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Man on The Verge of A Nervous Breakdown - by Roger Shepherd

The Bats Fly The Nest - Made Up In Blue

The Bats have pedigree with three out of the four members coming from South Island rock aristocracy in the form of Robert Scott from The Clean (vocals and rhythm guitar), Malcolm Grant of The Builders (drums) and Paul Kean, ex of Toy Love (bass). Newbie fourth member Kaye Woodward brought understated and much needed style and has developed into a fine lead guitarist.
The Bats band from New Zealand

by Roger Shepherd

Founder of Flying Nun Records in 1981, Roger has been involved in the label for much of the past 40 years. In 2016 he published the book “In Love With These Times: My Life With Flying Nun Records" (Harper Collins).

The Bats:Made Up in Blue 12” single                                                      1986

The Bats have pedigree with three out of the four members coming from South Island rock aristocracy in the form of Robert Scott from The Clean (vocals and rhythm guitar), Malcolm Grant of The Builders (drums) and Paul Kean, ex of Toy Love (bass). Newbie fourth member Kaye Woodward brought understated and much needed style and has developed into a fine lead guitarist.

It’s ironic that a band, such as The Bats, with members from such highly original groups, started out playing covers at friends' parties. You can still hear that infectious dance inducing drive 40 years later. As they morphed into a band playing Robert Scott’s original songs, they remained a strong live cohort with dance floor appeal, thanks to the work of the thumping rhythm section.

Getting around to recording something in the studio took some time. By Night (1984) was frankly roughly recorded and while Music for the Fireside (1985) was a big improvement nothing prepared anyone for the quantum-leap that was “Made Up in Blue”. A recording that the band went all the way to London to make.

When in London, The Chills and Flying Nun UK manager Craig Taylor got the band into the 24 track Point Studios to record a single. The band turned that into three songs and suddenly it was a 12” single with the standout “Made Up in Blue” on the A-side backed with “Trouble in this Town” and “Mad on You”. The Bats 12” vinyl release of “Made Up in Blue” was Flying Nun UK’s first release and became the band and the labels first Single of the Week in the NME on 6th December 1986. The Bats had flown half way around the world to take off.

Robert Scott got to design one of his more enigmatic and little seen covers for the UK release of “Made Up in Blue”.


 The more familiar cover for the New Zealand release features a distorted glaring face and was designed by the bands drummer, Malcolm Grant.

The Bats were the second of the Flying Nun bands to make the journey to Europe; The Chills had made an exploratory visit the previous year. The Bats went for a bit of a break, a look around and to play a few shows. No big deal and no pressure with the emphasis on having fun. They did all of those things including making a fine record in “Made Up in Blue” They also found time playing some dates around London, Scotland and Germany supporting the Housemartins, the Screaming Blue Messiahs and Alex Chilton while Chernobyl burbled radiation behind the iron curtain away in the Eastern European background.

There had also been a bit of interest in the Flying Nun bubbling slowly away over the previous year or two across Europe. With both Flying Nun UK and Flying Nun Europe (run out of Bonn, West Germany by Normal Records) set up and formalized, the bands were now starting to travel and audiences got to meet those bands and see them play live. The Bats were still relatively new to these fans but noticed that word of mouth meant audiences knew about them and that something interesting was happening musically in New Zealand. 

A video was also shot for the song by expat New Zealander Johnny Ogilvy. In keeping with their working holiday take on the trip, the band around London town was the theme. Unfortunately a camera fault resulted in the film slipping -  but this was turned to advantage with it becoming a feature of the clip.

By June 1986, The Bats were heading north to Scotland to record with a fan they had been corresponding with. Set up in Callum MacLean’s Glasgow flat, they recorded “Miss These Things, “Mid City Team”, “Some Peace Tonight”, and “Had to be You” before heading back to New Zealand. These recordings were the start of the Daddy’s Highway album.

Not bad a bad year for a “part time” band away on their first big OE with a little bit of music making squeezed in on the side. 


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