Gimme Your Answers 2: An Interview w/ Catfish And The Bottlemen

Catfish and the Bottlemen
Last October I had the pleasure of interviewing Van McCann for the first time. He told me about how he was looking forward to the near future and what it might bring. I don’t think even HE thought what the next few months had to bring. A sold out UK tour, a US tour and album announcement have made Catfish And The Bottlemen one of the biggest upcoming bands in the world.

I was lucky enough to meet up with Van again ahead of another sold-out date in Central Station, Wrexham, where he told me how other bands are thinking outside the box, but Catfish And The Bottlemen are more than happy being right in the middle of the box.

AMBY: So, last interview was six months or so ago. How have things changed?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Slightly richer? Only slightly though! Nah, nothings changed, the venues have just got a bit bigger. We’re starting to fill them out now, we’ve sold out this tour! So that’s the only thing really.

AMBY: You’re still the same person though?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Yeah, but I’m not any richer, I was only messing. But we’re all exactly the same, except we’ve got an album now, which is finished!

AMBY: So the last two singles, “Kathleen” and “Fallout” have both been hottest record in the world by Zane Lowe and you’ve had a lot of continued support from the likes of XFM and Radio 6. Do you feel that being able to attract such a great following from such respected outlets is one of your biggest achievements as a band?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Er, I dunno really. I don’t think about the radio too much because when I was a kid I never listened to it growing up, you know what I mean? I never realised how much of an impact it still has but it’s obviously done loads for us. It was never really one of MY goals; my goals were always focused on the touring side of it. The thing that’s made me so excited is selling out venues like this before we’ve even got an album out. So yeah, the touring side of it is sort of where my goals are focused.

AMBY: I guess they sort of go hand in hand though don’t they?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Oh yeah, obviously it’s great to be a part of that stuff. I just don’t get as excited about it as everyone else. If we were on a Manchester United advert for the Champions League though then I’d go mad!

AMBY: So you’ve got your first US tour coming up next month, 11 dates. At what point in your career have you thought “Wow, this is actually happening?” Has that hit you yet?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Nah, not really. I’m not into bands and singers that say things like “Oh, I can’t believe this is all happening!” because you wouldn’t be in a band if you didn’t believe in yourself. Without it sounding arrogant it was more like “WHEN are we going to America?” rather than “Is it ever going to happen?” So we’re not that taken aback by it really, we’re just really excited to go and smash it and show people what we can do! Just to sing the same songs to different people and different cultures to see how they react to it, almost like starting again!

AMBY: Yeah, because if I’m correct you’ve been on tour since you were pretty much pre-pubescent?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Yeah, 14 or so, living on the road! I’m really looking forward to it, I just get ill a lot. I’m really bad for losing my voice and stuff like that so it just get’s me down. At the minute I’ve got a really bad chest, which is annoying.

AMBY: But you’re fighting through it though! You seem to be doing every single festival in Britain…

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Bar Glastonbury!

AMBY: Is there a reason for that?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: They said they wanted us to headline it next year, so give it a miss this year.

AMBY: Obviously! Do you notice that your crowds are different in festivals as opposed to gig or can you still pick out the same sort of mentality from people when you see them?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Er, at a lot of festivals we’ve found that we’ll just be playing and everyone will be going absolutely mental. But I think a lot of them are like “Oh, Catfish And The Bottlemen I’ve heard of them, let’s go and see what they’re like!” and a lot of it has come on hype from people hearing the singles. I wouldn’t say they were fans but they’re my favourite kind of audience because you have to win them over. SO they are different, I can’t really stand on stage and have a joke with everyone because they’d be like “Shut up and play a song.”

AMBY: So you enjoy the challenge?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Yeah. They are different but I like them both. I like having the pressure of turning up and everyone knowing who you are and you have to put on a really good show, and I like the spontaneity of being a new act that people haven’t heard of. So they’re both different but both as exciting.

