The Bright Futures Tour
Fitz and The Tantrums & Capital Cities
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Fitz and the Tantrums
Brimming with imagination, energy, and genre-smashing scope, Fitz & The Tantrums defied the odds to become an indisputable phenomenon, a chart-topping, show-stopping modern pop combo unlike any other. Now, with their spectacular Elektra Records debut, More Than Just A Dream, the Los Angeles-based sextet have ramped up the timeless songcraft and soul sonic force that made them a worldwide sensation to fashion a kaleidoscopic milestone that delivers on the promise of their 2010 breakthrough, Pickin’ Up The Pieces. Songs like the impossibly catchy first single, “Out Of My League” are positively brazen with verve and vivacity, demonstrating all the drama and passion of the band’s famed live shows. From the charged back-and-forth between co-lead vocalists Fitz and Noelle Scaggs to the incontrovertible power of The Tantrums in full flight, More Than Just A Dream is the sound of a great band taking it right to the edge.
“The only rule in making this record was that there were no rules,” says Fitz. “Nobody was allowed to say, ‘We can’t do that.’ We didn’t limit ourselves.”
A longtime studio engineer and aspiring musician, Fitz founded Fitz & The Tantrums in 2008, driven simply by “a need to be creative and not lose my mind over a breakup.” He convened an “amazing set of people” – including Noelle, James King (saxophone, flute), Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboards), Joseph Karnes (bass) and John Wicks (drums, percussion) – and quickly recorded the band’s debut EP, Songs From A Breakup, Vol. 1, in his Silverlake home studio. Fitz felt so strongly about the band that he put it all on the line, investing his life savings in the project. Belt buckles were pulled as tight as the band itself, which spent the next year captivating audiences with their outrageously entertaining live set.
“We busted our butts,” he says. “We just kept building a name for ourselves, getting our music out there in a really old school way – playing as many shows as we could, winning over five, ten, fifty people at a time.”
It wasn’t long before Fitz & The Tantrums were being spoken of as one of the most exciting live acts in the country. This led to the band’s 2010 signing with Fitz’s Silverlake neighbors, Dangerbird Records, a feat the singer describes as both “an accomplishment and the beginning of the hardest work we’ve ever done.”
Pickin’ Up The Pieces was released in August 2010 to unanimous critical acclaim. Fitz & the Tantrums did anything and everything to spread the word. Things soon began to break their way as irresistible singles like “MoneyGrabber” and “Don’t Gotta Work It Out” began drawing national radio airplay. The next 20 months proved both exhilarating and exhaustive as Pickin’ Up The Pieces ultimately ascended to #1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart, and sales numbers to match. The band embarked on an unrelenting schedule that included high profile TV performances, sold-out headline shows, and so many festival appearances that Vogue declared them to be the “Hardest Working Band” of Summer 2011. The first time the FATT camp noticed the ball starting to hover above their palms was at Lollapalooza 2011. As the band tore through the set, the audience sang not only the radio hit "Moneygrabber," but deeper cuts from the album—finally, this road-proved sextet had conjured the lush, holy glow all performers pine for. And judging from the smiles on both sides of the mic, it was hard to know who was being entertained more, the band or the crowd.
That sense of purpose and commitment suffused the second Fitz & The Tantrums album right from the outset. The band wrote over 30 songs in just two months, toiling in their practice space “to the point of hallucinating.”
In May 2012, Fitz & The Tantrums arrived at Hollywood’s Sound Factory eager to grab hold of the “raw, in-your-face, non-stop energy” of their live show and put some of their spilt blood to work. A self-proclaimed “studio nerd,” with an abiding faith in “creating mood and atmosphere through production,” Fitz considered once again producing himself, but instead opted to enlist producer Tony Hoffer, known for classic collaborations with such artists as Beck, M83, and Phoenix.
While their first record was conceived as a homage to 60’s pop soul music, More Than Just A Dream sees Fitz & The Tantrums propelling their sound towards their own distinctive, utterly contemporary vision. Nothing was off the table as the band sought to “create these interesting hybrids of styles and influences that embrace and repel each other all at the same time,” synthesizing everything from soul to pop, from indie to electronic with a dose of hip-hop.
Songs like “Spark” and the anthemic “Break The Walls” celebrate “pushing through, personally and artistically,” while “The End” and “6AM” find Fitz continuing to grapple with questions of the heart. To record the latter song – a much-loved staple of The Tantrums’ live set – Hoffer suggested Fitz and Scaggs sing together at the same time for the recording, much like they do on stage. The result is a stunningly soulful dialogue that defines the two lead singers’ special chemistry.
“It was this pure moment,” Fitz says. “We sang the song to each other, looking into each other’s eyes, it was incredibly powerful and emotional. That’s the take that’s on the record.”
FATT's own single-minded determination comes to the fore in “The Walker,” a dizzyingly delightful discoball inspired by the “almost mythological” Silverlake Walker, the shirtless (and now sadly deceased) neighborhood fixture known for his perpetual power-walking around the Silverlake Reservoir rain or shine, night or day.
“The song sounds happy and playful,” Fitz says, “but it’s a dark tale of obsession that is really about our own fixation with chasing our dreams and knowing there is always a price to pay, but with that said this has truly been more than we could have ever dreamed for.” Thus, the title of the record.
The album reaches a moving climax with “Merry Go Round,” a potent paean to “the loneliness and the sadness of being on the road.” "When it came time to laying my vocals down for this song, the words held more truth for me than ever,” recalls Fitz. “I had been away for two years and came home to an empty house. I had experienced so much on the outside, but inside was still damaged. It was hard to get through a single take without breaking down."
