Catfish & the Bottlemen

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Catfish and the Bottlemen are a four piece band from Llandudno in Wales. They play attacking, melodic, anthemic, guitar fuelled garage rock songs fizzing with lust, hope, anger and a furious desire to exist.
In just a few frenzied years of existence, Catfish and the Bottlemen, (singer and guitarist Van McCann, lead guitarist Johnny Bond, bassist Benji Blakeway and drummer Bob Hall) have headlined hundreds and hundreds of gigs to increasingly wild and dedicated audiences, been championed by BBC Radio One, MTV and XFM, churned out a series of classic singles and have released an utterly thrilling debut album that positively burns with emotion and ambition.
“I don’t think rock and roll has ever gone away,” says Van. “I just don’t think there’s been a band to believe in. Nobody’s really gone for it and put their whole lives on the line. We got kicked out of school for it, lost girlfriends for it, went on the dole for it, been broke and starving and done everything for it. If you’ve got to go for it, you’ve got to go for it.”
Van McCann talks a good fight. He is proud of being a test tube baby, the IVF child of “free-minded Liverpuddlian parents” who spent his early years travelling around Australia. It was here the young McCann saw a strange busker. “My first memory of music is being sat outside a café watching a guy play a washing line with bottles on it. He was called Catfish the Bottleman. So I thought it was apt to name the band after him. I really wish I hadn’t. Try telling a drunk guy that name for the fifteenth time.”
Van himself was named in honour of Van Morrison. “My father took me to a Van Morrison gig when I was young. The way he controlled the band and worked the room, it wasn’t like going to see a rock band, it was like seeing a magician. After that, I realised I wanted to be a frontman, I wanted to be hold a room in my hand.”
He was writing songs before he could play an instrument and picked up a guitar aged thirteen. He got his first lessons from Billy Bibby, the older brother of a friend. Billy’s school mate Benji Blakeway was recruited on bass, and they started gigging as soon as Van had mastered a few chords. “We played in a beer garden. We got paid in booze, so we had free drinks all day until they found out I wasn’t old enough to drink and I got chucked out of my own gig,” recalls Van. Drummer Bob Hall lived across the road from Van.
A live reputation for incendiary shows spread by word of mouth. In short order, they acquired management by ATC (the people behind Radiohead and Nick Cave) and signed to Communion Records in 2013 (the independent label set up by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons). All of their singles (Homesick, Rango, Pacifier, Kathleen, Fallout) have been nominated as Hottest Record In The World on Zane Lowe’s Radio One show.
Their storming anthem Kathleen was ranked number one on MTV’s Hottest Tracks in April 2014. Legendary tastemaker DJ Steve Lamaq has been a supporter from the beginning. John Kennedy described them as “stadium ready”. They signed to Island in 2014 and their debut album has been produced by Jim Abbis, the man behind The Arctic Monkeys classic debut (who has also worked with Kasabian, Stereophonics and Adele).
“We fought a lot, because he’s really good and we’re just kids. It took a while to earn his respect. But it felt like the way it should have been made. We were just in this cottage in the middle of nowhere that had no phone signal or contact with the outside world, really. I’d go out every night and have a smoke and every morning I’d come up with an idea. It was class. I’m so proud of every single note, every single beat and every single lyric.”
The title, Balcony, was inspired by a moment of epiphany on a rooftop in New York, where Van was writing the song Cocoon whilst looking out across a glittering city of millions of strangers. “It’s about being in love with the moment. It’s the feeling that I have a great band, a great family and the best friends. Nothing else matters.”
The theme of the album, he says, is “not letting anybody else get in the way, not letting any fucking person or thing drag you down. It’s about being positive, looking forward, surrounding yourself with good people. It’s an album for anyone who has to put up with shit in their lives. We grew up in a small town and my writing has come out of that small town mentality, where everyone knows your business and tries to get involved with it. The whole album is a big two fingers up to those kind of people. It’s euphoric, positive, fuck the world, we’ve got everything we need right here.”
Live shows are the essence of the Catfish experience. This is a band forging intense bonds with its audience. Members of Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines and The Vaccines have been spotted at their gigs. After triumphant festival dates (including headlining the BBC Introducing Stage at T In The Park), they toured the US in October, have a sold out run of dates in the UK in November and December and have announced a string of already sold out shows in the spring including two Shepherds Bush Empires.
“Our live shows are about the moment, just getting lost in the music and going fucking crazy, Make people dance and make people feel. My whole night is based around that, the lights going off and people screaming. I get onstage, see everyone’s faces and something clicks in me and I just go.”
Catfish and the Bottlemen are dreamers. And in rock and roll, that’s always a good thing. “Everything I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, we’ve already done,” says McCann. “It’s a bit crazy. Hearing my songs on the radio, selling out shows. My dream is for it is to get as big as it can possibly get. We are not afraid of the ultimate high. I want to give people a band they can hold on to for the rest of their lives.”

