Glasgow's Catholic Action didn't plan to play for anyone but their friends, but here they are, making waves all over with a top-notch debut.
Catholic Action have come a long way since they were taking Glasgow by storm with their pals on Fuzzkill Records. Now, as they approach the release of their banger-packed debut album, ‘In Memory Of', the band are in full bloom.
"We're a lot healthier. We're in a much happier and more creative place than we were before," begins frontman Chris McCrory as he describes their journey from their local scene to national consciousness.
Catholic Action have always been prolific with hundreds of songs committed to scrappy cassette and numerous demos online. Coming up with their debut album though was a whole different story.
"We had to define the band," says Chris. "We had to figure ourselves out. We had to get over a lot of things. It wasn't always a painless process, but now we're there, we've done it, and we're still together. We're closer."
The voyage of discovery that Catholic Action have been on has seen them surpass their dream of playing to their friends. These songs have propelled them to another level.
"We never planned to become a national thing. We planned to make a record for our friends in Glasgow," says Chris. "We were part of that DIY/Fuzzkill scene. So, we thought we'd just do that and have fun.
"After that, managers and agents got in touch, and we were dragged out of Glasgow. As much as I love Glasgow and the west of Scotland, I want to get far away from it. It will always be my home, but if music can take us away from it, then that's great."
‘In Memory Of' is an album that combines instantly addictive pop bangers with hints of something more introspective and darker. It's an album based on some very basic principles.
"It's like a band figuring themselves out," says Chris. "The thing that unites everything is it's grounded in classic songwriting. They're all songs that can be played on acoustic guitar. It opens out musically and rewards the listener as it goes along."
In the studio, there was an even more simple test to work out if the band were on the right track. "The bar we had was if it's not making us play air guitar, then it's not good enough."
Catholic Action's success has been built on strong principals and a desire to do things their way. They want to be able to indulge in fun guitar pop like previous single ‘Rita Ora', as well as the more serious side found on the album. There was no room for compromise.
"We had people telling us that we could go down the whole Radio 1 route," he explains. "I hate that music. If Radio 1 want to play our songs then great, but if you listen to a lot of the shit that's on the Radio 1 A-list, it's total disposable garbage. We could've done the cheeky chappy pop thing, but I didn't want to.
"The nearest we got to it was ‘Rita Ora', and to me, that's a joke song. It's funny and tongue in cheek, but it's not who we are. There's a sense of humour that we do have, but I wouldn't exactly get those lyrics tattooed on my chest. We have songs where the lyrics are a lot more meaningful."
Someone who helped Chris and the band coax out the meaning of their songs was producer Margo Broom, who co-produced the album with Chris. She was a pivotal force.
"Margo quickly saw what our comfort zone was and quickly and forcefully booted us out of it," says Chris. "She said, 'Where do you want to go with this band?' I wanted to do the hardest thing and go down the middle. I wanted to make a record that you could get into on many levels.
"It has songs that can be played on the radio and can be sung but can be enjoyed from a whole other point of view as well. My favourite bands do that perfectly, like Pavement or Sonic Youth. There's always an experimental edge to it. The core of it is still a pop song. To be able to marry that with something interesting and bold is where it's at."
It's clear that Catholic Action aren't messing about and they're here for the long haul - already their minds are firmly fixed on album number two. Despite the increased success coming their way, they're more determined than ever to stick to the values they forged back in Glasgow.
"There's so much music out there. It isn't always the easiest thing to do to be in a band," admits Chris. "There is a lot of hard work and stress. Why the hell would you do it if you weren't doing it on your own terms? It's important to do things on your own terms. What's the fucking point otherwise?"
For now, the plan is simple, win everyone's hearts with their debut album and then what? "We're going to finish the second album and win everyone else's hearts." You wouldn't bet against them.
Taken from the November issue of Dork, out now. Catholic Action's debut album 'In Memory Of' is out now.