Sunday, June 5, 2011


Duke Ellington once sang the Irving Mills lyrics "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing," for generations people have been bopping and dancing to that idea, now here comes a band that is ushering in that philosophy - yet again - LA's Fitz and the Tantrums. The band, who has been one of our 15 Artists to Watch in 2011, have been making us proud as they keep gaining fans and bringing in the noise and the funk at every gig they play. Inspired by heartbreak, love, Motown, jazz and swing - Fitz and the Tantrums are turning heads and gaining fans with their slick and very cool sound each and every night they play. We covered the band at their jaw dropping Bowery Ballroom gig in January and it was just affirmation they were going to shine in 2011 and indeed they are. From sold out shows across the country to playing every major festival this summer, Fitz and the Tantrums are bringing back the cool LA instrumental sound that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy ushered in at the end of the 90's but are doing it with a soul twist ala Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. We had the esteemed pleasure to sit down and speak with Fitz himself, Michael Fitzpatrick as we spoke about his band's success, how they were created and the woman that inspired his music. Take a look at our very candid and very funny interview with Fitz below.

In the age of lo-fi, indie music, you are cranking up the heat making rock and soul and spinning around music from generations ago. When forming the band, was it hard to get members to come and play and believe this could work?

No. Actually, it felt like destiny. We made 5 phone calls and that’s the band that we are today. Everyone in the band has their own personal connection and love affair with soul music.

When the band started you were working with an old organ and recording a solo project before it transferred into what it is today. Does that old organ still play a role in the band?

Yes, the organ is still a mainstream of the band. It always tried to sneak itself onto every song.

Noelle had sung and recorded with other acts before coming to Fitz, how did she decide to stay full time with you?

From the first show we played, we got a crazy reaction from people and at every turn an amazing opportunity came to us. That doesn’t always happen and I think Noelle saw the power in what we were doing.

The greatest thing about this band is the amount of fun you are having, after all this hard work, is it still fun for you or is it just really getting started?

Every time we get on stage we have such a good time with the audience that they always inspire us to give our best.

You have been compared to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings a few times (I am guilty of doing it) and you recently toured with them, was it odd touring with a band that you are most commonly linked with?

No, actually going on tour with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings was one of the greatest honors for us and was a total validation of what we are trying to do as a band.

Being in a band from LA, has the city inspired you in any way?

I think you can’t help but be inspired by the city you live in. It finds its way into every nook and crany of each song.

“Picking up the Pieces” came out in August and since then; attention has swirled around you and the band. Is it a bit odd dealing with the newfound fame or are you taking it in stride?

Honestly, everyone in the band is so grateful to get to follow our dreams and have people enjoying our music.

You signed with Dangerbird to release your debut, being an LA based label, did you know of them?

Dangerbird has a strong presence in the neighborhood and it was my dream to get to work with them.

You did the DIY thing for a bit before going with the great people at Dangerbird, was it a relief not having to do things on your own anymore in terms of publicity and booking? Do you miss any of the DIY aspects?

Yes, absolutely. After doing the DIY thing for so long, it’s amazing to have people who are truly passionate about what you’re doing helping and supporting at every turn. The great thing about DIY is that you truly get to shape who you are as an artist and not let anyone tell you otherwise.

It’s 2011 and it is amazing that in less than two years you have cut an EP and an LP and are still on the rise. Are you surprised how fast things have been moving? How do you explain the rapid attention?

These last 2 years have been a pretty crazy ride and it’s always a surprise to sell out shows and see people sing along. I can tell you the only reason we are standing here with any kind of success is due to passionate music lovers finding us and having the need to tell all their friends.

With the title of the EP “Songs for a Breakup” and the title of the LP “Picking up the Pieces,” are the songs all about the same former lover? If so, what does she have to say now?!

The EP was inspired by a need to get over a bad break up and for the LP it became about ALL the bad relationships I’ve been in cuz you know I kinda suck at love. I think the ex secretly likes that there is a record written about her.