INTERVIEW: Catfish and the Bottlemen
    • FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 2016

    • Posted by: Jacob Swindell-Sakoor

    [Photos by B51Photography/MarkBrown]
    Catfish and the Bottlement Governors Ball NYC 2016

    Catfish and the Bottlemen are one of those bands that you can't help but love. Even after the massive surge of success and critical praise from their latest album, The Ride, the group continues to write all of their own material and is very hands-on with their DIY attitude. The members, whose project was founded amongst friends, have seen two members leave over the years, but Catfish and the Bottlemen is a group built on a strong bond that connects its four members, keeping them creatively driven and remarkably levelheaded. Since 2014, Catfish and the Bottlemen entered the scene as a force to be reckoned with, and after winning a Brit Award, hitting the top spot on the UK Albums Chart, and headlining at their first festival, Catfish and the Bottlemen will surely maintain their deserved momentum.

    Catfish and the Bottlement Governors Ball NYC 2016

    It's been a while since Baeble's first live session with Catfish and the Bottlemen in 2014, so we were once again thrilled to catch up with the members of the band. This time around, we had a great discussion frontman, Van McCann and guitarist, Johnny Bond, on their music, New York and the meaning of honesty.

    JSS: So you're currently in NYC after performing at Governors Ball this past Saturday. How do you feel the performance went?

    VM: Governors Ball is actually, genuinely my favorite festival I've ever been to. I went two years ago and that was the first time I'd ever seen The Strokes. Jack White was on, I think OutKast was on, another band Little Comets was on and now our tour manager, who was tour managing them at the time, is with us now. So I'm having one of these 360 life moments. I had one of my best days of my life there last time and this time I loved it. It's genuinely one of my favorite festivals.

    JB: It's such a ball at Gov Ball. Honestly, it's genuinely up there with my favorites.

    JSS: How do you feel about NYC in general? Is it somewhere that you feel at home?

    VM: I think no matter how many times you keep coming back it never... You know how some places lose their spark a little bit each time?

    JSS: Yeah.

    JB: It never seems to lose that. And every time you come, you go to what spots you like, or what bars you like, or where to eat.

    VM: Our record label is based out here as well, so there is a homely feel to it. I wrote some songs here off the new album and the songs "Cocoon" and "Hourglass" from the first album in New York at my friend's house. I love coming back here 'cause it's a proud moment in your life, coming to New York.

    JB: It just feels good to check off the list of venues and say, 'Oh I played here, I played there.'

    JSS: Going from the UK to the US, what would you say are the biggest differences?

    JB: This year we've gotten to do all sorts of shows. Like every sort of variety of gig we've been doing. We've been getting experience and we've had a lot of firsts. We just played a 250 cap room over here in the states, but nothing's lost in the energy of the gig or how much it excites us.

    VM: You become a different person. It's almost like you become a different band. When you're in a small venue you become the band you first were when you got into it and you all crashed into each other. You're right there with the crowd. You're falling into them. You can feel 'em singing to ya, and then the arenas, you've got that massive scale. You've got this wall of noise and the crowd singing to ya. So the excitement never changes, but it obviously took us nine years to get it as big as it is back home in the UK and we've only been here a few years to try in America. So once we've put in the work and faced enough people out here then it'll be the exact same really, 'cause the excitement is just the same with ten people or ten thousand.

    JSS: So the wow moments still happen when you perform, whether it be for the small venues or the bigger arena venues?

    VM: Mate, I get goosebumps as soon as we open up the show. Every time I hear the four count and we start playing a song I don't stop getting goosebumps. We're still fanatics of music. We're still music fans. So I know what it's like seeing a band I love come on stage and it makes me laugh that I get to do this. It's just one big good laugh.

    JB: The hilarity of it's one big laugh. It's a hilarious situation, like when you see somebody completely naked at a festival upside down with one flip-flop upside down.

    VM: Yeah people start bringing inflatable alligators and posters of the album artwork.

    Catfish and the Bottlement Governors Ball NYC 2016

    JSS: 2016 has been a big year for ya'll. Would you say that Catfish and the Bottlemen are finally having its mainstream breakthrough?

    JB: Um, no, I don't. I don't know what you'd call it but Catfish and the Bottlemen are still working. It's definitely not a point where we're like alright we've done it. We've made it. We're gonna two years of work for the third album. Then once that's done there's another two for the fourth.

    VM: It's just reached the point where we've built the foundation. The first few videos we released off this album, we made them ourselves. We fly out to LA and then made it on iMovie. We're not approaching it any differently than we would when we were first starting the band when we were kids. You know when we would design our own artwork. It's still the same band to us. At this moment, we're trying to make this much bigger in America. Even bigger than it is back home. Then we need to build bigger in Japan and Ireland.

    JSS: So would you say that going further you'll keep that DIY mentality intact?

    JB: Yeah I don't think it'll ever change. It's always been this way since day one. We've always written everything ourselves.

    VM: I think since all of us have been going at it this is all we really know. It's ingrained in us to do this sort of stuff anyway. We would never look at it like that would be a chore.

    JB: We already have a script that we've written ourselves and that we're reading off of. We've always had a plan. I think that when you come at things with a plan that's where you kinda start. But yeah, we always knew what kind of band we wanted to be of some sort.

    Catfish and the Bottlement Governors Ball NYC 2016

    JSS: In the last video interview you did for Baeble you (Van) brought up honesty as being very important in your art. When writing the second album was honesty still a big thing for you?

    VM: Oh yes definitely. The very first word on the latest album, well I don't know if you know the history of the band, but Larry has been my best mate since we were kids. The first line says, "Larry call a load of smoke in, I wanna lose a couple days." That's the very first thing I said to him when I moved in with him in a place in Chester which is on the border of England and Wales back home. So yeah, all the songs are about me and the people around me. You know, the places I've been. So yeah its so much so that my best mate is the first word on the album

    JB: And you know the album just hit the top of the charts?

    VM: We don't know but it could be the first album ever at number one with Larry on it. I think that goes straight back to the mainstream question because I think it ignores what people would call mainstream. It's like we write songs about our mates and people can relate to that because people have mates.

    JSS: I'm especially interested in the first record you released from the album called Soundcheck. Could you talk about it?

    VM: Yeah that was the first song that was released. It's a very straightforward, simple song. It's kind of four to the floor. There's a songwriter from Charlotte who writes these really cool songs. He kind of sits on one note almost the whole time and he's got four beats all the time. So it's just a song that came really quick and it's literally about going to meet someone during a soundcheck for a quick smoke. Then that person is kind of the one you go to during every soundcheck. So it's that kind of vibe [laughs].

    JSS: Since you attract fans with the honesty in your songs, what would be your honest pitch to someone that's never listened to Catfish and the Bottlemen before?

    VM: I'd say come see it live. Come and see us live. We only make albums to play live. We don't make albums to get big hit records, to hit the charts. We make records for people to come and sing and start losing their voices, or losing life in their legs because they're bouncing the whole time. You know, so that kind of vibe. We're only in this band because we love playing live and we like touring around the world. The main thing is that we wanted people to see us play live and then go buy it, as opposed to hear it and then come see us play live. We want to be able to come play and really be able to do it.

    Check out Catfish & The Bottlemens latest videos for "Soundcheck" and "7" above and Soundcheck below:

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