The Bats

The Bats (now these folks are hip)


place of origin:

Christchurch, New Zealand


shimmering, breezy, care-free alternative pop rock with a dark sophistication


The Beatles, The Byrds, Big Star, Split Enz, R.E.M.


Daddy's Highway (1987)

Daddy's Highway (1987)

The Law of Things (1990)

The Law of Things (1990)

Fear of God (1991)

Fear of God (1991)

Silverbeet (1992)

Silverbeet (1992)

Courage EP (1993)

Courage (1993)

Spill the Beans EP (1994)

Spill the Beans (1994)

Couchmaster (1995)

Couchmaster (1995)


Robert Scott (vocals, lead guitars); Kaye Woodword (guitars, vocals); Paul Kean (bass guitar, backing vocals); Malcom Grant (drums)


Perhaps no other band conveys comfort and familiarity while simultaneously taking the listener to dark, unexplored areas as in the manner of The Bats. Their shimmering, infectious melodies and brightly chiming guitar sound is reminiscent of American college rockers R.E.M., 10,000 Maniacs, and Miracle Legion, although they have not garnered the international cult following on the level of many of their peers. Yet The Bats remain New Zealand's grandest export, representing the best of "kiwi-rock" and the defining Flying Nun moment.

The Bats came together in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1982. The unit was essentially thrown together by Robert Scott, former bassist for the massively influencial The Clean, as an outlet for his own songs. He became lead guitarist and prime vocalist, while ex-Toy Love member Paul Kean took on bass and Malcom Grant became drummer. The lineup was complete with guitarist Kaye Woodward, who's gleaming harmony vocals would come to be a defining presence in the band. Signing to New Zealand's hottest indie label, Flying Nun, The Bats unleashed themselves at a somewhat reserved pace, releasing three ep's, By Night (1984, Flying Nun), And Here is The Music for the Fireside! (1985, Flying Nun), and Made Up in Blue (1986, Flying Nun) over the next three years.

Five years following their formation, The Bats finally unveiled their debut, the brilliant, 17-track Daddy's Highway (1987, Flying Nun). It was murkilly glistening, a care-free masterpiece with an ocean of complex darkness lurking just somewhere beneath the sophisticated surface. The lyrics were contemplative, intellegient observations on love, politics, and history. The album would define The Bats for years to come, making them New Zealand's top pop band and wielding a profound influence on everyone from Barbara Manning to Dogstar. It made somewhat of a stir in the U.K. as well, although it became overlooked amidst the hoopla of jingle-jangle guitar bands such as R.E.M. and 10,000 Maniacs in the States. Following a brief tour in 1988, The Bats went on hiatus as Robert Scott took part in The Clean's reunion and Woodword gave birth to her first child.

By 1990 The Bats finally emerged with their second full-length album, The Law of Things (1990, Flying Nun). Although the band had obviously matured musically, it was fairly consistant with its predecessor. By now it was apparent that The Bats were completely in their own reality, indifferent to passing pop fads, interested only in crafting superb music. Although this approach would win them universal respect, it nearly removed them from the comercial British market (which relies heavilly on trends and scenes) and they remained somewhat overshadowed in America by the country's own brightly ringing college rock bands. Although they could do no wrong in their native New Zealand, nor did they seem to care what kind of international sales they were accumulating. And, no doubt, The Bats have remained strong and undaunted for their entire career, their following devoted and enthusiastic.

The Bats next album, Fear of God (1991, Flying Nun), couldn't have been better. It showcased their foggy brightness coming to a point of solid maturity. The songs were varying, from the breezy "Boogey Man" to the strangely dark "Fear of God". The Bats were not only something utterly original, but clearly one of the most creative bands to emerge in recent times. Subsequent records, Courage (1993, Flying Nun) Silverbeet (1993, Flying Nun) Live at WMFU (1994, Flying Nun), and Spill the Beans (1994, Flying Nun) continued on with a fairly consitant sound and feel, the band's following ever increasing and becoming more loyal (particularly in their home country, where they were now indie heroes). A full length album wouldn't appear for some time following Silverbeet, due to Woodword's second preagnancy. Late 1994 and early 1995 saw Robert Scott again focusing on a Clean reunion. 1995 would see The Bats making a sudden and unexpected shift in sound, with the new album Couchmaster. While previously The Bats' discography had been nearly interchangable, this record was completely in its own territory, morphing their comforting fogginess into a dark, almost psychedelic ocean of complex minor-key guitar thickness. Never the less iIt was an absolutely wonderful record, featuring Kaye Woodword's debut at writing and lead vocals.

I wish I could tell you more about The Bats, I really do, but there is very little information available. I am not even sure if they are still a unit, since they haven't released a record since 1995. Yet, there is no doubt The Bats have never been hesitant to venture off into solo and outside projects (preagnancy being Woodword's particular preference). I have become quite fond of them in these past few years and while I would love to hear of a new Bats record, their current discography is quite preoccupying.

this gargoyle appears in the jacket of Fear of God

the famous 'fear of god' gargoyle

The Bats (from the jacket of Daddy's Highway)

The Bats in 1987

The Bats (they go together like chalk and cheese)

The Bats in recent times


the only Bats Page I've been able to find

The Bats (hippest of the New Zealand crowd)

The Impryan Emporium