Bat Fangs vocalist and guitarist Betsy Wright loves the guitar, so after several years of singing and playing bass in Ex Hex, she was ready for a change. When the band went on hiatus, she returned to her first love and started writing stripped-down, retro-flavored, rhythm-heavy tunes that tapped into her earliest musical memories.
“When I was little, I loved The Beatles and ‘50s music,” Wright says. “That’s what we listened to at my house. I loved it, but it seemed so far away in time and place—and, also, those were groups of boys, mostly. When the first Madonna record came out, I really related to it. I wanted to be like her.”
As the songs began to accumulate, Wright went looking for a collaborator. “I met [drummer] Laura [King] when she was playing with Mac McCaughan of Superchunk in his solo project,” Wright says. “I thought she was a great drummer. I sent her some demos on a whim, and she was excited about them and wanted to play with me. I went down to North Carolina one weekend, and we hit it off—musically and as friends. We got tattoos.”
“Once we started playing together, things came together pretty quickly. We did several long weekends over two or three months, since we don’t live in the same town,” continues Wright, who is based in D.C., while King lives in Carrboro, North Carolina. “We made the record before we ever played live. In terms of direction for the songs, I would get an idea and run with it. I was very deep in an Ozzy hole at the time, so that could have had something to do with some of it.”
The duo’s self-titled debut came out on Don Giovanni Records on Feb. 2. It was recorded live in the studio over five intense days and features riff-driven stompers like “Turn It Up,” the quiet ballad “Mercury,” and a taste of surf rock on “Static.”
“We did things pretty quickly,” Wright concludes. “I’m used to taking longer and being more meticulous—and, also, playing to a click. We didn’t use a click! We kept it simple and didn’t do too many overdubs. Pretty much, what you hear on the record is what you are going to hear live.”