INTERVIEW: The Bats

thebats2015

LONG HAUL FLIGHT

Still with their original lineup, The Bats are the longest running band in New Zealand and after more than three decades they’re still finding fascinating new variations on their iconic sound. Frontman and songwriter Robert Scott talks to Chris Familton about how their new record came together and how they’ve maintained their longevity.

Down the line from his home on the coast just outside Dunedin, on the lower South Island of New Zealand, Robert Scott is enjoying the tranquility punctuated by the visiting cruise ships that grow exponentially in number over the summer months. Things are also about to get busy for The Bats after a five year gap since the album Free All Monsters came out, and though it’s taken a while to see the light of day, The Deep Set emerged from the same creative process as most of their records.

“I stockpile songs, I’m pretty much writing all the time,” explains Scott. “After a couple of years have gone by since the last album we’ll decide if we actually want to do another one. Then I say I have a bunch of songs, do some rough demos and the others choose the ones they like before we narrow it down to around 15 for the album. Then we’ll start working on them together as a band. In the studio the songs will be about 90% done but before we do the takes we might make a few changes. On the whole these have come out pretty much the way they were written though,” Scott reflects.

After so long together as a band, Scott reveals that their recording process is a simple and intuitive one that isn’t influenced to any great extent by the studio or producer they use. “It’s more just concentrating on getting a great version of the song. That’s what we’ve found over the years makes our stuff work best – getting a good flowing, natural sounding take – whether that’s urgent or laid-back. We’re attuned into that more than anything else.”

Looking back at the legacy of the band, Scott proudly claims the mantle of having “the longest continuous line-up of any band in NZ,” before revealing some of the key reasons why they’ve stayed together for so long. “Part of that might be down to having long breaks, there were nine years in the late 90s/early 2000s where we didn’t release any music. We pick and choose things we feel comfortable doing so we’re not putting ourselves in a position of too much pressure. We’re obviously very used to each other’s company so we’re aware of any weirdness that comes up and know how to deal with it. We’re all reasonably laid-back people as well so there aren’t any ego issues that you get often get in bands.”

The band will be launching The Deep Set at the 2017 Sydney Festival and they’re bring along the string players that appeared on the album. “It’s the first time we’ve taken a string section overseas. We thought we’d do that for a bit of a change, to spice things up and have a bit of fun,” enthuses Scott. “In Sydney we’ll probably do seven or eight songs from The Deep Set and then because the 30th anniversary of Daddy’s Highway is coming up we’ll be doing a set of mainly songs from that album too. The two ends of our career – which will be quite a different show for us!”

  • MELBOURNE: Sat Jan 28, Northcote Social Club. Tickets on sale now from Northcote Social Club.
  • SYDNEY: Sun Jan 29, Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Sydney Festival. Tickets on sale now from Sydney Festival.

ALBUM REVIEW: Robert Scott – The Green House

Rating8Robert-Scott---Green-House-300dpi_1024x1024-2It took Robert Scott a decade to get from his debut solo album (The Creeping Unknown, 2001) to 2011’s Ends Run Together and now he’s turned around his third effort in a mere three years. Of course Scott isn’t just sitting around twiddling his thumbs and working on his paintings between records; he’s still actively involved in both The Bats and The Clean and from the consistently high quality of songwriting on The Green House he’s been in clear and constant communication with his muse.

Five of the album’s twelve tracks feature the dreamy, hypnotic vocals of Tiny Ruins’ Hollie Fullbrook and she provides a wonderful complementary voice to Scott’s unassuming style, particularly on opener ‘Your Lights Are Low’ which comforts and gently menaces in equal quantities, aided by the textural post-rock guitar contribution of Tristan Dingemans (HDU). It really is a superb first track, setting the mood, tone and the musical standard for the rest of the record. ‘Vertigo’ is the first moment where we find Scott settling into his old comfy songwriting chair with jangling guitars, pastoral krautrock rhythm and those inimitable vocal melodies that pull the listener into catchy corners with wry couplets.

One of the real strengths of The Green House is the intimacy and restraint of Scott’s songs. They feel like they were recorded in a calm, rural environment. They flicker and sparkle with a folk-like quality akin to lilting mantras, having a lullaby effect at times, particularly the songs with Fullbrook. Late in the piece the instrumental ‘Where the Frost Lies’ is a warm, rhythmic treat that gradually decays and collapses before Scott rounds out one of his finest albums (solo or otherwise) with the simple, honest and affecting love song ‘Right From Wrong’.

Chris Familton

this review was first published on UnderTheRadar

 

NEWS: Robert Scott releases new solo record…

Robert Scott (The Bats, The Clean, Magick Heads) has a new album due out in September via the rejunvenated Flying Nun Records in New Zealand and Mistletone in Australia. Ends Run Together is Scott’s 3rd solo record and includes Dale Cotton on production and guest appeareances from David Kilgour (The Clean) and Lesley Paris (Look Blue Go Purple).

Flying Nun have a free download of the song Daylight available HERE and in the words of label boss Roger Shepherd…

Daylight – a driving kraut-post-rock masterpiece featuring Lesley Paris (Look Blue Go Purple) on drums –  is too good, not to give away.

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