You can't always judge a book by its cover, though sometimes, those assumptions can color the content. Though Portland-based band Fruition is composed of stringed instrument players—including a mandolin—and its music has always had folk-tinged roots, it was never meant to be a bluegrass band. Still, over the years, Fruition accepted this fate and began blending a bluegrass sound into the mix, creating a fusion of genres en route to rock with a motley crew of other influences.
We caught up with guitarist and co-vocalist Kellen Asebroek before the band's trip to Bend to find out more about Fruition's roots and where it's heading.
Source Weekly: For the uninitiated, what's the band's origin story?
Kellen Asebroek: Some kind of musical magnet attracted us all to Portland from different parts of the country. The crucial moment for us really coming together was when Mimi and I were out busking, and ran into Jay, who'd recently moved to Portland and was out to busk as well. We decided to join forces on the street. When we realized that three-part harmonies came easily between us, we ran with it!
SW: Fruition is a great word. How did it come to be the name of the band?
KA: Mimi had just been performing under that moniker, along with our friend Rowan Cobb and whomever else she invited to play. I actually remember her coming up with it and being like, "Dude, I have the perfect name for a band." And it really is. What else is a band besides a realization of efforts and a growth of an idea into a fully blossomed outcome?
SW: Why do you think the band migrated toward bluegrass? What does bluegrass mean to you?
KA: Honestly, we became a stringband because, well, we had stringed instruments. None of us had a bluegrass background. And if you listen to the early stuff, we don't sound like a traditional grass outfit. It was always more folk-leaning; when people see a mandolin, upright bass and acoustic guitars, they assume bluegrass. That being said, we did learn how to be a grass band, but we were really just pushing forward always toward eventually being a rock band.
SW: What bands (bluegrass and otherwise) have the biggest influence on Fruition's sound?
KA: We all come from varied backgrounds and it's evident in our sound that Fruition is a combination of so many influences. The Beatles are a huge influence for all of us, and understandably so—they were the same kind of mish-mash of genres that unified into their own unique "sound."
SW: How do you share songwriting responsibilities and how does the sound and tone of each song shift based on who wrote it?
KA: There are three songwriters in the band: Jay, Mimi, and myself. You can definitely hear our individual styles come through on each different tune, but there's also this great synergy that happens once we all come together for the final product. You can hear our different approaches to songwriting, but the songs end up having a "Fruition" sound regardless. It's really cool.
SW: Fruition makes generous use of harmonies. Why do you think more bands don't?
KA: Good question! It may be that pulling off three parts is challenging, and we are lucky enough that it comes naturally between the three of us singers. Or it may be that pop music today is more focused on one "lead singer" as opposed to three. The fact that we trade off lead responsibilities is fairly uncommon in this day and age. We like to take the Beatles or Grateful Dead or CSNY approach. Different lead singers on each tune, but with a unified sound that happens when we come together. Plus, one of the most blissful feelings in the world comes with singing harmonies with other humans. More people should try it!
SW: How has the band's sound changed over the years, and where do you see it heading in the future?
KA: I mentioned earlier how our beginnings were in a string-band format. But it was a string band that wanted to be a rock band. As we progress through the years and the albums, we are evolving into a more well-rounded rock sound, but always nodding to our folk roots. As we grow as people and musicians, we are constantly trying new things, pushing new sounds and taking more risks.
SW: What should fans expect from the upcoming LP?
KA: The upcoming LP was recorded during the same sessions as our recent EP, Holehearted Fools. It came out so wonderful. Warm tones, new ideas, and tons of attention to sonic detail. The LP is definitely more psychedelic than any of our previous efforts, and definitely more rock 'n' roll. We've always considered ourselves a pop band—but the kind of pop that is timeless and classy, not so much in the vein of a lot of the current pop.
9 pm, Friday, Dec. 4
Domino Room, 51 Greenwood Ave.
$13 adv., $15 door