Catfish and the Bottlemen lead singer Van McCann talks band name, rising fame and returning to ACL

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UK’s rising alternative guitar rock band Catfish and the Bottlemen are coming back to take Austin City Limits by storm with songs from their new album, The Ride. Following the release of their freshman album, The Balcony, they won the BBC Introducing Award for Best New Band of 2014. The quartet’s new record describes their experiences on the road and includes hit singles “Soundcheck” and “Twice.” Lead singer Van McCann spoke to The Daily Texan about the story behind the band, their rising fame and returning to ACL. 

The Daily Texan: How did the band originate?

Van McCann: We all met when we were a lot younger. Our bass player, Benji, was a few years above me in school, and our drummer, Bob, lived across the street from me my whole life. When it came time for finding a drummer, I got dressed, went to pick him up and realized he was at the end of the road — I didn’t realize he had lived down the street from me my whole life. [Bondy] was in a band from Big Castle Way. I used to go watch him, and [he] was one of my favorite guitar players.

DT: So you were all close to one another but didn’t realize it until the band came together?

VM: Exactly. Well, we all kind of met because we wanted to make a band, and the only people we knew around each other were each other. It took six years, actually, before we got a record deal.

DT: It must have taken a lot of patience to wait so long to get a record deal. 

VM: Yeah, well, I guess it did. It was a lot of going around and banging doors down as opposed to waiting until they would open. 

DT: I know the name of the band came from a street entertainer you saw in Australia. Why did the name stand out to you?

VM: It was one of my favorite real memories of seeing someone play music on the street with nothing but just the enjoyment — they were doing it because they loved music. It always stood out as something that you are either going to never remember or never forget.

DT: I noticed the symbol on your drum set is an alligator. How does that tie into your band?

VM: There was a bar called the Alligator Lounge in New York and that name stuck with me. When I moved in to the place where I started writing the second album, I got all these green neon lights and lit the kitchen up and I used to call it the Alligator Lounge. I used to sit on the washing machine and write songs for the second album. The back lounge of our tour bus we call the Alligator Lounge, where we all sit and have a smoke and chat.

DT: What’s the weirdest thing that happened the last time you guys were in Austin?

VM: Back when we played in Austin at ACL our guitar man was wrapping up the guitar cables after our gig and he realized they had all melted — all of our guitar cables melted because it was so hot.

This story has been updated since its initial publication with an updated photo.