28 Days of Bevis Griffin, Day 19: The Bats “Play 2 Slay” ’81-’82

28 Days of Bevis Griffin - Austin Music Foundation
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Written by Bevis M. Griffin

 

“God gave Noah the rainbow sign. No more water, the fire next time!” ~ In homage to Sir James Baldwin

 

Luck often occurs when preparation and opportunity meet. After several weeks of diligent preparation, Chris Bailey and I had successfully amassed a nuclear arsenal of rock and roll juggernauts to unleash upon the masses. By 1981 the ATX music scene was swirling in a vibrant collage of disparate musical trends and influences. The recent closure of Austin’s musical epicenter Armadillo World Headquarters gave way to a new-wave bastion of all things hipper than hip; with one of the coolest brand names in pop-culture history, Club Foot. The wide variety of genre-hopping clubs such as The Continental Club, Soap Creek, Liberty Lunch, Raul’s and Mother Earth, all faced tough competition from Club Foot’s prescient impresario/soundman Brad First.

The Bats were specifically designed to do one thing and one thing only, celebrate the power of rock & roll. As a result of our fierce dedication to originality, and bolstered by an encyclopedic knowledge of the zeitgeist, C.K. Bailey and I possessed an uncanny creative instinct that organically captured the core essence of all things primordial, visceral, sardonic, and ironic while demonstrating a masterful command of stage-craft.

Our music was created to intoxicate the mind, body, and spirit of the listener with indelible hooks and lyrics. We were well aware of our local competitors and were dead-set upon making a formidable first impression.

Raul’s, photo by John H. Slate

Within a few weeks following our initial run of dates, the scene was buzzing about Bevis Griffin & The Bats. Our newfound notoriety paired with a bounty of goodwill that I had cultivated during this time finally paid off, as I got a call from D-Day‘s manager, Lisa O’Leary who graciously offered to sponsor our demo recordings. Upon finalizing an agreement, we soon found ourselves ensconced at a sprawling brand-new facility called Third Coast Studios, which at the time was being utilized as the dedicated sound-stage for Raggedy Man, the 1981 Austin, TX film starring Golden Globe nominee Sissy Spacek, Eric Roberts, and Sam Sheppard.

As previously stated, acquiring access to REAL studio time was extremely rare, and often, cost-prohibitive. At this time Billy Backmon had departed back to The Skunks, so I decided I’d play drums on these sessions. The actual recording facility located within the TCS building was branded The Production Block jointly owned by the brothers Joel and Michael Block, who were both highly experienced veterans of the F.M. Radio industry. Third Coast Studios was the first of its kind throughout the state of Texas and considered state-of-the-art. Our dedicated engineer was accomplished multi-instrumentalist, and studio session ace, Patterson Barrett. With Patterson’s vast studio experience and progressive musical production instincts, we were ready to slay.

For the first time in my career, I finally had the glorious feeling of carte-blanche creativity in a studio setting.  Bolstered by the muscular, melodically empathetic bass playing of C.K.’s former bandmate Jimmy Pettit, I took full advantage of the cavernous expanse of the neighboring theatrical soundstage and set-up my oversized Ludwig drum-kit adjacent to a full-scale 30’s era clapboard four-room house! If you’re familiar with the Led Zeppelin (ZOSO) track “When The Levee Breaks” you’ll experience the depth of my drum sound. Our tracks were impeccable throughout the course of our three-day weekend sessions, and we even had the honor of an impromptu guitar solo from the incomparable journeyman string-puller, Sir John Staehely.

Our six-song repertoire resulted in an astonishing variety of bold, sonic-textures and apex vocal agility. Titles such as: “USO” -” I Ain’t Keith Richards” – “Just Realize” – “Exposed” – “They’ll Do It Every Time” – “Veronica”. All featuring a stunning array of brilliant guitar work, mellifluous basslines, immaculate drumming, and stratospheric vocal gymnastics, hitherto unknown prior to this seminal setlist ostensibly titled “Play 2 Slay”.

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