Hailing from Los Angeles and comprising Michael Fitzpatrick (lead vocals and keyboards), Noelle Scaggs (vocals and percussion), James King (saxophone, flute, keyboard, percussion and guitar), Joseph Karnes (bass guitar), Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboards), and John Wicks (drums and percussion), the band came together in 2008. They found their footing as a result of Fitzpatrick’s purchase of an old Connsonata electric organ. Finding inspiration, Fitzpatrick wrote “Breakin’ the Chains of Love” the same night.
Looking for an outfit to explore his newly found musical muse, he contacted his friend James King who connected him with Scaggs and Wicks. Wicks—who had previously played with Cee Lo, Bruno Mars, Money Mark (Beastie Boys), Chocolate Genius, RZA, and George Clinton—went on to suggest Ruzumna. The bandmates all had worked together previously through club dates and various gigs as session players. Five phone calls was all it took before the newly acquired team seamlessly gelled.
“[Our relationship stemmed from] talent, experience and a sense of humor,” Wicks explains. “We trust each other as musicians and as people.”
The spontaneity and ease with which they conglomerated epitomizes the band’s experience. Fitz and the Tantrums performed their first show at Hotel Café after only a week of rehearsals. The outfit continued cultivating a working relationship through gigs in LA during the remainder of 2008. They released their first EP, “Songs for a Breakup, Vol. 1,” in 2009. Immediately the band began touring with Hepcat and Flogging Molly. Soon after Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine heard “Breakin’ the Chains of Love” upon a friend’s recommendation. A week and a half later they opened for Maroon 5 on their college tour.
“I’m a strong believer that people that are in the ‘right place at the right time’ knew where to be and what time to show up,” Wicks states. “Collectively, the members of this band have so much experience, we were able to recognize that it was something special from the beginning and, as a result, were willing to put in the legwork it took to spread the word. I think that some of those serendipitous moments would not have happened had we not recognized them as such or didn’t have the experience or wherewithal to create them.”
Since, the band has played SXSW in Austin. They released their debut album, “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” in 2010. Their songs have been used in TV shows such as “Desperate Housewives,” “Suits” and “Criminal Minds.” As well, they’ve been featured in commercials for companies such as Wells Fargo.
“We are all still pinching ourselves,” Wick describes. “We also realize how rare what we have is, and [we] don’t take it for granted because we’ve all paid our dues. It’s been a nutty ride over the last five years. Sometimes I still can’t believe the crowds are cheering for us; I keep looking behind me to see if someone is clowning around or something.”
Drawing inspiration from new-wave, synth-pop artists such as Tears for Fears, ABC, The Style Council, Eurythmics, Haircut 100, The B-52’s, and Deee-Lite, the band’s sound comes synth-laden and deeply rooted in pop and soul.
“Fitz and I are products of the ‘80s,” Wicks details. “I think we were thick as thieves from the get-go because we share many favorite bands from that era.”
Fitz and the Tantrums come to Wilmington in support of their 2013 album, “More Than Just a Dream.” The album’s first single, “Out of My League,” soared to No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100’s alternative chart in September of that year. While their first efforts in music rendered a Motown-inspired sound, this album strays from that.
“Out of My League,” comes drenched in the band’s ‘80s musings. It features upbeat percussion, catchy back-up vocals that bridge chorus and verse, and an infectious chorus proclaiming, “You were more than just a dream.”“’Out Of My League’ is one of my favorites to play live just because it’s so distinctly us,” Wicks tells.
Typically the band generates ideas for songs separately later coming together to flesh them out; however, “Out of My League” was created by the band as a unit. The high-energy pop-vibe found in this track lends itself to their onstage presence. Fitz and the Tantrums create a colorful, eccentric dance-party through live performances.
“The reason we have attained a degree of success is because of grassroots, word-of-mouth, promotion, [and] talking about what a great live band we are,” Wicks expresses. “It’s what I’m most proud of because, as the drummer, I’m the engine that will either make or break the show.”
Looking toward the future, Fitz and the Tantrums aim to take their high-octane energy to festivals like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, ACL, and Sweetlife. They never take their success for granted, knowing the delicate nature of the music biz. Rather, they intend to soak up the good vibes with Fitz and the Tantrums, as long as time permits.
Fitz and The Tantrums
Wednesday, May 14th
Greenfield Lake Amphitheater
1941 Amphitheater Dr.
6 p.m. • $25-$30