Concert preview: Los Angeles rockers Fitz & the Tantrums navigate the ups-and-downs of life on the road

By
From the July 4, 2013 edition

According to Fitz & the Tantrums lead singer Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick, life has been an endless blur of tour busses, airplanes and music venues since the crew released its 2010 debut album Pickin' Up the Pieces —not that the Los Angeles native is complaining.

“I'm a guy that spent many, many years busting my butt where I couldn't get arrested in this business,” said Fitzpatrick, 42, who joins his bandmates for a concert at the LC Pavilion on Tuesday, July 9. “So even now that we've achieved a certain amount of success, we're trying to maintain the same pace we always have. You can't take your foot off the gas pedal for one second.”

Though the group's success can be attributed at least in part to its relentless work ethic, the endless travel and long hours away from home have certainly exacted a physical and emotional toll on the band members. It's a topic Fitzpatrick broaches on “MerryGoRound,” a song that closes out the Tantrums' sophomore album, More Than Just a Dream. “Stuck on the edge of no place,” he singshe faces blend into each day.”

“It's about this moment when you're having these dreams come true, but you're still a ghost,” Fitzpatrick said. “You're disconnected from your friends and your family and your home, and you're in this weird bubble by yourself in a hotel room in Lincoln, Nebraska, for 12 hours going, 'What's happening?'”

Like Guy Pearce's character in “Memento,” there have even been times in recent years where the frontman felt as if his entire memory had been wiped clean, saying, “We'll be driving into a city to go to the gig and I'll be looking at the skyline out the window like, 'I literally have no idea where I am right now.'”

While Fitz's words tend to tread heavier ground (heartbreak is another consistent theme), the music itself is almost universally weightless, drifting from the 1960s R&B stylings of the band's debut to the 1980s synth-rock populating its follow-up.

Going into recording sessions for More Than Just a Dream, the group members debated the merits of switching up what had proved to be a winning formula (“It would have been safe and easy for us to make Pickin' Up the Pieces: Part 2,” said the singer) before deciding they'd be best served by following their creative muse wherever it might lead.

“I just kept circling back to the idea that we had to make a record that turned us on, and hopefully our fans would follow,” Fitzpatrick said. “I feel like we definitely took some risks on this record, but great rewards only come to those who are brave enough to risk it all.”