Fruit Bats – My Usual Friends

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Fruit Bats started in the mid 1990’s as the four-track project of Eric D. Johnson. The name “Fruit Bats” was actually one of many cryptic monikers scrawled on the cassettes. Somehow that one stuck. Some of the other band names included “Holiday Inn,” and “Senseless Tripe.” For a number of years there were many warbling, feedback laden tapes, but no shows and no band.

 In early 2000, Johnson joined the cast of characters that made up Califone and the whole Perishable Records family. It was this kinship with a bunch of like minded folks that coaxed the Fruit Bats from out of the bedroom and turned the shy lo-fi project into a real band.

 Brian Deck produced the first record, Echolocation, which featured hi-fi versions of many of the old four-track tunes. The album sold poorly, but garnered rave reviews in places like Mojo and The Village Voice, the latter calling it “a mini-masterpiece of zoology rock.” Shows were offered, and a band was hastily put together. The lineup would remain ever shifting for the next eight years or so.

 Tours and friendships with Modest Mouse, Iron and Wine and The Shins led Fruit Bats to sign with Sub Pop records in 2002. The first release on that label was Mouthfuls. The record went on to be a modest success, selling well and ending up on many of 2003’s “best of” lists.

 2004 would see the release of a limited edition, vinyl only rarities compilation, Tragedy Plus Time Equals Fruit Bats, as well as a move to the west coast for Johnson. In 2005, Spelled in Bones was released. The album debuted at #4 on the college radio charts, and the band had its first network TV appearance on “Last Call with Carson Daly.”

 Four years went by, in which time Johnson continued his career as a sideman, most notably with Vetiver and The Shins. Fruit Bats reassembled in late 2008. The next album, The Ruminant Band was recorded with Graeme Gibson at Clava in Chicago. Incidentally, Clava is the same studio where Echolocation had been recorded nine years before.

 Besides the aforementioned “zoology rock,” the two best obscure genres the Fruit Bats have been linked to by the press are “bootgazer,” and “rustic pop.” Life is a sweet peach.

Fruit Bats are Eric D. Johnson, Christopher Sherman, Ron Lewis, Graeme Gibson and Sam Wagster.


 -Echolocation (Perishable 2001)

 -Mouthfuls (Sub Pop 2003)

 -Tragedy Plus Time Equals Fruit Bats (St. Ives 2004)

 -Spelled in Bones (Sub Pop 2005)

 -The Ruminant Band (Sub Pop 2009)

~ by castleqwayr on July 14, 2009.

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