Jay Cobb Anderson and his Fruition bandmates have seen their musical stock go through the roof over the last few years, with and recent release, Labor Of Love, captures the band at their newest plateau. Thanks to a relentless touring schedule and a knack for writing songs that strike emotional chords while emitting an irresistible call to boogie, Fruition has found themselves with a nationwide fanbase who are filling clubs coast to coast. Anderson is one third of the songwriting trio, alongside Mimi Naja and Kellen Asebroek, who are creating music that is spreading across the country like wildfire. He’s also quite the focal point of the band’s whirlwind live performances.

Our own Rex Thomson caught Anderson on a rare quiet moment in his hectic touring schedule to chat about the band’s rising prominence in the music scene, the difficulties of being in a band with so many prolific songwriters and the joys of a van well packed. We’ve also included three exclusive videos from Fruition’s electrifying set at the Summer Camp Music Festival from earlier this year. Enjoy!

Live For Live Music: Fruition features three different song writers with distinct musical perspectives. How difficult is it to blend those outlooks and song writing styles into a cohesive whole?

Jay Cobb Anderson: You know, it’s actually not that hard now, since we’ve been foolin’ with it for so long.  That’s actually what’s made our sound what it is. The fact that it is three different voices singing together, that is the heart of how we do things. From the very first time we sang together we could feel it, our voices collected well. The way our voices come together…that’s a big part of the whole Fruition sound.

L4LM: What about the different songwriting styles. Has it happened that one of you wrote a song that was just too far “Off Model” for the band’s sound?

JCA: When it comes to our process…we ALL bring our material to the table. The way we do it is we all just sort of throw our stuff together on the table and then try and envision the ones that lend themselves to the band the most, y’know? For this last record, (Labor Of Love) and the EP before it we had like fifty songs. So we were like “Okay… let’s narrow these down.”

It’s one of those things where we don’t ever want to exclude anyone’s material. So we do a lot of picking and choosing before we bring in stuff to everyone. I have a lot of material and I really fight to narrow myself down before I come into the planning sessions. I had like fifty songs and I managed to narrow them down to like twenty-five before we all got together. Kellen had a handful of tunes and Mimi had a handful of tunes. In the end though, we just want to bring the best we have to the band and find the songs that fit our sound.

L4LM: Your newest album, Labor Of Love, has been well received by fans and critics alike. How’s it feel to see something you worked so hard on getting so much love?

 JCA: Ah man..it’s been incredible. I haven’t heard anyone say anything bad about it. I’m kinda worried people are just being nice! I wish somebody had SOMETHING negative to say about it…

L4LM: It was too short!

JCA: (Laughs) There ya go!

Watch the band play their song “Blue Light” at Summer Camp Music Festival.

L4LM: When it comes to songwriting, are you able to direct the process, or are you more sort of along for the ride?

JCA: Songs are funny. They’re so many ways you can get to where you want to go…and none of them are truly wrong I guess, but some definitely work better for me personally than others. I feel like if you set out to say “I am going to write a song about this thing” you can quickly paint yourself into a corner. You have to be ready to let whatever you’re doing take on its own life and become its own thing.

Say…say I’m focused on writing a song about, well…about whatever. And I sit down all focused to write my song about this thing. But while I’m playing with chord progressions I come up with this whole separate idea. I think the best songs just write themselves. There have even been times when I can feel a song coming. I can feel the inspiration coming. It’s really bizarre, and I don’t know where it comes from…but I can sense it coming. At its best, I will just sit down with a guitar or in front of a piano and write multiple songs in one sitting.

Sometimes I feel like they are already there and I am just writing them down. For a long time I thought that great songs only came from great inspirations. That’s because I was way into the Bob Dylan style of writing. Then I started thinking about minor tones and sitting on songs for a year, two years even three.  And also I’ve been trying to follow and capture more of what i call “Instant Inspiration” songs. That works from time to time. There’s just so many paths to reach so many different directions. In the end, I think it’s really hard to make a great song if you set out to say a very specific thing.

L4LM: Do You feel like there is an overall band philosophy that you try and service?

JCA: Yes, definitely. The song is the most important thing. That’s something we all agree on. We don’t care about where the solos go, or leaving ourselves room to shred…we care about making the best SONG we can. It’s all about helping the song be whatever it needs to be, and giving each other, and the song, space to do and say what needs to be said. I guess our motto is “We surrender to the song.”

Also…no idea is a bad idea. We play a lot with arrangements. We’ll try a song four or five different ways trying to find the way a song sounds best. I may have a way I think it should sound in my head. I don’t play drums, but sometimes I will write a song with a specific beat in mind and I’ll come to Tyler (Thompson) and he’ll be like “Well…what if we try it like this?” And I’ll say “I probably won’t like it but let’s hear what you got.” And the when we try it out I’m like “Okay dude…that is better than what I had in mind for sure.” It is all about stripping away egos and shit and getting down to what really matters…the song.

