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Fruition's Kellen Asebroek: 'I Want The Average Person On The Street To Know Us'

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Jessie McCall
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Portland, Oregon's Fruition has just released its fifth album, Watching It All Fall Apart, a record that ushers in what promises to be a busy year for the band. Currently on a run of headlining dates, the band will take to the road with singer-songwriter Jack Johnson late this spring. According to Kellen Asebroek, Fruition is eager to reach a new group of fans, something you can hear on the expansive new recording, which was produced by the esteemed Tucker Martine (Bill Frisell, Mudhoney, The Decemberists).

The band performs at Barleycorn's Thursday, Feb. 22.

Interview Highlights:

Jedd Beaudoin: Tell me a little bit about going in to make the new album. It seems like you've taken apart about what an Americana band should be about and thrown in some elements that might surprise listeners in some ways.

Kellen Asebroek: I like how you put that: "Taking apart the elements of what an Americana band should be." We've always been trying to push those boundaries a little bit and color outside the lines because we don't like the lines too much.

You worked with producer Tucker Martine this time. Did he enable you to see directions that you hadn't considered before?

I think the biggest part of what he did was encourage us to take chances. It's something we already did but with his personal brand of creativity, it blended so well with ours, he kind of pushed us in whatever direction it seemed we wanted to go but were maybe afraid to try. He would say, "No, let's try that. That sounds borderline insane. Let's do that. Why would you ever use that kind of organ on this kind of track? Let's give it a go." Sometimes we'd have to shut his ideas down and sometimes he'd shut ours down. But not unless it made sense to do so. What was the question again?

[Laughs] I think you answered it.

I think I did.

Can you think of a track on the new album that you feel is a really good example of the coming together of his production and the band's writing and performance?

I think "Turn To Dust" is a good example of that. Let's just say that if we came in with the bones of the track he found ways to help flesh it out. That's saying, "Hey, what if we did put some mandolin right here? What if we made it reverse mandolin?" He had a Mellotron in the back and we ended up putting a Mellotron solo into that song. We tried something and tweaked it and then pushed it a little more. That's what his thing. He's not going to make some drastic change to your sound as a producer. He's more trying to get into the center of a song and then find what makes it tick, what makes it a good song and then exploit that in the best way possible. Find the essence of the song and then make that essence shine.

You have done opening slots and other shows that have exposed you to the jam band audience, which is very loyal.

It's the biggest community of music lovers. Both the jam band world and the bluegrass world. People are rabid fans and travel across the country, following their favorite band for a string of 10 shows. People don't do that for their favorite metal band, I don't think. I like metal, but I don't see other scenes where people are as rabid as the jam band world. That's been super helpful to us, gaining new ground in new cities. Getting new fans. Getting people to spread the word. I want the average person on the street to know us. Not just the cool music head. I want to get it out there.

We've always written kind of pop songs. They've been in a form that's been most digestible by fans of bluegrass and jam bands. More and more we're branching out and trying to make something timeless and memorable and catchy and palatable, but not because we're trying to cater to peoples' bland tastes, but because we're trying to make something that people can relate to.

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Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.

 
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