Interview//Catfish and the Bottlemen

f you haven’t heard of Catfish and The Bottlemen, chances are you will very soon. Monday, my friend Barrie and I had the chance to sit down with the band’s front man, Van McCann, before their show at Mississippi Studios. We chatted about his experience touring the states, how he actually isn’t a fan of the bands name, sources of inspiration, and milkshakes. After our chat, we were given the opportunity to stick around for sound check where the band whipped out a little medley of their own songs and threw in a little bit of Haim and The Neighbourhood somewhere in there. It was awesome to see a little preview of the show they would be playing later in the night. Check out our conversation with Van….

How’s it been touring the US?

Great, its our second time but its our first like headline tour. So we kinda got the gist of it the first time around. But it’s good, it’s really good. The people are nice like really more receptive over here, like in England we are playing for three thousand people now but over here it’s just like 50 or 60 and it’s just really getting going. So when it was at this stage back in England it was nowhere near like as responsive as this is now. Its exciting, we’re excited for the future because people seem to be excited about it.

 What’s been your favorite thing about North America?

My favorite thing…uh…. Milkshakes. Strawberry milkshakes. You do good strawberry milkshakes.

 How did the band start?

I met the lads about seven years ago when I was like 14 and our base player was two years above me in school so I met him then and we met out guitar player, we just got a new guitar player that came in like two months ago, we met him he’s from New Castle which is not far from us. We met him through a band Little Comets. They are class lads. And then our base player used to go out with our drummers mom.

 I hear that you almost called the band Portland, being that we are in Portland what’s the story behind that?

Yeah at one point, it was actually whilst we were called Catfish And The Bottlemen and I was like I hate our name and the label are like keep it man its good but I like short names I don’t know why we call the band that. But yeah I like the name Portland, I like short names. Do you know the Cribs? The base player Gary Jarman lives in Portland and I was reading an interview with him and that name stood out that might be a good name for a band. I’ve never been here before but its meant to be quality.

 Oh how are you Portland so far?

I’ve only actually been like on the bus to the radio station and to the hotel and then back here so I’ve not seen anything yet. Smells good, this street smells good.

So do you not like your band name?

No. No ah well I don’t know, it’s alright it’s just too long. It’s too hard to say. Like I just tried to tell the cab driver and he’s like “Catfish and the what…bottle tabs?” That’s always what you get, bottle tabs. But yeah no I don’t mind it, it’s alright, it’s not great.

Well we like it!

Thank you very much! Thank you.

 How has it been releasing your first album?

Uh great, like in England it’s been great because it’s all been like word of mouth, like media. Over in England they don’t really like us because we are old fashioned and we don’t subscribe to the pop kind of way of living like most of the bands do over there. So everyone who has bought our album has bought it from word of mouth and we got number one in the UK for most physically bought records from people who went and physically bought it, which we are really proud of. So it was good because we know it’s organic and we’ve been together for like 7 years so it’s fans we’ve picked up along the way, it’s not just people who’ve been put in a magazine or on TV and people are told to buy it cause it’s organic.

Where does your album art come from?

The artwork, so the album artwork is from a guy in New York called Tim Lyon and he did our first ever EP artwork when we were 15, we put out an EP when we were like 14 or 15. We said if we ever come to get an album we’d use the artwork again because it will be like a thank you to everyone who has been with us since we were 15. So like that’s it, and then we made sure we tied it together because I like things that connect.

What past or present bands or musicians inspire you guys?

I don’t know because I don’t know, we all like completely different things like we pretty much hate each others music taste. So there’s not many bands we all agree on. We all like The Strokes, so I guess you can hear that in us, and Oasis we like Oasis but I don’t really know, I like The Streets and I like The Nationals new stuff. Do you like the nationals? Their new record is good. And like Little Comets, I know you mentioned you like them, they are quite inspiring to us…just good lyrics, I like good lyrics and it’s like whatever instrument they are playing, so Ben our base player likes a band with a good base player, our drummer likes the drums, but I like the lyrics, I write the tunes. So I don’t know. I don’t think we sound like anyone but probably the strokes in terms of how we sound. If I had to explain to somebody what we sound like it would be like third album strokes.

 Any final words you want to leave for any fans reading this interview?

We’ll be back in February for like three months. Well not just in Portland but all over the US. And the album is out so check that out. Send me places to go in Portland because I don’t know anywhere and it’s meant to be amazing.

Van, Barrie, and I after the interview.