Let your authentic self free with Fitz and the Tantrums
Fri. January 27, 2023 by Jerry Nunn
I always try to put out a message of living your truth.
fitz and noelle
Michael Fitzpatrick talks about Tantrums
Popular band Fitz and the Tantrums are feeling free these days with a headlining tour that makes a stop in Chicago. Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs share lead vocals, James King plays bass guitar, and Jeremy Ruzumna is on keyboards with James King who plays multiple instruments.
Their debut album Pickin’ Up the Pieces was released in 2010 and the group signed on to Elektra Records in 2013. Their latest endeavor Let Yourself Free premiered in 2022 to critical acclaim.
Fitzpatrick talked about it and much more while out on the road.
JN: (Jerry Nunn) Where in the world are you, Fitz?
MF: (Michael Fitzpatrick) I am in Los Angeles. We are doing a hometown show tomorrow night. We are 10 days into the tour
JN: How are things going so far on the tour?
MF: Oh, it has been so much fun. This little tour we are doing is taking us back to the early days with a lot of the first venues that we ever played in every city.
After doing outdoor amphitheaters for the last couple of years it has been so fun to play in small, sweaty, hot clubs while making a dance party happen!
JN: I have seen you play at a small venue in Chicago in the past and no matter what size the band always puts on a stellar show.
MF: Chicago has supported this band since the very beginning when we sold out the Metro.
JN: Good to see that you are coming back.
MF: We can’t wait. It will be full-on winter, but we are used to coming to Chicago in the dead of winter.
JN: What is your favorite part about touring?
MF: Touring is a really intense lifestyle. It is 23 hours of grind for one of glory every day so you really hold onto that performance and get on the road for the fans. For us, that is what we live for. We have made a name for the band by playing live.
The show is everything. Everything else is getting through the day and traveling just to get that one hour of time onstage.
JN: Do you have a new song you are enjoying playing in concert?
MF: We worked on the record for so long, then mixed it and finally put it out on the world. We got a sense of how people will react, but we didn’t really get the full picture until we began to play the songs live.
We are playing about six or seven songs from the new record. It has already been so fun seeing the audience singing along to the songs. It has elevated the set to have even more energy and higher stakes than ever before. I didn’t think that was even possible!
JN: When you perform a song like “HandClap” that must energize everyone around you.
MF: Yes, it is one of our biggest hits, so when we play it live, people go crazy for it. It definitely elevates energy and people just lose their minds.
JN: When writing an album like Let Yourself Free is it a collaboration or is it mainly your work?
MF: It really depends on the song. Every song takes on a different life. I do a lot of the writing, then band members come up with ideas and we develop them. I really feel it is a combination.
JN: Talk about the new song “Heaven.”
MF: With that song, I had the idea of just having one life to live so just go for it. Playing it live has allowed us to see people reacting to it. That has been amazing.
We knew it was special when we started to write it in the studio. It has always stuck around as one of the strongest songs. We finally couldn’t deny it. When I played it for my wife and everyone I knew they started singing along.
A lot of times I like to get nonmusicians to listen who have a pure reaction. That song always stood out even with 80 songs written for the record. It would say, “Don’t forget about me.” That’s what made it onto the new album.
JN: “Someday” seems like a track about mental health. Is that true?
MF: Yes, it is mental health, it’s also about recognizing mistakes when someone is in a relationship. It is about aspiring to be a better version of yourself and hoping that the other person is willing to stick it out until you figure it out.
JN: Do you have a song that speaks to LGBTQ+ audiences?
MF: We don’t have a song directly written for the LGBTQ+ community but for us we always try to put positive and empowering messages in our songs about being yourself, owning your truth and always striving to be better.
On the last record, we had songs that dealt with anxiety, stress, self-loathing and mental illness. All things that we as human beings struggle with. Any positive message that we can put out there that says to be true to yourself and live your truth, no matter what anyone else thinks. That is something anyone in the LGBT community can relate to.
My father is gay and I have watched him struggle with his own identity, so it is something that is really important to me. I always try to put out a message of living your truth.
JN: Thank you for sharing that. I noticed a new remix with Phantagram for “Moneymaker.” How did that collaboration come about?
MF: We all came up together in the music scene at the same time. We became friends with them. Noelle got really close with them. We have always been huge fans of their music.
I asked them if they would like to try a remix. I love remixes because after writing a song I have an intention, but then give it to somebody else who gives a totally different spin on it. After hearing it, I might have never made something like that, but it could be a totally amazing reinterpretation of the song.
When we heard Phantagram’s version of “Moneymaker” everyone’s jaw was on the floor just loving it. They took our song and made an awesome remix of it.
JN: Is there one genre of music that you would like to try, but haven’t so far?
MF: Not really, because the band has so many different styles that we really pull in a lot of influences in our music, but I guess we could try a country song. I am not sure how that would go…
JN: Maybe for the next record.
JN: I have hung out with Noelle on the tour bus in the past. Is there anything that you require on the bus?
MF: Yes. Really good coffee because we are coffee fanatics. That is part of our ritual. When we are out on the tour bus everything is changing each day, so we look for a little sense of comfort or a slice of home.
The perfect cup of coffee every morning makes a difference. I have a sweet tooth so I definitely need some sugar options at the end of the night. Those two things of coffee in the morning and sweet tooth fixations at the end of the day make it more like home when we are away.
JN: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
MF: We are on a pretty long tour here promoting the new record and then a bunch of one-offs in the spring. We are still formulating our game plan but should be very busy this summer.
By the end of the year, we hope to release a deluxe version of the album with a couple more songs. We want to get the new songs out there and play them live to see how they hit with an audience!
Get ready for The Tantrums Let Yourself Free Tour at The Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield Avenue, on February 2, 2023. Showtime begins at 8 p.m. with Sammy Rash as an opening act. Patrons 18 years old and over may purchase tickets at JamUSA.com or FitzandtheTantrums.com.
Interviewed by Jerry Nunn. Jerry Nunn is a contributing writer to the GoPride Network. His work is also featured in Windy City Times, Nightspots Magazine and syndicated nationally. Follow @jerrynunn