As the biggest band in the UK right now, it’s hard to believe Catfish and the Bottlemen just released their first studio album. A bunch of rowdy early 20-somethings from North Wales, the foursome has been playing to crowds of 10,000 or more for the past several years.
Young and wild
“Some bands want to make great albums and have big singles, and as much as we want to do that, [our goal] has always been to be as good and as wild as we can be live,” vocalist and guitarist Van McCann tells us.
Their shows have been rowdy from the start. “Years and years ago we played this gig and the venue had a 100 person cap,” bassist Benji Blakeway remembers. “It was small, but they had to close the venue down because the crowd absolutely trashed it.”
At their very first show, it was the band themselves who got kicked out. “We had only been a band a month. I was 14,” says McCann. “We were playing in this [parking lot] at the foot of a mountain and we got paid in beer. I got chucked out for drinking.”
Stopping at nothing
In those early days, the guys did everything to get noticed. “You have to get into London to get big and we were from nowhere,” McCann says. “We’d get a generator and play Ninja Masters on it and play wherever there was a crowd. We’d just show up and start playing on university campuses. When we were stuck in traffic jams, I’d get out of the car and hand out CDs to everyone so they could listen to our music while they were sitting there.”
They even lied their way backstage to meet some of their favorite bands. McCann tells us that when they heard The Vaccines were opening for The Arctic Monkeys, they showed up at the venue claiming they were The Vaccines. The security guards bought it even though the real Vaccines were already backstage. “We actually became friends with them after that,” McCann says.
In it for the long haul
The guys may love to party, but they have a firm understanding of what it takes to succeed long-term. Though their first album just came out, they already have their second and third albums mapped out, knowing which songs will be on them.
“A lot of bands get a record deal and then aren’t prepared, especially if they have one song that’s a massive hit,” McCann says. “We were always prepared. We just wanted to be this band that never stops. Every year people keep singing louder and the crowds keep getting bigger.”
If you go:
New York City
October 14, 7 p.m.
610 W. 56th St., 212-582-6600
October 16, 6 p.m.
279 Tremont St., 617-338-7699
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence