In a brand new series of articles, Oxygen.ie interviews Ireland’s best upcoming musicians and chats about their influences, performing in Ireland and their hopes for the future. This week, Daniel O’Connor chats to North Dublin band Fruitz.
When speaking to Jamie Bond from the North Dublin band ‘Fruitz’, one thing on the top of list of questions to ask was where does such a name come from?
“It’s inspired from a Conor McGregor quote”, he explained. “He said once ‘I’m just enjoying the fruits of my hard work’ and then we just changed it to ‘FRUITZ’ to give it a bit more of an edge.
It’s very apt then that the first thing you notice about this guitar band is the tremendous amount of work these four men have done in the short time they have existed.
Consisting of Jamie Bond, James Keegan, Adam Whelehan and Conor Wallnut, Fruitz only formed in March of this year but have already released a successful EP ‘5ive A Day’ and played a number of headlining gigs in various Dublin city centre venues.
With a lot to show for in such a short time period, you could make the argument that Fruitz are simply making up for lost time, with Jamie explaining how he has been involved in music for a long time.
“The singer (James Keegan) and I were in a small cover band when we were just kids, but we never really went anywhere because of school and all that.”
“Nothing major, just s small thing in his garage with a couple of us messing around.”
Fast-forward a couple of years later though, and the two men make up half of Fruitz, who found themselves in the somewhat unique position of recording their debut release ‘5ive A Day’ before they had even played a gig.
Going into the listening of this EP before knowing this fact though, you’d never realise it. Its fIVE tracks are all accomplished and polished, drawing from a wide range of influences while all centering around no-nonsense, energetic guitar music.
Opening track ‘Midnight Romancer’ could easily slot into some of the Arctic Monkeys earlier releases, but stands out mainly due to Keegan’s fantastic vocal delivery. ‘Come With Me’ takes things up a gear in a Britpop-esque, riff driven belter while closer ‘That Girl’ offers similar strengths, affirming that Fruitz are not short of memorable riffs and catchy melodies.
Perhaps the highlight of ‘5ive A Day’ though is the more subdued but beautifully haunting ‘Alicia’. The ambient, cinematic guitars that drive the song along with Keegan’s voice followed by an explosive crescendo in the song’s final moments is probably the finest display of Fruitz’s songwriting chops, although the limitations in production make the listener beg to hear the live version instead.
Speaking about the EP’s writing and production, Bond explains how the diversity in the band’s listening preferences all played a role in the finished product of its five songs.
“We’re all into some of the same bands like Oasis, U2, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays but after that we all have our own influences,” Bond explains.
“I’d be into a bit of hip-hop, rock and grunge and then our singer prefers the likes of U2 which I wouldn’t be huge into. We all take bits of our different interests and put it in”
With lead track Midnight Romancer already amassing over 1,000 plays on Spotify, there’s definitely interest circulating around the lads, but the real challenge would come in the form of their first gig.
“We nailed the songs in the studio down and by chance, a guy I know got in touch with us to see if we were interested in playing at his band’s single launch in the Grand Social,” Bond said.
“We had never played before a gig before together and it was only 2 or three weeks after we had been in the studio so we got the head down, got a couple of tunes down so we’ve really hit the ground running”
“At first, we were all nervous, especially being on such a big stage in Dublin. We would have all went there on nights out in the city since we were 18 so to be up there on the stage ourselves playing, it was a bit surreal.”
Since then, the nerves have peeled away for Fruitz. They’ve played and headlined in venues including the International Bar, Whelans and The Underground (as well as gigs organised by promoter Luke Glesson, who Fruitz insisted we give a shout out to!), appeared on local radio station NEAR FM and will grace the Workman’s Club stage this weekend in another step up for the group.
Going back to the inception of the band’s name, there’s definitely been hard work put in to get to the position they are in a matter of months, and they are beginning to see the fruits of their labour.
“It’s all gone better than we thought it would be. At first, we didn’t think we’d get much people at the gigs.
“Now though, you see a few familiar faces at the gigs that we wouldn’t really know ourselves. It’s all kind of cool to see”.
“The work pays off when you see someone not too familiar at your gigs enjoying themselves”
Hard work and guitars were the first two things to pop into this writer’s mind when thinking back to the conversation with Fruitz, and it is those two things that Bond believes elevates them from others when looking towards the future.
“We’re a hard working band. A lot of the bands at the moment play to backing tracks, maybe they’re over the top or they don’t have the sound of a band’ that raw sound of guitar, bass and drums. They’re not a lot of people around at the moment that have that.”
Hard work and guitars should definitely constitute for 2 of any decent musician’s 5 a day. If Fruitz stays on their upward trend, they’ll begin to see the rewards.
Midnight Romancer, a song by Fruitz on Spotify
You can see Fruitz live at the Workman’s Club on Saturday 9th of December. For a full list of dates, visit Facebook.com/FruitzOfficial
“5ive A Day” is available for streaming on Spotify
Read previous editions of Oxygen.ie ‘Spotlight’ here