Catfish and the Bottlemen

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Catfish and the Bottlemen
Catfish and the Bottlemen performing at Brooklyn Steel in 2017
Catfish and the Bottlemen performing at Brooklyn Steel in 2017
Background information
Origin Llandudno, North Wales, United Kingdom
Years active 2007 (2007)–present
Associated acts
  • Ryan Evan McCann
  • Benji Blakeway
  • Robert Hall
  • Johnny Bond
Past members

Catfish and the Bottlemen are a British [2][3][4][5][6][7][8] rock band, formed in Llandudno, North Wales in 2007. Their debut album, The Balcony, reached number 10 in the UK Albums Chart and achieved Platinum status on 30 December 2016.[9] The band have toured in South America, Japan, UK, Europe, North America, and Australia and have featured in a number of festivals including Lollapalooza, Glastonbury, Latitude, Community festival, Reading and Leeds, T in the Park, Governors Ball and Bonnaroo. They won a Brit Award for British Breakthrough act on 24 February 2016. On 27 May 2016, they released their second album, The Ride. The Ride has sold 100,000 units in the UK, a large decrease in sales compared to their debut album which has sold 300,000 units to date.


Early career[edit]

Catfish and the Bottlemen, formerly known as "The Prestige",[10][11] were founded in April 2007, when Ryan "Van" McCann and William Bibby (Billy Bibby) began playing guitar together at Bibby's parents home, a bed and breakfast in Llandudno, Wales.[12] McCann's parents also ran a bed and breakfast in town[13] and Van was friends with Bibby's younger brother Stephen, which is how McCann and Bibby met.[4] McCann and Bibby were joined by Benji Blakeway on bass as the third founding member of the band. Schoolmate Jon Barr followed shortly thereafter on drums.[14] Bibby, who had been playing guitar since age 10, taught both McCann and Blakeway how to play.[15]

They promoted themselves by playing in car parks after other artists' gigs, including bands such as Kasabian.[14] Steve Lamacq first played an early demo on BBC Radio 6 Music in March 2009.[16][17] During 2009, Catfish came runners up in the 'North Wales Battle of the Bands' having been beaten to the post by another local band The Fides who later closed the Conwy River Festival.

Original drummer Jon Barr was replaced by Robert "Bob" Hall in 2010. Hall was introduced to the band by a North Wales-based producer who was working with the band at the time.[1][18] Jonathan Bond "Bondy" joined the band in August 2014 replacing Bibby.

The band derives its name from McCann's first childhood musical memory: that of an Australian street busker in Sydney, playing beer bottles strung to a wire who goes by the name Catfish the Bottleman. He was called "Catfish" because of an unusually styled spiky beard he had when he first began playing in 2000.[19][20] McCann was reunited with Catfish the Bottleman in January 2015 at the studios of Triple J radio in Sydney.

2013–16: The Balcony[edit]

The band signed to Communion Records[21] in 2013,[1] and released their first three singles "Homesick", "Rango" and "Pacifier" the same year. In 2014, the band signed to Island Records and on 17 March, released the single "Kathleen",[22] produced by Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Adele). All the singles were premiered by Zane Lowe and added to the playlist on Radio 1. "Kathleen" ranked at number one on MTV's hottest tracks in April 2014.

In summer 2014, Catfish and the Bottlemen performed at a number of festivals in the UK and Europe, including Reading and Leeds,[23][24] Latitude, Kendal Calling, Y Not Festival, Strawberry Fields Festival, T in the Park, Pinkpop, Bingley Music Live and Ibiza Rocks. They also played at New York's Governors Ball. On 19 June 2014, the band announced the release of their debut studio album The Balcony.

Founding lead guitarist Billy Bibby suddenly and unexpectedly ceased performing with the band in the summer of 2014.[25] and was replaced by Johnny "Bondy" Bond.[26] On 25 July 2014, the band cancelled three festival appearances due to "unforeseen personal circumstances".[27][28] On 13 August 2014, the band posted on Facebook: "Some of you will have noticed that we have been playing with a different guitarist over the past weekend. Unfortunately, due to some personal circumstances, Billy won't be touring with the band for the foreseeable future."[29] When asked about leaving the band, Bibby commented, "Well to be honest after Catfish I had no plans. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I just started writing songs and it took off from there..."[30] and "I’m proud of what I did in Catfish and what I achieved and everything that came with it, but I’m just looking into the future now with my band and that’s all I’m focused on".[31] In autumn of 2015, he founded a new band, Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles.

