Billy Bibby was just 10 years old when he began learning the guitar at school in Llandudno, like two of his best friends.
“I just wanted to learn with my mates,” he says, “but because they’d been learning for a couple of years they said ‘You might have to join some of the younger ones’ and I was like, ‘No, let me try to pick it up’ and literally after a few weeks I was better than my mates were. It must have been my kind of thing, really. I always wanted to learn to play guitar so as soon as I started I was just head down and learnt it as good as I could.”
Unusually for a boy in the early 2000s his guitar heroes were Hank Marvin and Mark Knopfler. “My parents were big fans of Elvis, Cliff Richard and The Shadows,” he explains. “I always wanted a red Fender Strat like Hank Marvin, he was my first guitar hero, then it grew. Mark Knopfler is a massive guitar inspiration and I love George Harrison from The Beatles.
“I’ve grown to like more modern guitarists as well but because of my parents I was brought up on older music so it was those old pioneers of guitaring that I looked up to first.”
When he was 17 Bibby co-founded Catfish and The Bottlemen with Ryan ‘Van’ McCann; in 2013 the band signed to Communion Records and released a string of well received singles. A year later they moved to Island and scored a top 10 album with The Balcony, yet that summer Bibby quit, initially to go solo then to form a band of his own, called The Wry Smiles.
He’s tight-lipped about his reasons for leaving his first group, saying only: “I’m proud of what I did in Catfish and what I achieved and everything that came with it but I’m just looking into the future now with my band and that’s all I’m focused on.”