Primal Rock and Roll: We chat to Fruit Tones

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Every city has a rumbling under its feet. The underground sound, the new wave trying to break through. Manchester is no different, and trying to break out of the cities ties with Brit pop and lad rock is a true garage rock band. They go by the name Fruit Tones and they’re hear to share their gospel with you. Their new record, Natural Selections, is out now and it’s a fusion of passion, DIY and nostalgic influence. We dig it, to say the least. We caught up with Tom and Tomas from Fruit Tones to get acquainted with the bands latest release and life up north.

Hello Fruit Tones. What coffee did you have this morning?

Tom: It was a cup of Yorkshire Tea this morning, I work in the kitchen at one of the best coffee places in town, Idle Hands, so after drinking great coffee in there most days I don't usually bother trying to make it at home.

Tomas: I think mines from Aldi, it’s a purple packet. It’s good man. Just stick it in a ‘moka pot’ and you’re good.

Congratulations on the new record, Natural Selection. Give us the low down on it...

Tom: It was a long time coming! A lot of the songs had been knocking about for a while and the rest seemed to come together out of nowhere as we were getting ready to record. Records tend to take us a while to put out - we don’t have management or anything so have always done the entire process and covered the costs ourselves with no guarantee that anyone will even release it. We had a lot of support and encouragement from friends that made it happen, it feels great to have it out at last and apt that it’s on Greenway and Fuzzkill Records as both labels have done a lot for us. I’m really proud of the way it turned out and grateful for all the time people have put into working with us. 

Tomas: Yeah, it’s weird to have an album out, it’s a large body of work; especially because it’s our first album. We were collecting the songs for a while and then we decided, right, let’s get this into an album. We recorded it at our practice space in mill in north Manchester early December. A barmy -3C made us play quick. Over three days we did the album with our good friend Sam Stacpoole from Black Tambourines and Holiday Ghosts. He drove his studio up to us in a snow storm and we set up base. Easiest way for us to do it to be honest, low fees and we can make it sound how we like as it’s just four of us in a room for a bit.

You guys have a raw, natural, rock and roll feel to you. Quite 60s influence. Where do you think this comes from?

Tom: That’s the music we love and grew up playing - I only really learnt to play and write in that style so would struggle and not really want to make anything else. We try to keep it free of too many effects pedals or digital messing - just people playing in a room.

Tomas: I mean, the rock n roll thing isn’t discussed, it just happens. Wherever it comes from is down to the individual, and that can come from anything good or bad. It’s what feels right.

It’s said that you remind people why they need rock and roll in their life. What about rock and roll is important to Fruit Tones?

Tom: Something about hearing that music made us want to play it and spend most of our time doing it, there's something primal to it that if you like it, really grabs you. I guess there's a reason the squares tried to ban it. The whole approach to writing or recording this kind of music is more to do with raw expression than technical ability or whatever's trendy at the time.  You don’t need good equipment or technical skill to write a good song. There's an integrity to that that's sometimes missing in a lot of music people might be exposed to.

Tomas: It’s how we feel, and what’s most natural to us as people and musicians. It’s important because what we make is us, and nothing more or less.

Do you feel that it’s Fruit Tones duty to provide rock and roll?

Tom: I don’t feel any pressure or obligation to play anything in particular. People have played it before us and people will play it after us. We play this music because we like it. It's not particularly on trend at the moment but fads come and go, rock and roll music is timeless. It’s fun to be part of it and leave a little more of it behind for anyone else that needs it.

Tomas: We just play what we want. It’s not just rock n roll, it’s a bit of everything.

With the DIY mindset that Fruit Tones have, tell us what DIY truly means to you.

Tom: It's making the best you can out of what you’ve got. I have a lot of time and respect for people working that way, it's brave to throw everything you have into doing the thing you love. When there's no budget things like recording and touring rely heavily on people helping you out and helping them back in return which builds up a real community feel. Through meeting similar bands and booking shows together with promoters like Freakender in Glasgow, Delicious Clam in Sheffield, Acid Box and Pencil Head in Brighton and Astral Festival in Bristol who are booking bands they love entirely off their own back it kind of builds up a DIY network outside of the music industry where bands can come through and tour without needing any of the nonsense that costs a fortune. You know people working this way are in it for the right reasons and we've made so many friends for life along the way.

Tomas: For most DIY isn’t really a choice, it’s more how our lives are situated. Some bands have access to big studios, some on boats, some in a tree hut, some on the beach. For us it was in an old mill… The DIY aspect is a part of any creative process, because you’re trying to make something new and so you start to experiment with what you’ve got around you.

You worked with Samuel Stacpoole (Holiday Ghosts/The Black Tambourines) on Natural Selection. How important was it for you to work with someone in a similar mindset to you?

Tom: Very important. All the songs have a story and train of thought behind them and it’s important for us that they sound the way we want them to on recordings and when we play them live. Me and Sam have been in various bands that have played shows together in the past and I knew he understood what we were trying to make and he had the equipment and the know-how to make it happen, so to record with him seemed a real no brainer for us. Sam completely nailed it and had some great suggestions and input into the record.

Tomas: Sam’s a talented dude. He knows that sound inside out. It’s so refreshing to have someone who’s truly into your sound and what you do. Similarly we are into what he does with his bands and recordings, it’s a sharing experience.

Tell us a bit about Manchester, how is it for live music? It has a rich history.

Tom: It's a great place for all kinds of artists as it's big but cheap. There'll always be people hung up on the old Manchester bands and nothing else here but the current underground scene is really strong. There's not really a particular sound or genre that defines the city right now, more like loads people that are great at what they do supporting each other and pushing each other to the next level. It's a pretty nurturing environment. There isn't one particular venue or space that anything is centred around either, there's a lot of cool shows at White Hotel and The Peer Hat and a few people are pooling together at the moment to try and set up a DIY space called Fun Haus. That's kind of what Manchester's lacking so fingers crossed it comes together. 

Tomas: Well, Britpop is still here unfortunately… Can’t say i’m one for the ‘lad’ mentally of that whirlwind. There’s a lot of different genres and groups. Some mix and collaborate, some don’t. The people around us have few projects at the time, mainly underground, some getting good recognition. I think it’s slowly building here, new wave of bands doing their thing. It feels quite natural bringing new sounds to Manchester.

So, what’s next for Fruit Tones?

Tom: The album tour picks up again in August, to Hamburg and back, shows in France, Belgium and hopefully Netherlands this time too, then more UK dates in September. By the time this record came out we'd made a good start on the next one so we're hoping to finish getting that together and look at recording it fairly soon. Would be nice to drop the follow up without too much of a gap this time! Looking to tour more new places and let the choogle never end!

Tomas: Just keep doing man!

Keep up to date with Fruit Tones on Facebook here.