Music Q&A: Catfish and the Bottlemen

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Van McCann, frontman and media voice of the Welsh indie fourpiece, talks about their debut album and rubbishes claims of sexism.

After creating a buzz through EP releases and festival sets this summer, were you anxious about putting out the album and are you happy with its reception?

I wasn’t anxious at all really because I’d seen the way people had been reacting when we played live. It meant a massive amount to us that the people who believe in this band got the songs they wanted. When we played our headline tour before the album we asked people at shows to meet us at the back by the bar and tell us which songs they loved and which they thought were shite. People genuinely did, it was amazing. I’m so so happy with it. I love it and all that matters to me is that it’s resonated with the people it’s resonated with. I’m mega proud of it.

Your sound harks back to indie of the last decade, are you firmly rooted in that genre or do you have plans to branch out?

I’m not too sure to be honest yet. See, I’m not an ‘artist’ and I never want to be. I’m just a normal lad who plays Fifa and loves Jaffa Cakes and shit. I don’t think I’ve got the kind of talent you need to switch stuff up and I’m not sure if I want it. All I can do is write songs that I fully believe in and that are full of my heart. All I ever wanted our band to be about was the songs. I just want to make music that speaks to people as if we’re their best mates and I want it to sound like it could fill an arena.

You’ve expressed a lack of interest in chart position – how do you distance yourself from the commercial side of making music?

I don’t even think about it. I don’t distance myself from it really in the same sense. I just want to put music to the people who get us and I want to do that for the rest of my life. I want our music to be commercial if that means playing to 60,000 people every night. If ‘selling out’ means that I can get a helicopter to pick my Mum, Dad and Dog up and fly them literally to see us side stage then I want to sell out. I want the people that have invested in us now to know how dedicated we are to keep producing and not go missing for years, you know? I want to give the people who believe in us realllllly something to believe and invest in.

How has being championed by the likes of Zane Lowe impacted on the band?

It’s massive. It’s not just Zane though, that whole station, BBC 6 Music, XFM, loads of independent and student radios have backed us and I feel so fucking honoured that they do. I owe them so much. Every time I’m in doing a session or an interview I tell them that they’ve changed my life. They’ve all given us such a platform and I owe them so much for that. They’ve changed all our lives, it’s unreal. I can’t express how much we appreciate it. They’re all getting Jet Skis if things get wild.

You came under fire for some throwaway sexist comments at a gig and have been criticised for excessive swearing. Are these things you might give more thought since they have been raised?

Haha Did you see that stuff? It was completely ridiculous. Some guy completely fabricated that bullshit. It scared the shit out of me for literally 15 minutes. This guy literally plucked some utter bullshit out of nowhere to try and ruin us. That’s what people do. It’s happened my whole life. I grew up in a place where if you start grafting and doing alright for yourself people try and drag you down, I’ve never understood it. That’s what our song Cocoon is about. Fuck what anyone things about you, do what you want if it makes you happy, you know? At the end of the day, if some big pop star or someone who’s got a huge admiring fan base turns around and says I just saw Peter Kay turn around and racially abuse someone, even if it’s a complete lie, that’s it for him. Everyone would assume he’s a racist. That’s not right that people can do that or would do that. I learnt pretty early on that some pretty fucked up things happen when you’re in band. You can’t lose sleep over it. You’ve just gotta stay switched on and strive for what you set out to do. People know us inside out because we’re massively close to people who are into our band so it felt amazing when everyone just turned around and knew it was bullshit and then the tour sold out. I’m not going to get caught up in it and lose sleep over it. I’m a nice lad, I open doors and pull out chairs and tell my Mum and Dad I love them and that. I’m not assed. We always do what we want to do and we never do anything we don’t believe in. We’re not going to be someone we’re not just so people think we’re cool or more suitable for them or it’ll sell more records. We’re going to be ourselves from start to finish and graft like fuck every step of the way. Whether it blows up or not, as long as we do it the way we wanted to and we’re in love with the music we make and each other, that’s all that matters to me. I think people can see and hear that in us when they come see us live or meet us.


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