The term 'unplugged' means something very different to musicians in 2019 than it did 10 or 20 years ago.
In a day and age when more people are exploring the rewards of not having their eyes on a smartphone screen at all times, for Catfish & the Bottlemen it was essential to disconnect while crafting their forthcoming album, The Balance, in the recording studio.
While it was the first time Catfish & the Bottlemen arrived at the recording studio with rough ideas to all their songs, the band's longstanding policy of isolation for creation was still in effect. The Wales-based rockers took up residence at a studio in Ireland with U2 and R.E.M. producer Jacknife Lee. There was to be no WiFi and essentially no contact with the outside world, so everyone could focus their energy on producing their best album yet.
Front man Van McCann tells Q104.3's Out of the Box with Jonathan Clarke about the immediate comfort-level the band found with Lee.
"As soon as we met him it just felt like a good atmosphere," McCann says. "The whole recording process was really good with him. We started in Ireland, isolated, no WiFi, no phones or nothing. Just all of us sitting, having dinner together as a team in the studio. And [Jacknife] was always, like, first up, last to bed, wasn't he?"
There was no escaping the creative atmosphere. Guitarist Johnny Bond says it brought out the best in the band.
"It was the way we like to do it, which is to be in a live-in studio," he says. "You know the room with the instruments in it is just downstairs. You totally immerse yourself in the whole process. ... Someone was always in the control room or playing a guitar."
McCann and Bond insist that all is well within Catfish & the Bottlemen despite rumors to the contrary from not too long ago.
A story about the group's impending break-up began making the rounds about a year-and-a-half ago, after the Catfish & the Bottlemen completed a U.S. tour with Green Day in 2017. McCann and Bond say the timing of the rumor couldn't have been more perplexing; touring with the punk legends only excited them for what was possible.
"We did nine weeks with [Green Day], playing everywhere from Wrigley Field to the Rose Bowl, like these legendary spots [we're] pretty lucky to have been invited to," Bond says.
By the end of the Green Day tour, breaking up was the last thing on their minds.
"It's a helluva show they do," Bond continues. "To have them sort of numbers watching, and keep the crowd engrossed for two-and-a-half hours — there's an art to that."
"They were really good to us that tour, and the crowds, the crowds were great to us," McCann adds.
You can watch the full interview above.
Catfish & the Bottlemen's new album The Balance is due out April 26. The U.S. tour begins March 12.
Check out the official video for Catfish and the Bottlemen's new single, "Longshot":