The time has finally come for Belwood Music’s first ever interview! I caught up with former guitarist and founding member of Catfish and the Bottlemen Billy Bibby to find out more about his influences, the quest for hit singles and his new solo career alongside his backing band The Wry Smiles:
Thanks for taking the time to be a part of Belwood Music’s first ever interview. You of course made a name for yourself as a key member of Catfish and the Bottlemen and played on one of the most beloved debut albums of the decade; I imagine such success came from a lot of hard work?
Well thanks that’s nice of you to say. Yes, it took a hell of a lot of hard graft to get to where we got to and where they are still today. We did things that not many bands were willing to do and that was basically just get ourselves in everyone’s face on a daily basis! Ha. Just gigging constantly, working for little or no money and writing and recording new music all the time until we found our sound and what worked for us and gave us that recognisable sound.
What would you say is the highlight of your time with Catfish?
I’d say playing T in the Park not long before I left. The crowd all sang the songs back to us and it was the first time where you could see that something special was happening and that gave me goosebumps for the first time on stage.
It must have been a very tough decision to leave the band. What prompted the move?
Things happen in bands and it’s completely normal. All I’ll say is I’m proud of my time with Catfish and I loved every minute. I didn’t know what I was gonna do when I left but I picked myself up and started writing my own material.
Even when pursuing a solo career you need a great band behind you. How did you bring together your backing band The Wry Smiles?
Well fortunately, I was introduced to Simon Jones (bass player for The Verve) and I mentioned to him that I was looking for musicians. He helped me big time with that and set up some auditions. Soon after I had my band together, and we’ve recently done our first UK tour together – over 25 dates so things are progressing well. My band consists of Rob Jones (lead guitar), Matt Thomas (bassman) and Michael Pearce (drums). The lads are all unbelievably talented and I feel privileged to be a part of the same band as them.
How has your writing process changed?
Well I normally write a song and then bring it to the lads to put their parts on it in the studio. There’s nothing special about the process really.
Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?
Mine personally are Noel Gallagher, Fleetwood Mac, James Bay and Dire Straits. The lads like Everything Everything, Frank Turner, Manchester Orchestra, Royal Blood and We Are Scientists etc. It’s a good mix and it shows when we play together how different styles influence our playing and its a good thing to have.
With the newfound freedom of being a solo artist, are you working with any particular influences in mind and delving into new styles that you haven’t necessarily followed before?
At this moment in time I wouldn’t say I’m experimenting too much. I’m a hits kind of guy so I like writing catchy songs that people will enjoy singing along to. Eventually I would like to try something a bit different but for now its all about the singles!
What does the future hold? When can we expect some more new music?
The future is very promising for us and I can see us headlining festivals in a few years time. I’m not scared of the success and I don’t think my band are either. New music will be coming out beginning in a few months probably around the next full tour in oct/nov time. We have some banging tunes so keep an eye out!
Massive thanks to Billy and the band! They are currently touring the UK with the next stop being Doncaster’s Blackfest at The Blacksmith’s Arms on Saturday 20th August.