Interview: Fruitz

Fruitz are an indie rock band from Dublin who take some inspiration from classic rock, describing their sound as modern classic rock. They’ve had a lot of success since they’ve started, touring the UK and headlining a show in Liverpool and have gained a reputation for being a great live act, energetic, lots of fun. Their new single, “Be Like This” is out on Friday on all streaming platforms.

Edit 20/6: The single is out now and can be streamed below!

We’re lucky to have James Keegan and Adam Whelehan from Fruitz here with us at The Diversity of Classic Rock to talk about their story, sound, and music. If you want to learn more about them, keep on reading!

Angie Moon: How would you describe your music to a new listener?

James: Modern indie I suppose would be the best description with hints of old school classic rock. Modern indie would probably be what we are.

Adam: Yeah, I’d add to that and say modern classic rock I suppose. I feel like we have a little old schoolness still in us, you know. Keeping it alive.

Angie: What classic rock bands particularly are you influenced by the most?

James: Firstly would be U2, Oasis, The Beatles, The Stone Roses, all of them Manchester bands. Some of the American bands like The [Red Hot] Chili [Peppers], Bruce Springsteen.

Adam: I’d be the same, you know. All the old best stuff: The Rolling Stones and whatnot, I love Bob Dylan and Neil Young, I know they’re not classic rock, but Neil Young has heavy stuff. The Kinks and the list goes on and on. I’d nearly list anyone at this stage.

Angie: How did the band get started?

Adam: Me and James started it when were were about 16. We were playing acoustic guitar at a friend’s house and we were just thinking this is great craic [Irish slang term for fun]. Why not? I thought it was amazing. I’ve never seen anyone play acoustic guitar and stuff and James is belting out songs the best he could. “Wonderwall” and all the classics. A couple of years went by and we never really took it seriously, it was more so just playing at parties and stuff. We wanted to give it a proper go so we got the big boy guitars and got on pretty well ever since, we think.

James: We were 21 when we really started. We strengthened from there. I think we’re at the best place we’ve been so far anyway.

Adam: Definitely, yeah.

Angie: How did you learn to play your instruments?

James: We don’t really know. As far as we could remember it was always just the guitar in the house and we were always picking it up. My dad showed me a couple of the first chords and that was really it. They tried to put me in lessons, but I preferred doing it on my own. That’s the way it works. Not really good at listening to people.

Adam: James taught me basically how to play from watching him play when we were younger and we were like ‘of course this is great’. James doesn’t have the best patience so I think I got better quicker so I could keep playing.

James: He was playing Whelan’s [music venue in Dublin] six months later, he was.

Adam: We blew it out of the park. James basically showed me everything and I’d look at YouTube and the internet, little books and stuff. Mad thinking about it really.

Angie: What was it like writing and recording your latest single “Be Like This”?

James: It was good, it was a big step up really. Recording in [Windmill Lane], I don’t think we need to expand on it. The bands that were recorded there [in] that very room, the songs that went through that desk, they’re out of this world. Most of our idols had been in there. We were a bit starstruck even walking in there, but after that it was grand. It was an enjoyable experience recording in there anyway.

Adam: I think it was easily the least [stressful] that we’ve ever went through in preparation. In rehearsals and stuff, we were getting the songs ready and whatnot and then there it was just so enjoyable. You’d really love to do it full time and that’s what we’re striving towards, but it was so much fun and like James said all our favourite U2 albums and all were done in that room and really cool stuff. It was cool. We got to sign the wall and all beside Ed Sheeran and I made sure to write my name underneath him. I don’t like him that much, but it was cool. The lads we were working with were unbelievable: Cian and Fergal and Sasha and stuff. They were great. I’d love to do it again today. Stress free. Fun.

Angie: That was during the pandemic, correct?

James: We started in April. It wasn’t too long ago really. It was during the pandemic.

Adam: Even through the pandemic, it went so well even with all the rules it didn’t take all the fun out of it or nothing, you know?

Angie: How much of a setback was the pandemic for the band?

James: I’m not really one to go complaining, I suppose everyone’s in the same storm really. Obviously it halted the progress. We had a couple of big gigs planned. We were on the up, but I suppose we had to take time off. There’s no point really dwelling on it.

Adam: I guess the same as everyone else. It took the wind out of our sails. And obviously it was a big setback, but yeah. I feel like you have to kind of go through that bit of adversity to make sure that you all want to keep banding together and keep going with it. I think we’re more raring to go than ever these days. Playing gigs especially.

Angie: I’m definitely looking forward to seeing shows because it’s been a long time. I think the last time I saw a show was back in [December] 2019.

Adam: I was November I think too. Unbelievable when you think back.

Angie: What are your songs typically about?

James: I suppose just everyday experiences really. I wouldn’t really be wanting to write about things that people in our generation don’t experience, do you know what I mean? People will think you’re faking it. Just everyday life, everyday experiences.

Adam: I couldn’t add anymore to that. I think they’re just kind of just normal people problems.

Angie: How do you think you’ve changed and grown since the band started?

