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Friday, June 22, 2012

Bat Shit Records: Rock 'n' Roll That Feels Good About Being Dirty, While Keeping the Guano Off Your Face

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 10:38 AM

  • Blaise

Name: Bat Shit Records

Owner: Blaise

Headquarters: Blaise's apartment, Oakland

Founded: 2009

Label one-sheet: Bat Shit is an independent record label that releases gritty and challenging rock music on vinyl from outsiders around the globe.

Musical focus: Blaise is reluctant to label and categorize the groups that Bat Shit releases. Instead, he asserts with characteristic unpretentiousness that the label is focused on rock 'n' roll. Specifically, he seeks rock 'n' roll that "throws you around in the mud but makes you feel good about getting dirty." Those inclined to tag genres will find hardcore by way of Butcher Cover and White Load, punk from The Gaggers, psychedelic via Sunflare, and outsider-garage from Gary Wrong. Bat Shit's musically disparate roster is characterized by urgency, primitivism, and a flippant attitude.


Creation story: Blaise spent his youth engaging in the proper activities of a budding label head. His school days were a blur of tape-trading, fanzine-publishing, and music-peddling that culminated in Blaise establishing Bat Shit as a banner for his musical endeavors. The first official Bat Shit release was a split 7-inch between Leaders and Guitar Magazine. For Blaise's portion of the artwork, he contributed a poster adapted from the film Jaws, featuring a shark reimagined as a scrotal shaft. Bat Shit has been just as uncompromising ever since. Bat Shit's approach is marked by placing self-promotion second to seeking enduringly damaged screeds, and it has worked well. Blaise recalls releasing the first 7-inch from an Italian punk band called Fagno based purely on his own affinity for the group's demos. He didn't do any promotion at all, didn't have a web store or traditional distribution, and sold out of the first pressing immediately regardless.

Origin of label name: Yes, "bat shit" is juvenile and unutterable in many situations, but Blaise's explanation of the title is rather hysterical and surprisingly coherent. Blaise recalls being amused to learn that many cosmetic products use guano, dried bat or seabird excrement, as their main ingredient, and envisioned men and women smothering their faces with the dung-derived substances for the sake of beauty. In his words, "the whole world covers itself in shit to look appealing. Underneath a glossy veneer, it's still pretty shitty." His aversion to such superficiality also informs what he seeks in music: rough rock 'n' roll that doesn't posture as anything else.


Most recent releases: The most recent batch of Bat Shit releases contains a 7-inch from label staple Gary Wrong. A singular Alabaman artist, Gary Wrong conjures damaged outsider rock that defies categorization. When attempting to channel the influences of Gary Wrong, it isn't other swampy and demented bands that come to mind, but rather a frightening video-montage of zombie mobs, natural disasters, and gratuitous gore. Another recent release of note is an LP from a Portuguese psych outfit called Sunflare. Shortly into the A-side of the band's Ghetto Blast, it is evident that Bat Shit isn't content to issue "psychedelic" music that is a simple haze of reverb and pleasant drug references. Sunflare rests on the other end of the psychedelic spectrum, where hallucinations are twice as vivid, wholly negative, and probably end with someone seriously handicapped for life.

  • Sunflare

Primary format: Blaise has an affinity for the rough, freewheeling qualities of vinyl, particularly self-released vinyl from the '70s and '80s, which he strives to emulate with Bat Shit. In some cases, that manifests itself in lo-fidelity recordings or odd, slapdash packaging, but those aspects endear him to the format. He envisions the 7-inch and LP as vessels for two different approaches, however. Blaise considers the 7-inch a format that imparts instant gratification. Listeners must be able to pledge allegiance or deride a group immediately after setting down a Bat Shit single. Alternately, Blaise wishes to releases LPs that are aural events. He is most fond of dense, unusual full-lengths that reveal more subtleties with each play and have an arresting cohesiveness.

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Sam Lefebvre


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