Fitz and the Tantrums
Walk The Moon
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.
Walk The Moon
Nicholas Petricca (vocals, keyboards) / Kevin Ray (bass, vocals) / Eli Maiman (guitar, vocals) / Sean Waugaman (drums, vocals)
This past June, Seattle news and culture blog Seattlest.com posted a review of a show by Walk The Moon. It read like this: “Walk The Moon hit the stage with so much energy that the crowd immediately pushed forward and started dancing. It's refreshing to see a band that's having as much, or more, fun than the people there to see them. They took us back to the days of basement dance parties on hot summer nights, where everyone's just happy to be alive and among friends.”
That review pretty much sums up this young Cincinnati band’s mission statement: “We want our music to be the most fun thing you've ever listened to in your entire life,” says bassist Kevin Ray. “We want it to not just affect you emotionally, but also physically in that it makes you want to dance.”
Everything Walk The Moon does is infused with a playful spirit, from their radiant live shows, where the crowd often coalesces into one joyful, pogo-ing mass, to the songs the band are currently recording for their debut album. The music brims with sparkling synth-heavy pop hooks, chanted melodies, sunny harmonies, and agile polyrhythmic grooves — a sound influenced by the New Wave stylings of their favorite artists Talking Heads, David Bowie, and The Police. “We started describing it as an ‘indie-pop fiesta’ and that kind of stuck,” says singer, songwriter, and keyboardist Nicholas Petricca.
Launched in 2008 by Petricca, Walk The Moon has steadily made a name for itself as an unsigned band over the last few years, attracting a broad mix of fans who have happily submitted to a pre-show face-painting ritual conducted by band members to get everyone into the communal spirit of the event. “Sometimes it’s like, ‘Dude, what are you doing here? How have you heard of us?’” marvels guitarist Eli Maiman. “But they're there, they've got face paint on, and they’re playing air guitar. It's awesome. We just create the music we love and hope that other people love it, too.”
Walk the Moon’s appeal has also extended to such press outlets as Spin.com, The New York Post, Esquire.com, MTV.com, as well as Nylonmag.com, who called them “pure, unadulterated fun” and NME.com, who raved about their “bold, broadly beaming” sound. They were also handpicked to be featured during SXSW on Last Call With Carson Daly.
So who is Walk The Moon? Petricca, Ray, Maiman, and drummer Sean Waugaman are all Ohio natives in their early 20’s who became acquainted in various ways. Petricca and Ray knew each other as toddlers (their mothers were close friends), Ray and Waugaman had played in bands together, and Petricca met Maiman through the local scene in Cincinnati.
“Being a musician has always been a career dream for me,” says Petricca, a golden-throated crooner who began playing piano as a child and singing in high school. “So I needed to find people who wanted to do this as badly as I did, which these guys all did.” Their first gig together was at Cincinnati watering hole the Northside Tavern. “We thought, ‘If we could just get 50 people in, the room would look fine,” Ray recalls. “Then 350 people showed up.” Walk the Moon’s shows, including jubilant sets at this year’s SXSW, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza festivals, boasted a similar vibe. “Bonnaroo was everything we could want from a Walk The Moon show,” Waugaman says. “Everybody was sweaty and muddy. There were people standing on tables and on each other.”
Walk The Moon are currently in the studio, and are looking forward to finishing up their album, which is being produced by Ben H. Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective). The album will feature a host of new songs as well as new versions of songs from their independently released 2010 album I Want, I Want, including the viral sensation “Anna Sun.” The eye-catching video for “Anna Sun” sparked major buzz when it was posted on tastemaker blog “All Things Go” and tweeted about by indie label Neon Gold Records.
“We wanted the video to get people interested and then for the live show to kick their asses,” Petricca says. The clip for “Anna Sun” — a happy-sad sing-along affair that claims “this house is falling apart” before declaring “We’re gonna rattle this ghost town!” — features Petricca cavorting with colorfully dressed young Cincinnatians sporting leotards, headbands, and face paint. The video neatly captures the creative heart of Walk The Moon’s music.
“I like to write about this idea of feeling young throughout your life,” Petricca says. “’Anna Sun’ is about eternal youth, and it recalls a lot of my memories from college, but it also addresses the fear of losing that innocence and falling into a routine. I feel like the things we do to escape, like going out and partying, are to recapture the imagination you had a child, which is something that speaks to me personally as a songwriter. All of my favorite songs have always set my imagination running. In that sense, I love the idea that we could be a band that gets people into Neverland, and lets them make their own movie in their head while they're listening.”
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