Catfish and the Bottlemen are a British indie rock band, formed in Llandudno, Wales in 2007.[3] Their debut album, The Balcony, reached number 10 in the UK Albums Chart. The band have toured in the UK, Europe, North America, and Australia and have featured in a number of festivals including Glastonbury, Latitude, Reading and Leeds, T in the Park, Governors Ball, and Bonnaroo. They won their first Brit Award for British Breakthrough act on 24 February 2016. On 27 May 2016, they released their second album, The Ride.

Ryan Evan "Van" McCann was born in Cheshire, UK and travelled briefly to Australia as a child, while Benji Blakeway was born in Llandudno.[4][2][5][6][7] When questioned on the band's Llandudno origins, McCann responded that: "We lived there but we’re not actually Welsh."


Catfish and the Bottlemen were founded in 2007, when Ryan Evan "Van" McCann and Billy Bibby began playing guitar together at Billy's parents home, a bed & breakfast in Llandudno, Wales.[8] Van's parents also ran a bed and breakfast in town[9] and Van was friends with Billy's younger brother, which is how Van and Billy met.[5] Van and Billy were joined by Benjamin Blakeway on bass as the third founding member of the band. Schoolmate Jon Barr followed shortly thereafter on drums.[10] Billy Bibby, who had been playing guitar since age 10, taught both Van McCann and Benji Blakeway how to play.[11] They promoted themselves by playing in car parks after other artist's gigs, including bands such as Kasabian.[10] Steve Lamacq first played an early demo on BBC Radio 6 Music in 2009.[12] Original drummer Jon Barr was replaced by Robert "Bob" Hall in 2010. Bob Hall was introduced to the band by a mutual producer acquaintance.[2]

Founding lead guitarist Billy Bibby suddenly and unexpectedly ceased performing with the band in the summer of 2014[13] and was replaced by Johnny "Bondy" Bond.[14] On 25 July 2014 the band cancelled three festival appearances due to "unforeseen personal circumstances".[15][16] 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."[17] When asked about leaving the band, Billy Bibby comments, "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..." 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".[18] In autumn of 2015, Billy Bibby founded a new band, Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles.

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.[3] Van was reunited with Catfish the Bottleman in January 2015 at the studios of Triple J radio in Sydney.

The band signed to Communion Records in 2013,[2] 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 their next single "Kathleen",[20] 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 & Leeds,[21] Latitude, Kendal Calling, Y Not Festival, Strawberry Fields Festival, T in the Park, Pinkpop 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, which was released on 15 September 2014. Shortly afterwards the band also announced a UK tour. The album charted at No. 10 in the UK Albums Chart in the week ending 27 September 2014, was certified Silver in the UK on 9 January 2015, and was certified Gold on 20 March 2015.[3]

They won the BBC Introducing Award at the first BBC Music Awards in December 2014 and performed "Kathleen".[23]

The Balcony was released in the US on 6 January 2015. The day after, they 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".[3]

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

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 #1 in the Official UK Charts with unit sales of 38,000.[25]

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. The setlist consisted of all 11 of the songs from The Balcony, and six of the 11 songs from The Ride.[3]

Musical style

When reviewing The Balcony, Scott Kerr of AllMusic likened the band's sound to that of Johnny Marr, The Cribs, Feeder and Mystery Jets.[27] According to Ben Homewood of NME, McCann's vocal style is similar to The Kooks' frontman Luke Pritchard.[9] 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."[3]

Concert tours



2009Poetry & FuelIndependentCD, digital download
2010Beautiful DecaySizeCD, digital download


Studio albums

TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positionsCertification


The Balcony105111121913
The Ride
  • Release: 27 May 2016
  • Label: Capitol
  • Format: CD, digital download, vinyl


TitleYearPeak chart positionsAlbum





"Homesick"2013182The Balcony
"Soundcheck"2016951132The Ride
"—" denotes a single that did not chart or was not released in that territory.