Fitz and The Tantrums Talk "More Than Just a Dream", "Out of My League", and More
Wed, 01 May 2013 08:22:41
Fitz & the Tantrums Videos
Upon first listen to "Out of My League", the latest single from Fitz and The Tantrums, you'll be singing along immediately. It's a shining anthem replete with '80s synths and the group's effusive, entrancing panache. The track also remains a fitting gateway into the band's brand new masterpiece, More Than Just a Dream [Out May 7]. Fitz has got the rare power to make delightfully danceable melodies that still tell stories and possesses much deeper meaning. You can move to them, but you'll feel them as well. That's what makes More Than Just a Dream the band's best yet and one of the year's most brilliant albums…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Fitz and The Tantrums mainman Michael Fitzpatrick opens up about "Out of My League", More Than Just a Dream, and more.
What's the story behind "Out of My League"?
It takes me back to that moment in high school or college where you fall for that girl who's a little bit out of your league. She's out of your range. Maybe you finally get to make that moment happen. You were always too shy before, but now you get the chance to go out with the hot girl and you're still shocked the whole time you're the guy who gets to go out on a date with her. I'm just so happy with how that song turned out. It started as an idea Noelle brought to the table. She and I developed it. I liked the universality of it because it's a story we can all identify with. When we were working on the song, I was pretty confident it would end up being the first single on the record just because it was in the spirit of what we always wanted to do but it also treaded new territories. I wanted to push for the record. Being a lover of all things eighties, it felt like a classic song from the eighties that found its way into 2013. It's put through a 21st century filter so it still sounds modern and fresh at the same time.
It definitely upholds your musical identity.
Exactly! I think when Noelle and I are singing on a song that tends to be the anchor to it all. We wanted to take a lot of chances for this new record. We wrote something like 40 songs in a month-and-a-half, trying to let ourselves experiment and go wherever we wanted to. The rule was nobody could say that doesn't sound like us. We gave ourselves the freedom to take as many chances and expand. None of us wanted to make the same record again. We wanted to challenge ourselves and put ourselves on the edge of what felt comfortable. At the end of the day, we came back with the theory we had to write a record that turned us on. Hopefully, in turn, our fans would be excited by it.
Does this song open the door to the record?
For people who love the first record, there are some songs which hold more of a through line to the first album. This record definitely goes to different places and uses wider of palette of instrumentation, sounds, sonic templates, and vibes. I like that each song on the record definitely feels like its own world. It's certainly telling of the record, yet it's not exclusively limiting it to what other moods and moments are on the record.
Is it important for you to tell stories and paint pictures with the songs?
Yeah, I think we really adhere to the classic songwriting form of being a storyteller and having great melodies and classic song structure. Noelle and I sat in my home studio working really hard on those lyrics and melodies to make sure we were pushing ourselves, creating great stories, and writing about what we know. The first record was pretty much exclusively about heartbreak. This album still has plenty of that on it, but it's also about the other experiences. It's got the idea of the loneliness of being a musical nomad. You're always on the road, waking up in a different city every day, and not knowing where you even are some days of the week. There's a song on the record called "The Walker", which is about drive and ambition to the point of obsession. It's a great thing, but it has a dark side to it as well. That's what it takes to be in a band and succeed. You need an almost unhealthy determination.
Any artistic pursuit requires quite a bit of sacrifice.
That's absolutely true. I never knew how much it would take. When this band started to form and we went out on the road, we had some magical moments at the beginning. The sheer hard work and determination was the most important thing. That meant a single-minded purpose, which meant sacrificing a personal life, relationships, and time with friends and family. It was singular in focus.
Is there something that threads More Than Just A Dream together for you?
It's hard to say. It all threads together because it's all experiences and drawing from our lives. Is there one clear theme? I don't know if there is as much as there was on the first record. I'd say the palette is broader just based on the desire to speak to these other experiences we were having. We were on the road for two-and-a-half years, and we had to talk about what that experience was like. You have to write about what you know, and that's where authenticity comes from. There are threads of love and loss mixed with ambition and loneliness.
What influences you outside of music?
There are a lot of avid readers. You try to find inspiration from that, especially when you're on the road. You have a lot of travel time where you're locked in confined spaces whether it's the bus, plane, or airport lobby. You're always looking for a novel that transports you or a great movie. I'm a compulsive binge TV-episode watcher. It's everything from House of Cards to Breaking Bad. You find inspiration in that. We're all music lovers so we're always turning each other to our latest musical obsessions. That helped influence the sound of this record. We wanted to challenge the perceptions of what soul, funk, and all of these things could be.
If you were to compare the album to a movie or combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
It would be a fusion of Drive and Mannequin. To me, Drive was a great movie. There were incredible visuals. It was hyper-real. It was modern, yet it was influenced by the eighties. That's very much what this record is about. I loved the fun and playful nature of Mannequin. We're not trying to be pretentious in what we do. Our music is about dancing, celebration, and having fun.
What's your favorite song from Fitz and The Tantrums?