Punk rock quartet Screech Bats will self-release their sophomore EP, ‘Wish You Were Her’, on March 30. As the follow-up to 2016’s self-titled debut release, vocalist Esme Baker explains its 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 censoring 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 London four-piece’s music has found in the past two 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…
‘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 track is meant to be a positive one!
At the stage of life I am at now, I feel strong enough to look back, 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 was where 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 pre-chorus – 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!
‘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 feel very different 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 on 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.
‘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 it’s 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 five songs.
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 well.
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 first formed, and have been playing it live since our first ever show! So we know it back to front, inside out, and can just have fun with it at this point.
‘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 didn’t want me, was it my weight?, was it my height?, was it my sense of humour?, was I not confident enough?, or pretty or sexy enough? To get over these feelings, I tried to shift my focus from all the bad things about me to working out 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 rejector’s 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 to 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 doing it.
‘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 slutty, 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 monumental 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 sing-along song, it’s one that gets stuck in your head, and we usually get a nice reaction from the crowd with it too, so it’s always a pleasure to play.
‘WISH YOU WERE HER’, THE SELF-RELEASED SECOND EP FROM SCREECH BATS, WILL BE RELEASED ON MARCH 30. YOU CAN PRE-ORDER IT NOW FROM THE BAND’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE www.screechbats.com
FURTHER INFO ON SCREECH BATS CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: