I N T E R V I E W
Unlikely Banter: A Q&A with Paul Kean of The Bats
with Ian Duggan
It’s been a little over two years since The Bats’ last (sellout) show in Hamilton, and they are finally returning to Nivara Lounge on Friday, 6 March! And with support from Matthew Bannister and Bitter Defeat, we are pretty much guaranteed of a memorable night of quality music! HUP spoke with The Bats’ Paul Kean about their upcoming album, ‘The Foothills’, what we should look forward to on the night, and the best bands that The Bats have supported, or been supported by!
HUP: Your last visit to Hamilton was hot on the heels of your magnificent ninth album, ‘The Deep Set’. This time around we are going to be the guinea pigs for some material from your soon to be released album, ‘The Foothills’. What should we expect from this album?
Paul: We thought we’d revisit recording ourselves as we did with [1987s debut album] 'Daddy’s Highway'. We did this in a mobile studio we set up in a farm house in the Canterbury foothills. Some of the songs feel live and edgy, whereas others have a dark introspective vibe... and we have a couple of quirky ones. The recorded and mixed sound has come out very well. We are still selecting the final songs and order to include on the album, thinking about the A and B sides for vinyl flow, and also how ‘the whole’ will work on CD or streamed.
HUP: You have a couple of great support acts lined up in the form of Bitter Defeat and Matthew Bannister for this show. Who in your opinion have been the best bands that have ever supported The Bats, or that you have supported?
Paul: Hard to single out the best support acts. Bird Nest Roys at the Rising Sun popped into my mind, the Flowers at NYC Popfest, Goblin Mix... we opened for Radiohead on their first USA tour with Belly. Radiohead were a surprise for us. Creep had just rocketed up the charts and they were buzzing. It was good for us to open as the venues were full for our set. People sang along to our songs which was encouraging.
We played with the Wedding Present and Television on a tour in France, which was memorable. Especially at La Cigalle in Paris. It was broadcast live on Bernard Lenoir’s radio show - one of our best performances. A couple of songs are released on a CD from his show.
No Trace video, from 2017s The Deep Set album
HUP: You have promised “some Friday night fun… and a bit of reflection”. Is this, being your tenth album, providing an opportunity to look back over your career to date? Should we be expecting some between song reminiscences?
Paul: Unlikely you’ll get much in between banter! Certainly nothing planned. I’ll have a think about it and discuss with the band... but we have pulled out a few old songs we haven’t played in a while. There are a few from our last two releases, ‘Free All the Monsters’ and ‘The Deep Set’, plus a selection of favourites.
HUP: The album was originally intended to be released last year; why has it taken so long, and what is the revised release date?
Paul: The long time is partly to do with too many other projects, parties, weddings, funerals, and partly to do with me having to mix while still doing a day job… it’s mixed and I’m about to send it off to Flying Nun. Then it takes six months for vinyl, but expect a digi-single or three over the next few months! We’re making some videos too.
HUP: Is the ‘skeleton string section’ you included on ‘The Deep Set’ still with you?
Paul: The Skeleton Strings won’t be joining us on this date. Rochelle Brugh will play with us on a few songs.
HUP: Do you still have the bass you played in Toy Love? And where did it come from?"
Paul: I still have my barracuda bass that I made from a modified fender jazz neck and a body of red beech that I carved out. I still play it occasionally and record with it, but it’s a bit too heavy for me to play standing up these days.
Tickets are available from undertheradar!
Block of Wood video, from 1987s Daddy's Highway