New Music Of The Day: Catholic Action On Their Ode To Rita Ora

The band have dropped the video for latest single 'Rita Ora' – but she "didn’t get back to" them about starring in the video

Rita Ora may or may not have been the infamous ‘Becky with the good hair immortalised in Beyonce’s ‘Sorry’, but when she tweeted last month that the latest single by Glaswegian indie-rockers Catholic Action, entitled ‘Rita Ora’ was the “best song I’ve ever heard,” she earned herself a new sobriquet: Becky with the good taste.

Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that the song in question was titled ‘Rita Ora’ and featured frontman Chris McCrory’s plaintive pleas to “take me, love me.” For Catholic Action, however, Ora’s seal of approval was a suitably absurd postscript to a song that began life as a “nonsense lyric” they never got around to changing. “I do that sometimes – ad-lib a line then go back and refine it later,” McCrory explains. “But when I tried to refine this one, nothing seemed to work as well – there’s just something about her name that fits the song. For a long time I was like, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t sing a song about Rita Ora…’ But you can, and we did, and it’s turned out fine.”

Better than fine, in fact: having one of the world’s biggest pop stars tweet about your single to her 5.8m followers is the sort of publicity money simply can’t buy. Yet it was only ever a matter of time before Catholic Action’s name found its way onto people’s lips. Since forming in 2014, the quartet have become one of Scotland’s most buzzed-about new bands, with McCrory’s finely-tuned melodic ear marking them out as natural heirs to the likes of Big Star and Teenage Fanclub. What’s more, they’re frighteningly prolific: Luv Luv Luv issued the band’s first proper single ‘L.U.V’ back in March, but by that point they’d already released an album’s worth of material through cassette-only Glasgow label Fuzzkill Records, and even now, as McCrory applies the finishing touches to their full-length debut, he’s simultaneously working on its follow-up and his own solo record.

“We wrote another new song in the rehearsal room just last night!” he laughs. “We’ve got a Soundcloud playlist of about 50 songs that we recorded on our phones and kind of forgot about. In fact, that’s where ‘L.U.V’ and ‘Rita Ora’ came from – they were stupid little things we never really planned to record, but when we went and listened back to them, you could tell there was something there…”

Eagle-eyed readers may recognise McCrory from his time as the drummer in Casual Sex, another hotly-tipped Glasgow outfit who sadly split up last year. Catholic Action, however, is very much his baby: McCrory writes, sings and self-produces everything, and even directed the video for ‘Breakfast’, the flip-side of ‘Rita Ora’, whose shoestring budget was largely spent on Chinese takeaways. He acknowledges that he might be a bit of a control freak, “but it’s that old thing of, if you want something done right, you do it yourself. Anyway, it’s only a problem when you’re a control freak and you don’t know what you want. I’ve been guilty of that in the past, but now it’s really clear to me what Catholic Action is. I work with a lot of other bands, and as a producer, you always recognise that point where a band really start to define themselves. It can take a long time for them to figure that out, but I think we’ve done it now.”

Rita Ora would doubtless agree with him, although as bassist Jamie Dubber explains, there are limits to their newfound fan’s enthusiasm. “After she tweeted about the song, we got in touch to ask if she fancied flying over to this dingy warehouse in Glasgow to appear in the video. Unfortunately she, er, didn’t get back to us…”

‘RitaOra’/’Breakfast’ is available on 7” vinyl now via Luv Luv Luv Records: