When Nico West emailed to tell us about his “all-fruit rock show,” we were like it’s a date! On Aug. 3 at Goodbye Blue Monday and on Aug. 9 at Sidewalk Cafe, the Columbia student will play songs off of The Fruit EP, in which he sings about cantaloupe (“the favorite fruit of the Pope”), avocado (“I don’t care if you’re a fruit or a veg, you’re the only fruit that can talk me off the ledge”), bananas (“there’s so many dick jokes to make”) and also that non-fruit, the tomato (“stay the fuck away from my fruit salads”).
Sure, this smacks of gimmickry along the lines of the The Pizza Underground, but rest assured the songs are way less corny than Weird Al’s “Grapefruit Diet,” from the Pavement-esque “Tomato” to the more lo-fi/antifolk numbers. Having determined that West’s music was just peachy, we squeezed him for information.
It was actually a David Byrne interview that inspired the all-fruit thing. He was explaining how he tried to stay away from singing about “big” things like “love” or “death” and instead wanted to sing about small, insignificant things like a lamp or a house. I had already written a banana song and I had all of this extra music so I decided to try and do one for every fruit, a bit like Sufjan Stevens was going to an album for every state. That was a year ago and I’m currently up to 32 fruit songs.
Bands like Pizza Underground or Radio Bread (“I’m a Crepe”) are funny, but to me they’re not all that interesting because essentially they’re cover bands. I’m more focused on what a durian or a strawberry or a coconut song would sound like and write the music accordingly.
I’ve got another album’s worth of material about women who deserve love but don’t get it (librarians, crossing guards, hoarder ladies, really muscular fitness women). I’ve written “serious” songs in the past, but I haven’t in a long time just because serious lyrics never really get heard, and are often meaningless.
There’s definitely some Moldy Peaches influence in my stuff but favorite fruit bands have to be Smashing Pumpkins, Cranberries, Blind Melon and of course the Lemonheads. My favorite fruit song is definitely “Strawberry Fields Forever.”
I’ve done my first EP that had bananas on the cover so suck it, Andy Warhol. My next three EPs are all going to have very different sounds, more jangly guitars and even some hip hop for tracks like “Pomegranate” and “Lychee.”
My favorite fruit by far is avocado. My least favorite fruit is grapefruit, mostly because I didn’t know what grapefruit was until I was 15 (I always thought people were talking about grapes), and I’m still bitter.