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Fitz & the Tantrums at the Fillmore, 5 Things To Know

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Saturday, November 19, 2016

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It does just seem to keep getting better for Fitz & the Tantrums.

The Los Angeles group's self-titled third album came out in June and scored the sextet's highest Billboard 200 debut ever (No. 17). And if you haven't heard the first single, "HandClap," you must live somewhere that electricity hasn't reached yet.

The album itself finds Michael "Fitz" Fitzpatrick and company in a better and more settled place than 2013's "More Than Just A Dream." It's eclectic as ever and reflects the craft that went into its year-long production. Now, of course, Fitzpatrick and the Tantrums are happy to be out of the studio and on the road, where they're hearing plenty of hand claps and every other response -- a veritable tantrum, if you will -- that the group's energetic performances seem to elicit...

The new album had a bit of a difficult birth, as Fitzpatrick and fellow singer Noelle Skaggs suffered a bit of writer's block at first. "The previous record, the 'More Than Just A Dream' album, we wrote 35 songs in 40 days and, boom, it was done," Fitzpatrick, 46, recalls by phone from his home in Los Angeles. "We just cranked it out. Then we went into the studio this time thinking it was going to be the same thing, we'll just crank it out,' we found it a lot more challenging. Noelle and myself were completely exhausted from at that point being on the road for six years-plus straight. I was suffering from real writer's block and not feeling like I could find my footing or that spark that was going to excite me. I literally was running at full steam into a brick wall. It wasn't until we did 'HandClap' that we really hit our stride again."

Fitzpatrick reports that "HandClap" is getting "the biggest reaction of the night" during the Tantrums' shows. The song is the group's first collaboration with hitmaker Ricky Reed, but it was Fitzpatrick and co-writer Sam Hollander who got the ball rolling. "We just said, 'OK, we're gonna write a song in 15 minutes. I'm gonna make every decision here, like lean and mean and aggressively fast. Gimme a drum loop,'" Fitzpatrick remembers. "I started playing that little keyboard ride and instantly wrote the little hook and he and I started writing the lyrics at a feverish pace. And as we were writing it I was, 'Omigod, this feels like something!' Everybody who heard it felt that way. I could feel there was hit energy and I went in and recorded the vocals. We ended up using my first scratch vocal because even though it wasn't the perfect take it just had the swagger and the energy I couldn't capture again."

Why a self-titled album for the third one? "We all have so many musical tastes," Fitzpatrick explains. "I think we get frustrated when people would use catch phrases like 'throwback' or 'retro' to describe us. We're more than that. And on each subsequent record we wanted to evolve and do more and take more chances and grow the sound of the band. So in coming up with the title, we feel confident we're at a point where we can do whatever we want, for better for worse, without limits. That's why we self-titled the album."

Playing live with three albums worth of material has been a gas, according to Fitzpatrick. "With three albums now, which I didn't foresee, was we're able to cherry-pick the best moments from all three records," he says. "So now we just have this hour and a half set that feels so dynamic, and just every moment feels like it's connecting. Over time, from some of the songs on the first couple of records to this new album even, you can feel which songs just have that immediate reaction and which ones seem to have less of a reaction. It just feels like we've got the tightest setlist of songs we've ever had, and to play out and see the reaction now and have multiple hits is pretty amazing."

"HandClap" has become a regular song at sporting events, and that pleases Fitzpatrick, a "huge NFL guy" who's happy to have a team back in his home town. "I'll be watching a game and my wife's like, 'Do you hear what's playing in the stadium right now? The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders are doing a routine to your song' and I'm like, 'What?! That's amazing!" He's also happy to finally have a team (the Rams) back in his home town. "They're not having the best season so far, but we've never had an NFL team here my whole adult life," Fitzpatrick says. "I've been a lifelong (New York) Giants fan -- they've been doing a routine to ('HandClap'), too -- but I watch a lot of football games. My wife throws a party at the end of the Super Bowl to celebrate the end of football season."

Fitz & the Tantrums

Saturday, Nov. 19. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25-$49.50.

Call 313-961-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com.

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

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