What Does “Catfish And The Bottlemen” Mean?

12 May 2018, 14:30

Catfish And The Bottlemen 2017
Catfish And The Bottlemen 2017. Picture: Jill Furmanovsky/Press

Van McCann’s band have had huge hits with their albums The Balcony and The Ride. But where did they get their strange name from? It’s a moving story…

GQ called their name “objectively terrible”. Most other people have reacted with mild bemusement. It looks good on a t-shirt and an album cover.

But what inspired the name Catfish And The Bottlemen?

Frontman Van McCann got the band together in Llandudno, North Wales, but he spent much of his youth travelling around Australia. But on arrival in the country they discovered some bad news: his mother couldn’t have children because of a road accident that she’d had when younger.

Van explained in a 2014 interview: “They worked two jobs, had no money and they were really trying to start a family. They tried for an IVF baby which the doctors were saying, even with that, it’s not going to happen.”

“They kept trying and trying and using every penny they had and twice it failed. On the last attempt, it was like this has got to be the last time as it’s killing us as people to find out it’s not worked.

“And then I popped out! Like Alan Shearer! Yes!”

The couple, together with little Van, then drove around Australia, stopping here and there and discovering new things and meeting new people.

“I remember being plodded outside a cafe, watching this guy,” Van recalled. “He had a washing line with bottles hanging off it and he used to play it like a drum kit. He was called Catfish The Bottle Man.

“When he came to naming the band I thought it was quite an apt thing to call us. Because it was my first memory of music… and the story of my mum and dad.”

Catfish The Bottleman’s real name is Michael Bevan and he has an unusual story himself.

He writes: “In December 2000, I quit my job and decided to follow my heart and play music. I soon ran out of money and was looking for ideas.

“I was living in a crazy share house with about ten others in Glebe Sydney. There were plenty of beer bottles lying around so I decided I'd try tuning them up.

“In the early days, when I was still living in that crazy share house, I had a crazy beard. I had three long spikes coming out of each cheek, a spiky goatee and a spiky moustache. My flatmates started calling me Catfish and the name stuck. Once I became a full time beer bottle player I naturally became Catfish the Bottleman.”

Catfish the Bottle Man met Catfish And The Bottlemen at the studios of Triple J back in 2015.

Since then, Catfish The Bottleman has appeared as a finalist on Australia’s Got Talent and is planning a new career as an inspirational speaker. You can find out more about him at his website catfishthebottleman.com.