The Balcony was released on 15 September 2014. Shortly afterwards, the band also announced a UK tour. The album charted at number 10 on the UK Albums Chart in the week ending 27 September 2014, was certified Silver in the UK on 9 January 2015, was certified Gold on 20 March 2015 and reached Platinum sales on 30 December 2016.[32]

They won the BBC Introducing Award at the first BBC Music Awards in December 2014 and performed "Kathleen".[33]

The Balcony was released in the US on 6 January 2015. The day after, the band performed on the Late Show with David Letterman.

In an interview with WOW247, McCann said that the band have "three albums written already". He continued to say that "I'm more excited for the second album than the first, because the workload is done now".[34]

At the 2016 Brit Awards, the band won in the British Breakthrough Act category. They headlined Liverpool Sound City in May 2016, their first headline slot at a festival.

2016–present: The Ride[edit]

On 23 March 2016, the band announced via Twitter and Instagram that their second studio album would be entitled The Ride, which was released on 27 May 2016. On 3 June 2016, The Ride reached number one on the UK Albums Chart with unit sales of 38,000.[35] On 8 July 2016, Catfish and the Bottlemen played their largest headlining show to date at Castlefield Bowl in Manchester, UK with Vant, Broken Hands, and Little Comets as support.[36] On 1 July 2017 they headlined the first Community Festival in Finsbury Park London.[37]


Lead singer Ryan Evan "Van" McCann was born in Widnes, Cheshire, UK and travelled briefly to Australia as a child. Bass player Matthew Blakeway was born in Llandudno. Drummer Robert Hall grew up in Llandudno while Jonathan Bond is from Newcastle. [1][2][4][5][6] When questioned on the band's Llandudno origins, McCann responded that: "We lived there but we’re not actually Welsh."[38]

Musical style[edit]

When reviewing The Balcony, Scott Kerr of AllMusic likened the band's sound to that of Johnny Marr, The Cribs, Feeder and Mystery Jets.[39] According to Ben Homewood of NME, McCann's vocal style is similar to The Kooks' frontman Luke Pritchard.[13] With respect to the musical approach to The Ride, McCann has stated, "I feel like everybody started thinking too outside the box trying to be arty and different. We wanted to stay inside the box."[40]

Concert tours[edit]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certification Sales


The Balcony 10 51 11 121 9 13
  • UK: 300,000^
The Ride
  • Release: 27 May 2016
  • Label: Capitol
  • Format: CD, digital download, vinyl
1 6 1
28 2 3 UK: 100,000^


Year Title Label Format
2009 Poetry & Fuel Size
  • CD
  • digital download
2010 The Beautiful Decay Size
  • CD
  • digital download



Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album







"Homesick" 2013 182 The Balcony
"Kathleen" 2014 110 11 82 17 40
"Fallout" 92
"Cocoon" 109 128 29 50
"Hourglass" 2015
"Soundcheck" 2016 95 11 34 32 The Ride
"7" 81 8 35
"Glasgow" 128
"Twice" 87 32
"Outside" 2017
"—" denotes a single that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Organisation Award Nominated Result
2014 BBC Music Awards[58] BBC Introducing Award Catfish and the Bottlemen Won
2015 Q Awards[59] Best Live Act Catfish and the Bottlemen Nominated
2016 Brit Awards[60] British Breakthrough Act Catfish and the Bottlemen Won
NME Awards[61] Best British Band Catfish and the Bottlemen Nominated
Best Live Band Catfish and the Bottlemen Nominated
Best Fan Community Catfish and the Bottlemen Nominated
Q Awards[62] Best Track "Twice" Nominated


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  14. ^ a b Laban, Linda. "Catfish and the Bottlemen Luckily Sound Better Than That Band Name". Observer. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
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  20. ^ Barker, Emily (22 May 2015). "10 Things You Never Knew About Catfish and the Bottlemen". NME. Archived from the original on 3 January 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  21. ^ Communion Records
  22. ^ "Catfish and the Bottlemen Kathleen". 3 April 2014. 
  23. ^ "Leeds Reading 2014". April 2014. 
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External links[edit]