What do Adam Levine, Bruno Mars and LL Cool J have in common? Yes, they're all Grammy-Award-winning artists - but they're also fans of Fitz and the Tantrums, a band you're likely to hear more of in 2013.
Fitz and the Tantrums' music is catchy electro-pop with the soul of an '80s dance party. They released their sophomore album, "More Than Just a Dream," this past May on Elektra Records. AudioFile recently sat down with Michael "Fitz" Fitzpatrick (vocals, keyboard) and Noelle Scaggs (vocals, percussion) to talk about the new album and their summer touring dates with Bruno Mars.
Fitz and the Tantrums formed a little over four years ago, first as a collaboration between Michael Fitzpatrick and saxophonist James King, and then evolving into the six-piece group you see today.
"Sometimes it's hard to find the right pairing of people, but for us, it just came together very quickly," said Fitzpatrick. "It was pretty much an instantaneous connection and magic between us right from the very start."
The band's success was wrought from a combination of tireless touring, hard work and some downright good luck. In 2009, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine was getting a tattoo in NYC, and the shop happened to be playing Fitz and the Tantrums in the background. Fitzpatrick recalls that Levine "started tweeting us, and came to see us play at this little club in LA, and a week later we were on tour opening up for them all across the country. I think that's also one of the moments when we're like, 'This doesn't normally happen to a band.'"
Fitz and the Tantrums applied audience feedback and lessons learned on tour while writing material for the 2013 album "More Than Just a Dream." Noting that songs from their first album evolved into faster, more energetic versions during their shows, Fitz and Noelle made a conscious decision to bridge the gap between the recorded and live sound on the new album.
Highlights from the "More Than Just a Dream" album are:
Noelle Scaggs said, "We had written about 30 to 45 new songs for this record, and it's basically paired down to what you see on the album as 12… When you're actually compiling the music, they may or may not work for the story that's being told at the time. You want some sort of consistency when you're looking at how you want to tell a story on a record."
The band ultimately crafted the album around a dream theme - which seems appropriate since the band has admittedly been living out their rock star dreams and stockpiling surreal experiences along the way.
Along with the Adam Levine connection, another too-good-to-be-true experience for Fitz and the Tantrums was working with LL Cool J for his latest album "Authentic." Fitz and Noelle are both featured on "Not Leaving You Tonight," a song which also includes a guitar solo by Eddie Van Halen. Noelle Scaggs and Babyface are featured on LL Cool J's song "Waiting On You."
Noelle said, "LL Cool J is, I would say probably one of the nicest guys in hip hop that I've met. And I've met a lot of really cool people, but he's really fun to work with. He's very knowledgeable…. He's an actual fan of ours…. He knows the music…. So it was kind of a really comfortable environment to walk into."
Fitz added, "I think we just kept looking over at each other like, ' What is happening right now with our lives?' I love that song."
This summer, Fitz and the Tantrums are on tour opening for Bruno Mars in sold-out arenas across the country.
"It's really cool to be surrounded by people who love what they're doing," said Noelle. "They have such an amazing time on stage and it's infectious."
Added Fitz, "It's going to be a dance party through and through from start to finish, that's for sure."