You have to be ready to admit to yourself that you were wrong, but also able to know when to fight for something. It’s all got to be about making the song the best it can be.

L4LM: You guys have been regulars on the Sirius satellite network and are high on radio station programming charts across the country. I was curious to hear if you had noticed any kind of response from all that airplay.

JCA: Absolutely! The first time we started doing anything with the Jam On station…that was like three years ago, it was crazy. Almost everywhere we went people would come up to us and say “We heard you on Jam On” or We heard you on the radio so we had to come to your show!” Especially now…I can’t even imagine how much it’s helping us. There are people out there we’ve never met, whose cities we still haven’t made it to, who are huge fans of our band. It just blows my mind.

I can’t thank them enough for the love and support they’ve shown us. It’s amazing.

Watch the band play their song “Bent” at Summer Camp Music Festival.

L4LM: Fruition is a great example of what hard work and committing to a shared ideal can accomplish. How many shows would you say you average per year?

JCA: Oh god…I just have no idea!  Wow.  I couldn’t even…I guess I could just go back and count, but just the thought of that scares me. (laughs) It seems like we’re always working…or playing…whichever you want to call it. (Laughs) It’s basically a full time job for us.  Most people work forty hours a week, and that’s basically what we do. But our lives are flipped. Most people get the weekends off, but that’s when we work the hardest. But it’s for something we love, something we live for.

L4LM: Everybody wants to be a rock star…but so few people understand what being a travelling musician is really like. How often to you get fans saying they wish they had your job?

JCA: It’s funny when you get people saying “You’re living the dream! It must be amazing! You’re like a rock star!” And I’m like “…uhhh…it’s not really like that.” Real rock stars kinda died out in the seventies and eighties. Real rock stars own planes…we drive around in a van. Some folks ideas of what it’s like to be a musician…they definitely only have a vision of the fun aspects of this life, the things they think are cool. But it’s something that you end up giving your whole life to. You still have a bit of a normal life to an extent, but it just eats everything. Music is all I do. Writing, playing, travelling somewhere to play…music rules my world.

But the playing is what makes it all worth it. The challenges are all the other stuff. The driving, the preparing, the promoting…the business side of this life. It’s important today to pay attention to social media and promotion…that part of this life has become essential. But then, in the middle of all that, you have to still find a chance to think like an artist, y’know. But yeah, it’s funny how some people perceive our life sometimes. They’ve put their mental image of our life up on a pedestal, and it’s just not what they think. It’s a full time job.

L4LM: So it’s not all groupies and destroying dressing rooms?

JCA: (Laughs) Not at all.

L4LM: You’re out of Portland, Oregon. There’s not only a strong music scene there and the Pacific Northwest in general, but a bit of a similar spirit amongst some of the bands these days. Earnest, exploratory and idiosyncratic. How much would you say the region itself is an influence on you and your songwriting?

JCA: I definitely feel like the Northwest has affected my outlook and songwriting. I’m from northern Idaho, but I’ve lived in Washington and Oregon for most of my life. I lived on the east coast for about three months or so in Massachusetts, but other than that this is where I call home in my mind and my heart. But I definitely feel that growing up in the Northwest, being part of the music scene out here…it’s definitely had its effect on me. Just travelling from show to show…you see such incredible scenery out the window, y’know?

I think the variety of bands that have come out of the area are so different too. From all the grunge stuff, to bands like Sonic Youth and The Wailers…not the Bob Marley Wailers but the punk band…bands like that and Mudhoney and Nirvana… that spirit… rock and roll is at the heart of my music love.

Watch the band play their song “Labor of Love” at Summer Camp Music Festival.

L4LM: You guys give some pretty exhausting performances.  Have ever just been too wiped out to pack up and leave when you’re done?

JCA: No…you HAVE to pack up and leave. The thing is…after a show I am just so pumped up that the exhaustion doesn’t phase me. The only real exception to that is if somebody is sick. If one of us is sick then as soon as the show is done we tell them “Go away!” We don’t all wanna be sick too. It’s hard not to end up sharing every cold on the road. So that’s like, a rule. We don’t want any of us to be sick, we want them to go and take care of themselves.

One thing that is kinda fun to us when we go to festivals is the super helpful crews there ready to move all your gear for you. The crews help you load in and load out. Up until it comes to the pack job. That’s all us. Me, Jeff (Leonard) and Tyler…we’re the packers. We take pride in it. We’ve been known to take pictures of especially good pack jobs.

L4LM: It’s good to take pride in accomplishments! Well, thanks for taking time to chat with us sir! Good luck out there on the road, and thanks for for all the wonderful music!

JCA: You’re welcome! Happy to do it.