Punk Rock Quartet Screech Bats will self-release their sophomore EP ‘Wish You Were Her’ on 30th
March 2018. As the follow-up to 2016’s self-titled extended play, vocalist Esme Baker explains it’s inspiration: “It’s about women who have, for entirely different reasons, had a profound impact on my life, but are no longer in it. Including a feminine face in the artwork to mirror the title but somehow censor the eyes, gives the character anonymity, making whoever we are talking about a total enigma.” Reminiscent of the artwork of their debut, but more refined, it serves to highlight the maturity that the quartet’s music has found in the past 2 years. Recording with James Routh of Sonic Boom Six, often until the early hours in a Blackpool rehearsal room, the band opted to strip back to a rawer form of their sound. The result is a heart-on- sleeve alternative rock with punk rock roots, topped off with distinctly British vocals à la Lower Than Atlantis; the influence of the likes of Against Me! and Jimmy Eat World is clear. If like us, you find yourself wanting to know more, read on as Baker discusses ‘Wish You Were’ Her track-by- track…
1. Blood In My Hair:
The first track on the EP is a pretty intense one. Our usual process is that Kit demos the guitar and basic drum parts
and brings them to us to work our vocal lines and the rest of the details together. The lyrics for this were the toughest
part – and it’s one of the ones where I had to write and rewrite the words over and over again to get them right, and I
guess that is because I was trying to write about an enormous and sensitive topic. The song is about the death of a
friend, and grief and loss is a topic I have been wanting to write about for years, but it’s only recently that I have felt
emotionally mature enough to sit down and give it thought without just dissolving into a devastated mess. I am glad I
wrote about this now and not before, because with a few more years’ experience I have been able to look at death
and grief from many angles, and despite yelling ‘I’ll see you in Hell’ several times in the song, the overall message of
the song is meant to be a positive one!
At the stage of life I am at now, I feel strong enough to look back and think about death and grief and really think
about what it means to die. Of course, I don’t have the answers, but it was a very cathartic experience to muse over
death with a philosophical and open mind. During the song in the verses I revisit the night where we all found out,
who were was then, and the initial screaming grief that accompanied the revelation. In the chorus I try to think about
the idea of Heaven and Hell and how this friend had died so young, and during a point in our lives that, if there was a
Hell, we would all certainly be going for our numerous ’sins’ and our drug-addled, angsty-teenage, hedonistic lifestyle
choices. Alongside this, in the prechorus – I tried to look at the idea of death just being a part of life, ‘if we’ve all risen
up, from the Earth – death is just us falling back down again’ – nowadays I find it easier to accept our mortality, and
doing that allows me to breathe a lot easier – there is a lot of comfort in it, and the ability to be comfortable in my
mortality definitely allows me to enjoy this ride to the grave a Hell of a lot more.
This is the track I get most nervous about performing live, it is impossible to do the choruses without brimming over
with emotion. I have to really put myself in every second of it or I can’t seem to perform it at all, and I feel utterly
drained and always need a second to recover after we play this one!
2. Get Better:
‘Get Better’ is the single from the EP. It was a bit of a dark horse choice for the single, because Kit wrote it in triple
time, making it a very different feel to our other recorded tracks. It isn’t the most catchy tune on the EP – but we
decided on it because we love that it’s a bit unusual and the message in the lyrics is something we could all get
behind as mental health issues have certainly had a profound effect on all members of the band in different ways and
we want to use any platform we can to attempt to de-stigmatise the issue and put out the message to sufferers that
they are not alone, and moreover the message that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel and a happy future,
even when this feels impossible.
I have suffered from myriad mental health issues for as long as I can remember, and we have a history of severe
mental health issues in both sides of my family, so I don’t remember a time where depression wasn’t part of my life. I
never thought I could be the person I am now – I wake up every day thankful to still be here, and looking forward to
the future! The person I was four years ago would never have believed I could feel this way and it’s incredible. Of
course there are other factors that helped me on my way to recovery, my amazing family and my awesome friends,
but this song is for the catalyst of the biggest change in my life, without whom I honestly believe I would not be here –
my doctor and her incredibly hardworking team who nursed me back to health when I didn’t want to wake up
anymore. I wanted to get these words out, not only as a thank you, not only for myself, but on behalf of everyone
she helped and continues to help through the course of her career, but also as a way of reaffirming to myself that I
was doing better, and I will continue to work at being better, and finally, as a way of showing people that yeah,
recovery is tough, but it happens, and even in the absolute depths of despair, I want to give people living proof that
there is a light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully that serves as a reason not to give up.
I absolutely love performing this song – it is one I really look forward to in the set – the triple time is a really nice beat
to slip into and the way the words sit in the verses is very satisfying to sing. I also love performing it because, again
like ‘Blood in my Hair’ I believe and feel every word.
