Much-beloved outfit The Bats are now into their fourth decade as a band and are still going strong. The long-standing and highly influential group released their ninth album The Deep Set through Flying Nun Records earlier this year and are about to head out for a quick jaunt around the country in support of the album - before they take off overseas for some shows across Europe and the UK.
Working on The Deep Set saw the group head into Christchurch's Sitting Room studios to lay down the songs with Ben Edwards, who in recent times has also recorded with the likes of Tami Neilson, Will Wood, Aldous Harding, Marlon Williams and Delaney Davidson. As the title suggests, The Deep Set takes on a slightly darker feeling and mood than past releases from The Bats, whilst still having the familiar jangle and nostalgic sound they are known for. To dig a little deeper on the new record UnderTheRadar got in touch with helmsman Robert Scott for a chat...
Hi Robert, to start off with can you give us a bit of a run through of how The Deep Set came together?
The songs came together over a year or so. I had been doing a lot of writing around then and presented the songs to the band, we started working them up and sorting arrangements. We recorded it in The Sitting Room in Lyttelton. It was pretty straightforward really. It was a case of setting up in the room and playing the songs together as a band. We find that is the best way for us to get a good feel for the song.
The Deep Set is album number nine for The Bats, did the recording for this album differ in any way to previous albums?
Not really, I guess itís a slightly different feel in the songs. I hope I move on each time in terms of my songwriting, but that is up to the listener to decide as well.
Where did title come from... is there a story behind it?
I had painted the cover first and so the title came from that, it seemed like a cult group of figures set deep in a castle or something, and also it's a set of deep songs.
The band has had the same line-up since 1982. How has it been so consistent for such a long period of time?
Iím not sure really, we don't really think about it too much. Itís just us doing our songs, we get on well and have a good laugh together, that helps for sure.
Your first album Daddyís Highway is turning 30 this year. Those songs have stood the test of time and are still being discovered by new fans today. How does that feel... and how do you feel about that album today?
Itís great to know the songs are strong enough to stand the test of time. I feel really proud of the work and that is still being discovered by new fans all the time. It's one of those weird things, you can't put your finger on why songs last. I didn't think about that when I was writing them.
You are bringing a string section along with you on this tour (Mikey Summerfield and Allen Starrett on viola and John Chrisstoffels on cello). Can you tell me the reasons for that, and has it changed the dynamic of the band?
It seemed like a good fun idea at the time, we have used strings in the past with Alan Starratt and Alastair Galbraith, the songs often lend themselves to strings in terms of adding an extra melodic element and texture, it is kinda tricky at times fitting the strings into the live sound.
After this NZ tour you are heading over to Europe for some shows. Do you ever get sick of the constant touring or is it something you look forward to?
It is something we still look forward too even though it does get tiring at times. We enjoy meeting the fans over there and it seems to mean a lot to them that we can make it over. A change of scenery is important too, it can breathe new life into a band. The scene in New Zealand is pretty small and it is hard money wise to make shows work, there are a lot more opportunities and shows you can do over there.
UnderTheRadar Proudly Presents...
The Bats 'The Deep Set' Album Release Tour
Thursday 18th May, Meow, Wellington
Friday 19th May, Nivara Lounge, Hamilton
Saturday 20th May, Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland
Sunday 28th May, The Gym, Christchurch
Tickets available HERE at UTR and in-store at Flying Out (AKL) and Slow Boat / RPM (WTN)