Fruit Bats FINAL SHOW: "Mouthfuls" 10 Year Anniversary Tour

For this one sheet, which is for a small, personal re-release of a very personal album, we’re going to let the tape roll on some Eric D. Johnson recollections about the making of and subsequent release of Mouthfuls, 10 years ago:

“I had released Echolocation in 2001, and even though it wasn’t exactly a massive hit (even by indie standards), a few folks, including Modest Mouse and The Shins, picked up on its subtle weird charms and dug it, and hipped Fruit Bats to Sub Pop, who also dug. I remember around that time James Mercer emailed me and said, “have you called Sub Pop? Oh, but you should...” That was the exact thing he wrote, actually, I always thought the "oh but you should" was super funny... but anyway... I think it must have been another few months or something before I actually called the label because I was shy as hell. But finally in a moment of desperation I called them and they signed us pretty quickly. I was shocked and beside myself with joy. It was a watershed moment that sent me off onto a whole new path.”

“Around the making of the album, Fruit Bats had coalesced into a duo with Gillian Lisée and myself. Gillian was my girlfriend at the time and we had gone through kind of a tumultuous start to things and broke up for a time. In the interim I wrote a bunch of bummed-out love songs that ended up on the record. It was sort of like our own mini cocaine-free version of Rumors. By the time we were making Mouthfuls in the summer of 2002, we were back on and all was good. She wrote the bridge to Magic Hour, which is totally about her. We also co-wrote Track Rabbits together which is still one of my favorite things I've ever done and probably my favorite song on Mouthfuls.”

“I wrote When U Love Somebody at the very last minute right before we started to record. It was kind of the throwaway track, which of course became by far the most popular song on the album and still probably the most popular Fruit Bats song. That song has definitely helped pay my rent many times over the years. But it took me about 3 minutes to write. I still didn’t have lyrics when we recorded it so I just repeated the one verse I’d written, which is how it stands today. Nowadays there are a lot of clappy-stompy cute songs like this that are not so much my bag, but back then I was just trying to make something that sounded like Ray Davies, or even more specifically The Beatles’ Two of Us. Also, I spelled ‘you’ with a ‘U’ to reference Prince - this was a few years before I’d ever heard of text-speak. Just wanted to clear that up. People still like dancing to this one at our shows and I’m still cool with playing it.”

“We hit the road with Iron & Wine and Holopaw a few months before Mouthfuls came out. None of us had our shit together, all three bands were completely ramshackle, but it was a super fun tour. We were mainly in Florida, which was experiencing an insane cold wave. We played in Tampa and it was 20 degrees. It sucked since in particular we were excited to get out of the Chicago winter. I’m actually pretty excited to play these ten year anniversary shows and play the whole record and sort of do it justice, since I just remember those shows back in ‘03 being about 80% train-wreck. Still fun as hell, but there was a lot of duct tape on things.”

“Brian Deck was the wizard on this one, plain and simple. I really just wanted to make something that sounded like Nilsson or Ray Davies or psychy-folky, but Brian had the concept for folding in electronics and weirdness. There’s a lot of headphone ear candy on this record, which at times sounds really small-sounding at first listen but is really pretty orchestrated. I am beyond stoked for folks to hear this thing on vinyl for the first time ever, and to play some duct-tape free shows.”
- Eric D. Johnson, September 2013

This album has never been available on vinyl, and like last year's reissue of Fruit Bats' first album, Echolocation, we’ve pulled out the stops and taken another stab at the artwork. Illustrations were again handled by Annie Beedy, though we’ve gone one step further than silkscreening and we’ve hand watercolored all 500+ copies of this pressing. Each copy will be unique. On top of that, each record is a lovely shade of either yellow or sea green vinyl. Thanks to our fine friends at Sub Pop you will also find a digital download code nestled in there so you without a turntable in the car can listen to your record on the move.

We would love to be able to say that the Donkeys are simply four California beach bums who love to surf, drink cheap beer and jam as the sun sets over the Pacific. The long legacy of music hailing from California – from Bakersfield to the Beach Boys, Sweetheart of the Rodeo through Slanted and Enchanted – has shaped our sense that everything and everyone "out west" is laid back, comfortable and cool.

And to be fair, when it comes to the Donkeys, some of this mystique is true – two of the band's members are indeed surfers, and all four have been known to down a six pack or two. But like California, the real-life Donkeys (best friends from Southern California, Timothy DeNardo, Jessie Gulati, Anthony Lukens and Sam Sprague) are much more... real. If their backstory contains those top-down cars and suntanned utopian surf tableaus, it also contains the malaise and the escape fantasies familiar to all suburban kids of the 80s and 90s. Miraculously, the music manages to comfortably communicate both moods at once. Any expression of existential ennui – "is this all there is?" – is simultaneously soothed by an unrushed guitar lick and a harmonized twang that becomes almost, dare we say, meditative.

Part of this magic comes from the fact that there's no artifice to the Donkeys' songs, from the matter-of-fact breakup blues of "Boot on the Seat" to the playful recollections of a late, drunken night narrated on "Nice Train." These are everyday lives in the postmodern world expressed with a deep respect for classic songs from the 70s through the 90s -- for spacey grooves and soulful, jangly swagger -- that elevates the subject matter beyond the ordinary. Living on the Other Side, the band's second album, is not meant to hit you over the head with a flamboyant single – instead, imagine Ray Davies jamming with the Byrds, or a Gene Clark-fronted Buffalo Springfield -- and you'll get a sense of the tradition that informs this band.

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Fruit Bats FINAL SHOW: "Mouthfuls" 10 Year Anniversary Tour with the Donkeys

Saturday, November 16 · Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Aladdin Theater