|Genres||alternative rock, folk rock|
|Years active||1987–1995 , 2000|
|Associated acts||Doubters Club|
|Past members||Jeff Heiskell
(The) Judybats were an alternative rock band from Knoxville, Tennessee, active primarily in the late 1980s and early 1990s. First formed in 1987 after vocalist Jeff Heiskell, who with Ed Winters (guitar) had been playing acoustically in Knoxville as a duo, met Tim Stutz (bass) at a local bar called Hawkeyes Corner. Stutz, Johnny Sughrue (guitarist) and Terry Casper (drums) had known each other since high school and had been playing music together as a trio. Peggy Hambright, who was Stutz and Sughrue’s roommate, added keyboards, violin and vocals. The JudyBats played locally to large audiences before signing to Sire Records in 1990. The band took their name from a song written by a friend of theirs, which contained the line "punch me with a judybat" in a punning allusion to Punch and Judy shows.
The band contributed a cover of The 13th Floor Elevators' "She Lives (In a Time of Her Own)" to the 1990 tribute album Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson, followed shortly by their debut album Native Son. The official form of the band's name was never entirely clear — although the band was credited as The Judybats on the cover of Native Son, all of their subsequent albums listed the band's name as just Judybats, or sometimes JudyBats, although several CD singles from the later albums retained the word The.
Casper subsequently left the band, and was temporarily replaced by session drummer Kevin Jarvis on their second album, Down in the Shacks Where the Satellite Dishes Grow. Following that album, Hambright and Stutz both left the band, and were replaced by Paul Noe on bass and Dave Jenkins on drums. The revised lineup released the band's most commercially successful album, Pain Makes You Beautiful, in 1993, and had successful singles on college radio and adult album alternative stations with "Being Simple", "All Day Afternoon" and "Incredible Bittersweet".
The lineup remained stable for the band's fourth album, 1994's Full-Empty, but the album fared poorly on the charts and the band broke up soon afterward. Heiskell, Noe and Jenkins pursued a new musical direction under the name Doubters Club, releasing the album Fleur de Lisa independently in 1996 after being dropped from a development deal with Sire Records.
The Doubters Club was a reconfiguration of the Judybats.
After the Doubters Club dissolved, Heiskell seriously considered quitting the music industry. Reed Pendleton (Doubters Club, Immortal Chorus) encouraged Jeff to stay the course. Reed's effect layered guitar riffs lended well to Heiskell's lyrics. Soon a series of weekend song writing sessions led to Heiskell and Pendleton creating songs: Break my heart, Shine, Your too much, Full forward angel, Always, Love will out and California.
Moving forward they formed the band "Shoho".....Jeff's nickname for the local scenesters that often attend the bands shows. With a line up that consisted of Heiskell (vocals), Pendleton (guitar) along with local bassist Rob Bell and twin brothers Doug Hairrell (second guitar / fiddle) and drummer Mike Hairrell. Early band sessions were held in a remote log cabin south of Knoxville, where the new line up developed a guitar forward sound with "Brit-Pop" influences. The band settled on Judybats as the final band name.....upon the insistance of new manager "SuperFrank".
Highlights include: recording a cover of Paul McCartney's "Love in Song" for the 2001 McCartney tribute album Listen to What the Man Said and "Break my heart" was included on the Oxford American's annual Southern Music issue.
Heiskell has since released two solo albums, Soundtrack for an Aneurism in 2006 and Clip-On Nose Ring in 2008.
Heiskell acknowledged that he is gay in a 1994 interview with The Advocate, but otherwise rarely spoke about his sexuality with the press, and only wrote about it indirectly in his songs, until his solo albums.
- Native Son (1991)
- Down in the Shacks Where the Satellite Dishes Grow (1992)
- Pain Makes You Beautiful (1993)
- Full-Empty (1994)
- '00 (2000)
- "She Lives (In a Time of Her Own)" on Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson (1990)
- "My Dead Friend" on OUTLOUD (1995)
- "California" on Kat Vox: A CD To Celebrate 20 Years of timmi-kat ReCoRDS (2011 timmi-kat ReCoRDS)
A bootleg fan compilation of B-sides, rarities and live performances entitled Hold Your Horses has also been in circulation, but is not an official release by the band.
- The Judybats at allmusic.com.
- Cumberland Avenue Revisited: Four Decades of Music From Knoxville. Edited by Jack Renfro. Cardinal Publishing (2003)
- "No Doubt: Rising from the pretty pop ashes of the Judybats, the Doubters Club is ready to flex some musical muscle". Metro Pulse, July 25, 1996.
- "Rockin' Out Interview: The Judybats' Jeff Heiskell". Spinner, June 27, 2008.
- "'Bats Man: Jeff Heiskell, lead singer of the Judybats, comes out from behind his lyrics". The Advocate, November 15, 1994.