Interview: Catfish And The Bottlemen

Clementine Lloyd chats to Van from Catfish and the Bottlemen

Catfish and the Bottlemen Fresh faced and charming, Catfish and the Bottlemen have started a mini whirlwind of late selling out a stellar show in Camden’s Barfly, and recently signing to a pretty damn good London Label. With only around 3 years under their belt, and a hefty number of songs tucked under there too (amongst other things we’re sure) this cocky foursome are mesmerizing in their performance and energetic tunes. These guys are here to work hard, and play hard, to make it to the top. Currently touring around the UK, and with an imminent support slot with the gorgeous Glasvegas, we caught up with Van (The Man) McCann to talk record labels, living for the live, and making noise.

Bearded: Can you start off by telling me about your sound?

VM: We sound like Jesus’ Disciples, like the rock and roll version of the disciples (laughs). Its kind of explosive, we try to write songs off how they feel rather than how they sound, like try and cling you to a wall, like Spiderman.

Where are you from, how did you guys meet, and how old are you as a band?

People always think we're Welsh but we’re from all over the place. Billy’s from Acrington, and we just scouted around the whole of the UK and moved to Wales when we were younger. Billy and Benji were two years above me in school, and I’m Billy’s little brother’s best mate who is our tour manager and guitar tech, and his best mate is our drummer.

Nice, so you have a bit of a traveling family?

Yeah we’re like The Traveling Wilburys! We’ve been together 2 or 3 years in August. August 1st, my birthday, that’s when we started.

What are your influences?

I grew up listening to Van Morrison so I listened to everything he’d ever wrote, I’m more into singer songwriter stuff like Stephen Fretwell and Dylan, and I like the Streets a lot, Billy is really into Elvis and Dire Straits. Just stuff our Dad’s used to like.

What would you say was the big break for Catfish and the Bottlemen?

I don’t think we’ve had it yet because we haven’t changed anything we’ve been doing for the last two years… The single ‘Homesick’, we had such a big response, so that was amazing. Well actually saying that, the Camden Barfly gig the other night, that hit me as something big. You know I don’t think we’ve broken it yet but we are definitely starting something. The time before that show there was only 5 people there, and then to play a sold out show was brilliant. We signed the deal that day, it feels like we got on the ladder.

So you have a record label looking after you now! Who have you signed to?

Communion they’re called, the guys that signed Ben Howard, stuff like that. It was really strange, we were managing ourselves, and we had a lawyer who had to tell us he was leaving to work at Warner, we kind of lost any hope we had in music because he was our only link to the corporate world. So we asked if there was anyone who could look after us... I wanted a powerful woman who could control things, we’ve always had guys looking after us in the past and they’re slobs aren’t they? I’m a guy and I know what they’re like (laughs). He put us in touch with Arwen from ATC. I met her and she went on holiday, and she just sent out song out to a few people just to get a feel for what people thought, and when she came back off holiday they all wanted to sign us… I like that story because I feel proud that she could do that, you know go to the beach and then come back and sign us.

You obviously had the right thought pattern to ask a woman. Are you going to pay for her holiday?

We said we’d buy her a car if we take off. Maybe the third album!

So when are you putting the first record out?

The album?? Well I’ve heard all kinds of stuff, but don’t even know! We have a new single coming out in September, if that opens up a few more doors then I’d be happy to put one out. It depends how things go really, we have like four albums worth of songs, because we just spent the first year as a band writing, so I want to get it out now really.

How do you guys write your tunes? Is it a solo thing, or more of a group project?

Well I kind of write it myself then take it to the lads and they make it… but we find it really easy now really because everyone knows the drill and understands what kind of sound we want to make. I take it to the lads and they make it big and then record it and, then I don’t know where they put it, the drummer (Bob) sticks it somewhere. We just keep them for a rainy day really. That’s the thing we find easiest I think, writing songs. We love doing it so it’s kind of cool.

Do you prefer the process of recording your songs or playing live to an audience?

Playing live all the way. I hate recording, it takes too long and no one will put enough reverb on the snare drum! I like the sort of 80’s Paul Simon snare, and no one will ever do it for me. We never wanted to sell indie before, and make number 1 albums and stuff like that. I personally wanted to sell venues out. For me all I care about is playing live and meeting people who come to see us, and having a drink with them. Making music that makes people want to dance and party and you know that overwhelming feeling you get when you hear a song you love, when your mates are booting around the living room in the nude!

You’re about to support Glasvegas on their UK tour! Are you looking forward to it?

Yeah, I love Scottish bands so I’m really excited for that one. I really love going to places where no one has heard of us, and when someone goes to see a band and you’ve got to fight to be heard, I like the feeling of being the underdogs… I’m raring to go.

Your own tour is going well so far, you haven’t had any fights or anything?

Oh yeah we’ve had some mammoth ones. We had one about toothpaste the other day that went on for an hour. We’ve been together 3 years now so we are like brothers, so yeah we fight, you can probably tell we hate each other on stage, we don’t even talk to each other after the gigs!

What are your aspirations as a band?

We just want to put a mark on music, you know like when the Libertines and the Arctic Monkeys came out, they did something big… I like the idea of being that for my age group now, to play live music and put people on the clouds for a bit. You know, for a few years until we get shit!