Hailing from Edinburgh, Scotland, the post-punk trio PK Bats has finally released their self-titled debut album. Brought together by a shared admiration for bands like Hot Snakes, Wipers, and Husker Du, the group consists of Michael Cox on vocals and guitar, Ross Murdoch on bass, and Andrew Reid on drums.
Their debut effort offers up 12 charged tracks that epitomize a raw and passionate approach to storytelling through music.
With enigmatic lyrics and compelling melodies, the album addresses themes ranging from the complexities of modern life to existential anxieties.
Every member is invested in delivering an unfiltered, earnest performance, all captured with the kind of raw production values you’d expect from a band as emotionally charged as PK Bats.
To celebrate the release of the album, Michael Cox provided us with a track-by-track commentary below, diving into the multi-layered themes tackled in this powerful record.
These include the value of authentic passion over commodification, the human inclination towards regret, the exploration of literary and cultural references, and calls for social change. The complete breakdown is available below.
The album was recorded by James Johnson at Tonegarden Studios in Edinburgh and mixed by band member Michael Cox.
Catch the band live at the following trio of gigs:
August 26th: Bannerman’s, Edinburgh
September 2nd: The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen
September 7th: Flying Duck, Glasgow
PK Bats track-by-track commentary, by Michael Cox (vocals & guitar):
A world revealed, the veil withdrawn! Inspired by Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan. Machen’s writing powerfully conveys a sense of awe about the unknown, feelings of both wonder and horror regarding hidden realms and unnatural forces. This song is an attempt to explore these concepts through the crude medium of punk, which is the only language we know.
It’s about King George IV’s historic visit to Edinburgh in 1822, and what would have happened if, during that visit, he had been struck with a powerful vision of Nirvana’s 1989 album Bleach. Something to think about.
I Witnessed a Drowning
There’s an urban myth that Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” is about him witnessing someone drowning. Weirdly, we wrote this song before learning about that, and I don’t know why or how the concept came to us.
It’s a celebration of doing things purely out of passion, with no expectation of fame or financial reward. We live in an age where we’re encouraged to commoditise everything – no hobbies, only ‘side hustles’; partaking in activities just so you can document and share them in hope of likes and followers. It’s unhealthy and leads to frustration and emptiness. We need to remember that there’s value in doing something just for the satisfaction of having done it. This one’s for all the great bands I’ve seen play to empty rooms, and for all those with niche interests and specialist skills that are invisible to most.
Common calamity is a term used in law to refer to the simultaneous deaths of two people, usually people who are related or in a relationship. The song is mainly just using wordplay to explore a disturbing idea.
Dead Travel Fast
What if Dracula drove a car?
It’s about the regrets we carry with us, trivial or otherwise, and how they stack up over time. Seems like there’s nothing you can do but try to live with them – they’re not going anywhere.
Straight-up about Walter De La Mare’s The Return. I read a lot of ghost stories and weird fiction. It’s a defiantly ambiguous piece of work, and the lyrics express that. I can’t help you with it.
I think this is maybe the only punk song in existence about Project Sign (the 1948 US UFO study); or if there is another one, I doubt it crams so many abbreviations & references to personnel into the lyrics. Project Sign was cancelled mainly because the staff earnestly tried to investigate the subject, rather than just handling it like a PR exercise, as later operations did. It’s interesting when people are punished for doing their job too well.
It’s about killing God, largely in reference to Japanese RPGs like Earthbound and Grandia II where groups of average people come together to conquer a supremely powerful force. But it’s sort of also about guillotining billionaires, which I guess are the closest thing we have to gods in this spiritually-bankrupt world we live in. So yeah, attack and dethrone god.
A Better Tomorrow
Simply and directly about John Woo’s 1986 Hong Kong action classic A Better Tomorrow. I love this film. It’s a noble idea, to be willing to sacrifice yourself in service to creating a better future for those you care about. Like the film, the song is slightly melodramatic but heartfelt.
Inspired by accounts of late-surviving pagan practises in North East Scotland, where I’m from. The exhumation in question: a call for re-enchantment of our environment, but also an invocation of a long-dormant destructive force. That’s the idea.