Billy Bibby is the ex lead guitarist and co-founder of Catfish And The Bottlemen from 2007 – 2014. He left just after they were signed and becoming well known to a wider audience at bigger gigs, went off and reflected on what he’d like to do next. The result of this pause for thought was the formation of the band Billy Bibby and The Wry Smiles (after receiving positive feedback about his own solo material).
Billy has a soft spot for Scotland, so again included a few dates up here on his current tour with his new material, including the band’s new single ‘Are You Ready?’. His schedule included The Green Room in Perth followed by Buskers in Dundee, and finishing with Broadcast in Glasgow as part of the UK wide tour which includes festivals as well as band gigs. I went to the Glasgow date to see Billy perform, and to interview him. I asked Katie from up and coming radio station Radio Saltire to come with me and she kindly filmed the interview too.
Unfortunately we missed the first support act of the night but I was reliably informed Jack Stark is a great musician. We did catch a bit of Backstage Paradise set and they sounded good. After them we had a chat with a well known, great supporter of unsigned music DJ Jim Gellatly. He had come to see Billy and has been a good supporter of Billy. Jim has been playing his new single’Are You Ready’ on his radio show and Billy nicely acknowledged this during his set when he gave Jim a shout out.
The final support was Das Plastixx, their lead singer seemed quite passionate about his music and has a good voice. There had been a decent crowd for the venue which increased notably just before the headline act took to the stage. There was that sense of anticipation that there always is when the main act is imminent. Then Billy and the band took to the stage and we were off and running for the start of the 45 minute set.
It was a brilliant set list of songs starting with ‘Girl‘. Billy also sang songs from his recent EP ‘Bide Your Time‘. These included ‘Don’t Fall‘ (which went down well with the crowd), ‘Waitin’ For You‘ (a catchy faster number, a favourite of mine),’This Kind Of Summer‘ (which got a big cheer from the audience and is mine & Katie’s favourite from the EP) and a beautiful slower number ‘Believe Me‘. Katie and I got a lovely wee surprise with this one when Billy dedicated it to us and thanked us for our support, thanks Billy!
The band played their new single ‘Are You Ready‘ and gave a shout out to Jim Gellalty. Billy also dedicated songs to other people who have supported the band – a nice touch. They have a lovely American lady Julie who does the band’s PR and had flown over to see their Scottish gigs.
The band also performed some new material which included ‘Substitute’ ( a heavier rock sound than other tunes) and ‘Hideaway’ (a faster, melodic song). Billy finished off with a song he wrote while with his previous band Catfish and the Bottlemen ‘God Gave Her Soul‘. It was the perfect finish to a superb gig; the crowd were clapping enthusiastically. In fact the near capacity crowd were receptive throughout and seemed to love the lively and inclusive performance from Billy Bibby and The Wry Smiles. Billy is a great frontman and builds a rapport with the audience, he told us the band would be about after the gig in the bar if people wanted to chat to them. This is what can build appreciation and loyalty in my opinion, a band who can reach out to their fan base and include them in their musical journey. It won’t suit everyone but it does with this friendly band who like to connect on a personal level with people.
All in all it was a fantastic gig. Since I saw Billy Bibby and The Wry Smiles in February at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh they have taken it to another level. They were fantastic then for a band who had only been together for approximately 3 months, now another 5 months down the line since Sneaky Pete’s they are a tight unit with a cohesive and polished sound while maintaining the exciting elements of rock and roll. This band are going to do very well.
This Kind Of Summer
I Got A Woman
Are You Ready?
Bide Your Time
Waitin’ For You
God Gave Her Soul
Billy Bibby – Interview at Broadcast Glasgow (17/7/16)
You can watch the full interview at the link below:
Questions I asked Billy……
So you’re playing at Broadcast in Glasgow tonight. What are you most looking forward to about the Glasgow crowd?
Just how mad they get to be honest, compared to any other crowd. Any Scottish crowd are great really. We played Scotland on the last tour and it was brilliant when we played Edinburgh, you were at Sneaky Pete’s weren’t you, good atmosphere there. That was the lads’ favourite gig. Straight away we got onto the booking agent and said get us another little tour in Scotland, so that was the plan, looking forward to it tonight.
So you were at Buskers in Dundee last night, how did that go?
