Making a big noise and having fun

Space Bats, Attack! are (from left) Sam Hood, Lee Nicolson, Josh Nichols and Richard Ley-Hamilton...
Space Bats, Attack! are (from left) Sam Hood, Lee Nicolson, Josh Nichols and Richard Ley-Hamilton. Photo supplied.

Post-apocalyptic doom boys Space Bats, Attack! unleashed their debut album last month, a record full of chug, noise and thunderous instrumentation.

The band, who initially formed with a ''reasonably unbalanced person-to-noise ratio'' around Thundercub guitarist Lee Nicolson and Violet-Ohs drummer Josh Nicholls back in 2012, has since expanded to include Males guitarist Richard Ley-Hamilton and T54's Sam Hood on bass.

The four-piece line-up is a pretty incredible collection of individuals.

Each is outstanding in his field, a unique performer and remarkably talented.

As well as helming Space Bats and Dunedin math-minded electro rockers Thundercub, Nicolson designs and builds boutique guitar pedals and effects under the moniker Lightning Bear.

That tinkering mind and technical knowledge shines through in his guitar playing, his parts springing and oscillating all over, seizing like cerebral glitches in The Matrix.

With Ley-Hamilton's visceral and intuitive Sonic Youth-style playing, the two guitarists approach guitar parts like the left and right hands on a piano; their strong interplay always completing the other while they switch roles with ease.

Meanwhile, Nicholls is one of the best plus-value drummers in the country, a guy whose captivating playing can transform everything he touches from an 8 to a 10, while Hood is free to roam as loud and dexterously as he pleases.

And the person-to-noise ratio?

Still wonderfully unbalanced, with the band louder and better than ever.

''I think we're getting better at utilizing the noise that we make though,'' Nicolson said sitting in Ley-Hamilton's snug inner-city flat.

''When we started we just got excited and made a bunch of noise, now we're figuring out how to taper it into the right parts.''

The band's album was recorded a number of months ago in workshop/art and recording space The Attic on George St, by Nicolson with assistance from Adrian Ng.

It was then mixed and mastered by Doprah's Steven Marr in his Christchurch studio.

''It's quite surreal hearing the final mixes from the point after Steven got them,'' Nicolson said.

''I just made them sound like a band in a room, then he came back with this stadium arena kinda reverb.''

Lee-Hamilton laughs.

''It's like we gave him a car and he gave us a back a monster truck. The wheels are just huge now.''

Those ''wheels'' equate to monstrous everything: drums, bass, and guitar, all ferociously loud and in your face.

A couple of the songs on the album have already appeared previously in the public eye.

DTY is a rework of Death to You from the group's first EP, while Beta 1 and 2 were originally composed by Nicolson's other band, Thundercub.

It's in keeping with the bands writing process of jamming and then constantly refining.

''Is it some kind of musical faux pax to recycle your own ideas?'' Nicolson asks.

''It's pretty much my entire musical style, improving my previous ideas.

''It's kind of in a Desert Sessions-style [the musical collective/ improv and jam series, founded by Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme in 1997] as well.

''That kind of music is built up from jams, and if we record something after we've just come up with it, it's basically just an idea but it's something that over time we might turn into a real song.''

The band hasn't slowed down at all following the record's release, having laid down the basis for their next EP.

''But the mike placement is much better this time,'' Nicolson adds, laughing.


The music

• Space Bats, Attack! debut album is out now via Bandcamp. Download via the band online at 



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