FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS
There came a point, in the time following the release of “HandClap” — the biggest song of Fitz and the Tantrums’ career — when its ascent crossed the threshold of successful, zoomed past game-changer, to just plain, WTF?! The double-platinum, Top 5 smash – which racked up 1.5 billion streams in China alone – was synched on countless shows from American Idol to The Oscars. Fitz and the Tantrums were invited to perform for the masses on primetime television and such cultural institutions as Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and FOX’s Super Bowl preshow after “HandClap” become something of an unofficial theme song for the NFL. “I remember watching a football game and the Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleaders were doing a routine to it,” says the band’s co-vocalist and songwriter Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick with amusement.
Such mainstream looks felt a bit surreal for Fitz and the Tantrums, which also includes co-vocalist Noelle Scaggs, saxophonist James King, keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna, bassist Joseph Karnes, and drummer John Wicks. The Los Angeles-based band had been known for its platinum-selling, No. 1 Alternative radio hits “The Walker” and “Out Of My League” and were accustomed to performing roof-raising live shows, but not for pre-pubescents at the Radio Disney Music Awards. The song was literally everywhere. “I knew as soon as we wrote ‘HandClap’ that it was the one, but it made the intensity of having to deliver another album even greater,” says Fitz, who wrote 80 songs for the band’s upcoming new album, All The Feels.
“With every record, we want to go somewhere different,” says Fitz, who produced most of the songs on All The Feels on his own or with select collaborators including Tommy English, John Hill, and Andrew Wells. “Sometimes that vision is clear. Sometimes it’s a process of discovery. I would say the first half of the writing process was us trying to give ourselves the freedom to do weird things and experiment. At the same time it was like a monkey on our backs having this song that was so massive. Quietly, in the back of our minds, ‘HandClap’ was the bar we would measure everything against and at a certain point, that became kind of suffocating. There were a lot of ups and downs for me personally, as an artist who is just trying to create something.”
But battling through the moments of self-doubt turned out to be a gift, in that they resulted in Fitz and the Tantrums’ most emotionally connected album to date. The title, All The Feels, reflects the bundle of emotions Fitz sat with during the writing process. “There is power in talking about these things that I felt and continue to feel, like anxiety, depression, and insecurity, but also hopefulness and wanting to be more present,” he says. “Keeping it on a personal level is not only truthful, it’s also what people are really going to connect with.”