Catfish And The Bottlemen

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Catfish And The Bottlemen

Catfish and the Bottlemen are an indie band so deeply old-fashioned - and unfashionable - you can tell as soon as you see their name what you're going to get. You don't even need the whole name - somehow the Catfish bit on its own conveys what this Welsh four-piece do, which is indie rock so ordinaire it is crying out for an extra "quintessential". But we're pretty sure they don't care because they almost flaunt their lack of hipster now-ness or Pitchforkability. Not for them the tricks of blog anonymity and subsequent burgeoning mystique. No, they've used the tried and tested route of relentless gigging to spread the word, playing places like Wrexham's Central Station and Southampton's Lennons - over 100 shows in 18 months. 

They're managed by ATC (Radiohead, Laura Mvula, Nick Cave), they've supported the 1975 - that other band who have risen the timeless way - and they recorded their single at Rockfield Studios in Wales with the man who engineered and mixed the recent Manic Street Preachers singles collection (he also mixed the recent Saint Etienne singles collection but that rather spoils our argument). And they've just signed to Communion, which is increasingly becoming the home of bands (Deap Valley, Half Moon Run) as much as it is the home of solo folkies (Michael Kiwanuka, Ben Howard). That they have been Zaned and Lamacqed to within an inch of their lives won't come as too much of a surprise when you hear the lite-metallic pop-rock of Rango, their new single, which finds them projecting at a very big crowd - John Kennedy described them as "stadium ready". 

They've played club nights for Carl Barat and apparently dragged the Vaccines to see them while they were hanging about backstage at an Arctic Monkeys gig, but they're so not one of those - a Vaccines, a hype band who get loads of press even before they accrue that big audience. No, they'll get big first and then the begrudging articles trying to fathom their success will follow. They're the new Feeder, basically.

There will be stuff to put in those articles beyond the quizzical contrast between their demographic and the zeitgeist. Their frontman, the improbably named Van McCann, was a test tube baby who was, once he'd grown a bit, expelled from school. He is the child of "free-minded Liverpudlian parents" who spent most of his early years travelling around Australia with him. He says: "My parents are the type of people who would just pack up their things at the drop of a hat, plonk me in the back of the car and take me with them." He's got enough in his background to give him the confidence to be able to make the kind of grandiose statements that certain sorts of rock fans love. Inevitably he will talk about belief and conviction and make other sorts of rock fans cringe. We winced when he said, "I feel like everyone else is making daytime music, and we're making night-time music", and we'll probably wince again, but there's no denying this unreconstructed, conventionally thrilling sound, with its surging riffs and energetically splayed choruses, will find an audience, a large one at that.


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