-- It all started in 2008 with an old Conn electric organ (isn’t that how all great bands are formed?). Michael Fitzpatrick, known as Fitz, bought the used instrument for $50 and it immediately inspired him to write a song. This song, “Breakin the Chains of Love,” would eventually change the course of his life forever.
“It was definitely that one song, you know, having that magic moment where a song comes together and …having that moment where you really find your true voice,” Fitz told ABC News. “Those two things combined really set in course that motion that made me want to keep writing.”
And that’s just what he did. But first, he enlisted the help of the musicians who would become the future “Tantrums”: college friend and saxophonist James King, King’s pals, singer Noelle Scaggs and drummer John Wicks, and then, per Wicks’ recommendation, bassist Joseph Karnes and keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna. They booked their first show as a group one week after their first rehearsal, and in less than one year, recorded their debut EP, began touring and opened multiple shows for Maroon 5. Now, on the heels of their second #1 hit in the past two years, “The Walker,” the group is on a new tour and more focused than ever.
“I feel like we’re really at the best place we’ve ever been as the six of us in the band,” Fitz said. “I think all of us have always truly appreciated this gift we’ve been given… and I’ve just been trying to be 100 percent present taking in the moment of what’s actually happening and having appreciation for the fact that people are showing up, and really savoring that and not taking it for granted.”
Despite the evolution of their sound and their growing success, they seem to stick to a philosophy that works when it comes to songwriting.
“I think always, to write good music, you have to write about what you know,” he said. “What I like is that every song sort of has its own path.”
“The Walker” is proof of this. Inspired by his L.A. neighborhood hero called, “The Silver Lake Walker,” they wrote a song that Fitz says is “about having the conviction to walk to the beat of your own drum.” And though many of their songs are inspired by their California hometown, that doesn’t mean they don’t gain inspiration along the way.
“This new record ‘More Than Just a Dream’ has songs like ‘Merry Go Round’ that are about this displaced nomadic lifestyle… being a musician always on the road,” he said.
After six years performing together, it’s safe to say that living together on a tour bus, described by Fitz as “a moving hallway,” is one of the things that has bonded the band the most.
“Because we are separated from our homes and families…all we have is each other, everyday everything is different, it’s a new venue, a new stage crew, a new city, everything changes,” he said. “The only thing we have is the consistency of each other.”
It is this constancy that has allowed the band to become “intuitively connected” and handle an extreme lifestyle on the road, traveling, performing and meeting new people.
“We’ve had many highs and many lows on the road. We’ve had people have family members pass away, and we’ve had people give birth, all these ups and downs and yet we’re away from it all together,” he said. “We’ve really learned how to sort of give each other space when we need it but at the same time lift each other up as a group to keep moving forward.”
These experiences have culminated to make the band what they are today: hardworking musicians and performers who hold themselves to high standards and take nothing for granted.
“Touring is intense! It’s basically 23 hours of grind for that one hour of glory on stage,” he said. “You have a good day, a bad day on the road, you have problems going on at home, you just leave it all on that stage at night…we always try and play every show like we’re playing our last show and give it everything we have.”