Catfish and The Bottlemen Interview
As I walk towards the band they are in the middle of one of many interviews they have that day. But they haven’t played yet. I normally prefer catching bands after a gig (depending on it going well, of course) & having a beer. You get time with each member of the band solo & the post-show adrenaline alone acts as a truth serum. Inevitably the quietest members of the band become the most talkative.
I’m pretty sure going into this we have a clear leader of the pack. Not to the rest of the band’s chagrin, but he’s a presence in Fred Perry & he’s in the middle, serving up energetic answers direct to camera. It seems these guys are not dissuaded by having a fresh faced 22-year-old singer calling the shots. I’ve seen a lot of awkward interviews with bands that fall in line behind the shadow of their leader – doesn’t feel like that in this environment. Melt! festival has done everyone favours this weekend.
Everyone is happy despite the weather conditions yoyo’ing between intense sun & monsoon as if the Gods were reminiscing on 90’s playground walk the dog tricks with the elements on a string. Catfish & their management team have pre-read my questions between tour bus & site (on reflection they probably hadn’t). Yoda sixth-sense, third eye vibe tells me opening around McGregor is going to mean the same interview you have already seen elsewhere replayed.
They are all pretty much in black except Ryan “Van” McCann, in a white shirt. The band greeting is warm & they are flexible about where we conduct the interview. We find a white tent and open it up to find two sleeping girls. The band defuse their managements concerns politely & in my mind with a caring tone attempt to wake them without too much shock. The girls leave in a confetti-like shower of compliments on their festival outfits and American accents. Sweet. Tom Frog meets Catfish and the Bottlemen at Melt! Festival…. vibes.
Radio Active: So you are a fan of stories, would you call yourself a storyteller, a songwriter or a poet?
Van: I would call myself more of a Sunday league footballer that’s alright at writing songs.
Radio Active: How early did you used to get up to play Sunday League?
Van: Not as early as you have do get up to play this game! I was thinking either Rock star or Footballer. You get fast cars and loads of money in both games but I thought being a rock star you would get a lie in! But the reality is airports, so you’re up early all the time anyway.
Radio Active: I find flying a lot in a short space of time tiring, and I bet you are not going to get any sympathy from anyone having a jet-set lifestyle…
Van: We don’t feel that way anyway, we are SO grateful it’s just actually mentally frying! NO complaints from us. We are so lucky.
Radio Active: So this Ewan McGregor thing needs to be addressed again. How come you think of him as a Jedi? I remember him as a junkie!
Van: I think of him more of a big fish! Have you seen ‘Big fish’?
Radio Active: No, but I know of it. The Tim Burton movie?
Van: Yeah, it reminds me of being told stories by my Dad about my Granddad. He always said “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”
Radio Active: So are you in love with Ewan then?
Van: (laughs) No, I just think he’s got a good head! He’s a ledge, he’s hilarious! He’s a dude. We did it as a joke at the start, now he’s wearing my Rolex!
Radio Active: Wiley Ref go on! So… where are you now as a band? Can you just make demands like having movie stars in your videos, then someone sorts it?
Van: There was no demand. His daughter is a fan. He saw the picture of his face on our drum kit and then this email came through asking if we would like to go for breakfast in New York. Imagine having scrambled eggs with Obi Wan Kenobi???!
Radio Active: WHAT?! That’s crazy!
Van: I know, then we just were laughing and joking and he said he always wanted to be an rock star. So I asked if he wanted to be in the next video. I said I’d always wanted to be an actor and he was like, yeah let’s do it!
Radio Active: So you going be in his next movie?
Van: (laughs) It’s more like he’s gonna join the band! I’d let him. He can actually play. Our band is a circus. It’s the four of us solid but there is room for so much more. I’m thinking big. Trapeze artists and gospel backing singers!
Radio Active: You have a strong reputation as a live act……
Van: Yeah live is really where I think we excel.
Radio Active: In my opinion you are super confident
Van: On stage?
Radio Active: In general and what’s this ‘playing the hits’ thing?
Van: (laughs) Well, we only have 11 songs so they must all be hits! No, it comes from hearing bands complaining about having to play their biggest tracks. I can understand the frustrations in it. We are proud of our music, these are the songs that got us away from the place we were. Look at Noel Gallagher playing ‘Don’t Look In Anger’. I’d be happy playing these songs for the rest of my life.
Radio Active: So ‘Oasis’ are an influence or as it’s popular now you sit on the ‘Blur’ Vs. ‘Oasis’ fence?
Van: Steve Lemacq left an imprint on me, he said (and he wasn’t addressing the issue of who is better): “Blur used to write about him, them, there and that whereas Oasis were more me, you, us and we”. I feel I want to be inside of a song. I want to be inside of the story as supposed to listening to someone’s story.
Radio Active: So let’s talk crowds, where are some highlights for full on fans?
Vann: Australia or Ireland, I like California as well but I would never vote against our home crowd!
Radio Active: New bands? Who’s gonna support you next?
Van: We are just sorting out our supports now. One of the best live bands around at the moment are without doubt ‘Broken Hands’, they are like Richard Ashcroft meets the Black Keys, The Doors and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Heavy psy, concept albums about flight and trajectory and they cover the venue in tin foil. Early Kings of Leon meets T-Rex.
Radio Active: Top job lads, have a banging set…
Van: Thanks man, proper enjoyed this!
Words:Tom Frog for Radio Active
Images: Aluapa Waymore or Bands Own.