He’s only 24 years old but Ryan Evan “Van” McCann can already celebrate ten years with his band Catfish And The Bottlemen. They’ve released two albums, toured most of the world, and last year received a Brit Award for ‘British Breakthrough Act’. And the young indie rockers are not planning on slowing down anytime soon.
“We feel as hungry now as we did when we started,” says McCann. “It’s growing so fast, the word has spread, but we’re still warming up – we still feel like there’s only one way to go.”
When asked what has happened with the band in those ten years, he hesitates a bit. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how these four lads and their music have developed since they first got together in their early teens.
“It’s quite difficult because we never stop. I guess when we first started it was a bit more ‘off the wall’. We played in pubs, carparks, wherever we could really. But as the venues grew and the crowds got bigger, we started playing some real big music. You can’t really tell exactly what it is cos we don’t go and sit down and plot it. We don’t go like, ‘We should sound like this next time’. We write songs on the way they feel, not the way they sound.”
People go wild at our shows. It’s absolutely nuts… Some of the album tracks go off bigger than some of the singles.
They must have found a feeling that resonates with the crowds, seeing as they are selling out venues all over the world. The band has been pretty much constantly on the road since they released their debut album The Balcony in 2014, but that hasn’t stopped them from writing new music. In fact, it has taught them a lot about their tunes.
“The further those hotdog buns keep getting pushed back and the bigger the crowds get, I don’t know what it is this feeling inside me on stage when we’re playing those old songs. It’s good but I know I can take the sound further, make it bigger, get people to take those arms further up and make them jump a bit higher,” McCann explains.
“People go wild at our shows. It’s absolutely nuts. There’s no stand-out song – from the first album, the first song we open up with, right through to the next album, they go massive for every single one. Some of the album tracks go off bigger than some of the singles. It feels really good and we feel really fortunate to be in this position.”
It’s growing so fast, the word has spread, but we’re still warming up – we still feel like there’s only one way to go.
In May last year, they unveiled their sophomore The Ride and immediately hit the road again. And according to McCann, that’s the way for them to go: tour and release, tour and release. There’s no slowing down, overthinking things or going into hiding somewhere to create. It’s just full speed ahead.
“We don’t try tricks. We grew up on the bands that our dads got us into, like the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, and we like that old Doors way of doing it, where they’d just tour and tour and put out an album every six months. We’re ready to do that. We don’t have to go away and find ourselves, we write just whenever feels good. I think we’re always going to be two guitars, bass and drums, we’re a rock’n’roll band and we’ve always wanted to be. We just do what we love.”
Yes, that does mean that there is another album full of melodic rock and catchy choruses coming in the not too distant future. It’s pretty much just a matter of logistics.
We write songs on the way they feel, not the way they sound.
“We’ve got it written, we just haven’t had any chance to put microphones on it yet and record it. We’re doing UK arenas now, then coming to you lot in Australia, then we’re doing a big staging run with Green Day in the US. But as soon as that ends, no doubt about it, we’re going straight in to the studio to record for a couple of weeks and then we’ll be touring again. And then we’ll do it all again with the fourth. Just keep going, baby.”
Catfish And The Bottlemen will be playing Splendour and a few sideshows, and there’s no mistaking that Australia holds a special place in McCann’s heart. His parents got married here; he has a lot of family here and he grew up loving the NRL. Even the band name has a connection to Australia: it derives from McCann’s first real memory of music, which is seeing Sydney busker ‘Catfish The Bottleman’ playing beer bottles strung to a wire.
“I’ve got a big affiliation with it really. I used to say to my parents, ‘Trust me, we’ll play Australia, we’ll sell out big there.’ So coming there to play, it’s like a full 360 for me,” McCann says. “We started the year down there with Falls Festival, then we’re coming back soon for Splendour and then I wanna come back in the end of the year to welcome the new year again.”
Catfish And The Bottlemen play Splendour In The Grass 2017 alongside The xx, LCD Soundsystem, Queens Of The Stone Age and many more from Friday July 21 – Sunday July 23. They also headline a set at the Hordern Pavilion on Sunday July 23.