3. Every Good Thing:
We wrote this song a little differently to the rest of the tracks on this EP. It is the oldest song on the record and its the
one where Kit wrote the melody line and a large portion of the lyrics as well as the guitar parts. It is really cool to be
able to swap roles in the writing process like this as it leads to a nice amount of variety within the 5 tracks.
It is in essence, about anyone who has stayed in a relationship (any kind of relationship – romantic, friendship or even
in a band or project) with someone for far too long, and their heart is no longer there. It’s a trap we all find ourselves
in, where we stick with someone or something well after the passion is dead and buried because of some warped
sense of loyalty, or the fear of being alone, fear of making the wrong choice, or simply the will to remain in the
comfort that is in the familiar. Either way, this kind of stagnant relationship can feel like a prison, and will often drive
you crazy with frustration and lead you into being someone you really don’t want to be. In the chorus we have the
line ‘and I should feel guilty, but I don’t’ and I think that really can sum up this feeling – you can be driven so mad by
someone you are sick of that you can no longer feel compassion for them, you grow full of contempt, even if they
haven’t done anything wrong – and it’s such a sign you need to get out. We wanted to write this song just because it’s
something we have all experienced in one way or another and it’s certainly a feeling our audience can relate to as
This one is a really fun one to play as, unlike the rest of the tracks on ‘Wish You Were Her’, we wrote this song when
we very first formed and have been playing it at shows since our first ever show! So we know it back to front, inside
out and can just have fun with it at this point.
4. Just Like You
This is another song where Kit smashed out the instrumentals and I took approximately a million rewrites of the lyrics
to get it right! This was originally a really angry song about someone who totally broke my frail little heart, but after Kit vetoed my original title of ‘Crying’s so much better when you’re wanking over Skype’, I amended it to be a bit more feel good.
The long and short of it is, I fell pretty hard for someone who saw me just as a bit of fun. I was enormously hurt and
focused all my attention on working out what was wrong with me, all the reasons why this person didnt want me,
was it my weight, was it my height, was it my sense of humour, was I not confident enough, or pretty enough or sexy
enough? To get over these feelings, I tried to shift my focus, from all the bad things about me, to working our what
was going on with her. I knew this person well, and I came to realise that she just needed the self-esteem boost. She
was ageing, and not ageing well, she had always only relied on her looks and sexual attention from people to feel
validation, and now her looks were waning, she was just clutching at vulnerable, lonely people to feel better about
herself. Realising this helped get over the rejection, and the more I look around me, the more I see other people in the
same kind of situation – facing rejection and hating themselves because of it, rather than seeing it as the rejectors
loss that they are missing out on someone rad. Although I guess the song is a bit of a ‘fuck you’ to this person, and it
feels good tell her that I now KNOW there are plenty more fish in the sea, and I now KNOW I’m great and worth
something – in the end the message of the song is: don’t give a damn about people who don’t treat you with respect,
just because one person doesn’t see how awesome you are, doesn’t mean the next one won’t.
This is my favourite track to perform because I love hammering out all the lyrics of the first line in the chorus. ‘No one
says ‘I want you’ like a desperate woman and nothing says ‘I’m ageing’ like an act of desperation might be my
favourite moment to perform out of the entire set! It’s such a fun song to play and we always have a really good time
5. That Valentine Song
We close the EP with ‘That Valentine Song’ because we wanted to finish strong. As soon as Kit showed us the demo
for this track I knew it would be a banger. It was the only one I managed to write a vocal line and lyrics to all in one
sitting, maybe only took about an hour to smash out, which NEVER happens to me! I was living with my ex at the
time and, (like everyone’s ex is), my ex was an utter piece of shit. I was in the classic toxic situation of sharing with
someone who wanted to put me down at every turn. Calling me a whore, telling me how to do my hair, telling me to
take off my make up, telling me what not to wear – either I looked too slut or I looked too fat, leaching all of my
money, shitting all over my self esteem and good nature, doing everything they could to break me, and still I was
utterly and completely devoted to this person. I sat down and wrote this song, knowing I was living with ‘my hateful
valentine’ and almost laughing at myself for putting up with such a momumental turd of a person, sapping my years
away. Needless to say, we split about three months after this song was written and my life improved exponentially.
For the love of sweet baby Jesus – if someone makes you feel this way – LEAVE THEM. THEY WILL NOT CHANGE AND
THEY ARE NO GOOD FOR YOU.
Its another super fun one to play live – I love dancing around to Kit’s solo – another excellent moment in the set. And
we are all hoping this one will become a bit of a singalong song, it’s one that gets stuck in your head and we usually
get a nice reaction from the crowd with it too, so always a pleasure to play.
Currently Announced Screech Bats Dates:
27th March – Sticky Mikes, Brighton
30th March – The Bell, Bath
1st April – Lady Luck, Canterbury
3rd April – The Moon, Bishops Stortford
4th April – The Monarch (EP release show), London
5th April – Boileroom, Guildford
2nd June – Camden Rocks Festival , Dublin Castle