Catfish & The Bottlemen: Van McCann on setting off “a little bomb in the music industry”


At first, he thinks it must have started raining. It’s August 2014, moments before Catfish And The Bottlemen are due onstage at Reading Festival, and Van McCann can see crowds of people running towards the tent, pushing their way forward to squeeze inside. Then he looks outside and sees there’s nothing but sunshine. “That’s when I knew it was real,” he says. “I thought they were just coming in because it was pissing it down, but it was still sunny. When we went on they knew all the songs. Our album wasn’t even out yet. It was mental.”

After tearing through their set, Van walked offstage and noticed the band’s management team were crying tears of joy. “I think everyone was kind of taken aback,” he says. “Playing T In The Park and then Reading and Leeds last year were real game-changers for us. Before that we’d been playing 50-100 capacity venues, and they’d been crazy – but then at the festivals it was just as crazy and there were 4,000 more people.”

A lot has happened since then. In the past six months, the band released debut album ‘The Balcony’, which duly hit the Top 10 and went gold. Meanwhile, their live reputation has grown to the point that they sold out two nights at London’s 5,000-capacity O2 Academy Brixton this November – within nine minutes of tickets going on sale. “That’s 10,000 tickets,” marvels Van. “Could we have sold 20,000 in 20 minutes? You’re on your way to stadiums then, aren’t you?”

Cover story for NME, 16 May 2015. Continue reading.