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The Fruit Bats

Words: Nathan Walker

Image: Jim Newberry

Image of recording artists, the Fruit Bats

On their third album, the Fruit Bats are perfecting their country-hued pop songs. The theme of “Spelled In Bones” invokes emotions familiar to many of us who were born in the ‘70s. I recently spoke with Eric Johnson, who’s been the Fruit Bats’ principle singer-songwriter amidst a rotating band line-up. Johnson recently relocated to the Seattle area and put together a full, permanent band. Johnson said, “This is the first time we’ve had everyone in the same place. It was a ridiculous notion that I thought I could do it with multiple people in multiple cities.”

Though garnering comparisons to ‘70s AM gold musicians, Johnson’s not trying to invoke an era or sound. He grew up with AM radio as a soundtrack to his childhood and now it’s influencing him as he’s crafting pop music that’s hopefully timeless. Discussing Big Star and their relative failure in the ‘70s compared with the pedestal on which they now perch, Eric said, “Not that I’m comparing myself to Alex Chilton—I couldn’t even hold his towel—but they didn’t know what to think of [Big Star] in the ‘70s. They were writing little songs that were just great, but it was during the era of Prog rock. To this day, though, they hold up and really say something and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

There’s a bubbling at the surface of radio rock; now bands like the Fruit Bats really have a shot a making it big. Eric Johnson knows the fickleness of the music industry and is ready for it though. “Things are really feeling different and I want to get a piece of that pie before it gets homogenized. I want to be able to write Fruit Bats-style songs for Jessica Simpson. By the time it gets to that point, it’s over and I want to be the buzzard on the carcass of indie rock.”

Explore their shimmering new album “Spelled In Bones” before everyone on the radio starts affecting Eric Johnson’s wonderfully warm tenor.


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