Robert Scott

Bass player for the Clean and highly prolific singer-songwriter for the Bats (whom he formed while the Clean were on hiatus in the mid 80s), Rob Scott released his own solo album in 2000, and took the albums name (Creeping Unknown) as his moniker for subsequent tours around New Zealand, Europe and the United States.

However closely linked to the Bats, The Creeping Unknown was a darker album aimed at being an organic cross-pollunation type release (it encompassed a lot of electronically produced soundscapes and texture) than any of his Bats recordings. It faired pretty well, being a pretty clean progression towards a more modern sound (though not quite as effectively as say, Shayne Carters’ Dimmer project).

Scott made his start as an underground tape enthusiast, forming the Every Secret Thing cassette label in the late 70s, and releasing a handful of albums from his own projects (primarily Electric Blood) and many others by the likes of Michael Morley and Denise Roughan (including a very rare Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos release).

Since 2002 Scott has become increasingly prolific once more, with a variety of home-recorded releases appearing on the low-rent Powertools label, on more professional efforts on Flying Nun, and a couple of joint singles.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Black Forest 7″ [w/ Alastair Galbraith 1998 Self-Released]
  • The Creeping Unknown [2000 Flying Nun FN447]
  • Tudor Gates EP [2002 Self-Released]
  • @Radio One CD-r EP [2003 Self-Released]
  • Songs of Otago’s Past CD-r [2004 Powertool Records]
  • Tascam Hits [2004 Powertool Records PT065]
  • Moonlighty Potato [w/ Ginna Rocco 2006 Powertool Records PT065]
  • Too Early 7″ Single [2010 A Small Number of Things]
  • Moonlight Potato [w/ Ginna Rocco 2006 Powertool Records PT044]
  • That’s What I Heard 7″ [w/ Adalita Srsen and the Puddle 2010 Fishrider Records]
  • Ends Run Together [2010 Flying Nun FN507]

See-Also

The Bats [February 2006]

Over the last 20 years The Bats have garnished a label of dependability – and with good reason. Though now taking a little bit of time between releases (one might jump to the conclusion that ‘At The National Grid’ is more like a reunion album than simply their first in 11 years), The Bats continue to write, record and perform scores of catchy, poppy tunes – jangly, homely and folky tunes filled with images of Bob Scotts’ Central Otago past and propelled by one hell of a dynamic rhythm section.

One of the longest surviving Flying Nun groups still with their original line-up (the other would be the Tall Dwarfs), The Bats have continued to be a live fixture over the past decade, particularly in Christchurch; where the majority of the group now resides.

The story goes that when The Clean initially broke up in late 1982, Bob was flatting and jamming with Paul – who had been quite active with the great Toy Love, and various groups round Christchurch such as seminal pre-punk outfit The Detroit Hemroids and Jay Clarksons’ Playthings. Eventually Malcolm Grant (who had sat behind the kit for a later incarnation of Bill Direen’s The Vacuum and local popsters The World) was brought into the fold, with Kaye completing the line-up by 1983.

I met Bob at the clash concert in the Christchurch town hall in the early 80s, he had moved from Dunedin and was looking for a flat, and my flatmate was leaving so he introduced me to Bob. Then we both ended up moving in to longfellow street with Paul and Malcolm among others, they had drums and amps set up in the living room and that’s when we started playing as a band. I didn’t have many expectations of The Bats, i’m pretty sure I didn’t think ahead much at all in fact but i’ve always loved playing Bob’s songs and playing live in all kinds of places.
– Kaye Woodward

During the hey-days of Flying Nun The Bats could do no wrong, with catchy singles such as ‘Made Up In Blue’ and ‘Block Of Wood’ and the critically-lauded debut LP ‘Daddy’s Highway’ all being perennial underground favorites. However the group never really garnished any popularity – The Chills were a bit of a one-off in terms of stardom for New Zealand bands, and so groups such as The Bats settled for creating fine tunes – and often. In the decade to 1995 the group amassed a terrific body of work – some 5 albums and a handful of eps and singles. Of course the other side of the dice was their live show, an exhilarating experience full of catchy sing-a-long numbers, and some cracking instrumentation – Paul’s a bit of a hero of mine in terms of bass-playing (he’d perfected the chugga-chugga sound by 1985), and they’ve always exuded a homely friendliness that few bands seem to match.

