Feature: Bat Zuppel (2019)

Zach Bronder, guitarist and vocalist for Pittsburgh’s Bat Zuppel, has simple motivations for pursuing the rock-band lifestyle in The Steel City.

“We all love playing live – that’s probably my favorite part,” says Bronder. “They have this amazing drink you can buy at almost all of the bars: beer. And you can just buy as many as you want until they make you leave.”

The band’s next show isn’t exactly at a bar – Bat Zuppel plays DIY space The Bushnel this Saturday, Jan 12 – but regardless of the venue the four-piece is likely to deliver exactly that sort of party vibe.

In November, the band released MIRROR | RORRIM on Redfishbowl, a follow-up to 2017’s Dylar. The new record, all 12 tracks of it, is a thing of beauty. It has a ragged, punky glory to it, even if the edges are sometimes a little more hooky and verse/chorus/verse-conscious than the group’s past outings. Songs like the excellent “Suspicion” echo ’60s psych-rock but fit well alongside more blasts of punk noise like “Resistance,” which sounds a bit like Mudhoney co-opting The Clash. The latter – or the screechy, bombastic “Take A Bow”– also puts them right at home in Pittsburgh alongside great indie/punk acts like The Gotobeds and The Zells. In other words, this thing shimmies, shags and roars – all to great effect.

“We fit in well with ‘rock bands’ that are loud,” Bronder quips. “We’re always writing new material, going through different things in life, laughing at stupid stuff only we could find funny, reading media that makes us mad. This album is a reflection based upon these things.”

Chris Boles, the founder of Redfishbowl, first checked out the quartet – which includes Bronder; guitarist/vocalist Spencer Geer, bassist Matt Ruppel and drummer Gordy Brash — because he liked The Neffs, Brash’s former band.

“[Bat Zuppel is] a phenomenal band,” Boles says. “In Pittsburgh, they fit more in the punk scenes, but they hit that sweet spot in their sound that’s perfectly on the genre border. [They’re] heavier, accessible and not so abrasive, so that people outside of the genre will get into what they have going on – not just the music, but the stage presence and the identity.”

Connor Murray, who runs the Pittsburgh cassette label Crafted Sounds and helped the band promote MIRROR | RORRIM, put it even more simply.

“Bat Zuppel has found a method to the madness,” he said. “Pittsburgh punk done right.” – Justin Vellucci, Pittsburgh Current, Jan. 8, 2019


About the author

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer for PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and MusicTAP, a contributor to Pittsburgh Current, and a former staffer for Popdose, Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines such as American Songwriter, alt-pubs like The Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish, Punksburgh and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.

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