28 Days of Bevis Griffin, Day 17: Flight of the Bats

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Written by Chris “C.K.” Bailey

 

By early 1980, with The Skyscrapers kaput, Bevis and I were meeting regularly to work on new material for our nascent band, to be called The Bats. Bevis already had a number of song ideas percolating inside his fertile brain, just waiting for a collaborator to help work out chord progressions, riffs, and arrangements to bring them to fruition. 

Inspired by Bevis’ enthusiastic encouragement, I was writing more new songs than ever before. After a few months of this woodshedding, we secured some investors and went into Production Block studio to record 5 songs with engineer Patterson Barrett; Bevis handled the drum tracks, while my former Bodysnatchers cohort Jimmy Pettit played bass. Local guitar legend John Stahaely also dropped by late one evening (fresh from an inspirational Jeff Beck concert) to lend some tasty licks to the tag of ‘Just Realize’. Other songs produced included the original versions of ‘USO’ and ‘I Ain’t Keith Richards’, as well as the majestic proto-power ballad ‘Veronica’. Demo in hand, we then set about putting a performing band together. 

First, we enlisted drummer Billy Blackmon, who had recently left The Skunks; an ad on the bulletin board of a music store serendipitously brought us the massively-skilled Trinidadian bass player Courtney Audain. The Bats (mark 1) now complete, we set about rehearsing a set. We were soon playing out; but alas, this version of the band was only to last a short while. Bill left to be replaced by Johnny Medina, who remained our drummer for the next few years. Courtney left for a steadier gig with the popular reggae act Pressure (a band I also wound up working with a few years later). Steve Dotolo stepped in on bass, and pianist Richard Cooper was added to flesh out our sound. By 1981, we were playing regularly at The Continental, Club Foot/Nightlife, and Mother Earth

Before long, the band decamped to a remote but state-of-the-art studio in the desert near Uvalde, TX, when the opportunity arose to record an album with British producer/engineer John Rollo. Isolated from any distractions, the sessions went well and ten original songs were recorded in a few days. But things broke down in post-production and the album never got a final mix. We were unable to land a record deal to finish and release it. Despite this setback, the band carried on, headlining at local clubs as well as opening shows for touring acts such as Gary Myrick and Split Enz. As we moved into 1982, we decided a name change was in order, since a New Zealand band also called The Bats was getting a lot of international press. We thus became Banzai Kik–a name derived from one of my unused lyrics– and a new chapter ensued in the CK & Bev Saga.

 

Chris “C.K.” Bailey is a guitarist, composer, and producer.

Bodysnatchers ’78 | The Skyscrapers ’78-’79 | The Shades ’79 | The Bats ’80-’81 | Banzai Kik ’82-’87 | One Fell Swoop ’92-’93 | The Paradigm ’05

 

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