Fruit Bats is an American rock band formed in 1997 in Chicago, Illinois. Noted as an early entrant into the folk-rock boom of the early 2000s, the group has had many personnel changes but revolves around singer/songwriter Eric D. Johnson.
In 2000, Eric D. Johnson was an instructor at The Old Town School of Folk Music, led his own space-rock band called I Rowboat, and was a guitarist in various groups, including Califone and The Shins. He also had a four-track solo outlet called Fruit Bats, which he had been working on since 1997.
Fruit Bats had begun to evolve into a band with the inclusion of I Rowboat members Dan Strack and Brian Belval and in 2001, their debut record Echolocation was released on Califone's imprint, Perishable Records. Tours followed with the likes of Modest Mouse and The Shins.
Fruit Bats signed with Sub Pop in 2002 and have released four albums with the label including Mouthfuls in 2003, Spelled in Bones in 2005, The Ruminant Band in 2009 and Tripper in 2011.
Johnson also joined The Shins in 2009.
In an interview with Reverb Magazine's Nick Milligan (Australia), Eric D.
Johnson has said of The Ruminant Band: "I shouldn't say I had any strong ideas about how I wanted The Ruminant Band to differ from our other records, but I knew that I definitely wanted it to. Previously, when I did those other albums, I think I set rules for myself. This time I didn't try to go by the book so much. I also let the other [band members] play, rather than me being in charge. I played very little on this record I wrote the songs and the vocal arrangements, and played some piano, but for the most part everything else is the band. That trust is something that comes with time. I had four years to sit and think about it. It can get lonely when you're doing the quote unquote solo thing. My band is really talented, so I wanted their voices to be heard."
The song "When U Love Somebody" from the album Mouthfuls can be heard in the January 2010 movie "Youth in Revolt".
The music video for the song The Ruminant Band was shot in El Monte, CA and directed by The General Assembly (directors). Eric D. Johnson is the only member of the Fruit Bats to appear in the video. He is backed by a fictitious band that includes legendary guitarist, Willie Chambers of The Chambers Brothers.
The music video for the song You're Too Weird from the album Tripper was shot in Hollywood, CA and directed by The General Assembly (directors).