only read the bad ones. We get our friends to send us the really bad ones. When you’re back in the hotel, it can get pretty hilarious when you read them. Someone put, “Catfish And The Bottlemen, this band is nothing”. Just like nothing, not even, ‘they’re shit’. Not even like, the songs aren’t good or the album’s not good. It was just, they are nothing, they’re invisible, there is no one, there’s nothing, they’re non existent … What!?
That aside, as long as EA Sports, FIFA and Mum and Dad and the cat like us-they’re the only publications I care about.
HTF: Finally. When you first got together surely making an album was your main ambition; but now you have achieved this what is your next main ambition?
VM: Making an album wasn’t. We never cared about making an album. We used to give our music away for free and like give CDs out everywhere we went and spend our own money making CDs. We never cared about making albums then, it was playing arenas we cared about. We wanted to get famous to play arenas and blow people away live. The stage for me is everything I do. It’s based around playing live. Every song I write, I’m thinking are they good enough for people to go absolutely wild to. That’s the dream!
For more details on Catfish & The Bottlemen, check out the website here.
If you have always wondered how they got their name – enjoy this short animation explaining all: