the bats

the clean was never a band to stand still. several times during the 80s they broke up, then reformed for a european, new zealand or american tour, and all three members relocated at least once during these crucial years. so when rob scott arrived in christchurch in the mid 80s, he decided to form a 4 piece through his garden-city colleagues that would act as an exercise point for his by now prolific song-writing ability.

switching from bass to guitar meant that the brilliant husband and wife combo of paul kean (detroit hemroids and the mighty toy love – primarily bass, but also guitar) and the multi-talented kaye woodward (guitar, violin, mandolin etc) took over the rhythm section, with experienced drummer malcolm grant (who had played with the likes of vacuum) at the throne.

their first album daddy”s highway is considered a masterpiece, a jangle-pop classic showing the groups tendencies for stunning, harmonious guitars, sing-a-long vocals and pounding rhythms. the single ”north by north” is a brilliant example of what”s flawed with the international music scene – a song so appealing, carefree and yet focused can go essentially ignored in-spite of itself.

the bats never really accumulated a particularly strong following throughout the 80s and 90s, as their albums continued to sprout up (the brilliant the law of things and fear of god being my favorites) – they were confounded to minor-league college radio airplay, even in their hometown.

with scott”s movement back to dunedin in the early-mid 90s, their output became less prolific, but their popularity saw a considerably upswing during the mid to late 90s, with the release of the couchmaster album (and the ”courage” single) and their considerable presence on the soundtrack to the brilliant ”topless women talk about their lives” television series and motion picture. its safe to say that the bats are now seen as one of the great ”dunedin sound” bands, mixing jangle-pop with their own tendencies for melodic vocals, small-town themes and homegrown ethics. they”re a band that prefers a low profile, yet deserves the attention of the world. they still continue to tour, though scott”s relocation means this happens much less often – but the remaining christchurch members formed minisnap in the late 90s, with kaye woodward providing taking the lead.


picks in bold

  • by night 12″ ep [1984 flying nun FN024]
  • and here is ”music for the fireside” 12″ ep [1985 flying nun FN031 / FNE22]
  • ”made up in blue”/”trouble in this town”/”mad on you” 12″ single [1986 flying nun FN060 / FNUK1]
  • daddys highway [1987 flying nun FN079 / FNE23]
  • ”block of wood”/”calm before the storm”/”candidate” 7″ single [1987 flying nun FN084]
  • 4 songs 12″ ep [1988 flying nun FN104]
  • compiletely bats [1988/1990 compilation flying nun FN BAT001 / FN143]rn
  • law of things [1989 flying nun FND30239 / FNE33]
  • ”smoking her wings”/”mastery”/”passed by” 7″ single [1990 flying nun FN124]
  • ”the black and the blue”/”watch the walls” 7″ single [1991 flying nun FNK11013]
  • ”boogie man”/”jetsam”/”mama come watch” cd single [1991 flying nun FN K11033]
  • fear of god [1991 flying nun FN217]
  • silverbeet [1993 flying nun FN260]
  • ”courage”/”mind how you run”/”slow alright”/”the wind is sad” cd single [1993 flying nun FN261]
  • live at wfmu 7″ ep [1994 merge MRG058]
  • ”under the law”/”spill the beans”/”sir queen(live)” 7″ single [1994 flying nun FN291]
  • spill the beans cd ep [1994 flying nun FN291]
  • couchmaster [1995 flying nun FN301]
  • afternoon in bed ep [1995 flying nun FN341]
  • thousands of tiny luminious spheres compilation [2000 flying nun FN413]
  • at the national grid [2005]

recommended songs

download from

  • block of wood
  • north by north
  • claudine
  • mastery
  • smoking her wings
  • made up in blue

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