Eric D. Johnson revived his longstanding indie-folk project Fruit Bats in 2015, just two years after discontinuing it. Lately he’s busied himself with Bonny Light Horseman, his supergroup alongside Hadestown creator Anaïs Mitchell and sideman extraordinaire Josh Kaufman (Craig Finn, the National, Muzz, etc.). But now he has a new Fruit Bats project on the way, albeit one involving someone else’s songs.
Next month Fruit Bats will release an album-length cover of Siamese Dream, the 1993 blockbuster alt-rock masterpiece by Johnson’s fellow Chicagoans the Smashing Pumpkins. In extremely Billy Corgan fashion, Johnson played all the instruments on this album. It’s coming out via Turntable Kitchen’s Sounds Delicious series, which has given us prior alignments such as Ben Gibbard doing Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque and the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart taking on Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever.
A statement from Johnson:
In 1993, I was the prime age to be swept up in alternative radio. But truth be told, while I loved Nirvana and Jane’s Addiction, in my heart I was still secretly wearing a hole in my cassette copy of Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits (1974–78). Somehow, Smashing Pumpkins spoke to all sides of me—angsty on the surface but really filled with a kind of Midwest mysticism that spoke directly to my 17-year-old-kid-from-Illinois brain. It’s also the first tape I ever listened to while driving a long distance alone. I’m pretty sure my version of this album is based on subconscious memories of that drive. I played all the instruments on this. And no, of course I’m not going to be able to recreate Billy Corgan’s crushing, epic guitar tone. Nor could I dream of touching Jimmy Chamberlin’s floaty (yet ever-shredding) drumming. This version is all about hazy memories for me, and how Corgan’s brilliant pop hooks can travel through time and exist in any possible instrumental configuration.
Along with the announcement, Johnson has shared his waltzing cover of “Today,” which you can hear below.
Siamese Dream is out 8/21. Pre-order it here.