From the maverick that founded Catfish and the Bottlemen to independent rock band. Billy Bibby is back with his band ‘Billy Bibby & the Wry Smiles’ with a new single, Substitute, and a tour from January to March across the country. Their last single ‘Are You Ready?’ was released mid-June and they, only 6 months later are bringing a fresh new single for all to hear. We caught up with Billy for a quick chat and reviewed their latest single.

Is your writing style different to that of how you wrote in Catfish? Do you tailor it to your own musical preferences? 

Every songwriter is different. I was more on the back seat of writing in Catfish as I was lead guitarist, I made sure I put everything into creating the catchiest guitar riffs I could, almost like writing a melody with lyrics but on the axe. Whereas now I’m writing more the lyrics and chords and trying to let my guitarist put his own stamp on the lead parts. So yes, the songs have come out differently. It’s just down to the musical tastes that differ as they do with every singer/songwriter/artist.

What are three tour essentials you can’t live without?

Good question. I’d say for me… toothbrush (soft bristled), my fish necklace, and my 15 quid Casio watch so I don’t have to rely on checking the sun for the time. Plus the weather’s not reliable in the UK for that method of time keeping. 

Do you prefer the atmosphere of performing in a venue or at a festival?

Both different and I like both for different reasons. Inside you can feel the crowd right on top of you and the sound bounces round the walls making everyone feel the drum and bass take over your heartbeat almost. Whereas you don’t always get that at festivals, but what you do get is another special feeling that is when people have traped through the mud and slept in all conditions just to watch you play a few songs, and the people there might not always be a fan of yours. They might be there for someone else, so I like the challenge of trying to turn a few heads at a festival so people might go home and say “Do you know what? That band fucking made me think different about them that was mega”. Plus we get to eat with the big artists in the food hall and throw mash potato at certain people. 

The lyrics of ‘Substitute’ seem to be about a particular person, is this true, do many songs originate from past experiences or does it depend?

Yeah, I guess it is about someone but I can’t even remember who now to be honest!! Think it was a friend telling me about his girlfriend or something and just a few phrases came out that made me wanna write into a song ‘cos I liked it. Some of it’s made up though. I do like to write about experiences if I can, but I’ve got no problem making some bullshit up for a song too. Sometimes you need to let your imagination wander outside of real life ‘cos it can be more interesting as long as other people can sing to it and make up their own narrative to it. 

Was the writing of ‘Substitute’ easier compared with your previous single ‘Are you Ready?’?

Ermm… I’d say so, yes. It fell into place quicker. Both were relatively easy in comparison to some other songs I’ve written. Some just take ages to feel finished to me and some come fairly quickly. Substitute was one of them, and the band picked it up pretty sharpish too. I can’t explain when a song is finished to me. I think I have a good knack for it though.

Who do you say was your biggest inspiration for writing the song Substitute? 

Ermmm… I’m not sure really. Let me think… well I’d say myself really. I was feeling inspired to write and with the help of my friend’s few phrases I started to put something together, and I guess my mood at the time was one of wanting to write something slightly heavier than usual I suppose, and create something that I hadn’t done with the band yet. 

Are your goals for 2017 the same as last year or have they changed at all? 

The goal posts always move but the main aims are obviously to be one day headlining big festivals and selling out headline arena shows and a few successful albums maybe too. Who knows! And if that doesn’t happen, I’ll be happy if just a few people take solace and some kind of joy out of the tunes I’ve written…

Thanks BB x


‘Substitute’ catchy, rock inspired and surely a big hit for all that listen to it.
Initially giving the vibe of all the emotion being translated into the message of the song Billy Bibby’s dynamic voice going from low bass tones to higher alternations, coupled with the driving guitar riffs. Makes for a brilliant listen, the lyrics match up perfectly to the powerful and punchy drum beat and underlying bass notes.
“From my recollection, I was always under the thumb to say that it would be fair but now the attraction that I once felt has long gone”

The tempo has excellent progression which allows the listener to flow with the music and really listen to the lyrics.
The song is a perfect mix of elements from blues and rock gives it an eclectic feel even though the single has only just been released. A great mood booster for anyone who needs some well needed ambition and a driving force, an impressive listen through headphones.

If there’s an opportunity to see them on tour. Take it.

Alice Hague


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