In recent years the garden city trio of Kaye Woodward, Paul Keen and Malcolm Grant has built The Bats side-project Minisnap up from the ground, performing a whole new collection of catchy, wistful pop tunes – with Kaye leading the way as vocalist. Meanwhile Dunedinite Bob Scott took a few years to reunite with his buddies in the clean whilst formulating new tunes for the stellar new LP – and of course everyone in the group has the odd day job, too.

We had been talking about doing a new Bats album for 2 or 3 years before actually doing it. Everything takes ages now of course because of everyone’s jobs and children. Bob came up from Dunedin for the main session at the national grid (which is John Kelcher’s 8 track studio in Cashel Street) over Easter 2003, the view was across to all the mannequins in Ballantyne’s lingerie department but the people/mall action down below was quite entertaining.
– Kaye Woodward

Although the studio experience with John Kelcher was a friendly and natural one, with an opportunity to jam and flesh out ideas, Bob described a handful of the new tunes as ‘complex’ to write, which combined with an unfortunate incident only compelled the delay in the albums development:

After that session Paul got busy over the winter digitizing, loading and eq’ing the tracks at home; but in August our computer (and a whole lot of other stuff) got stolen. We had to go back and re-digitize the 8 track, but were too busy and couldn’t really get into it until after summer. We did a final over dub/mixing session at home with Bob in Oct 2004. More mixing, the artwork and mastering was done and labels pinned down over the next 6 months, then we did preparation building up to a New Zealand and U.S. Release in October 2005.
– Kaye Woodward

Eventually the album was released in late 2005, with critical acclaim spreading across from the States, along with reports of brilliant college radio support – after a matter of weeks CMJ (a chain of radio stations across the USA) had reported ‘At The National Grid’ as one of the top ‘adds’ across the country – rising up the charts in nearly all of cmj’s 200 stations. The group plan to bolster this support by playing the famed South By South-West festival in Austin Texas, then a quick tour around the main centers.

The plan is to go for 2 weeks and try and play to as many people as possible and give the album a boost. We are doing some in-stores too and they are great for getting through to people. The album seems to be going really well so doing these shows should help a lot. It will be interesting to see the mix of old and new fans. Emails have proved to be a great way of keeping in touch with and making contact with new fans.
– Bob Scott

With an impending european and UK release through Little Teddy and Egg Records, the group are looking forward to a successful 2006, though they’ve got a relaxed approach to touring these days after their previous overseas experiences:

We could have perpetuated our career overseas by touring a lot more and our labels would have liked that but I hated the tour bus style touring we did in Europe and the US In 93. Up till then we had always driven in vans or flown and stayed in hotels or with friends. We did some dates with Radiohead on that 93 tour, they were a big successful band but even they were traveling round in tour buses so I thought that if success meant spending months every year in a tour bus I didn’t really fancy it.
– Kaye Woodward

The Bats

Biography

The Clean was never a band to stand still. Several times during the 80’s 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 80’s, 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 Hemorrhoids, The Basket Cases 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 The Vacuum and The World) 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 80’s and 90’s, 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 90’s, their output became less prolific, but their popularity saw a considerably upswing during the mid to late 90’s, 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 90’s, with Kaye Woodward providing taking the lead.

Members

  • Robert Scott (Vocals/Guitar, 1982 -)
  • Paul Kean (Bass/Guitar, 1982 -)
  • Kaye Woodward (Guitar/Bass/Vocals, 1982 -)
  • Malcolm Grant (Drums)
  • Michael Summerfield (Live Viola, 2017)
  • John Christoffels (Live Cello, 2017)

Discography

  • 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, Pocket Music]
  • The Guilty Office [2008, Arch Hill, AHR036]
  • Free All The Monsters [2011, Flying Nun, FNCD513]
  • The Deep Set [2017, Flying Nun, FNLP568]

Links