Fruit Bats is led by guitarist, pianist and singer Eric D. Johnson, the band's main songwriter and only constant member. Originally part of short-lived Chicago group I Rowboat, Johnson and two of his fellow Rowboat members, guitarist Dan Strack and drummer Brian Belval, created Fruit Bats as a side-project.

When I Rowboat split up, Fruit Bats became Johnson's main focus. Spurred on by Califone/Perishable Records honchos Tim Rutili and Ben Massarella, the group recorded their first album, Echolocation, released in 2001.

After tours with Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Modest Mouse and The Shins, Fruit Bats signed with Sub Pop in late summer 2002, recording their second album, 2003's Mouthfuls, which included new bandmate Gillian Lisee.

After relocating to Seattle, the group released their third album, Spelled in Bones, in 2005. Afterward, Eric D. Johnson played with The Shins and Vetiver. In 2008, the Fruit Bats began working together again, with revised membership of Johnson, Christopher Sherman, Ron Lewis, Graeme Gibson, and Sam Wagster. In 2009, they released The Ruminant Band.

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