(from their website)
Fruit Bats are from Chicago, Illinois. Although some members live on the west coast. It gets confusing, because the line up is a bit nebulous. But the one constant has been Eric Johnson, who sings and plays guitars and pianos and writes the songs.
Fruit Bats started out in the mid-nineties as young Mr. Johnson (not the virtuoso guitar player nor the Archers of Loaf guy) sat in his bedroom like so many other young people at that time and discovered the joys of the 4-track machine. He went on to form the short lived band I Rowboat, whose Velvet Underground-ish sounds managed to win no more than a small Chicago fanbase. One day Johnson and two other Rowboaters, guitarist Dan Strack and drummer Brian Belval decided to dip their collective toes in folk music. This side project was dubbed Fruit Bats, named after a type of large, flying, fruit-eating tropical mammal. Recordings were made, tapes were dubbed, and all was forgotten.
A couple of years down the road, I Rowboat was dissolving, and Johnson found himself playing banjo and guitar in almost-legendary folk weirdos Califone. Spurred on by Califone/Perishable Records honchos Tim Rutili and Ben Massarella, Johnson and Strack set out to finally record the album they thought was destined to link The Holy Modal Rounders and Rumors-era Fleetwood Mac. That record was the Fruit Bats debut, Echolocation, produced by Brian Deck (Red Red Meat, Modest Mouse, Souled American, etc...) at Clava Sound.
So years later, after line-up shifts galore, many tours, and a deal with the fabled Sub Pop Recording Concern, Fruit Bats' sound has evolved and then un-evolved and then evolved back again. What was once weirdo folk tinkerings became cinematic pop which became something else. You should just listen.
If you enjoy the Shins and/or Guster, then it's very possible that you would enjoy the Fruit Bats...
Fruit Bats - A Bit of Wind
Fruit Bats - When U Love Somebody
Fruit Bats - Dragon Ships