Eric D. Johnson formed the band Fruit Bats in 1997 and has been releasing music under that moniker since 2001. His first professional musical endeavor was playing with the esteemed group, Califone at age 23. He then joined The Shins for four years, allowing him to quit his craft services job in Chicago. He cut his teeth on those experiences, receiving a true education in being a professional touring musician.

Since then, Fruit Bats has released four records on Sub Pop with a new record, Gold Past Life – their seventh – to be released this year on Merge Records.

In this episode, we talk about his new album, his writing process, small “keep you going” wins, touring with Califone and The Shins, what it takes to be a successful musician today, how he sustains creatively and professionally, and more. Listen above or on iTunes or Spotify.

Show notes

In this episode, we talk about:

  • his new album, Gold Past Life
  • external pressures to be prolific as a musician
  • how albums don’t hold the same meaning they once did
  • signing to Merge
  • the positive impact of streaming on his career in general and vinyl and ticket sales for Fruit Bats
  • how the music industry has always been messed up and broken
  • having one little ‘keep you alive thing’ sustain his career vs. one big watershed thing
  • how Fruit Bats got signed to Sub Pop in the early years
  • how you have to have the infrastructure and your shit figured out before signing to a label today
  • the ways in which Fruit Bats is “a weird little pony”
  • his collage-y songwriting process
  • faking it till he made it with film scoring
  • the benefits of doing something scary and figuring it out as you go
  • how being in The Shins fueled his ambition with Fruit Bats
  • the immediate satisfaction that comes with playing music for people
  • the magic that is Califone
  • why artists today should learn how to record

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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