Adam: I think we’ve gotten better as musicians, you know. I never thought I’d be saying ‘I’m a musician, but we’ve really come on leaps and bounds, you know? And it is cool to see something you start for fun, obviously it’s only getting funner [sic], but seeing how it can bring you places is great. We played a couple of gigs in the UK and it was just so cool to think that we were all packing up our stuff and a lot of us went over and a load of people went to the gigs of course. And it was really cool to see something we started for fun in James’s garage really start to go somewhere, you know?

James: Pretty much the same as what he said there. We got a lot more professional in the last couple of years since Jacqueline [Fruitz’s drummer] came on board. A lot of natural progression happened over the last few years anyway.

Angie: So you played a bunch of shows in the UK, did you open for anyone well known?

James: We actually headlined in Liverpool at the Zanzibar Club, which is now actually shut down because of the pandemic. That was a big milestone of ours and it was a 200-250 club show and we got off the plane and we got off the soundcheck and walking down the streets, there’s posters with our names on them. It was gas! In Manchester we played with an indie label called Scruff of the Neck. [They opened for Elephant and the Rider in Manchester]

Adam: There was a couple [of bands] on that night.

James: A few, it was like an indie night.

Adam: It was a really good experience.

Angie: What are your live shows like?

Adam: They’re great. Really good.

James: I’d love to be in the crowd for one of them.

Adam: Yeah. We do play great gigs. It’s loud, fun, you know? It’s energetic. James is a great frontman. A lot of interacting with the crowd, especially the better we’re getting as a band. I think everyone has great craic, even the people at the back, we can’t see them. We let them know.

James: As the shows get bigger, I think they get better. Especially onstage, you get more comfortable with more of a crowd there.

Adam: If you have more space on the stage, so you’re not in the corner. You have a lot more freedom. It’s a lot easier to look more casual than when we first started.

Angie: What’s been keeping you motivated?

Adam: I think for me it’s been playing gigs again. As you said it’s been so long since… It only really dawned on me that it’s such a big part of even our lives, between me and James. We’d constantly be going to gigs and playing gigs and when it got taken away and the world went a bit overly shocked, I think that’s really keeping me going now. Seeing people again, having good craic and nights out and playing music of course.

James: I think we got a little taste of what’s in store before the pandemic so I think that’s what keeping the motivation there as well.

Angie: What are your goals for this year?

James: Probably get a #1 on Friday. (laughs)

Adam: I’d love to see festivals came back to get some good local festival outdoor gigs. That’s all I’d really like to do and of course, yeah be #1, get signed, for everyone to enjoy the EP that’s coming out. It’s really our finest work.

James: What he said. Hopefully gigs come back and we get a few festivals in. Fingers crossed that happens.

Adam: Who knows? Maybe a mini tour as well.

Angie: What have you been listening to lately?

Adam: I’ve been listening to a lot of Noel Gallagher lately.

James: I was going to say that. A new best of album came out and there’s a few good remixes on that one.

Adam: Yeah, Noel. I’m really liking Olivia Rodrigo. She’s great. I’ve been listening to her and the usual suspects like the Chilis and Nirvana and stuff. Loads of stuff as always.

Angie: What’s your proudest accomplishment as a band?

Adam: I suppose recording in Windmill Lane. Such a well known place in Dublin. That’s certainly up there. Playing gigs abroad in the UK was great. That was early on when we got started. That really gave me a bit of mojo and think that this is going great. At the moment it would be Windmill Lane, such a monumental place. Mecca of music around [Dublin].

James: I’d have to agree with you. When the EP comes out, I think that will be the proudest thing, but for now just to say we did something in Windmill Lane, it’s a dream.

Angie: What are your favourite places around Dublin like record stores and venues?

James: The Cock & Bull in Dublin. (laughs)

Adam: The local pub ain’t bad. I love the Olympia Theatre on Dame Street. It’s absolutely fantastic. Playing there would be a serious step up. It’s such a cool building. Even on the inside when you’re at a gig. It’s so amazing. It’s so intimate, but quite big. I can’t remember how many it holds.

James: I think around 1,000

Adam: That, favourite record store would have to be Freebird. Great spot. I know Brian well. On wicklow street. He always looks after me.

Angie: That’s the place in the hidden bookstore, right?

Adam: Yeah!

James: It’s in a little tunnel.

Adam: That bookstore is great as well. I know Dermot who runs that, he’s a great guy. Some really cool books in there. Get a cool book. Get a cool record and you’ll be on your way.

Angie: Yeah I bought a replica of this swinging 60s pocket guide, a replica of something from 1967 and at the record store I remember buying a Temples album [Volcano] on coloured orange vinyl, really cool.

Adam: Nice! They have some great stuff down there like Brian gets in lots of stuff.

James: Lots of rare stuff.

Adam: He really knows his stuff. Then Dermot and the bookshop. There’s some books there that are ancient. You pick them up and the pages are nearly falling apart in your hands. Some really cool stuff.

Angie: Any words for your fans?

James: Thanks for the support so far. There’s a lot more to come in the next few months, hopefully.

Adam: Play the EP when it comes out as much as you can. Love it as much as we do. Hopefully we’ll see you all at the show soon. Have a couple of beers, after the show.

You can follow Fruitz on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Shoutout to Patrick and Jeffrey from Maryland for supporting the blog!

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