When Eric Johnson, the maestro behind The Fruit Bats, decided to put his own music on hold and join The Shins there was good reason to worry that fans of The Fruit Bats would never hear from them again. After all, having a day gig as guitarist for the The Shins is pretty hard to compete with.
What was disappointing about this is that The Fruit Bats, and Eric Johnson specifically, were growing into something. On each successive album, beginning with the ramshackle country-psychfolk album Echolation (2001), then Mouthfuls (2003) and concluding with Spelled In Bones (2005), Johnson has sanded down the rough edges of his sonic palette. It has helped that by the band’s third album, they were an actual band with a set lineup of musicians and not just the whimsy of one man.
Spelled in Bones released on Sub Pop in 2005 is the band’s last release and represents an apex of sorts. It’s one of the finest, romantic – in the vein of 19th Century Romanticism and not, say Marvin Gaye – pop albums and if it was the last thing the band ever put out then it would be one hell of a way to leave a legacy. The album is that great.
It seemed with the momentum of having released a significantly better album than the previous one and the dawning of the internet music journalist/Mp3 blog combined with the backing of a record label like Sub Pop, The Fruit Bats were poised to have their hard work payoff.
And then they disappeared. Johnson ran off and joined The Shins and it’s been three years with not a peep. Until now.
Here’s the musical news. After three years or so, Fruit Bats are back in the saddle. I spent the last couple of years playing in The Shins (a fine day job if there ever was one), but I’m back in full force with the first love of my musical life. Songs have been written. Recording dates have been written in permanent ink. To prove that I’m serious about this, Fruit Bats will be touring the west coast of the United States of America. How ‘bout it? Other parts of the country, as well as other nations, will be visited later in the year.
There’s no demos or anything, no hint at what the new era for The Fruit Bats holds, only that Eric Johnson has decided to tour with the band and record new material, etc. New material will no doubt be tried out at one of these West Coast dates:
January 27th Eugene, OR John Henry’s
January 29th Sacramento, CA Luigis Fun Garden
January 30th San Francisco, CA Bottom of the Hill
January 31st Visalia, CA Cellar Door
February 2nd San Diego, CA The Casbah
February 3rd Los Angeles, CA The Echo
February 5th Salem, OR Ike Box
February 6th Portland, OR Mission Theatre
February 7th Seattle, WA Vera Project