With their Soul Survivor gigs creating a buzz and rumours of a big record deal in the offing, Chichester's FRUIT are about to hit the fast lane. The band talked to Mike Rimmer.
With the release of their second EP, four piece British rock worship band Fruit have certainly made an impact. Their Soul Survivor appearances have built a fan base, their forthcoming Cross Rhythms festival appearance will expand their appeal, and the band are currently being scrutinized by some music bizz big timers. Clearly, Fruit have come a long way since they formed at Chichester College. Band member Tom Mills remembers, "The Christian Union wanted to put on an event so we decided to do a few worship songs together and developed from there. Fruit was the name of our CU at college and ever since the first gig, it stuck."
Tom explains how the Soul Survivor connection occurred. He says, "It started in 1996 when Aaron and I managed to play a couple of acoustic songs in The Dreggs one afternoon. We were then asked to play again that evening and in the end we did three or four slots that week and we'd only written about five songs!" The whole band returned in 1997 to be one of the resident bands and managed to sell 100 copies of their freshly minted debut CD. Tom comments, "Soul Survivor have been with us right from the beginning and have shown great support."
Fruit consist of Aaron Frith (vocalist), Tom 'Mucka' Mills (guitarist), 'Mogs' (bass) and Adam Mills (drummer). 1998 saw the band promoted to Soul Survivor's second biggest venue The Cage and although they were playing when Delirious? were playing elsewhere at almost the same moment, Fruit received a good reception. Tom remembers, "It always feels odd when you get introduced, you walk onto the stage and get shouted at by hundreds of people. It was good to know we pulled a crowd and the response was brilliant. There was a heartfelt sense of the Holy Spirit."
Judging from the 'Don't Walk Blind' EP, Fruit are going to have to get used to being shouted at since they are packed with the potential to mature into an excellent band. 'Don't Walk Blind' was produced by Paul Burton at Ground Zero. Burton is best known as a guitarist with Blueberry and a technical stalwart of the Delirious? crew. Tom describes the experience of working with him, "Paul is great to work with. The whole recording took seven weeks. The most memorable part of the recording was the curry at the end and doing the party mix on 'Be Free' when the guys from Phatfish turned up. We all jumped around in the studio and pretended to have a party!"
Listening to the album it's inevitable, although possibly not always helpful, that Fruit will be compared to Delirious?. How does Tom feel about that? "We are a bunch of guys from the south coast who play music with a bit of rock guitar and happen to be Christians." He continues, perhaps a tad defensively, "It's very easy to compare us to Delirious? because of these reasons but then we sound like loads of other bands that I expect the majority don't know about. Delirious? are the biggest band to come out of the Church in this country and I'm sure a lot of bands would like to be like Delirious?. We have our own dreams and visions which spread a lot wider than church festivals. It will be interesting to see if NME, Top Of The Pops and Smash Hits compare us to Delirious?. It's great to see Delirious? hitting the mainstream, we need more Christian bands to look at the bigger picture."
Fruit are clearly
one of the first of the next generation of bands who have been
inspired to create music to touch their generation. Tom explains Fruit's vision. "When
Aaron and I first met, the whole band kind of started because we
wanted to do the same things and it's still the same today for all of
us. God has put big dreams in our hearts and we're not afraid to
believe in them and fulfil them. We want to create, produce and
perform the music that God has given us and do it as well as we can.
We want God to touch people and bring them closer to him through the
gifts he has given us. We want the words of our songs to touch
people's souls, to challenge them, to speak hope into hopeless
situations and to speak life into a musical world that reeks of death
and destruction. Our hearts just want what God wants and if that means
getting number one chart hits, playing Wembley stadium, hanging out
with the stars and winning Brit awards, then let us do it all to the
glory of God!"
Whilst the producer of Top Of The Pops hasn't yet had the opportunity to be bowled over by Fruit and Radio One aren't going bananas about the EP, the band do have the opportunity to play at the Cross Rhythms festival. After creating a following at Soul Survivor, how does Tom see the band going down at Cross Rhythms? "I really don't know," he responds. "It'll be our first year there and we don't know how many people will know us, but hopefully if people check us out, they'll like us and then support us in the future."
So what can punters expect from the live show? "No miming!" Tom counters before continuing, "Plenty of grooves and vibes for people to dance and jump around to. Music that you can worship God to and just focus on him. Challenging lyrics that will make you stop and think. If you want to have a good time of dancing, worshipping and going a bit mad, come and see us!"
Finally, Tom describes playing the song "Living For The Day" at the
Irish Summer Madness festival. "We got the quiet middle section and
Aaron asked the crowd to join in with him in prayer for the situation
in their country and the power of God just fell in that place so much
that we had to stop playing and get down on our knees. It was amazing
to see all those people from all their different backgrounds all
crying out to God together with one heart."
It's the expectation that God is likely to turn up and move during their live show that makes me excited at the prospect of seeing Fruit play. I'll be the one down the front going mad!