|Pennsylvania group The Bats recorded the great ‘How Could You Have Known,’ written by lead guitarist Dennis Nardantonio. Although they recorded four songs, the group was formed as a studio band, and did not perform live at all. Even though they weren’t a performing band, the Vietnam War unfortunately ended any plans the group had to remain together.
An Interview With Dennis Nardantonio
60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music?
Dennis Nardantonio (DN): For me, it was the Venture's ‘Walk Don't Run’ that inspired me to learn guitar. Later on my father became interested in the music business because I had a first cousin who was "teen idol" material. My father hooked up with a songwriter, Joe Matt, and they produced four songs at Bayside Studio in New York. To make a long story short, my cousin, Frank Pescatore, was signed by MGM and was given the stage name Dean Randolph. The song called ‘How About That’ was aired for a while. You can still buy that song online at iTunes; it is now owned by Chancellor.
60s: Was The Bats your first band?
DN: My first band was in high school. We called ourselves The Marauders. (That band) lasted about three years.
60s: Where and when was The Bats formed?
DN: Some members of The Marauders band became The Bats for the purpose of doing original material. It had to be around the year 1965. This all happened in Montgomery County in Narberth, Pennsylvania. Bob Gigian wrote the first songs we did at Virtue Studio on North Broad Street in Philadelphia. I remember it was a 4-track recording. I thought the drum sound was particulary good.
The Bats were: Dennis Nardantonio - Lead guitar; Bob DiGian - Lead vocalist/guitar; Wesley Reed – Drummer; and Ed Sicox – Bass. Gerald Naccarelli played bass during the 'How Could You Have Known' and 'Evelyn' recording sessions.
60s: How would you describe the band's sound?
DN: (We were influenced by) the British Invasion, mostly.
60s: What was the local rock and roll scene like at the time?
DN: (There were) a lot of bands popping up at clubs.
60s: Where did The Bats typically play?
DN: We never performed live. The Marauders played at fraternity parties and once at the Philadelphia Country Club. That's about it.
60s: What were the circumstances leading to the opportunity to record the Merben 45?
DN: Bob probably can tell you more about that. I think my father got us signed with Merben.
60s: Did The Bats write many original songs?
DN: I believe we only recorded about four songs. Two were never released: 'Little Girl' and 'Mandi' but I no longer have copies. I still do have the guitar I used in the session, a Fender Jauguar and a Gibson Skylark amp. Bob used a Dan-Electro guitar and I think a Sum amplifier.
60s: What year and why did the band break up?
DN: Probably in 1967. The draft dissolved the band.
60s: Did you join or form any bands after The Bats?
DN: Yes, in college.
60s: What keeps you busy today?
DN: Today I am a software developer. I have created a fictional band called Fojom just doing originals. The last thing The Bats did post-war is a song called ‘No Win War.’
60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with The Bats?
DN: It was certainly a head rush to record in a studio and to be signed to a label, but the war broke up the band.