21 Aug 2014
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Rising Band Claim Success from Hard Work

Los Angeles-based Fitz and the Tantrums to perform Sept. 20 at Mayo Performing Arts Center.

Rising Band Claim Success from Hard Work Rising Band Claim Success from Hard Work

Call Fitz and the Tantrums a band on the cusp.

Have you heard this song somewhere? Or, maybe this song? You couldn't quite place it, but you knew you liked it.

John Wicks, the band's drummer, said that happens a lot. "A couple bars of the chorus and they’re like, 'hey it’s you guys,'" he said.

You can get familiar with those songs and many more when these Los Angeles-based musicians head to the on Sept. 20.

Since releasing their debut album "Pickin' up the Pieces" in 2010, and since getting face time on shows like Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, such epiphanies have been happening with greater regularity, as the band's star continues to rise.

"Everyone is really on board," Wicks said. "There's not too many haters, we’re really lucky that way."

The drummer, who also has performed with the likes of CeeLo Green and Bruno Mars, said Fitz and the Tantrums has been garnering fans across all age groups, so much so that it's not uncommon for an entire family to attend one of their shows. "It’s kind of cool," he said.

Wicks said the music appeals to those refreshed to hear a Motown-tinged, old style of songwriting, "full form songs," he said. "All of these songs, they take you on a ride, they tell a full story. For the older generation, they were like, 'oh wow.'"

For the younger fans, "it’s something new for them and something they are not necessarily used to," Wicks said.

Wicks cited the mature, soulful sound of Adele as "kind of the gamechanger.

"She brought back great songwriting," he said. "It's strong in every way. We are lucky to be coming up around the same time."

Still, though Fitz and the Tantrums has been dubbed a cross between soul and indie pop, "we don’t want to list ourselves as a throwback," the drummer said. "We all have so many different influences, they will come out at a certain point."

That point is the band's sophomore album, due for release early next year.

Wicks noted a lot of "Pickin' up the Pieces" was already written by frontman Michael Fitzpatrick prior to the band's formation. "The tone was set," he said. "With this next record, we’ve been touring two years straight. It was a band then. It’s been very different."

On the next album, every member of the band—Wicks, vocalist/keyboardist Fitzpatrick, vocalist/percussionist Noelle Scaggs, saxophone/trumpet/harmonica/flutist James King, bassist Joseph Karnes and keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna—has significant contributions.

Wicks called the need to stay true to the band's sound while staying true to themselves as musicians a delicate balance. "You don’t want to alienate your fan base. At the same time, you can’t sit stagnant or people move on.

"If we're pigeonholed a retro soul band, it’s not going to last long," Wicks said. "But it still sounds like Fitz and the Tantrums. We could be playing thrash metal and still have some elements of that."

Wicks, for one, got into music because, "I wanted to make people dance," he said. "That’s the power and beauty of the instrument I play."

He cited his native Seattle's underground dance clubs, De La Soul's "3 Feet High and Rising" and The Beastie Boys' "Paul's Boutique," as well as of-the-moment DJ's like Major Lazer's Diplo as major influences, elements of which he is bringing to the latest Fitz and the Tantrums album.

Attendees to the Sept. 20 show can expect to hear a couple tracks from the new album, as well as much of the young band's discography, which also includes a pair of EPs.

Whatever they play, Wicks said one thing is for certain, "the energy level is always so ridiculously high.

"Whether for five people or 40,000, it’s always the same energy level," he said. "That’s why we have had success—people recognize the hard work we put out and commitment we play with."

Fitz and the Tantrums will be at the in Morristown on Sept. 20. .

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