The Bats first gig was New Years Eve 1982 at the Empire in Dunedin. We didn't play a lot in the next 12 months. Just a few friends' 21st parties and a nurses' ball. Great fun with mostly originals and few covers like the Munsters theme and some Creedance Clearwater Revival.
The Dunedin double EP with the Chills, Verlaines, Sneaky Feelings and The Stones was recorded by Doug Hood and Chris Knox in Christchurch in 1982.
Chills and the Stones recorded at 52 Longfellow Street along with Tall Dwarfs and The Mainly Spaniards. We had touring bands staying virtually every week for a while there. It was a great time, a renaissance of New Zealand music. The live scene was happening at venues like the Gladstone, The Star and Garter, Zetland, Zanzibars and the Hillsborough. The recording and the music video scene was prospering and support from TV with Radio With Pictures was a big help to the healthy state.
By 1984 we'd developed a strong following and were ready to record and take the Bats further afield. At that stage Flying Nun was a Christchurch based cottage industry with many of the bands playing an active roll in helping Roger Shepherd and Gary Cope (Hamish Kilgour, Bruce Russel, Vic Tutton were among others instrumental in working with FN around those early days) to package and distribute. It was kind of like a collective - our label (the bands and Roger & co.) . Recording was done on a shoestring budget and we produced ourselves. We'd arrange to supervise the cutting of our recordings at the Polygram and EMI studio in Wellington while we were on tour.
Not long after our first EP, By Night was released we heard rumours that we were being played on Triple JJJ in Australia. After a while we found ourselves with an Australian tour organised with the help of Roger Greirson and his Green agency. Roger put us up in his Paddington flat and loaned us his dodgy Falcon station wagon to get around in.
Back in NZ we got on the Orientation Festival circuit which was great fun, huge crowds and a good earner. We saved most of our income with the idea of getting over to Britain and the continent.
Another EP was recorded and released and we got lots of airplay on student radio stations and our budget videos were played on Radio With Pictures.
In 1986 we took off for England where the Chills had laid some ground work touring and recording with the help of expat. Kiwi, Craig Taylor. Craig had been working with That Petrol Emotion and knew his way around the UK scene. He helped us with a couple of dates in London and also arranged 3 gigs for the Bats in Europe with The House Martins, Alex Chilton and The Screaming Blue Messiahs.
We had another contact in Glasgow, Callum McLean, through a New Zealand journalist who was a big fan of the Bats. (Ian Henderson, brother of George from The Puddle - later with Mink) . Callum worked in a music store and had his own 8 track home studio set up in his flat (Reel Time) where he kindly put us up and gave us free reign to record while he was at work. This is where half of Daddy's Highway was recorded. We played at the local student pub and got a few radio and print media interviews.
That was about the time that not only Chernobyl blew its top but also the bombing of Gaddaffis home by the RAF occured. We were all ready to head for Europe to play but because of fears about radiation fallout we held back and decided to tour around Cornwall and Wales. The troubles had the effect of halting the tourist trade in the UK and we were lucky to be able to travel around with the greatest of ease, finding accomodation and plenty of carparks and no queues (Unheard of in England at that time of year) Kaye and I crawled through the ancient Men-an-tol doughnut shaped fertility stone. It took another 2 years to take effect.
1986 and 1994, The Bats visited North America, Europe and Australia several
times. Toured with Television and The Wedding Present in France on Les Inrocutible
festival circuit, played 14 dates in USA with Radiohead and Belly, supported
a supportive REM in their home town of Christchurch and recorded 4 more critically
acclaimed albums. They have never achieved commercial notoriety but are known
and respected around the world; more often by musicians and a more sensitive,
intellegent audience than by the mass populace. Not a bad thing. 2003 sees the
first tour for the Bats out of NZ in over a decade as NZ music makes an impact
around the world with Datsuns, Pacifier and the D4. A new album is underway
for The Bats and side projects by Robert Scott (Magic Heads, Harmonic Deluxe)
and Kaye, Paul and Malcolm with Minisnap, see creativity in music still a large
part of their lives.
If you have any comments or questions we'd love to hear from you, Email me
Do you want some more of this kind of stuff? - Paul.
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