It was good, it was a little bit quiet but we kind of expected that at the moment anyway really because we’re still only newly formed.Hopefully we can start building a fan base now, places like tonight in Glasgow this is where we start getting the foundations in Scotland, you know places like Glasgow and Edinburgh, the big cities, but it’s important to go to other places like Dundee .
And you did Perth as well?
And Perth as well which was good, it was quite busy. It was quiet at first but when they heard the music people started coming in and it was good towards the end. We’ve had a good run so far.
You quite like Scotland.
Yeah I love it, I love it – I’m not just saying that either!
I’m always a bit sceptical (when people say that)!
Yeah I know you’ve said before! No honestly I don’t what it is, I just absolutely love everything about Scotland, the Scottish people are always friendly when we come up here.
We like music up here.
You do, the whole UK they love their music but the Scottish you’ve got 5 in the crowd they seem to be loving it whereas you see 5 in the crowd outside of Scotland – I won’t name places! But they sometimes might just walk off if it’s quiet.
We like to support people.
That’s what I love about the Scottish they are always supportive, definitely always come back here.
You seem to be touring a lot, you were in Edinburgh not that long ago. Why are you touring again? Is it just to build the fanbase or is it to do with your new material?
Yeah we’ve got some new songs tonight that you wouldn’t have heard from the Edinburgh gig. I just keep say to our booking agent to keep us busy, I did that before in Catfish and the Bottlemen and it worked that way, we built up a good fanbase that way. I just want to do the same again really.
It’s connecting with people isn’t it?
Yeah it’s connecting with people. After gigs we’ll always make an effort to chat to people and have a drink with them. We enjoy that part of it as well, it’s not a chore for us to do that. I actually enjoy doing that and that’s the main thing really. If we weren’t enjoying it and just doing it for the money or for whatever reason then I’d say don’t bother but we’re just enjoying it.
It’s nice for fans to of your music to actually be able to speak to you.
Yeah, definitely yeah. You do see a lot of bands, again without naming names, who just go off stage and just sit in the dressing room for ages after. Which is what we do for 5 minutes after the gig, go over what we’ve done, get a drink and come back out, see what the craic is then!
You also get feedback from people I imagine, what they liked and didn’t like?
Yeah exactly, you learn from people everytime whether it’s stuff you take on board or not it doesn’t matter – it’s feedback nonetheless. It’s all good really.
You’ve just had your new single ‘Are You Ready?’ out – how’s that going with promotion and to get airplay?
I’ve just had the list back from our radio plugger Emma, she’s sent the list of all the stations that have been playing and I was suprised at how many, I couldn’t keep up with it when it was happening! It was a massive list it had been played on. Say 40-50 stations played on throughout the UK. That was amazing and the reviews we’ve had have been brilliant as well. I don’t think we’ve had a bad review so I’ll take that!
It’s a very easy listening song, it’s very catchy?
Yeah it’s just a single type song isn’t it really? It’s one of those songs that’s good as a single and that’s why we put it out there. We’ve got songs that go into more depth in terms of music and lyrics, this one is just a pure radio type song.
You want to draw people to you, attract them to your other music?
Yeah, it’s catchy and draws people in, if they want to go for the avenues and alleyways then I think we’ve got songs as well.
So what do you like and dislike about touring?
I like most of it really but playing live is obviously the best part. That’s only a small section of it really, an hour at the most, which is not a lot but there’s all the time waiting around, the soundchecking, the hotel, but we get on as a five, we just enjoy being together.
That was going to be one of my questions, the last time I saw you were just together as a band. So have you gelled now?
I think we’ve definitely improved a lot since then. We’ve built some songs together as a 4 rather than me bringing in the songs, well I still bring in the songs but they write their own parts for it, whereas with the early stuff I would write everything and they would put their own stamp on it.Whereas this was their own original material, they built the parts for themselves. That’s been helpful and helped us gel as a unit. The more things you do the tighter you get and that’s why I keep pushing the agent to get us more and more things.
You spend a lot of time together so you have to get on?
Yeah you do.Obviously we’ve all got traits that annoy us but you’ve just got to deal with that, take people for who they are. There’s nothing too bad really to talk about to be honest!
Any other singles that are coming out this year?
Yeah we will do this year, probably get another single out then maybe an EP at the back end of this year, maybe early next year. Then just take it from there and keep releasing stuff slowly.