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About Catfish & the Bottlemen

Catfish and the Bottlemen are a four piece band from Llandudno in Wales. They play attacking, melodic, anthemic, guitar fuelled garage rock songs fizzing with lust, hope, anger and a furious desire to exist.
In just a few frenzied years of existence, Catfish and the Bottlemen, (singer and guitarist Van McCann, lead guitarist Johnny Bond, bassist Benji Blakeway and drummer Bob Hall) have headlined hundreds and hundreds of gigs to increasingly wild and dedicated audiences, been championed by BBC Radio One, MTV and XFM, churned out a series of classic singles and have released an utterly thrilling debut album that positively burns with emotion and ambition.
“I don’t think rock and roll has ever gone away,” says Van. “I just don’t think there’s been a band to believe in. Nobody’s really gone for it and put their whole lives on the line. We got kicked out of school for it, lost girlfriends for it, went on the dole for it, been broke and starving and done everything for it. If you’ve got to go for it, you’ve got to go for it.”
Van McCann talks a good fight. He is proud of being a test tube baby, the IVF child of “free-minded Liverpuddlian parents” who spent his early years travelling around Australia. It was here the young McCann saw a strange busker. “My first memory of music is being sat outside a café watching a guy play a washing line with bottles on it. He was called Catfish the Bottleman. So I thought it was apt to name the band after him. I really wish I hadn’t. Try telling a drunk guy that name for the fifteenth time.”
Van himself was named in honour of Van Morrison. “My father took me to a Van Morrison gig when I was young. The way he controlled the band and worked the room, it wasn’t like going to see a rock band, it was like seeing a magician. After that, I realised I wanted to be a frontman, I wanted to be hold a room in my hand.”
He was writing songs before he could play an instrument and picked up a guitar aged thirteen. He got his first lessons from Billy Bibby, the older brother of a friend. Billy’s school mate Benji Blakeway was recruited on bass, and they started gigging as soon as Van had mastered a few chords. “We played in a beer garden. We got paid in booze, so we had free drinks all day until they found out I wasn’t old enough to drink and I got chucked out of my own gig,” recalls Van. Drummer Bob Hall lived across the road from Van.
A live reputation for incendiary shows spread by word of mouth. In short order, they acquired management by ATC (the people behind Radiohead and Nick Cave) and signed to Communion Records in 2013 (the independent label set up by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons). All of their singles (Homesick, Rango, Pacifier, Kathleen, Fallout) have been nominated as Hottest Record In The World on Zane Lowe’s Radio One show.
Their storming anthem Kathleen was ranked number one on MTV’s Hottest Tracks in April 2014. Legendary tastemaker DJ Steve Lamaq has been a supporter from the beginning. John Kennedy described them as “stadium ready”. They signed to Island in 2014 and their debut album has been produced by Jim Abbis, the man behind The Arctic Monkeys classic debut (who has also worked with Kasabian, Stereophonics and Adele).
“We fought a lot, because he’s really good and we’re just kids. It took a while to earn his respect. But it felt like the way it should have been made. We were just in this cottage in the middle of nowhere that had no phone signal or contact with the outside world, really. I’d go out every night and have a smoke and every morning I’d come up with an idea. It was class. I’m so proud of every single note, every single beat and every single lyric.”
The title, Balcony, was inspired by a moment of epiphany on a rooftop in New York, where Van was writing the song Cocoon whilst looking out across a glittering city of millions of strangers. “It’s about being in love with the moment. It’s the feeling that I have a great band, a great family and the best friends. Nothing else matters.”
The theme of the album, he says, is “not letting anybody else get in the way, not letting any fucking person or thing drag you down. It’s about being positive, looking forward, surrounding yourself with good people. It’s an album for anyone who has to put up with shit in their lives. We grew up in a small town and my writing has come out of that small town mentality, where everyone knows your business and tries to get involved with it. The whole album is a big two fingers up to those kind of people. It’s euphoric, positive, fuck the world, we’ve got everything we need right here.”
Live shows are the essence of the Catfish experience. This is a band forging intense bonds with its audience. Members of Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines and The Vaccines have been spotted at their gigs. After triumphant festival dates (including headlining the BBC Introducing Stage at T In The Park), they toured the US in October, have a sold out run of dates in the UK in November and December and have announced a string of already sold out shows in the spring including two Shepherds Bush Empires.
“Our live shows are about the moment, just getting lost in the music and going fucking crazy, Make people dance and make people feel. My whole night is based around that, the lights going off and people screaming. I get onstage, see everyone’s faces and something clicks in me and I just go.”
Catfish and the Bottlemen are dreamers. And in rock and roll, that’s always a good thing. “Everything I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, we’ve already done,” says McCann. “It’s a bit crazy. Hearing my songs on the radio, selling out shows. My dream is for it is to get as big as it can possibly get. We are not afraid of the ultimate high. I want to give people a band they can hold on to for the rest of their lives.”

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