AMBY: You’ve taken the jump now from the last tour that you were on when we last met up at Telfrods Warehouse where you were filling up venues, but now you’re actually selling them out! Has this come to a surprise to you or were you expecting it to happen?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Like I said, it’s definitely not a surprise. There’s no way of saying it without being arrogant, but it’s just like if you were to go for an apprenticeship to be a dentist and then one day you have your own dental practice you wouldn’t sit there a be like “I cannot believe this!” because that’s what you’ve been working towards. You’ve spent your life doing courses and working towards it and it’s finally happened. So it’s not surprising, I’m just so proud that we’re doing it. It just feels so good at this point, but we’re nowhere near where we want to be.

AMBY: Like it’s all starting to pay off?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Yeah! If we don’t sell out stadiums then I’ll be gutted. I’ll feel like we haven’t done what we wanted to do. It’s like being a football player and being happy sat on the bench at Stoke. We’re not one of those bands that wants that is happy just being a band, we wanna be the best.

AMBY: So you’re always striving to better yourself?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Yeah. Get bigger and bigger and bigger until we can’t get any bigger. Not for money or fame or anything like that, we just want to play our songs to as many people as we can.

AMBY: One thing I have noticed is that there is a lack of negative comments online. Except maybe one I haven’t seen from some bitter person from Llandudno?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Actually, someone at a show in Cardiff not long ago tried to start a fight with our manager- who is also our merch girl- because she wouldn’t give him a free shirt because he was from Llandudno.

AMBY: The ‘Kathleen’ music video… Ewan McGregor… Is there a subliminal message there?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: No, it’s just when I come off tour and have a free day to myself I watch his films because he has a face that just makes me dead happy. I just thought it’d make a funny video. You know when you get a good vibe off somebody? I thought it’d just be funny if we put that video out! We hate doing music videos and photos; we just like making music. At the end of the day a music video is just something to put your song against. I thought it’d be funny but the label were gutted because the video we made after it wasn’t as popular.

AMBY: And for ‘Fallout’ it was Jim Carrey- I’m guessing he has the same effect?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: He has nowhere near the same effect as Ewan, it just seemed to fit with the music so well. It’s not as good though. Nothing was going to eclipse Ewan. Apparently record labels have started telling bands to do it so I’ve invented a bit of a trend.

AMBY: Has Ewan commented on the drum skin with his face on it?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: He has, he’s seen it! Somebody tweeted him a picture of it and he said it was the best drum skin he has ever seen and that he was flattered! We want to put him down as Obi “Plus One” Kanobi if he ever comes to a gig.

AMBY: One thing that has been noted recently is the amount of radio play you get, it’s huge!

Catfish And The Bottlemen: I was a bit worried about all the radio airplay because people can start to be brainwashed into liking a band. But no magazines like us?

AMBY: Yeah, I’ve noticed that! You seem to be extremely popular online and on the radio but not in magazines?

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Yeah, I like it though! NME and magazines like that want to discover you and if you aren’t a brand new band that the industry has put together and told everybody that you’ve been together for years; there was some stuff I heard about a band the other week that was just unbelievable. I literally can’t say because I’d get into trouble but it was shocking! They’re pretty much dressed by their label! I thought that happened in films but it also happens in real life. If I knew about the music industry before I got into it I wouldn’t have gotten into it. It’s proper dark. And we’re not one of those bands. We haven’t been plucked out of the sweethearts in school; we’ve worked from the bottom. But it’d be good if we did really well and then they HAD to write about us. They’ll give the album 0/10, so I’m excited! We don’t play f*****g laptops and that, we’re not doing anything new; we’re unfashionable. Whilst everyone is thinking outside the box, we’re right in the middle of it.

AMBY: Well you might be the only ones left in the box in the end!

Catfish And The Bottlemen: Exactly! Everyone is trying so hard to be different. Every year there has to be a revival- Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines etc. We don’t want to do anything different, we just want to tour and play guitars. I think there are a lot of people who like us that just want more guitar bands to add to their collection, and that’s fine by me! A lot of new and different bands don’t stick around for long because they are so different, you know what I mean?

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Interview by Matt Thomas |

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