Catfish and the Bottlemen are not just another overnight success story. The humbling, charismatic quartet have been diligently working to be where they are now.. And according to Van McCann, they band is still not where they’d like to be. This hardworking dedication has earned CATB a die-hard following in the U.K. that is starting to form here in the states.. Enter, Bottlemania.
Frontman Van McCann’s diaristic and confessional lyrics are candid, he writes about relationships and escaping small town monotony that are paired with dynamic melodies thanks to “Sideshow” Bob Hall’s palpitating beats on the drums, Benji Blakeway’s quiet storm-like booming bass, and Johnny “Bondy” Bond’s roaring guitar riffs make up the quartet.
We took a little time with Van before the band’s gig at 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis to talk success, inspiration, recording, and Bottlemania in the states…
GATR Naomi: What kind of career longevity would you like to accomplish?
Van: Infinite. Like day I die, I guess, or until something else makes me happier. I feel like it’s not, it isn’t a career for me it’s whatever makes me happiest in life. Like there’s been times where being at home with me mum and dad or something like that has outweighed things, you know what I mean? Like where things have been really tough but it’s like I get to a point where if that’s more fun I’m going that way or I’m happy there. It’s not about career for me, it’s just whatever makes me happy. Like this band and music and touring this world is like there. Like I’ve not talked, I’ve not even called home or talked to anyone at home or got any real mates because I’m so focused on music. Until something eclipses it, like having a baby or something.
GATR Teri: Are you having one soon?
Van: Am I having a baby? *Laughs* No. I’m not going for it yet, I’d love one though but until something like that comes along I don’t think anything will eclipse that. I’ll maybe stop making music if I have a baby.
GATR Naomi: But people have babies and still make music..
Van: Yeah, I dunno. It depends though, once he’s a little idiot I might have another album done. That kinda thing.
GATRS Teri: In the past year, your life has changed dramatically from relative obscurity to fame, has it been an adjustment for you?
Van: Uhh, I dunno, cause it hasn’t really like people think that it is but it’s not fame at all. I don’t get spotted if I smoke outside of my gig, I don’t get spotted out on the street.. Like occasionally you do, but it’s not that at all, it’s just dead nice cause it’s only people that going in that like the music or like coming to you going “I can’t wait to see you tonight” and I’m like “I can’t wait to see you!” It’s like seeing a friend with our fans, it’s like seeing your mates. It feels like nothing’s changed, it just feels like more people know my songs which is dead nice.
GATRS Teri: How have you changed, personally?
Van: I’ve lost me mind a bit more. It’s like you find yourself in a situations like in the end of last year, we’ve been touring, it was like five years straight.. We’ve not been home, everyone’s losing their girlfriends cause they can’t phone home or they go away for like two months at a time, we can’t keep anything down, we can’t keep a social life going and at the end of last year we got ill.. Like proper ill, we were all exhausted, we played the last set and I was coming off and like I feel like I’m dying.. Oh my god, it’s only music, but ya know what I mean? It’s because you’re locked in this little zone together for so long so you either go I’m going go mad and go with it or get off and you got to kinda go mad a bit that’s the only thing that’s changed but in a more positive way. Whatever happens, happens. None of us are ever moaning about being anywhere, like me and Larry we sleep in the back lounge together and we wake up and every morning like.. Mate, how good’s this? People are waiting outside of the venue’s waiting for us to sign stuff. Playing gigs, like looking outside and it’s snowing in America. Like our mum and dad’s are trying to ring us and they can’t even get through to us cause we have no signal cause we’re in the mountains. It’s just like, the best thing ever. So the only thing that’s changed is.. Everything is better now. Me life is getting well better bit by bit, we don’t even try to hide it, every step of the way. Like yous were saying about the next record, even the music’s gotten better. When I was jealous of bands or when I was angry about why’s that band on tv and were not, growing up even that kind of chip you get starts going so you start making your way into the industry and people start recognizing you. Like when you first read bad reviews of you, you say, why are they slating the band of then why just not write about us but now the reviews are slowly changing and people come see us live and it’s like wow… This band means it. So that’s changing and life’s bubblin’ again.. Well not bubblin’ cause it wasn’t bad but the further we go, the happier we get. It’s just class. It’s the best thing in the world, we can go to football stadiums and be dead happy about it.
