BRITISH BLUES ARCHIVE

Special Catfish Interview

 

 

Mike 'Dr Blue' McKeon is a bluesman with a voice like a bear who has been

singing and playing the blues for many years. Mike has agreed to write a diary to show us what a

bluesman's life is like, the venues he goes to, the characters he meets, his experiences.

He sends in chapters of his diary when he's ready. Who knows what adventures he will have.

 

Diary Special: Interview with Catfish .

Listen to the Catfish Special Interview

Catfish are a new band on the British music scene, who have been making waves, receiving British Blues Award nominations and awards since the launch of their debut album, ‘So Many Roads' in January 2015. Their first album went to the top of the IBBA blues airplay charts on its release. They followed this with a tribute E.P. ‘When BB Sings the Blues' in early 2016.

With their talented young front man Matthew Long, they are destined I think for great things. I have known and jammed with these guys for a few years now since moving to the south coast from London a few years ago. They were, and still are, regulars at the South Coast Blues Jam. It was at the Jam where the idea to form Catfish first took shape.

'Blistering guitar wizardry from Matt Long.'  (Alan Glen, Yardbirds).

Photo by Steve Dulieu

Catfish Are:

Matthew Long - Guitar and Vocals

Paul Long - Keyboards and Vocals

Kevin Yates -Drums

Dusty Bones - Bass

 

Photo by Rob Blackman

 

I caught up with Catfish after their gig at the Komedia in Brighton in December 2016. They had recently finished recording their new studio album: ‘Broken Man', which was to be launched at a gig in the Half Moon in Putney. They were all still pumped from the gig; they had hardly had time to catch their breath, when I started the interview.

I kicked off by asking Dusty , how was it tonight? Dusty's succinct reply was:

“Marvellous”!

Dusty expanded:

“It was a good good night, good house, the people who were in seemed to enjoy themselves”.

Kevin jumped in:

(The Crowd) “ enjoyed the new numbers and were up on the floor dancing, which for a blues gig is good to see”.

Photo by Ray Bishop

I ask how the last year had been for them?

Matt replied:

“Lots of gigs, (the) focus of this year has been writing new material and recording a new album. It's nearly finished and will be out at the end of January (2017). It's nearly all original material, - there's just one cover song, and anyone who has been to our gig will know which one it is! “ (this refers to the showstopper ‘Make it Rain' by Foy Vance which is always a highlight of the Catfish gigs)

Matt, getting more serious and assured described how the band “starts to take on a shape when it plays original material. It's been an interesting journey this year”.

 

Band Photos by Ray Bishop

I asked:

“How long have you guys been together?”

Matt replied:

“2 ½ years - August 2014 was our first gig. We met at a blues jam in Worthing (South Coast Blues Jam), and got to know each other. Fiona Long (Mum and manager) suggested the band should get together. It was started (originally) to play some blues in pubs. It has escalated to where we are today”

Me, whats the Future?

Paul: “Lots more festivals. We seem to be working our way up the pecking order at festivals, more headline spots. No more pub gigs, more pay to enter gigs. It's a difficult transition to make - you need original material to do that. “

Matt expands:

“ And it's a difficult transition from covers band to original material”

Paul: “ We're looking forward to bringing the Broken Man album out, see where that takes us”.

Kevin described how:

“ Initially, we were only playing on the south coast, but we are now playing as far as Redcar and Maryport. What's great for us is even on arrival people are familiar with us - looking forward to seeing us, and hearing us play. That's been a real good booster for us in terms of how quickly our name's got around”.

 

Photo by Ray Bishop

Paul:

“ I want to say something about what is blues - what isn't blues.”

Paul said that he thought a lot of people think Catfish are not a straight - forward blues band. Their music has a modern twist. Some of the song writing has a real bluesy edge, some has a more progressive edge. Paul highlighted the difference between the writing styles of Matthew and himself, and also spoke of how a song develops when they take it to the band - how it turns into a Catfish piece. Paul said: “We write about our own experience, we can't write about picking cotton. The music comes from the, “lineage of music we have listened to, from British Blues, like Little Feat, to (more recent) Joe Bonamassa. The writing is a way of working your way forward and back – keeping it modern. It's not a museum piece.”

Matt added that a lot of people who he described as the “Blues Police”, assert that if it's not a 12 bar it's not blues. Many think blues is dying. Matt argues that for him this is totally wrong. Blues is evolving. The key is, we have to evolve with it. Matt says ‘We can't keep playing the same thing over and over again. It will just be the same thing. I think that's what we are trying to accomplish. Catfish is trying to appeal to more than just a Blues audience. On the new album: Broken Man, the music is a mixture of Blues, Progressive Rock and even some Reggae!'

“Music is music, you should not limit yourself”

Paul picked up the theme:

“We need to hit home with emotion and honesty”,

Finally, Kevin summed up Catfish:

“To play it well, we want ebb and flow, have good writing that stands out from the back line to the virtuoso of the lead guitar. There should be something on the album for everyone to enjoy”.

Cheers Guys.

Broken Man is now out on iTunes and CDBaby.

I was left thinking about both the excitement of their live performance, but also the issues raised in the interview about our British Blues identity. I am less worried about what it is or isn't. I am more concerned about writing and performing in it, supporting and sharing a music scene that I think is vibrant, at times niche yes, but not diminished by that.

I don't think we need to worry too much about what label to give Catfish. Just listen to their music or watch them play live – you'll get it!

Photo by Jeroen Oosterhof

www.catfisihbluesband.co.uk

Facebook: thecatfishbluesband

 

Ali Toucher Sound Man for the night.

Ali also worked on the Poetry Can F**k Off Tour with us last year.

Pic by Ray Bishop

   

 

 

© BRITISH BLUES ARCHIVE 2017