Fake Fruit Is the Best Emerging Band in the Bay. Is the Universe Conspiring Against Them?

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Alex Post, Miles MacDiarmid, Bee Wright and Hannah D'Amato (left to right) are Fake Fruit.  (Adrian Spinelli )

Light drizzle shakes through sun-pierced gray skies at West Oakland’s Ghost Town Brewing on a Tuesday evening. The Warriors/Lakers playoff game buzzes inside and a taco truck hums as Fake Fruit bandleader Hannah D’Amato saddles up in an outdoor booth. She and the band’s new bassist, Bee Wright, are grabbing a drink before one final practice session ahead of their West Coast tour with Deerhoof.

Judging by D’Amato’s serene yet sprightly disposition, you wouldn’t guess how much the singer of the Bay Area’s best emerging band has been through since arriving here in 2018. Yet her time in the Bay almost ended as soon as it began.

“I got to the Bay pissed off,” she says.

Originally from Southern California, D’Amato is a Chicana — mostly Mexican and part Sicilian — who came to the Bay Area to live with her sister in early 2018. Her plans were quickly thwarted when her sister’s partner moved in instead, leaving D’Amato looking for a place. Before that, she had a stint on the East Coast that culminated in an audition for the prestigious Berklee College of Music, where one of the all-white male panelists took it upon himself to turn down the volume on her guitar amp — a metaphor for the plight of women in the music industry if there ever was one. D’Amato still got accepted, but she wasn’t feeling it (can you blame her?) and soon made her way West.

It was in Oakland that she met guitarist Alex Post (a Massachusetts transplant) and drummer Miles MacDiarmid (a Santa Rosa native) and formed Fake Fruit. Their debut self-titled album came out in 2021 on Sonny Smith’s Rocks In Your Head Records, offering a much-needed glimmer of polished post-punk pizazz. The arresting collection of pointed, abrasive tracks floated on Post’s jangly guitars. D’Amato’s lyrics were full of sharp, biting wit — think a young Karen O singing over a Preoccupations tune. Songs about fractured relationships, scene anxiety and people flat out not holding up their end of the bargain were the outlet for the whirlwind of life events that had brought D’Amato to the Bay.


“I felt like I had to scream and be loud and take up this space… in my world where dudes are typically occupying it,” D’Amato says as Post and MacDiarmid join us at the table. “If I had a dollar for every time I walked into Guitar Center and they were like, ‘The mics are that way.’”

It’s this controlled release of daily frustrations that caught the ear of Smith, the local music scene veteran who continues to deliver with his eponymous Sonny & The Sunsets band while running his workhorse label. “I thought it was refreshing to really hear someone belt out vocals again, because at that time we were sort of hearing a lot of whispery My Bloody Valentine-type music,” Smith says via email.

D’Amato met Smith when she was DJing a show at SF’s Balboa Theater. Through their friendship, Smith offered to release their music, but D’Amato wanted to hold out for an indie label that had more reach. “Understandable by me,” Smith says, who then told the band that he’d leverage his industry contacts to help them try to get a deal. They were seemingly at the finish line with a notable imprint, but then the pandemic hit, and the label said they were pausing on signing new acts. “This [too] was understandable,” Smith adds. “This was when the whole world was kind of paralyzed.”

They were stuck. But when Smith got his first unemployment check, he decided to put out Fake Fruit’s debut. “I just said ‘fuck it,’ let’s do interesting things even if we have to be in our bedrooms.”

And it wasn’t just Smith who was struck by the sound of the band. The records started selling out. First the initial 250 vinyl pressing, then another 250, then another 500, and then another run of 1,000. “I was able to actually give an artist a decent royalty check, which was very rewarding for me personally,” Smith adds.

From there, Fake Fruit probably played more high-profile gigs than any other local band on the rise. They toured with recent Grammy winners Wet Leg, headlined a Noise Pop show at Rickshaw Stop, opened for Canadian jangle pop outfit Alvvays, British post-punk band Dry Cleaning and Brooklyn trio Sunflower Bean, among others. They graced the stage at Mosswood Meltdown, are booked for this August’s Outside Lands Festival, and are currently on a West Coast tour swing with Deerhoof that comes to San Francisco Monday, May 8, Great American Music Hall.

You see, there’s something about Fake Fruit that sticks with you like butter on bread. At that Rickshaw Stop show, there was a moment where D’Amato sang one of the band’s new songs while solving a Rubik’s Cube. Sure, it was a gimmick, but she charmed the crowd by owning up to it and going for it. Then came an undeniable confluence of thunderous drums, transcendent guitar, raucous sax and a newfound melodious delivery from D’Amato, filled with “oohs.” She proclaimed “you’re gonna love me!” on the hook while holding up the solved cube in triumph. It was flat out fascinating, jaw-dropping and so punk. I couldn’t get the song out of my head for months.

Fake Fruit rehearses at their practice space. (Adrian Spinelli )

“We’re exercising the more melodic muscles that we were shy about in the first record,” D’Amato says of a new album they’ve just about finished with producer Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, King Woman) at Oakland’s Atomic Garden Studio.

But whenever the new album comes out, their managers won’t hear it until we all do. That’s because at the beginning of the year, Fake Fruit’s managers cut ties with the band when they embarked on a new business venture. For a band called Fake Fruit, life sure keeps throwing a lot of lemons their way. Perhaps it’s why the new album will be called Mucho Mistrust.

“We had to take a long look in the mirror and be like, ‘We don’t trust like that anymore,’” D’Amato says. “We got burned.”

A blurry photo of a four-piece band, a young woman and three men, in the hallway of an Oakland practice space.
Fake Fruit prepares to open for Deerhoof at Great American Music Hall on May 8. (Adrian Spinelli)

Later in the evening at the band’s lofted practice space that they share with two other groups, I finally hear them play the song from the Rickshaw Stop show again. It’s magical. D’Amato is in top form with the Rubik’s Cube in hand — even at practice. Except this time, she can’t solve it. She says it’s the first time that’s ever happened and later texts to explain that, “There was one piece that was physically rotated, making it literally impossible to solve.”

It’s as if that faulty Cube is where Fake Fruit finds themselves right now, trying to solve this puzzle. Even the best emerging band in the Bay Area hasn’t gotten snatched up by a notable indie label looking to vault the next breakout act, while a series of mechanisms around them continue to push against that realization. Can a Bay Area band even get signed by a significant label anymore these days? Fortunately, Fake Fruit is nowhere close to giving up — quite the opposite, in fact.

“It’s the best version of this brutal anticipation,” Post remarks, before D’Amato chimes in. “It’s been a couple years of holding our breaths while experiencing this growth and feeling the momentum. We just want to be touring more months on than off and quit these day jobs.”


Fake Fruit performs at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on May 8.