The Bats (New Zealand band)
|Origin||Christchurch, Canterbury Region, New Zealand|
|Genres||Dunedin Sound, Indie Pop|
The Bats are an influential New Zealand rock band formed in 1982 in Christchurch by Paul Kean (bass), Malcolm Grant (drums), Robert Scott (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards) and Kaye Woodward (lead guitar, vocals). Though primarily a Christchurch band, The Bats have strong links to Dunedin and are usually grouped in with the Dunedin Sound musicians that emerged in the early 1980s. The band has retained the same four members from 1982 to the present day.
1981–1986: origins and early years
In the early 1980s, Robert Scott and Kaye Woodward were sharing accommodation together in Christchurch. Scott was already playing guitar in The Clean, and had also played with bassist Paul Kean in the short-lived band, Thanks To Llamas. After Scott taught Woodward some of his songs, the three began playing together at parties as The Percy Taiwan Band. After recruiting Malcolm Grant of The Bilders on drums, they renamed themselves The Bats.
The Bats first performed in Dunedin on New Year's Eve, 1982. Over the next two years, they were involved in the live music scene in Christchurch and Dunedin, before releasing their first EP, By Night (1984), on the nascent alternative New Zealand record label, Flying Nun. The band spent the next two years touring New Zealand and Australia, and released another EP, And Here Is 'Music for the Fireside' (1985). The band's early releases were accompanied by some typically low budget but original music videos, notably 'By Night', 'I Go Wild' and 'Downfall'.
The band then travelled to Europe and spent time touring Britain and Germany, including playing support for Alex Chilton. They recorded the Made Up in Blue EP at the 24 track Point Studio in London in December 1985. 'Made Up in Blue', the first single released in the U.K. by Flying Nun, was awarded 'Single of the Week' by the influential British magazine, NME. An acquaintance in Glasgow offered the use of his home 8 track studio, and half of the tracks for what would become their debut album, Daddy's Highway, were recorded there.
1987–1994: peak Flying Nun years
The Bats returned to New Zealand to finish recording for Daddy's Highway, which was released in 1987. The album is often cited as their most highly regarded and is considered one of the best New Zealand albums of the 1980s. In 2000, it was named No. 88 in music magazine Rip It Up's New Zealand's Top 100 Albums of All Time. Notable tracks on the album include "North By North", "Tragedy" and the lead single, "Block of Wood", all of which were staples on New Zealand student radio.
The Bats' second album The Law of Things (1990) continued to define a consistent Bats sound. It featured Alastair Galbraith on violin, as did Daddy's Highway. In 1991, The Bats released Fear of God. It spent three months on the French top 50 album charts. Also in 1990, Flying Nun re-released the band's first three EPs on a single compilation CD, Compiletely Bats.
The band found increasing success in the United States over this period. Between 1986 and 1993, The Bats toured the U.S.A four times, including 14 dates supporting Radiohead in 1993. Their fourth album, Silverbeet, reached No. 6 on the College Music Journal album chart.
The Bats' next album, Couchmaster (1995), would prove to be their last for ten years.
1995 – present: hiatus and return
From 1995, The Bats took a break, with band members concentrating on raising families and on other musical projects. Scott joined his former band The Clean on a reunion tour, and released a solo album, The Creeping Unknown, in 2001, while Woodward, Kean and Grant formed another band, Minisnap. In 2000 the compilation album Thousands Of Tiny Luminous Spheres was released on Flying Nun Records. The Bats continued to play occasional gigs, often opening as Minisnap and finishing with the full Bats lineup.
Robert Scott has stated that he thinks the regular breaks taken by the band have contributed to its longevity. In an interview, he said, “Each time we come back to it, it is fun. I don’t think working on other projects has harmed or hindered any other projects. It adds to it I think.”
In September 2005, The Bats released their first album in ten years, At the National Grid, on their own label, Pocket Music. Internationally, the album was released by Little Teddy Records in Germany, Magic Marker in the US and Egg Records in the UK. The album generally received very positive reviews. Tim Sendra at Allmusic gave it 4 stars, adding "...having the group back at such a high level is as refreshing as a plunge into an ice-cold mountain stream." It got airplay on many college radio stations in the U.S., leading to an appearance at Austin's SXSW Festival in 2006.
