Ex-Catfish and the Bottlemen guitarist, Billy Bibby, kindly took the time to chat with Thomas Day and pose for some portraits before his show at The Jubilee Club, hosted by Camden Barfly in London on 18th September 2015.
What was it, July when you last spoke to XSNoize [Julie Blore-Bizot]?
Billy B: Yeah, it was on Independence Day [4th July]
And at the time you were auditioning for your backing musicians, how is that going?
Billy B: Really well at the moment which is good. I’ve trialed and errored a few guys and I’ve found three now, a drummer, bass player and guitarist. We’ve been in the studio rehearsing which is good and the songs are sounding great, it’s just a matter of getting the songs tight now so we’re ready to get on tour. The process was tough but it’s starting to come to fruition and it’s all looking good. That’s what I wanna be doing anyway, I wanna be playing in a band. I like doing my own stuff but with three other lads playing loud music and stuff that’s where my heart is.
Keeping true to the tradition you had with Catfish, you’re touring extensively again. How are you finding the response to your new material so far?
Billy B: Good yeah, really good. It’s just been going down well. Like I said, it’s completely different doing on my own to in a band but I’m just, at the moment, trying to get a tester out there. If people don’t like songs or if the crowd aren’t quite reacting to a song at least I know I can improve it or go back and write some more stuff. So it’s just literally one of those tours, getting out there on my own and getting a good few gigs in but at the same time seeing if they’ll work as a band as well and if the crowd are reacting the right way to them and they are, so it’s all positive.
Very recently you had the one year anniversary of Catfish’s The Balcony how was that for you?
Billy B: If I’m honest with you it didn’t click until the day after really, I just can’t believe it’s gone that quick to be honest but yeah, I’ve just been looking forward really you know I’ve not been looking back. I’m very proud of what’s happened on the album but I’ve just been very focused on my own material now and that’s what’s been happening for me. It’s just like a birthday really, but I didn’t celebrate it like I would a birthday [laughs]. Things have moved forward well so that’s the good thing.
What sort of kit are you using for your own material?
Billy B: Guitar-wise I’ve got a little Taylor Acoustic which I bought just as I was starting to write songs on my own. It’s not one of the top range ones, just a nice little one with a folky sound to it. On Tuesday just gone I bought a guitar, it was meant to be a backup guitar, it’s a Jumbo Epiphone EJ200, I just played it in the shop and it sounded great and I loved it, and it was only like £300 which is cheap for a guitar but I used it for the gig that night cos I really liked the sound of it. I’ll probably use that tonight and keep the Taylor as a backup which is worth a lot more than that [laughs] but that’s just sometimes the way it goes you know, I love the sound of it so I sort of fell in love with that! That’s about it really at the moment.
No pedals or anything like that?
Billy B: Not really, just the guitar and my vocals. I like a lot of reverb on my vocals just to fill it out and make it sound bigger. In terms of gear-wise, in a band we’ve been working on that and there’s some different guitars I’m gonna be looking to buy for the sounds that will suit the music that we’re writing. So it’s just figuring out what’s best for the band, we’re not quite there yet but we’re getting there with that.
What’s your dream guitar or do you have one you’ve always fancied?
I’ve always liked the Epiphone Sheratons. One of my favourite guitarists is Matt Followill from Kings of Leon, I just love the sound he gets, it’s just so warm and he gets good feedback. I’ve just bought the amp he’s got actually the Ampeg Reverberocket which I’ve wanted for years. I couldn’t find one anywhere and I got one off eBay, so I’ve got one of them which is what he uses for live performances and stuff and he’s used an Epiphone Sheraton at times, he uses a Gibson now but he’s used the Epiphone which I personally, prefer the sound of. So that could potentially be the sound for coming in with the band but I’ve not really got a star guitar really except maybe that one which is quite a cheap guitar as well! [Laughs] I also quite like the Epiphone Century that James Bay uses. I love the tone he gets off that and I think it’s quite an old one he’s got. That’s a really nice guitar as well, I wouldn’t mind owning one of them.
Julie touched a bit on your inspiration previously, you cited Elvis [Presley] and a lot of older artists, but what approach do you take to writing songs? Do you do it in a particular place or?…
Billy B: I always do it mainly in my bedroom, it doesn’t really happen anywhere else and it’s just how I’m feeling at the time. If I’m feeling happy at the time, which I usually am, it’s quite happy, it’s rare that I’m feeling down so I don’t really write any songs that are down. Like I said in the interview before with XSNoize, if it is down I try to keep it upbeat and keep something positive in it as well. And as well, I listen to songs and I try to recreate them, not copying it but if its a good one you wanna try and write something that a big hit. I’m all about the hit’s really [laughs] you know, that’s what I try and write. I always keep in my mind you know, is this gonna be top 10, or with this kind of music these days it’s top 40, it’s difficult to get songs in the charts with this genre of music but still, I think people like Noel Gallagher have managed to do it up until 2010 or whatever so It can happen, it can happen. That’s what I’m trying to do anyway.
Are there any more modern bands that you’re into?
Billy B: Not really, not bands anyway. Because I’m doing the more singer-songwriter stuff, I’m listening to more singer-songwriters than bands even though I am getting the band together. I am listening to current stuff like James Bay, George Ezra and Hozier and stuff like that, I’m into that kind of stuff and it’s quite popular music that they’re doing so that’s the route I want to take as well, with the backing band behind. It’ll be a little bit heavier that what they’re doing but hopefully some catchy songs that people can sing to. They’re inspiration for me at the moment, I think they’re doing a good job.
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What’s next for you? I guess it’s getting in the studio and on tour with the band?
Billy B: Yeah definitely, just plenty of practice in the studio and when we’re ready for it I’ll tell them, when the young Jedi’s [laughs] are ready to whip out their light-sabres and we’ll fight again! It shouldn’t be too long, a couple of months or so. Got a few things I’m gonna announce soon with regards to the band, it’s all good news coming up and it shouldn’t be long until we’re gigging as a full four piece.
Billy has since announced that he’ll be hitting the road with his new band mates soon via Facebook.You can keep up to date with Billy, his band and tour dates head to his Facebook page HERE: