It’s no secret that Fruit Bats’ Eric D. Johnson is an insanely prolific songwriter. On top of being a core member of the Grammy-nominated group Bonny Light Horseman, Johnson has released six full-length projects as Fruit Bats since 2019. His latest, the folksy A River Running To Your Heart, shows that Johnson is perhaps at this best when he’s his busiest.
Released and produced by Johnson himself, A River Running To Your Heart is a breezy and twangy 11-track effort evoking comfort of returning home. With songs like “See The World By Night” and “Waking Up in Los Angeles,” Johnson learns the pleasure in letting go. To celebrate the release of A River Running To Your Heart, Johnson sat down with Uproxx to talk Neil Young, Will Ferrell, and being the third best musician of all time in our latest Q&A.
What are four words you would use to describe your music?
Emotional make out music.
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It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?
Third best to Beatles and Mozart.
What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?
Don’t make me choose! Gothenburg & Glasgow. Too many North American cities to name.
Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?
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Creatively speaking, lots of musical underdogs like Alex Chilton, Judee Sill, Michael Hurley. Some lifers, some didn’t make it. Always beautiful. Outside of the realm of music I always think about Steve Martin, who relentlessly did his own thing and changed everything. Also The Grateful Dead.
Where did you eat the best meal of your life?
Fort Stockton in West Texas. Barbecue joint in a gas station in the middle of nowhere. Very long van drive day between Austin and Albuquerque. Like a beacon in the dark. Tried to go there on a subsequent tour and it was boarded up and wind-beaten. May have just been a dream.
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What album do you know every word to?
Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush.
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?
My first concert was Def Leppard at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Wisconsin. Still the highest production value I’ve ever witnessed. My favorite show was probably Yo La Tengo at Lounge Ax in Chicago, maybe 1997?
What is the best outfit for performing and why?
I wear Wrangler “dress jeans” which look cool and breathe. Nice shirt, a jacket and bolo. Which are hot (temperature wise) but I’m a slave to fashion. I want to look like I’m playing a rock show up there.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?
I do not like either of those places. But Fruit Bats’ guitarist Josh Mease is a fun follow on IG. Lots of beautiful ambient music plus surreal comedy / animation. Plus I love him.
What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?
Really depends on who’s DJing. We mix it up like crazy. Lately been a bit obsessed with a song from 1970 called “Morning” by a rather obscure folk duo called Lambert and Nuttycombe.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
“Pesos to Dollars”
What album makes for the perfect gift?
Any comp or release by Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou.
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?
I was by myself. In an art gallery in Denver, which was a storefront on a big city street. I was sleeping more or less in the window for anyone walking by to see. Like a man on display. It was disconcerting.
What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?
I am unmarked!
What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?
Joe Walsh. Led Zeppelin. Fleetwood Mac. Joni Mitchell.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
Listened to my songs.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?
Pace yourself. And also try a little harder. And also you have a long way to go.
What’s the last show you went to?
Fruit Bats. Last night.
What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?
Any early 00’s Will Ferrell adjacent comedy.
What’s one of your hidden talents?
No hidden talents. They’re all out front.
A River Running To Your Heart is out on Merge Records. Find more information here.