Posts Tagged ‘Gold Past Life’

From Eric D. Johnson:
This recording is cut down from a much larger show, a rare “evening with Fruit Bats”—no opener, two sets—that ran a little over two hours. Which was really long for me. How does Phish pull it off every night?

Revolution Hall is one of my favourite venues. It’s a nice theater with comfy seats, which is plush but also leads to people sitting down. I mean, a seated audience is kinda classy in a lot of ways, but I’m always looking for that extra rush of energy as the songs ramp up. At one point, you can hear me (gently) implore folks to stand up (!!). But as it was a long evening—and it being Portland, the beer selection was dank and flowing—naturally the audience got rowdier (and on their feet) as the night progressed, which you can clearly hear in the later points of this recording.

This was the last night of a short tour of the Pacific Northwest in January 2019, so in it you hear some of the earliest live versions of songs off of Gold Past Life which didn’t come out until a few months later. It also includes the only live version of “The Banishment Song” ever, plus a couple of rarely played cuts off of Spelled in Bones.

The band lineup was really special here, an expanded 7-piece lineup that included my stellar frequent co-conspirators Josh Mease (guitar), David Dawda (bass), Josh Adams (drums), and Frank LoCrasto (keys), plus extra special sauce provided by the members of the great Pure Bathing Culture: Sarah Versprille, taking the harmony vocals to a heavenly level (and playing Mellotron), and Daniel Hindman, giving the whole show a delicious gauzy Fender Strat flavor. I’m really happy that our excellent front-of-house engineer Aly Carlisle-Steinberg thought to hit record that evening.


Released June 5th, 2020
The Band:
Eric D. Johnson – vocals, guitar, banjo
Josh Mease – guitar
David Dawda – bass
Josh Adams – drums
Frank LoCrasto – pianos, organs, synths
Sarah Versprille – vocals, Mellotron
Daniel Hindman – guitar

Recorded January 19th, 2019, at Revolution Hall, Portland, OR

Aly Carlisle-Steinberg – live mixing / engineering / recording
Nathan Vanderpool – additional post-production engineering and mastering

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I’ve been following Fruit Bats for a few years now and as a fan, but when Eric D. Johnson released his seventh album under the alias last year, I blew through it a few times and swiftly forgot it ever existed. For some reason, it just didn’t stick. That is, until last week when a friend sent album opener “The Bottom of It” my way as a rainy day recommendation, and the record entered my consciousness once again, where it has been taking up space ever since. Gold Past Life is way groovier than anything Johnson has released before: It very often verges on ’70s disco or funk (the title track sounds like a Bee Gees song—full stop) or maybe even ambling folk-rock in the vein of The Byrds, whereas something like 2016’s Absolute Loser or 2009’s The Ruminant Band was more firmly planted in the indie-folk sphere. Gold Past Life is thoughtful and smart all the way through, sometimes cheerful and sometimes sad and always brisk—like a gust of wind slapping your face as you stare at the ocean, or a gentler cool breeze guiding you up a mountain on a long, peaceful hike.

Gold Past Life marks both an end and a beginning. It’s the end of an unintentional thematic trilogy of records that beganwith 2014’s EDJ(a solo record by name, but a Fruit Bats release in spirit) and hit a peak with 2016’s Absolute Loser They encompassed years of loss, displacement, and the persistent, low-level anxiety of the current political climate. They were written in the wake of friends who left these earthly confines and families that could have been.

I find more to enjoy in each listen, and I only wish I had given it more credit last year upon its initial release. But, as they say, better late than never! the new record also features more keyboard influences and a range of guests including Greta Morgan (Springtime Carnivore, Vampire Weekend), Neal Casal (Circles Around the Sun), Trevor Beld Jimenez and Tim Ramsey (Parting Lines), Meg Duffy (Hand Habits), and more.

From the album Gold Past Life, released June 21st, 2019 on Merge Records.

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If you listen to a band for 18 years, you’re bound to have more than “A Lingering Love” for them. With Gold Past Life, Fruit Bats reach new heights that have significantly increased not only their quiver of amazing songs, but also their fan base.

