Analogue Music | Fruition


By Matt Conner

This chapter of Fruition's story could be called, "On Their Terms."

Fresh off of the release of their latest album (or side or EP?), Broken at the Break of Day, Jay Cobb Anderson says Fruition is enjoying the creative freedom and flow of having said, "Fuck it!" in the not-too-distant past. After trying to make more predictable cycles of writing and releasing music in an ever-changing industry, it simply made more sense for the folk rockers to make music on their own terms.

Ten years after they started, the Portland quintet is thankful for their journey to date and also hungry for places they haven't been. The new release is the second half of a planned double-album and features two distinct themes and sides—Wild As The Night (previously released) and Broken at the Break of Day—the product of a band set free (although they were hurried along).

We recently sat down with Jay to hear more about this latest chapter of the band and how it works to have three songwriters all working on the same material.

Analogue: Today we're primarily talking about the second part of a planned two-part release or double album, if you will, for Fruition, and I'd love to start with the structure of this. Do you begin with a vision for what you want to make?

Jay Cobb Anderson: It's one of those things that just kind of happened. A couple years ago, we put out our album Watching It All Fall Apart. The music industry is always changing, but even in the last couple years, it's changed a lot more. We used to put all of our eggs in one basket and release an album and try to push it. After Watching It All Fall Apart, we were in this mode where we were like, 'Fuck it! Let's just put out as much music as we want and do things our own way.'

'Broken at the Break of Day' cover art
'Broken at the Break of Day' cover art

So what we started doing is this 45 series where we're releasing singles. You can buy 45s at our show of the singles. But we weren't sure whether we also wanted to do an EP or what. We decided to do two companion releases. Whatever you want to call them, albums or not, that's what they are being called which is funny because they're basically a different side of a record. So basically we're pressing a record and one side will be Wild As the Night and the other will be Broken at the Break of Day.

The way that whole thing came about is that we were thinking of ways to put out more music. I can't remember where the idea came from—maybe our manager brought up something about it. Once I started thinking of the day/night thing, it became easy to think about day and night in contrast to being a touring musician. Everything started falling into place. The nighttime is where the magic happens and you feel basically all of the mysteries of life and all of the good times when you're out there playing shows. The daytimes are different and a litle bit harder. You wake up hungover sometimes. It's time for reflection.

So we wanted to release Wild as the Night first, rather than the day, because night is where we thrive as musicians. It kind of showed us the direction to go and we just followed it. The ideas start to happen and then you look at what you've got. With us in Fruition, we have three songwriters in the band so we started throwing ideas out, asking what would work in these scenarios—what has a night vibe and what has a day vibe.

We actually thought about doing some colors first, which we might later, but we wanted to capture a color vibe. The inspiration for that comes from Erykah Badu who does this thing where she'll put together a bunch of music and then say, 'This is my Green playlist.' All the songs are green. I love that idea and we might explore something like that, too. But the day/night thing, once we started working with that, it all started flowing that way.

Analogue: It sounds as if you enjoy a creative prompt to write. Is that how the other songwriters work as well or is that problematic?

Jay: Well, the prompts come later. With Wild As The Night and Broken at the Break of Day, it was the first time all three songwriters got together and started writing together. In the past, we'd all write songs on our own, come together and throw them in a pot to see what starts forming from that. With this, we had a couple of writing sessions together and most of the stuff that popped out of that is on those two releases. I love the idea of prompts. I write a lot and I'm always trying to explore new ways of approaching how to write a song.

Analogue: When you have three songwriters, what is the push and pull like after a decade together?

Jay: Y'know, it's a pretty easy flow. We all know each other pretty well and know how to put up with each other and how to push each other. The push and pull is pretty easy to communicate ideas and things like that. Yet it is still difficult. Creating art is a pretty personal thing, so there's a sensitivity you have to put into effect when you're talking with people about preference or coming up with ideas. Nobody likes to have an idea shot down, but if it's not flowing, whoever is the one who is championing the song gets the whole veto power. But we're pretty good about trying to make the best thing possible that will flow for one idea.

I think that's another reason why it took us so long to get together and co-write stuff. It's such a personal thing and we're all very different in the way we approach music. It was really good and it was challenging at times, but I think the outcome was fantastic in terms of what we were shooting for.

Analogue: When was the last time your feelings were hurt in that process?

Jay: Oh, it happens all the time! [Laughs] It's one of those things, though, where it gets easier and easier to deal with that when you realize it's for the greater good of the art. I play in another band called TK & The Holy Know-Nothings. My best friend, Taylor Kingman, is the songwriter and he's probably my favorite songwriter who exists. He's a phenomenal writer. We just finished recording a new album for that and I have a co-write which I was stoked getting in on any of that writing. But there are so many times with Taylor where he's trying to write something and I'll throw a line at him thinking it's great and he'll say, 'That's not what I'm going for.' It's like, 'Oh, okay. That's fine.'

"You have to put your ego aside because if somebody shoots something aside, it means they have a really good vision for the way they want it."

You have to put your ego aside because if somebody shoots something aside, it means they have a really good vision for the way they want it. If you can get on board with their frame of mind, then you can help actually reveal what the song should be. If you can't, that's okay. That's totally fine. It's a good exercise, I think. [Laughs]

Analogue: I read this was the most accelerated recording session yet for the band yet. What did that bring out of the band?

Jay: When you don't have a lot of time to finish stuff and it's really fresh, it's exciting but also terrifying. But great art is made out of limitations, I think. With some of this, we'd booked studio time without knowing what we would record. It was a rush to get everything in order and get into the studio and say, 'Let's do this.' It was also stressful and a lot of pressure. But I think that's good. That's how you get diamonds—with pressure.

Analogue: The biggest surprise given the quick recording scenario and the pressure that came with it?

Jay: There's a song on Broken at the Break of Day called "At the End of the Day," the last song on the release. We couldn't figure out how to record it. We tried several options and this was the last day that we had to record. We thought about doing it with a full band set-up, but we ended up stripping it down into three voices with a guitar. I still wanted to include our rhythm section—Jeff Leonard and Tyler Thompson—on some kind of instruments, but I didn't want to kill the vibe we were shooting for which was super-stripped down and vocal focused.

So what we ended up doing came from a live DVD I saw of Neil Young years ago. He did "Harvest Moon" and his drummer just played a broom. So I said, 'Hey do you have some brooms in the studio?' We busted out a couple and you can hear the guys on that track just sweeping up. [Laughs] It's one of those perfect things that happened serendipitously. We literally recorded the song "At the End of the Day" at the end of that day and the end of the session. It just embodied the whole vibe.

Analogue: Does that work well for you personally or do you miss being able to take your tiem and edit as much as you want?

Jay: I think both are great. I'm so lucky to be able to be a professional musician and songwriter. I have the ability to constantly think about songs. I do like to bust things out and go, 'Okay this is a song.' But if I have time I'm always listening to the stuff I've written or tweaking lines or tweaking parts of the music. But I can go either way with it.

VISIT: Fruition