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Fruit Bats [rank: 291]

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"Fruit Bats are an American band originally from Chicago, but now based in Seattle. Fruit Bats were formed in 1999 by guitarist, pianist and singer Eric Johnson, the band's main songwriter and only constant member. Originally part of short-lived Chicago group I Rowboat, Johnson and two of his fellow Rowboat members, guitarist Dan Strack and drummer Brian Belval, created Fruit Bats as a side-project.

When I Rowboat split up, Fruit Bats became Johnson's main focus. Spurred on by Califone/Perishable Records honchos Tim Rutili and Ben Massarella, the group recorded their first album, Echolocation, released in 2001. After tours with Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Modest Mouse and The Shins, Fruit Bats signed with Sub Pop in late summer 2002, recording their second album, 2003's Mouthfuls. The group released their third album, Spelled in Bones, in 2005."

In 2007, Johnson joined The Shins, but continues to also make music as Fruit Bats.

[reproduced or excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Fruit Bats" and its use is thus licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License]

 

Bandega Interview with Eric Johnson of Fruit Bats (April 2008)

Discovering the differences between Fruit Bats and Shins.

Q: How have your shows changed over the years? Has your perspective on performing live changed?
A: Fruit Bats has been just me over the years with a rotating cast of characters, so it's pretty much never evolved so much as changed with each tour. So that means there have been some wonderful highs and brutal lows. I think my perspective on playing live got fuzzy at some point in the middle of the last decade or so of touring. I was going with the "let the songs speak for themselves" theory. Which is totally admirable but doesn't always work in a live context. I'm lately trying to return to the mindset I had when I was starting out as a kid - be entertaining, take the concertgoers on a journey, turn the songs into whatever they need to be. Hopefully it works.

Q: Describe the most memorable live show you've played.
A: That's a tough one. Most of my shows with The Shins have been firsts (for me especially but a lot for the other guys too), so they've all been memorable. My first show with them was at a basketball arena, and at one point we played to twenty-thousand people. I think the memories of Fruit Bats shows are simpler but no less cool. The most memorable for me would probably be the last time we headlined in Chicago. We sold the place out (which we rarely do) and played for an hour and a half (which is a record) and everybody knew every word to every song, and it was an infinitely loving atmosphere. It doesn't sound like much compared to the Reading Festival, but it was a nice moment.

Q: What venue do you consider to be your "home", where you feel most comfortable, with the crowd and the place itself?
A: The shortlist would be Schubas, Hideout and Empty Bottle in Chicago, Mercury Lounge in New York, Modified in Phoenix, Fernwood in Big Sur, and Opolis in Norman, Oklahoma.

Q: Describe the most enjoyable show you've ever experienced as a fan.
A: The first show I ever saw was (I think in 1987) Def Leppard at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin. I was in junior high and prior to that had only seen stuff like the compromised fourth lineup of the Doobie Brothers at the county fair. Def Leppard had lasers, a rotating outer-space stage, and I saw bare breasts in the audience multiple times. So that was pretty amazing. But since then I've seen lots of great shows, all of them great for different reasons. The Chicago band Souled American leaps to mind. They're not very well known these days although folks like Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse guy) and Jim O'Rourke have praised their virtues. Souled American's been around since the eighties and play really gorgeous, slow and drowsy country songs that can't really be compared to anything. I've seen them live about five times and each time it's been dead silent in the joint, pitch black (at their request), and haunting and weird. They themselves are these really amazing looking cowboy-hippies who are super stoned and seated but sort of writhing around in their seats. I can't really do it justice with this explanation. I'd need a few pages to do a proper report on it...

Q: What has your experience been like moving between solo performer, the leader of Fruit Bats (with supporting musicians) and now, a member of The Shins? Has it been difficult to juggle all the roles? Does it make it more difficult to continue creating music as Fruit Bats?.
A: It's all the same joys and sorrows, just a mixed bag really. Of course doing Fruit Bats is fulfilling because its my stuff - so when it's great I get all the glory and when it sucks I bear all the load. Playing in The Shins has, of course, been a blast. Those guys have been my friends for years now so it was pretty natural jumping in there. It just so happens they're my friends who have become wildly successful as of late. Juggling the two has been just a little hard simply because of the time The Shins took. But I wouldn't change a thing. I'm making it work, hopefully.

Show Reviews for Fruit Bats

Date & Venue Reviewed by
Aug 25, 2009 - Independent popup nikkiroddy
Jan 30, 2009 - Bottom of the Hill popup ira
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