Halsey and the Bottlemen: An Epic Influence
Halsey and Van McCann. Not exactly household names but regardless, they’re two of the most important ones in my life. They’re two amazing artists who inspire me on the daily to create more, write better, and articulate my thoughts as well as I can – to do the absolute most with what I have and what I’ve been through.
In her first EP, Room 93, Halsey tells five different stories that all take place in the same hotel room at different periods of time. The first song, “Is There Somewhere,” had, and continues to have a huge impact on me since I first heard it almost four years ago. It showed me that not every song has to follow a set structure. There doesn’t have to be a chorus in order for it to get a point across. As time has gone by, I start to think that sometimes, it gets the point across even better.
Halsey’s second album hopeless fountain kingdom dropped on June 2, 2017. A follow up to her insane debut album BADLANDS, she created yet another place for listeners to drift off to while listening – an alternate universe Romeo & Juliet of sorts. While plenty of songs from BADLANDS changed my perspective on telling stories, hopeless fountain kingdom and the whole idea around it turned my world completely upside down.
Halsey was telling the story of her most recent breakup in a different way. She didn’t talk about the breakup and how it happened so much as she talked about herself – how it changed her, how she dealt with it, how she found herself again. A central idea of this album is that she lost so much of herself changing for this person that she had to go through finding herself all over again, which is what she focused on talking about. She talked about her anxiety and how terribly toxic a seemingly great relationship can turn.
hopeless fountain kingdom paralleled a situation I was in at the time almost perfectly. The way she talked about writing it was amazing – she just told the truth. In her song “Sorry,” she wrote about all the people she totally ignored because she was too busy changing herself and in “Bad At Love,” she took a step back and talked about all the not great things she’s done in relationships. That kind of honesty is something I always want to be able to portray through my music and it always has been.
The last thing that makes Halsey really stand out to me and makes her my biggest musical influence is how well she puts on a show. She struggles on the daily with a chronic illness and still does the absolute most for her fans. Just the other day, she was attached to an IV and could barely stand but still had her meet and greet VIPs come into her dressing room and hang out with her there. That kind of dedication and love is what I want to be able to have. Not to mention her shows are literal art galleries. The amount of time and effort she spends perfecting every last detail of her shows is incredible. She strives to bring these worlds she creates to life and she never seems to fail.
Van McCann & Catfish and the Bottlemen
Whereas Halsey may be a somewhat familiar name now that she’s making appearances on mainstream radio and late-night television, Van McCann is most likely not. He’s the frontman of Catfish and the Bottlemen, an indie rock group from Wales. This man has quite quickly climbed to be one of my top musical influences. His writing style, the way he performs, and his overall way of speaking set him apart from everyone else.
Maybe it’s the clever connections between albums with little lyrics like “So I tidied up my place, cause you always told me it got me thinking straight,” from “Fallout” and “I ain’t ever going back to thinking straight,” from “Twice” that brought it to my attention, but Van McCann is a very clever lyricist. He sometimes words things in ways most people wouldn’t think to. Somehow, even when it’s actually really simple wording, it sounds oddly eloquent making it sound so effortless.
The stories he tells are also oddly honest at times as well, both in song and when interviewed. He talks about being an IVF baby a lot, which is way more relevant than one would originally assume due to the line “I’m just a test tube baby,” in “Fallout.” When he talks about it though, it doesn’t seem weird or out of place. He’s so confident in everything he says that you don’t question it. His “out there” articulation of his thoughts has influenced me to think outside the box in how I tell my stories now. I make more of an effort to not repeat things that have been said a million times before, and if I have to, I say it differently, in a way that catches people’s attention.
Catfish and the Botttlemen as a whole are great performers, but Van McCann is the definition of a showman. you see it a little bit in the videos for “7” and “Soundcheck” but it’s nothing like seeing it in person. My breath was completely taken away when I saw Catfish and the Bottlemen open for Green Day this summer.
Halsey and Catfish and the Bottlemen’s lead singer and lyricist Van McCann have changed not only my performance standards but also my view on saying what I have to say. They’ve set the bar high on how to carry myself as a musician and how to treat others.
Here’s a little playlist I put together of some of my favorite songs by both of them. Enjoy 🙂