It was full house at the Hi-Fi Bar on Australia Day eve for Catfish & the Bottlemen’s first headlining Melbourne show. The UK indie rockers have had a busy start to 2015, touring Australia with the Kooks and the Griswolds and their own headlining gigs.
The whole concert made me feel like I was watching an ex-boyfriend’s garage band. (That’s not a bad thing!) Joined by Ballarat rocker’s APES who got the crowd pumped up as they usually do. They played a couple of quieter songs as well which I thought worked pretty well and were quite different from their usual grunge-like sound.
The crowd was extremely keen for Catfish & the Bottlemen to start, screaming every time the lights dimmed. A lot of the crowd seemed to be hard-core fans, singing along to all the lyrics and some inside joke about chanting for ‘Larry’ the roadie. When they started playing “Homesick” and onwards the crowd got really rowdy and were all having a great time. Catfish & the Bottlemen have a strong following in Melbourne that will undoubtedly keep growing over 2015.
The 4-piece band is made up of Ryan ‘Van’ McCann, Johnny Bond, Benji Blakeway and Robert Hall, I had the pleasure of chatting to the lead singer, Van, before their gig that night.
Nadia: You’ve had a crazy start to 2015, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Van: Tomorrow we fly to Tokyo and we’re touring the UK and USA. Then we’ll probably make another album and do it all over again.
N: You guys were on David Letterman in early January, how was that experience?
V: We were all really excited. We used to stay up dead late to watch the bands on Letterman. Their performances were like a new music video and now we have our own one! We also got to meet Bill Murray which was a nice surprise.
N: Sounds great! You have stunning music videos, especially the ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ vibe for “Cocoon”. Do you think music videos are an important part of the band?
V: Truthfully we hate music videos, we try and avoid them if we can. [laughs] But they are important for the music, when you hear a song it makes you think of the visual. Like with “Scar Tissue” (Red Hot Chilli Peppers) I always think of them driving about in the desert.
N: What’s your favourite aspect of being in a band then?
V: I just love physically performing the music, I wouldn’t be in a band if I couldn’t play live. Everything else like money is just a perk to performing live for me. The music industry is dark and if I could go back knowing how it was I would want to stay as a bartender in Sheffield, but I feel like I just can’t not write and perform songs, I’m addicted to it.
N: On your website you have handwritten lyrics up, are they the real deal?
V: Yeah, they’re from my notepad. I don’t write my lyrics down until I’m finished with a song. I make stuff up every day and if I can’t remember the song then what’s the point?
N: What’s your favourite song to play live?
V: “Cocoon”, I think they’re my best lyrics on the album and the song’s been the blueprint for the album. It also has nice memories to it from when I wrote it in New York.
N: Yeah, I love when bands talk about the meanings or memories with songs when they play live, is that something that you do?
V: Sometimes, I do love chatting with the crowds. A lot of bands don’t write songs about anything so it’s hard for them to do that. I write my lyrics about things I have experienced and then just rip the Strokes off as much as possible. [laughs]
N: What’s been your favourite place to play live?
V: It amazes me that my songs have flown me across the planet but my favourite places would have to be in Manchester or Liverpool. We’re from all over the UK, so we don’t have a proper ‘hometown gig’ but those place have helped us grow into what we are.
V: I’ve taken inspiration from every song I’ve ever heard…every good song I’ve heard. [laughs] Being compared to others, I don’t mind. I get that when you hear a new band and try to tell your friends about it you need to reference other bands to get their sound across. Getting compared to people I admire like Julian from the Strokes, I definitely don’t mind [laughs], as long as we’re not getting compared to One Direction or something.
Catfish & the Bottlemen’s debut album The Balcony is out now. You just missed them touring Australia though, hopefully they’ll be back soon.
Hometown: The UK.
Latest album: The Balcony, 15 September, 2014.
Say what? Catfish & the Bottlemen got their name from an Australian busker that Van met, they’re just waiting to get sued.
So that’s it, Nadia