The Guana Batz were part of a British wave of psychobilly that sprang up in the early '80s, around the same time that bands like the Cramps were gaining underground prominence in America, and more straightforward rockabilly revivalists like the Stray Cats and the Polecats were hitting the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
The group was formed in the English town of Feltham, in Middlesex, in 1983, with a lineup featuring vocalist Pip Hancox, guitarist Stuart Osbourne, bassist Mick White (also of the similar Meteors), and drummer Dave Turner; White, an electric bassist, was soon replaced by stand-up acoustic player Sam Sardi. Playing hopped-up rockabilly with the speed and aggression of punk rock, the Guana Batz fit nicely into the British psychobilly scene epitomized by the Meteors, the Stingrays, the Caravans, and other bands who played at the good-naturedly rough Klub Foot in London. As such, the Batz landed a deal relatively quickly, releasing their debut EP, You're So Fine, on Big Beat Records by the end of 1983. An appearance on the Stompin' at the Klub Foot compilation netted them a better deal with ABC/ID, which released their full-length debut, Held Down...At Last! (aka Held Down to Vinyl...At Last!), in 1985. A follow-up, Loan Sharks, appeared a year later, and proved an even bigger underground hit (at least in the U.K.) than its predecessor. Live in London (recorded at the Klub Foot) followed in 1987, and Rough Edges continued the group's annual release schedule in 1988. Following that album, drummer Turner was replaced by Johnny Bowler, who debuted on 1990's Electra Glide in Blue (recorded for new label World Service). While the band continued to tour the U.K. and Europe (with new bassist Mark Pennington), their initial recording career ended there, and they disbanded during the '90s. Hancox and Bowler both moved to California, where they settled and started families. The Guana Batz reunited in late 1998, however, and recorded the all-covers album Undercover the following year. The compilation Can't Take the Pressure was released in 2000, with a competing best-of, The Very Best of the Guana Batz, appearing in 2001. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi