The indie-pop band, Fitz and The Tantrums made their debut back in 2010 with the breakout hit, “MoneyGrabber.” Since then, they’ve released bangers such as “The Walker,” “Out of My League” and most recently, “Hand Clap.”
“I think people know that they are coming to our shows to have a celebration,” the lead singer, Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick explains. “If they don’t know, they’re introduced to it.” The singer admits to booking the band’s first show after having just one rehearsal together, “Well, doing something like that inspires everyone. It was like, full-steam ahead. From that first show though, there was this magic that we all recognized.” His female counterpart, Noelle Scaggs, confesses, “We kind of knew there would be a gig attached but we didn’t know it had been completely booked at the time.”
Fitz and Noelle sat down with DuJour to discuss their newly released, self-titled album and the inspiration behind it before leaving it all on the stage at the Paramount in Huntington, New York.
How did Fitz and The Tantrums become a reality?
FITZ: Basically the first songs were written out of heartbreak. I was trying to get over a broken heart and in those first couple of songs I hooked up with James King (fellow bandmate) and we could tell there was something special. This music was begging to be played live. We got Noelle in, we all played one song together and we have not stopped since.
NOELLE: I think it was really about personality too, and if that energy was going to be there. You can sing as best as anyone else or play an instrument well but you don’t necessarily decide you want to have a career with these people or that there will be longevity to it.
What was different about creating this album compared to “More Than Just a Dream” and “Pickin’ Up the Pieces”?
NOELLE: I think it was the amount of time. We needed a break from touring. Fitz had to have vocal surgery; I was spent. I decided to go to Nashville for a month just to hang out. We needed to realize what it was like to live a life again. When we came back together we started asking ourselves, ‘How can we challenge ourselves? Where are we going to take this?’ We started hitting brick walls. We were writing, but nothing was clicking. So, Fitz and I worked independently for a little, sending ideas to each other and then we started working with another great friend of ours, Sam Hollander. It was so nice to have this third energy that wasn’t part of the unit itself but contributed to the things we were feeling. It’s easy to get trapped in your own little bubble while you’re trying to figure out what you want to say. It came out of a lot of labor but then ended up being a very personal experience.
FITZ: We found ourselves in a state of exhaustion with severe writer’s block. Being on tour is weird- you’re a traveling nomad. It’s really easy to float above yourself and be disconnected. Working with these outside people gave us a fresh perspective. They helped pull the stories from us. The tides really shifted when we wrote “Hand Clap”. It finally gave us a boost of energy to keep going. From there, things pretty much flowed. It was a hard year but at the end of the day it was so rewarding to see all of the success we’re having with the third album. Now that we have three albums of material, it’s the fiercest set we’ve ever had.
What inspired the concept for the video “Roll Up”?
FITZ: We knew it was going to be the next single and we were getting a ton of ideas. Nothing stood out or felt connected. James King has a lot of friends in the animation world so he reached out to one of his friends who we met with and he told us he had just read this article that said millennials are having less sex than ever. They’re spending more time in front of their phones in this alternate parallel universe called social media. “Roll Up” is a love song about fighting loneliness and finding a connection with another human being. I love the message of, “Put down your phones and get connected with reality.”
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
FITZ: Noelle is our resident DJ. She puts on some vibey music to get us all dancing and get our blood flowing before the show. It’s a mini dance party, the six of us come together and acknowledge what we’re doing and what we get to do and how lucky we are that we get to do it. We’re also vocalists though, so we have a very structured thing where we have to do our warm ups every night.
What is a band or artist that fans would be surprised to hear you listen to?
FITZ: Let’s see… I don’t care if I get shamed for it but I’m a big Taylor Swift fan. I think her last record is pretty amazing. I also love Jeff Buckley. Might not be as surprising to people. I’m a huge lover of pop music. I think there’s never been a better time for Top 40. You have some of the most creative, interesting music being made for that world. They really understood you have to work with the most cutting-edge, forward thinking producers, DJs, artists, vocalists. To me, it’s really inspiring.
NOELLE: I curate a Spotify playlist for Fitz and The Tantrums and I think people would be surprised by the various genres that are included. I love System of a Down, Stevie Nicks, Rush and Barry Manilow. Everything from pop to dance music to 90’s R&B to Doo-Wop.