Chicago-based alt-folk band Fruit Bats released a case study in B-roll for their newest single, “Gold Past Life.” At the center of the bizarre music video stands the proud proprietor of a mail-order stock footage company, who is aiming to sell selections from his catalog by showing off his newest satisfied customers:

Fruit Bats (who else could it possibly be?). The proprietor’s Sunset at Beach (with Zoom), Seasonal Bird in Oven and Desperate Businessman Discovers Future clips, and other assorted footage are scored by the band’s easy, buoyant single, some of which include frontman Eric D. Johnson as The Drifter, Desperate Businessman and the Beach Bum.


released June 21st, 2019

All music and lyrics by Eric D. Johnson 
Published by Furry Good Horns / BMI

Fruit Bats is Eric D. Johnson – words, vocals, various
Josh Adams – drums
David Dawda – bass
Josh Mease – guitar
Thom Monahan – sounds, percussion
and featuring
Trevor Beld Jimenez – drums
Neal Casal – guitar
Meg Duffy – guitar
Greta Morgan – vocals
Tim Ramsey – pedal steel

Fruit Bats share “Ocean” music video ahead of summer tour dates

Just ahead of full-band performances in NYC and DC, as well as appearances at MRG30 and Pickathon, Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats is sharing a music video for “Ocean” from his much-loved Merge Records debut, “Gold Past Life”.  director Danielle Rubi: says

When I first heard Eric’s song “Ocean,” I immediately had a series of moving photographs play out in my mind. The melancholic tone resonated with me a lot artistically, so I decided to create an authentic portrait of how it may feel to be a bit lost in this world. I think our culture could use more somber, honest, and hopeful pieces out there. To help us feel found, and to simply say, We are going to be ok.

The opaque aqua Peak Vinyl of Gold Past Life packaged with a bonus 7-inch is sold out in the Merge store, but Fruit Bats will have copies on the road while supplies last!

Praise for “Gold Past Life”:

“This sweet, smart concept album about nostalgia is one of the year’s best-written… Even as dedicated a nostalgist as Johnson paints himself to be can come to realize that the future’s still a good place to go mining for gold, too.” —Variety

“A peak of radiant retro poppiness” —Rolling Stone

“Deftly avoiding the pitfalls of nostalgia, Fruit Bats’ Gold Past Life takes stock of life from the vantage point of middle age and charts a path forward with hope and no little circumspection, without once feeling sorry for itself.” —PopMatters

“Underneath guitar melodies that seem to glide on warm California air, and Johnson’s singular falsetto harmonies, he is working through some dark, existential anxieties on Gold Past Life. But that’s what makes these songs so sublime.” —No Depression

“It hurts, thinking about what once was. So Gold Past Life wraps that sobering truth up in animated pop rock, an element of sweetness to make the darkness go down a little easier.” —Paste

The opaque aqua Peak Vinyl of Gold Past Life packaged with a bonus 7-inch is sold out in the Merge store, but Fruit Bats will have copies on the road while supplies last!

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Fruit Bats, aka Eric D. Johnson’s alt-folk band and songwriting project, are preparing to release their first new album since 2016’s critically acclaimed Absolute Loser. The new record tilted, “Gold Past Life”, marks Johnson’s seventh studio effort under the Fruit Bats name and his third in an “unintentional thematic trilogy” of albums beginning with 2014’s EDJ, which he released under his own initials. Following those five years of political and personal chaos that maxed out with Loser, Gold Past Life promises a shimmery new beginning.

The third single, following the previously released title track and “The Bottom of It,” is a real folk-rock charmer. It’s called “Ocean” .

“This is a song about late bloomers, late discoveries, adult baptism, coming-of-age when you’re way past the right time to do that,” Johnson says. “About growing, I guess. And how a good love can help you do all of that. In short, this is a lovey-dovey song I hope you enjoy.”

“Ocean” begins in calm waters, with just some light acoustic guitar, before maracas and staggered baroque piano accelerate the tempo, just as Johnson is “watching it all tumble into view.” As is usually the case with Johnson’s realist yet romantic songwriting, “Ocean” is nostalgic without collapsing into melodrama.

Fruit Bats signed to Merge Records earlier this year following Johnson’s longtime “mega label crush” on the North Carolina mainstay. Gold Past Life is their debut on the label, and it’s out June 21st.

From the album Gold Past Life, out June 21st, 2019 on Merge Records.