Basic Folk 153 – Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats

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Fruit Bats have been on the indie rock radar since the early 00’s, so I’d say that calls for a double album compilation documenting their 20 years of music! However, the brains behind FBs and it’s only regular member, Eric D. Johnson, is a man who tends to solely look forward. Thankfully for us, he rolled up his sleeves, dug into some old hard drives and sifted through two decades of MP3s, WAVs, AIFFs and the like that make up the band’s brand new collection: Sometimes a Cloud Is Just a Cloud: Slow Growers, Sleeper Hits and Lost Songs (2001–2021). On Basic Folk, Eric talks about growing up constantly moving around and the impact on him then and now. He also gets into his time working at Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. His time there allowed Eric to evolve and embrace his folk musicality as well as the punk side he was nurturing in Chicago’s scene.

He also gets into reframing career aspirations after he saw a lot of his friends’ careers, who came up in indie rock at the same time he did, reaching new heights that Fruit Bats just simply weren’t. He was afforded many amazing opportunities before he was ready, recording Fruit Bats debut album with Tim from Califone and then getting signed to Sub Pop thanks to The Shins and Modest Mouse’s advocacy. He talks about how he felt about those chances back then and how he reflects on them now. His time playing with The Shins allowed him to “climb into someone else’s work a little bit,” which gave him perspective on his own. There was a time when Eric ditched the Fruit Bats name to record under his initials, EDJ, in what he calls “career stalling move,” but I pressed him to expand on the fact that it might have been a really necessary move for him personally. He’s been recording and playing under Fruit Bats again since 2015, which he sees as a new era for Fruit Bats, which he gets into. I also brought up Bonny Light Horseman and the incredible vocal pairing of himself with Anaïs Mitchell, who he calls his “main singing partner” these days. Eric D. Johnson is the nicest guy in indie rock and I’m here for that!! Enjoy!

Check out the new Fruit Bats comp on Tidal

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