Catholic Action: On their debut album, Glasgow’s music scene and wanting to change what “it means to be in a guitar band”

Glasgow band Catholic Action have just released their debut album, ‘In Memory Of’. It’s a guitar-driven slice of indie that though has all the hallmarks of noughties indie, is remarkably fresh and damn exciting.

Chris McCroy of the band gives you the lowdown on one of 2017’s funnest albums.

How long has your debut album been in the works?

“Funnily enough, it’s been in the works from the very first moment of our existence. I remember saying to Jamie – our bass player –  after we’d been working on some songs (that later became our live set), ‘let’s just be bold and make an album. Appear fully formed.’ So we did that, in my bedroom at my parent’s house. We started playing live and doling the songs out on limited edition cassette tapes with local record label Fuzzkill.”

‘In Memory Of’, is another chapter however…

Did it come together quickly?

“Not at all. We never really intended those original tracks to go further than the Glasgow DIY scene. But it did. The songs got out and we were quickly approached by labels and producers and managers and agents and dragged (kicking and screaming and cheering and drunk) out of Glasgow. When that happens, there are a lot of different paths folk want to push you down. And I’m too fatalistic. Perhaps I am just my own worst enemy?  It’d have been really easy to churn out buzzy landfill shit that A&R folk like, but It was essential for me to find the right path for us aesthetically and sonically. I did not want to make disposable music that meant nothing to me or the listener. That’s for other bands to do.

So it took us a while to find the right team, the right studio, and the right pair of ears to balance mine. We eventually found Margo Broom. She helped rip us apart in the right way – and in the process, the band defined itself. It was not always easy. But we’re a better, happier, healthier band now. And I can confidently say, bruises and all – that I’m more than proud of ‘In Memory Of’. 

Your song Rita Ora didn’t make the cut – is she a fan though?

“I know for a fact Rita’s a big fan of the song. There were even plans for a drink in LA. Either way, we’ll need to send her a copy of the album though.”

You once supported the Libertines – what was that experience like?

It was almost exactly as you’d expect it to be like… A huge stage and some stories I definitely should not repeat in public. 

The scene in Glasgow is flourishing right now – who are some of your favourite new acts from there?

“When is Glasgow not flourishing? It’s so small, but there’s always something exciting going on and I’ve been lucky enough to produce some of the most exciting bands in town. 

I highly recommend you all check out Spinning Coin. Sean Armstrong is one of the most prolific and creative songwriters I know – I recorded an early EP of theirs and they just finished their debut album with Edwyn Collins. It’s out soon on Geographic.

You should also listen to Herbert Powell. If you can – make the pilgrimage to Glasgow (there’s nothing online). They’re the best, most inventive guitar band in town, a frighteningly young bunch of freaks who have no idea how good they are. They sound like Women or Sonic Youth playing a 70s Italian horror movie soundtrack. I’m just about finished producing their debut album, it’s complete insanity. 

And last but definitely not least, you need to check out Kelora. Like Herbert Powell, they hardly have anything online yet, but their new EP we just finished recording is going to break hearts. Their live shows are more like art installations and the music is genuinely hard to describe – it’s truly unique. I think it’s the future. Can you imagine The Cocteau Twins, Portishead or Beach House playing medieval folk? Exactly. Now go listen.”

Are you already eyeing up album 2?

“Eyeing it up? We’re already neck deep in it. I’m producing it again with Margo Broom and we’re recording it between my studio in Glasgow and her studio in London. It’s a very nice balance. The songs are there, and we’re feeling healthier than ever as a band – so why not just dive in now?

I think we’ve recorded about 12 tracks already… I’ll be happy when we hit 25, then we’re going to melt it all into something beautiful that flows from cover to cover. I want Kevin Shields to play guitar on it. I want to change what it means to be in a guitar band.”

In Memory Of

In Memory Of, an album by Catholic Action on Spotify

In Memory Of

In Memory Of, an album by Catholic Action on Spotify

Catholic Action’s debut ‘In Memory Of’ is out now. The band will play:

2nd Nov London, The 100 Club

3rd Nov Nottingham, The Bodega Club

4th Nov Bristol, The Louisiana

6th Nov Edinburgh, Sneaky Pete’s

7th Nov Glasgow, Broadcast

8th Nov Leeds, Headrow House

9th Nov Brighton, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar

10th Nov Birmingham, The Actress & Bishop

11th Nov Manchester, Soup Kitchen