Sometimes a story can take a long time to tell. Eric D. Johnson, who has recorded and performed as the Fruit Bats for a decade now, had a story like that, a chance encounter that had rattled around his head for years. He’s tried to write it as a short story, a play, a movie…yet until now couldn’t get it down just right. Finally he decided to make a song out of it, and the result is “Tony the Tripper.” It’s the song at the heart of his fifth album, Tripper, setting the tone for a bittersweet meditation on hitting the road, leaving the familiar behind and reinventing yourself.
The story goes like this. Just after turning 20, Johnson boarded a train from Chicago to see his sister in Olympia, Washington. A grizzled vagabond—Tony—took the seat next to him for the ride to Fargo, North Dakota. Over the next 12 hours the two developed a strange relationship, the cantankerous oldster alternately bullying and befriending Johnson. A decade or so later, Johnson is still bemused by the encounter, wondering what he could have learned from this broken, frightening, but fascinating character. The song “Tony the Tripper” imagines the two of them heading out on a road trip, the idealist and the outlaw cutting a swath across America.
That trip never happened, in part because Johnson embarked on a career in music that has, to date, included ten years with the Fruit Bats, sideman duties for bands including Califone, Vetiver and The Shins, and more recently, soundtrack work for films like Ceremony and Our Idiot Brother. Yet as Johnson approached the ten-year anniversary of Echolocation, the Fruit Bats’ debut, he began to…
With the 2001 release of the Fruit Bats’ debut album, Echolocation, Eric D. Johnson embarked on a career in music that has, to date, included ten years with the…
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- Admat - Fruit Bats- The Ruminant Band
- Press - Fruit Bats press kit (09)