There’s been a lot of buzz around Catholic Action over the past year; and deservedly so. With a full album yet to be released, the Glasgow band have gathered a good number of quality songs to their name, along with some big support slots and a headline appearance at the BBC Introducing Stage at Radio 1’s Big Weekend a couple of weeks ago.
Of course, it always helps when you’ve got people like Alex Kapranos singing your praises, but these guys know how to knock up a mighty fine tune. With glam-esque riffs, driving basslines and a confident vocal delivery, the four-piece are all about upbeat, catchy pop melodies that will get you dancing.
With a couple of festival appearances still ahead of them this summer, GIGsoup caught up with frontman Chris McCrory following their performance at Mad Hatters in Inverness as part of XpoNorth, a huge creative industries festival in Scotland. With a room packed full of punters and industry-folk alike, they performed an impressive set that showed both depth and progression to their material, with the audience shouting for more after their half-hour set.
How’s XpoNorth been for you?
XpoNorth has been great! The gig last night was a very very very pleasant surprise, I didn’t expect that. We played roughly the same time last year, really late and at the same venue but it was kind of night and day between this year and last year. We did have good crowds both years but this year people were really going for it. It’s so easy for us to go for it aswell when you see people getting into it.
How do you find the scene up north?
We’ve always had a good reception when we’ve played up here. We’ve done it quite a lot…from the very start with the first tour we ever did.
Festival season has begun… any coming up?
We’re doing Belladrum so we’re back up here soonish.. the West End Festival in Glasgow aswell. I saw the advert on the subway the other day which was cool!
Do you enjoy festivals or…?
I have this weird record where I’ve never been to a festival as a punter ever. I’ve always played at them or worked at them so I kinda want to keep that record going.
How does it compare playing festivals to your own crowd?
At festivals it’s really good if you get an area to just chill out and get away from it. What happens otherwise is you just go out all day and you go at it and it becomes the time where you have to play…Before we went on at the Big Weekend I was half asleep in a deck chair downing red bull, trying to wake myself up which is not good… Normally I like to do what I did last night which is get here, have a couple of drinks, see a band, sleep for two hours, have a coffee and then get up and play…which is why I was particularly energetic last night
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So how was Big Weekend?
Amazing! Our drummer got to meet Annie Mac and he fancies her so that’s nice. It was mad, we were headlining the BBC Introducing Stage so we were on at the same time as Coldplay and Biffy Clyro which is a total fucking killer. It was ok though cause if you go to a Radio 1 festival you’re not really there to see new bands.. and the crowd we did play to was great. It was worth it!
To go back to you guys, how did Catholic Action come about? You used to be the drummer for Casual Sex so what made you want to take on the role of frontman?
My enormous ego… I was originally a guitar player and singer before I started playing drums. When I was at school, no one played drums and I wanted to form a band so I thought I’d just play them. So I ended up doing that and falling into various bands.. then ended up in Casual Sex. I was always writing my own songs anyway ..I played in a band called Male Pattern Band before Casual Sex and Catholic Action is like an extension of that.. It’s roughly the same lineup and some of the songs are the same. It was just a kind of vehicle for my songs at the time. There was never a conscious decision where I said I wanted to play guitar and sing, I just had all these songs I’d written and I wanted to do something with them. It happened to coincide with the time that Casual Sex were being a bit quiet so I thought ‘fuck it, I’ll go for it now’.
Seems to be that way in Glasgow where everyone knows each other in music?
Yeah, everyone knows each other and everyone has played in each other’s band. But the cool thing about that in Glasgow is that everyone does quite different things. ..everyone kind of mingles and it means that there’s always something new that’s exciting. There’s always more than one exciting things and they’re always drastically different. It’s not like there’s lots of bands that sound roughly the same which is good.
It seems to be very collaborative. For example, you’ve done a lot of producing work for bands?
That’s my day job. I don’t know what I see myself more… a musician or a producer
Are you working on anything cool at the moment?
I just mixed a really cool record by a band called Chump. I’m working on an album with a band called Glassbooks which is like a math-rock band.. I did some stuff with Pinact recently, another band I played drums in for a while! That’s my day job which means I can be really flexible with Catholic Action and I can tour when I want to and stuff.
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It must be great to have the support of some big bands like Franz Ferdinand moving forward?
Yeah, it’s great. Casual Sex toured with Franz Ferdinand which was amazing. We did dates in America and Canada with them and it was so good. I knew some of them and recorded some of Paul’s (Thompon) solo stuff and our manager kind of knew them so they passed on some of our stuff and Alex (Kapranos) really liked us and got us on for that gig (The band supported FFS at Barrowlands last August). I’m a huge Sparks fan aswell so it was amazing. I invited my Mum to that one. She was asking when I was going to invite her to a gig and I jokingly had said whenever we played the Barrowlands, so it was nice to be able to do that.
We did a tour with Swim Deep too. They’re really nice guys and we did that gig with The Libertines which was mental! That was a great gig to do.
Have Catholic Action got any new material coming out or anything?
Yeah, we’ve nearly finished the first album so pretty much done with recording. We’re gonna go down and record a few more to have as B sides and extras and then we’re gonna release a AA single in September with a UK tour which will be announced soon. We’re also doing some shows with Teenage Fanclub which is cool and we’ll be doing stuff with Flying Vinyl.
This Catholic Action article was written by Suzanne Oswald, a GIGsoup contributor