From the studio to the stage, Fitz & The Tantrums give everything they have to anything they do, leaving it all on the floor night in and night out. With its artistic audaciousness and pure pop punch, More Than Just A Dream fully confirms Fitz & The Tantrums are here to stay.
Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, the front men behind the breakout alt-dance group Capital Cities, are a success story spawned by the loyal fans that has continued to blossom. The Los Angeles-based act took both the blogosphere and the shores of California by storm with their self-titled debut EP, out now on Capitol Records/Lazy Hooks. Their electronic-infused pop rock represents all that is right in modern music making, and makes the perfect soundscape for a day at the beach, or a night in the dark part of town, as long as you're ready to dance.
"Safe and Sound," the first single, is uplifting, sincere, catchy, and, like all their songs, full of heart. The duo sings in unison: "You could be my luck… Even if the sky is falling down, I know that we'll be safe and sound" — offering up an inviting message of hope.
"It seems like every generation feels like it's living in the worst of times," Merchant says. "And of course there are horrible things happening, but the average person is better off now than he or she was 50 years ago. In some ways 'Safe and Sound' is an antidote to the human tendency to think in apocalyptic terms and not really look at the logic of the world around us. Things are getting better and there's a lot to be positive about."
Good feelings are palpable between Merchant and Simonian, two singers, songwriters, and multi-instrumentalists who've both made music since they were kids. Simonian was born in Syria to Armenian parents, but raised in Lebanon until the age of six when his family moved to California to escape civil war. In Los Angeles, he studied piano and voice and sang in choirs throughout his schooling, and earned a bachelor's degree in music. Influenced by a mixed bag of psychedelic rock and electronic music from every decade since the 60's, Simonian started his first band at 15 and "I haven't looked back since," he says.
Merchant was born and raised in San Francisco, where he began playing piano at age 10, guitar at age 12, and drums in high school. Like pretty much every other kid in the '80s, he was obsessed with Michael Jackson. "I would watch the 'Thriller' music video every day," he says. He eventually grew to love Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, and Jeff Buckley. Merchant moved to Los Angeles to study English literature at USC, where he also took classes in jazz piano and voice. He met Simonian in 2008 after responding to an ad that Simonian had placed on Craigslist offering his services to musicians looking for high-quality production.
"In the ad, there was a link to Sebu's website, which had a video of him performing with his old band. His songwriting really drew me in," says Merchant, who was interning at a jingle house at the time. "I thought, 'I've got to work with this guy.' I asked him if he wanted to collaborate with me on a commercial writing job." Working as a team, the two began winning big ads, including one that required a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity," which was approved by Bowie himself.
Their chemistry naturally led to original material, and the two got to work honing the Capital Cities sound: carefully crafted melodies, lead vocals sung in unison, and clever production built partly on a vintage analog synth, the Roland Juno 106. Out came "Safe and Sound," "Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast," "I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo," "Center Stage," and "Love Away," which Merchant and Simonian released collectively as an independent self-titled EP. The set attracted a groundswell of positive reviews from such influential blogs as Neon Gold, who called it "a sonic head rush" and "a beautiful slice of effervescent electro-pop that absolutely kills it," and Clixie, who praised its "outside-of-the-box tendencies — jam-packed full of life, energy and unusual yet fantastic sounds."
"Safe and Sound" climbed to top of blog charts, as did another track called "Kangaroo Court." Their covers of Sinead O'Connor's Prince-penned "Nothing Compares 2 U" and Pink Floyd's "Breathe," which includes an uncannily fitting Tupac Shakur sample, both topped the Hype Machine chart. Encouraged, Simonian and Merchant self-financed a successful radio campaign and planned their own tours. They traveled to South America and Europe, visiting Peru, Chile, Argentina, Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, and finally Spain, where the band, which includes a guitarist, bassist, and trumpet player, performed for 8,000 fans at a festival in Madrid.
The attention led to new fans, while their ability to build a grassroots following led to major label interest. In December 2012, Capital Cities signed to Capitol Records, which licensed and re-released their EP and will release their debut full-length album this summer. "We've been DIY for such a long time that it's exciting to have this team of people behind us," says Merchant. Adds Simonian: "We are happy to be able to focus more now on getting creative, finishing the album, making videos, and rehearsing." The band will hit the road and visit over 30 U.S. cities in their "Dancing with Strangers" Spring tour.
Beat Club is a Los Angeles based band consisting of Jeff Kite (keyboards/vocals), Jon Pancoast (bass), and Anthony Polcino (guitars/vocals).
The music draws from an eclectic palette of influences ranging everywhere from hip-hop to punk rock to world-dance. Armed with an arsenal of songs often driven by searing, rhythmic guitars, funky Afrobeat bass lines and vintage synthesizers, layered over a booming blend of acoustic and electronic beats, Beat Club has become a fresh and unmistakeable musical collective.
Most of 2012 was spent writing and recording material as well as playing a slew of boisterous shows in the Los Angeles area.
The debut release from Beat Club is due in early 2013 via Pulse Code Modulations/Boombox (Mom + Pop Music).
This Maxi Single from Beat Club is due for release on February 12th, 2013 via producer & partner in crime Dave Trumfio’s Pulse Code Modulations (PCM Recordings) along with, BOOMBOX, Mom + Pop’s new label services division. The 3 tracks will take you on an upbeat, sonic journey. Neurotics have been warned.
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