GATR Krystal: If you could record the next album in any studio, where would it be?
Van: I don’t know anything about studios and recording stuff, I never want to uhh.. I never got into music to record on, it was always about playing live. I know nothing about sounds or producing, like I was fighting with Mike then cause I was like “mate, I don’t know anything about guitars you tell me what sounds good, like I don’t care. Ya know what I mean? Like I hate playing guitar, I just like singing so I really don’t have an idea on that. There’s a few people who’d we like to be on the next record with, there’s a few people that have done records that I love and love to use as like a blueprint for our stuff. I dunno, but I’d like to go to an island get a little cottage in the middle of nowhere, like an island, and get loads of guinness and shite where it’s dead quiet and nobody can get to us just us in our head space. Phones off, no signal, just no one around honestly but then again we’re on about maybe trying to go into L.A. or summat since the sun.. Cause it might let the record sound more positive and upbeat and stuff cause we want it to be arms in the air type of festival so dunno, I dunno.
GATRS Krystal: Sounds pretty nice, I’m sure you’ll get there.
Van: Hopefully, one day.
GATR Naomi: Who inspires you not only musically but personally?
Van: Me best mate Larry. He’s been me best mate since we were kids. He’s been on the road with us since we started. Like when we played on Letterman he’s only just learned how to tune the guitar and he’s doing David Letterman now. I was with him, like mate I’ve only just learned how to sing and you just learned how to tune the guitar. It’s was crazy. So like him.. He inspires me. Whenever I’m writing songs in our kitchen, cause we live together, I’m like what do ya think of this? He’ll say, change that bridge it’s horrible, sing summat positive you sound dead morbid and then I go ok. If I sing something positive, he’ll go you nailed it and he’ll tell me song structures, he doesn’t even know but he writes half the songs cause he’ll tell me where to go and if I sound miserable and if I sound miserable, he’ll pick me up.
He got run over when we were younger, he nearly died and ever since then he always lives life like positive, he says yes to everything. When he came out of that he was just like “why not?”
GATR Naomi: That’s a great way to live life.
Van: It’s why he inspires me.
GATR Naomi: Your band is very driven, you’ve achieved a lot of great success.. How are you all coping with Bottlemania in the states?
Van: Bottlemania? *laughs*
GATR Naomi: *Smiles* It’s a term I created just for you all.
Van: In America, Bottlemania? *chuckles* It’s not that manic, to be honest, it’s good. It’s lovely, like we were in the hotel yesterday (Ames, Iowa) and went to get a shower before the gig and walked past the hotel room that a group of girls were playing our songs in the hotel room and we knocked on the door and said “can you turn it down?” and they started screaming and we were just laughing our heads off. It’s nice to make people laugh, we love it. We embrace it. I love signing stuff, like I’ve always wanted to be chased up the street like the Beatles since I’ve seen the films when I was a kid. I love it all, it’s nice if you can make people feel that way about music. I love it. There’s no problem.
GATR Naomi: I think you’d be a bit jaded if you start getting used to it.
Van: Yeah, the paparazzi stuff.. When people start taking photos, I don’t think I’d ever get that cause I’m in a band but meeting people and getting photos in the street.. I love it.
GATR Naomi: What are some songs to add to a playlist or mix cd.. What songs would you put on it?
Van: The Streets, A Grand Don’t Come for Free. It’s their second record and it’s just my favorite album of all time. Just that whole album. That’s how good they are, I’m trying to get people to do when they ask about playlists. It’s like a story, that whole album, every single song tells a story. You have to listen to it full and it tells a full length story. So that people get lost in it.
GATR Krystal: One album… If you had to play one album for the whole tour, what would it be?
Van: *laughs* That one again, the Streets, A Grand Don’t Come for Free.