Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles are the recently formed and freshly christened band fronted by former lead guitar and founding member of Catfish and the Bottlemen, Billy Bibby. XSNoize has reported on Billy previously here, here, and here as he undertook the first major strides toward building his solo career earlier this year.
As one might imagine, choosing a band name can be a perilous exercise, particularly when your own name is as distinctive and B-replete as Billy Bibby. Yet Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles has a lovely ring to it that can’t help but curl the corner of your lip upward. This jaunty new moniker will accompany the band on their first major UK tour beginning this Friday, January 15, 2016.
In a phone interview, Billy shared how the band name came to be:
“We were in the studio one day about a month ago and we were just saying stupid names and daft stuff, just making ourselves laugh, and then Matt (Thomas) our bass player said ‘What about Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles?’ And I thought ‘I quite like that, it’s catchy and it’s not stupid like what we’ve been saying for the last 20 minutes, so let me think on that one.’ I’ll admit that I didn’t feel straightaway like ‘Oh, that is definitely the name!’ but I thought it was a good name and wanted to have a think on that.”
Most of the names brainstormed served little purpose beyond provoking a good laugh. Some of the more amusing options that met with rejection include:
- Billy Bibby & The Legal Reasons,
- Billy Bibby & The Last of Us,
- Billy Bibby & The Other Three,
along with a number of humorous names with yet more iterations of the letter B.
The name went from shortlist to reality early in the new year as Billy was on a bike ride with his younger brother Stephen, the band’s current manager, who Billy describes as “50% of me. The same passion. The same way forward. We share the load. The unsung hero behind the scenes.” Stephen—who was also tour manager for Catfish and the Bottlemen in the past—commented that he really liked the name Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles. “I think that’s the one, you know,” responded Billy. After a final check-in with the band, the decision was unanimous and effective immediately.
As of this writing, logos and graphic design are a work in progress. One thing is certain: The Wry Smiles will don a capital T in “The” to underscore that the unit is deserving of full proper noun status.
Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles will be gracing around 20 cities and venues in January-March 2016. The Tour coincides with a February release of the band’s debut EP. While no specific date of availability has been confirmed, the February 5 gig at Night & Day Café in Manchester has been earmarked as an evening of celebration of this significant band milestone.
Regarding his hopes for the upcoming tour, Billy Bibby pauses, laughs, and answers with a blend of humor and humility. “It will be a success if we get through it! (laughs).” Then continues, “I’d say that if people are coming up to us after the gigs, and saying they enjoyed it and they’d come back again, then that, to me, would be a success.”
Judging from the band’s first three UK gigs in Chester, Barrow-in-Furness, and Leeds that took place before Christmas 2015, that goal is handily achievable. One attendee of the band’s second gig commented that she had not come to see any one band in particular, but was blown away and offered to help get the word out. Another showgoer in Leeds expressed surprise that the band was playing in a smaller venue and was certain they were destined for much bigger things. “That was really nice to hear,” mused Billy.
When asked about the upcoming EP, Billy seemed delighted. He described a variety and diversity of songs, citing Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms as important touchstones of inspiration. Above all, he seemed pleased with the talented individuals who came together to make the record happen. He praises his producer, Russ Hayes of Orange Sound Recording Studio in North Wales, describing him as world-class. “What Russ has done on this EP so far, I’d struggle to ever go with anyone different as a producer. He knows how something should sound and he’s good at explaining it and getting something out of an artist. That’s a skill. He really helped me. He’s unbelievable.”
As for The Wry Smiles, Billy is unabashedly thrilled and proud to share the studio and the stage with these talented lads: “Fuck me! These guys are good! …I’m more excited for this tour than any I’ve ever done before!”
Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles are:
Billy Bibby, lead vocals, guitar
Rob Jones, lead guitar, backing vocals
Matt Thomas, bass, backing vocals
Mike Pearce, drums
Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles – Winter Tour 2016 Dates