Turning Heads with August Billy

The Bats (Robert Scott)

September 21, 2020

Turning Heads episode 16 features Robert Scott from exemplary NZ guitar pop outfit The Bats. The Bats formed in Christchurch in 1982, but are more closely allied with Dunedin, a smaller city on the southeastern tip of Te Waipounamu. It was there in 1980 that Scott joined brothers David and Hamish Kilgour in The Clean. He played bass and performed occasional lead vocals on a number of EPs and singles from The Clean in the early-’80s, which have come to be regarded as indie rock classics.

After moving to Christchurch, he was keen to establish an outlet for his songwriting. So, having struck up a friendship with guitarist Kaye Woodward, he set about forming The Bats. Bass player Paul Kean (Toy Love) and drummer Malcolm Grant (Bilders) completed the lineup, who played their first show in Dunedin on NYE 1982. 

After a couple of EPs, The Bats’ debut album, Daddy’s Highway, came out in 1987. In November 2020 they’ll release their tenth studio album, Foothills, with the lineup of Scott, Woodward, Kean and Grant still intact. 

Over the years, The Bats have become one of the most influential guitar bands of their generation, turning on the likes of Yo La Tengo, Dick Diver, Real Estate, Twerps and stacks more. Scott has also made albums with The Magick Heads, as a solo artist, and intermittently returns to tour or record with The Clean. 

We speak about Scott's career, his influences, the making of Foothills, what's kept The Bats original lineup together and his recollections of the Dunedin scene in the 1980s. 

Turning heads is recorded on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation; the traditional custodians of the land. I pay my respects to their elders past and present, and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded.

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