The Bats' seventh full-length album, The Guilty Office, was recorded in Heathcote Valley, Christchurch, and was released on 1 December 2008 through Arch Hill., with the first single, 'Castle Lights'. International release followed, on YesBoyIcecream in the U.K. and Europe, Kning Disk in Scandinavia, Hidden Agenda in the U.S., and Mistletone in Australia.The Guilty Office was named in the top 5 of 2008 by New Zealand television host, John Campbell, and received many positive reviews including 4 stars from Allmusic and Mojo Magazine. The band toured the U.K. and Europe in May and June 2009 in support of the album. In October 2010, the band played at the free relief concert in Hagley Park following the September 2010 Canterbury earthquake in front of about 140,000 people. The Mayor of Christchurch at the time, Bob Parker, joined The Bats for the performance and played guitar.
In 2011, The Bats reunited with their old label Flying Nun and released their eighth album, Free All the Monsters, which was described by Pitchfork as "...their best record in years, possibly ever". The album was released by Mistletone Records in Australia, Revolver/Midheaven Distribution in the U.S.A, and Forte Distribution in the U.K. & Europe. It was also shortlisted for the 2012 Taite Music Prize.
- "North By North", from Daddy's Highway, was used as the title theme for the Australian ABC TV series 'The Hollowmen'. It was also featured in the New Zealand film, Topless Women Talk About Their Lives.
- "Afternoon In Bed", from Couchmaster, was used in the 2010 film, Last Night.
|Year||Title||Record Label (NZ)||Catalog Number||New Zealand Albums Chart peak|
|1987||Daddy's Highway||Flying Nun Records||FN079||-|
|1990||The Law of Things||FN121||No. 38|
|1991||Fear of God||Flying Nun Records, Festival Records||FNCD 217, D 30567||No. 43|
|1993||Silverbeet||Flying Nun Records||FNCD260||No. 26|
|2005||At the National Grid||Pocket Music Ltd, Rhythm Method||-|
|2008||The Guilty Office||Arch Hill Recordings||AHR036||-|
|2011||Free All the Monsters||Flying Nun Records||FNCD513||No. 34|
|Year||Title||Record Label (NZ)||Catalog Number||New Zealand Singles Chart peak|
|1984||By Night||Flying Nun Records||FN024||No. 34|
|1985||And Here Is 'Music for the Fireside'||FN031||No. 36|
|1986||Made Up in Blue||FN060||No. 41|
|1994||Spill the Beans||Flying Nun Records, Festival Records||FNCD291, D11771||-|
|1995||Afternoon in Bed||FNCD341, D01197||-|
|Year||Title||Record Label (NZ)||Catalog Number||B side|
|1987||Block Of Wood||Flying Nun Records||FN084||B1 Calm Before The Storm (2:39) - B2 Candidate (3:26)|
|1990||Smoking Her Wings||FN124||B1 Mastery (2:58) - B2 Passed By (3:06)|
|1991||The Black And The Blue||FN168||Watch The Walls (4:30)|
|1991||Boogey Man||D11036||B1 Jetsam (4:42) - B2 Mama Come Watch (3:36)|
|2009||S/T split w/ Songs||The Spring Press||SP06||A1 Castle Lights (3:08) - A2 Under the Branches (3:08)|
- Compiletely Bats (Flying Nun Records, 1990)
- Thousands Of Tiny Luminous Spheres (Flying Nun Records, 2000)
- Hogg, Colin. "Flying Nun Records - The Bats". Flying Nun Records. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- Evans, Barry. "The Bats: 9 Tales - Official Site". The Bats. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- "The Bats: Courage Thing - Official Site". The Bats. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- Kean, Paul. "The Bats: Ancient History - Official Site". The Bats. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- Kean, Paul. "The Bats: Media Update February 2009" (PDF). Pocket Music. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- Muller, Fred. "New Zealand's Top 100 Albums of All Time". Rock List. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- "The Bats: Media Releases - Official Site". The Bats. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- "The Bats: Older News - Official Site". The Bats. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- Gnanalingam, Brannavan (9 January 2009). "Lumière - Robert Scott on The Bats". Lumière Industries. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- Sendra, Tim. The Bats (New Zealand band) at AllMusic
- "The Bats - The Guilty Office". Hidden Agenda Records. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- "The Bats: Recent Past - Official Site". The Bats. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- "Rocking for right reasons". The Press. 25 October 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- "Bob and The Bats on show". The Press. 11 October 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- "Free All The Monsters - The Bats Review". Pitchfork. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- "Taite Music Prize 2012". IMNZ. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
- "The Bats Discography - Official Site". The Bats. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- "The Bats at charts.org.nz". Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- The Bats official site, maintained by the band
- Pocket Music YouTube channel
- The Bats - Bandcamp
- The Bats Profile - NZMusic.com
- The Bats Forum
- Video from the October 2010 concert with guest performance by mayor Bob Parker