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Interview: Space Bats, Attack!

Interview: Space Bats, Attack!

Friday 3rd October, 2014 1:01PM

Since 2012 Dunedin noise-makers Space Bats, Attack! have doubled in size, and as logic would have it, doubled in sound. The now-foursome have channelled the sound of "an army of mutant bats" into their upcoming album which was recorded at The Attic studio space, and will hopefully be accompanied by a nationwide tour. But before any that happens, the group will be supporting Windhand and Beastwars on the Dunedin leg of their double-bill tour next week. So we caught up with bandmember Richard Ley-Hamilton to talk about fan-made videos, homemade guitar pedals, among other things within Seven Quick Questions...

Hi Space Bats, Attack! For those who might not be familiar, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and the music you make?

We play instrumental 'doom' music - drawing influence from psychedelia, electronica, Krautrock, post-rock and other stuff like that. Our natural tendency is to push things sonically as much as possible, cutting up song structures and pushing the capabilities of our pedals and gear.

As with all bands - we jam, then refine. However, we do tend (and prefer) to make things difficult for ourselves when doing the latter. Channelling the sound of an army of mutant bats is also at the front of our minds.

Last time we talked to you was in 2012... How have things evolved for the band?

Things have changed quite a bit since then. The band was only a two-piece back in 2012, and since then we’ve added a bass player, Sam Hood (T54), and another guitarist, myself. Doubling the line-up has been awesome in giving the initial ideas a chance to develop into something more intricate – and louder.

For all four of us, Space Bats, Attack! has allowed us to experiment beyond all our previous bands. We all love the jamming process so no idea ever really gets ‘finished’. For instance, our recent single ‘DTY’ is a rework of the aforementioned 2012 single, ‘Death To You’. If we grow bored or sick of it, we rip it up and start again with the pieces.

What are your thoughts on the music scene in Dunedin currently? And what would make it better?

I have always felt that Dunedin has a strong and diverse scene. In a city that generally struggles to attract regular international tours, it remains up to the local bands and venues to sustain and promote live music culture.

Like any close quarters community there are core people and projects that are spearheading the scene, such as the Attic, Fishrider Records and the rejuvenated Chicks Hotel venue. There are also, understandably, competing scenes within the city. Sometimes there’s tension, other times we’re all best friends. You learn to love both sides.

I reckon the Dunedin scene could push for more all-ages gigs, though that requires appropriate venues and things like the Amped Project have helped introduce high-school audiences to local music, yet all us bands could do more to get the younger audience on board.

When an out-of-town band comes to Dunedin, what’s the one thing they should definitely do?

Well there are the natural attractions – albatrosses, heritage buildings and ‘Scarfie’ hangouts. Above all, they’ll need to check out Port Chalmers and have an Emersons or Velvet Worm (or both).

Also, the growing 'cultural precinct’ in and around Vogel Street is a great new initiative, restoring a pretty neglected area of the city centre. I really hope this will become both a local and tourist hub, and it would be amazing to see international acts/artists leaving their mark there too.

There's a fun video on YouTube for 'DTY', featuring Asian dudes on tripped out bikes… was that a fan-made vid, or do you know the person who made it?

It was fan-made and such a surprise to stumble upon. Videos can be a really drawn out and expensive affair so to have a finished one with no effort from us is awesome. The souped-up clip works so well with DTY that we could even contact the Fast and the Furious franchise for sync opportunities. You never know how many more they’ll make…

Speaking of DIY, one of the things your guitarist Lee is known for is making his own pedals and effects units. Can you tell us about the latest?

One of his latest creations is the Mutant Spacebat of Doom, an overdrive/fuzz featuring a 5 band EQ with a post/pre switch. It’s set to be officially released with a demo video soon, and is guaranteed to be as buzzy as realistically possible.

There are many traces of the Mutant Spacebat, amongst other home-brewed pedals, throughout our recordings. Adding interesting textures and unique noises takes up an unusually large amount of our tracking time. Also being developed is the Thundercub pedal, featuring a fuzz-driven phase oscillator, which blurs the lines between a tremolo and a ring modulator.

Check ‘em out at Lightning Bear.

What projects have you got up your sleeve for the future?

We have finished an album, which was recorded in the Attic studio space at the beginning of the year. We’re really excited to share it, but are currently thinking of how we’d like to release it before doing a full-blown tour. A vinyl pressing would be ideal, plus both the idea of an exclusive run of pedals and an accompanying comic have been floated. Maybe even a DOS videogame….

Space Bats, Attack! are playing with Windhand and Beastwars at Chicks Hotel in Dunedin on Thursday 9th October. Head over here for details and to buy tickets.


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