See what reaction you get?
Yeah see what reaction we get, I don’t want to release an album anytime soon. Probably going to hold that back and wait and see as the fanbase builds, then it will be the right time.
You’ve got to build the foundations then build it up?
Yes that’s it you’ve got to build the foundations, there’s no point in putting an album out without any force behind it.
Because you have to put so much into an album, you want to get something out of it?
Yeah you do, it’s a lot of money and time so it’s worth doing it right if you do it. Just got to keep building the foundations like you said.
I know you have other dates after Glasgow including some festivals. Do you like festivals?
It’s obviously different from doing the normal gigs but I love them anyway, you don’t get soundchecks so you’re kind of on your toes when you get out there and you’re just working with it a bit. That buzz is quite good, it’s enjoyable.
It’s diverse as well isn’t it, there will be people who don’t know anything about you?
That’s it people might be there for someone else so you’ve got to try your best to involve the crowd. It’s usually a bigger crowd at festivals, yeah I love them.
It’s another platform?
Yeah that’s it, it’s a good platform for bands like us who are trying to build up a fanbase.
Want to namecheck any of the festivals?
Yes we’ve got Blackthorn next weekend and then Kendal Calling the weekend after that, so this is all in July. Then we’ve got Lodestar Festival which is in early September, I’m terrible with names, I’m just giving you rough guidelines! If you go on the Facebook page it’s all there.
Are you planning any holidays so you can take a well deserved break?
I have, it’s only for 4 days, my mate said before the EU thing that there was an offer on Ryanair, £43 return to Bremen in Germany, so I said book it. We didn’t book any accommodation or anything, we’ve just sorted that now. We’re going to have 2 nights in Bremen and 2 nights in Hamburg, and with a possible hopefully acoustic gig in Hamburg.
I was going to say you’re going to relax and switch off especially after touring!
I never switch off! So I’ll hopefully get a little gig in Hamburg, but enjoy it most of it anyway and get some inspiration.
It’s possible you’ll get some German fans.
Well that’s it, I can’t resist I might take the singles and EP’s and see if I can flog a few!
I would advise you to do that!
This is a question Katie (Radio Saltire) wanted me to ask. So you were born in Lancashire but grew up in Wales. What do you class yourself as, English or Welsh? Or do you want to be quiet on that one?!
No I won’t be quiet, I won’t sit on the fence! I do class myself as English but I’ve obviously got a lot of love for the Welsh, most of my friends are Welsh.
Yeah if you like….. most of my best friends are Welsh.
And the band too?
Yeah and part of the band are Welsh. There’s always been that connection with Wales, because I’ve lived there since I was 8 but in my heart of hearts I’m English deep down, I can’t hide that fact! I’m digging a hole now aren’t I ?!
Other part of the question is football or rugby?
Football definitely, I’m a big fan of rugby but football has always been my first passion.
Katie – You know that you said you were English? When it came to football what were you?
England, but I wanted Wales to win, definitely, I was definitely rooting for Wales.
I saw the picture of you with the Welsh flag on your face.
Yeah, yeah on Facebook. Like I said most of my friends are Welsh and we’ve got that rivalry that you have between the Welsh and the English but it’s a friendly rivalry, but I always support Wales. I hope my Welsh friends support us too but I don’t think they will!
It’s like the Scottish and the English, we have ups and downs.
I think everyone does with England to be honest!
Let’s not go there!
I think it stems back hundreds of years ago when there was fighting and all that! I’ve got no problems with the Scottish!
Finally do you have a message for your fans or anyone else interested in Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles?
Yeah just keep supporting us and thank you for that, and spread the word. Keep telling people about us and hopefully then it will start building as word of mouth.We’ll get more people to gigs and hopefully do you proud with our live performances!
Thank you to Billy for agreeing to be interviewed and to Stephen Bibby (tour manager) too for helping with the arrangements. I wish Billy every success with his fantastic new band, I’m sure it will be another successful musical journey like Catfish & TB was.
Huge thanks also to Katie from Radio Saltire for being my gig buddy, and helping with filming and a question!
BB & TWS Media:
Rob Wilkinson – Wavelength Digital
Shoony & Katie
Shoony & Katie
Radio Saltire Media: