All four members of Catfish and the Bottlemen appear together in a rare, joint interview to celebrate a decade on record and on the road in a dedicated programme, ‘The Rise: 10 Years, 10 Key Moments’, exclusive to BBC iPlayer and BBC Music’s YouTube channel.
In conversation with BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders, the band reminisces on the first time they heard their songs on radio, dragging gear through festival mud and playing with the sound effects library at Maida Vale.
The Rise celebrates the ten years since Catfish and the Bottlemen uploaded their first track to BBC Introducing.
Completing a year which has seen the release of their third, hit album, The Balance, further sold out UK arena dates, including their long-awaited lock out at Manchester Arena and the completion of their 19th US tour, the programme gathers Van McCann (vocals, guitars), Johnny ‘Bondy’ Bond (guitars), Robert ‘Bob’ Hall (drums) and Benji Blakeway (bass) together for their first, shared media interview in several years. It forms a seldom-seen insight into the hard-won rise of Britain’s most successful, present day guitar band.
Digging through BBC archives, rare footage of the band’s first US tour resurfaces alongside their blistering, breakthrough performance on the BBC Introducing stage at the Reading and Leeds Festivals in 2013. The story moves forward to include appearances at the BBC Music Awards 2014 at Earls Court, London, a rain-drenched Glastonbury in 2015 and their triumphant headline slot at 2019’s TRNSMT in Glasgow.
Their emergence in 2009 coincided with their first encounters with long-time supporter and BBC 6 Music presenter, Steve Lamacq, who followed them on consecutive tours and remains a major advocate of the band.
Going back to the very start in the interview, McCann says: “Lammo had seen us trying to get heard, we sent him a demo and the band name had stood out to him, the next thing my phone was ringing before footy practice. He told us to hype the band up for a couple of minutes on the radio and that was it, our first play. Everyone was buzzing off it around town.”
Reflecting on finally playing Manchester Arena in February 2019, ten years after seeing Arctic Monkeys there as fans and throwing demo CDs towards the stage, McCann lets viewers in on intimate onstage conversations with longstanding friend and bassist, Benji, saying:
“We’re playing the gig and he’s pointing right at the seats we were sat in for Arctic Monkeys. We’re chatting away and our crowd are in front of us, it was a bit of a weird moment. He’s like that, Benji, really chill on stage. He’s always talking to us lot about stuff. It’s all those little memories, always saying ‘remember this gig?’ and I’m like ‘yeah, mate, I remember!’”
Offering fans further, candid insights into Catfish and the Bottlemen’s world, The Rise is available to watch online now.
Catfish and the Bottlemen have already announced their first, huge headline shows of 2020, performing at:
• Sat 23 May 2020 Swansea, Singleton Park
• Sun 24 May 2020 Warrington, Neighbourhood Weekender