Fitz of Fitz and the Tantrums on his musical philosophy and upcoming tour

Michael Fitzpatrick discusses success within the music industry and the resurgence of “Out of My League” on TikTok. 


Michael Fitzpatrick, second from the left, talks to WSN about Fitz and the Tantrums. The band will play at Webster Hall on Feb. 8. (Photo by Lindsey Byrnes, Courtesy of Fitz and The Tantrums)

Julia Diorio, Contributing Writer

With over 400 million streams on “Out of My League” and 200 million on “HandClap,” Fitz and the Tantrums has everyone singing along, regardless of age. The band is composed of Michael Fitzpatrick (lead vocals), Noelle Scaggs (co-lead vocals/percussion), James King (saxophone, flute, keyboard, percussion and guitar), Joseph Karnes (bass guitar), and Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboards). They formed in Los Angeles in 2008, and soon moved on to open for Maroon 5 and Andy Grammer. Most recently, the Tantrums released their single “Moneymaker”and a remix with Phantogram. They are set to play at Webster Hall in New York on Feb. 8.

Since their creation, Fitz and the Tantrums have played countless live shows and released five studio albums. Described as a combination of American indie pop and neo-soul, the band is set apart by the lack of guitars in their production. Fitz spoke with WSN about his experiences in the industry, musical decision-making and the secret to maintaining a legacy. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

WSN: How has opening for other artists like Maroon 5 and Andy Grammer influenced your decision-making in choosing your own openers?  

Fitz: You got to feel something from the music. You got to like the music and be a fan of their music, have it tap and open up for you. And then when you’re on the road, you’re a traveling circus. So the other part of that is that you want good people, people that you love hanging around with. But first and foremost, you got to love the music. I know that for us, when we opened up for Maroon, it was because Adam was a huge fan and kind of gave us one of our first breaks. Same with Bruno Mars. It was a big validation for us as up-and-coming artists to have those artists sort of give us a blue verified check next to our name by taking us out on tour with them.

WSN: What was it like having “Out of Your League” blow up years after its release? Did it change anything in your creative process, or open your eyes to new opportunities?

Fitz: Yeah, that was a weird one because “Out of My League” had been a hit on alternative radio. A few years went by, and then all of a sudden I’m like, “Hey guys, why is this song streaming like half a million times a day? What’s going on here?” And that was actually one of the first viral things on TikTok. 

The crazy part is that we’ve seen an effect from that viral moment in our shows, where I can tell there’s a whole group of audience members that came to hear that song because that’s now their jam. It’s been pretty amazing to watch. 

WSN: You recently released a new remix of the single, “Moneymaker.” What made you decide to work together with Phantogram on the remix? Was there something specific you were drawn to? 

Fitz: We’ve known those guys for a long time. We’ve always been huge fans we started coming up in the scene at the same time. I always love doing remixes for a batch of songs off every new record because I love to give something that we made to somebody else and have them do something weird. We’re such fans of Phantogram and those guys, as always, slayed it. They brought their A-game and I love it. 

WSN: How has your experience working alongside sound engineers earlier in your career influenced your albums? Do you think it impacts your current work? 

Fitz: It definitely does in terms of being well-versed in the studio. I can articulate my ideas pretty clearly to the producer or the engineer in the room. It gives me more ability to communicate in an efficient way, and I know what sound I’m looking for. I love to paint images for people. I like to talk in metaphors and stuff like that, but not every producer has that kind of brain. Some people can work with that and other people don’t.

WSN: What do you think keeps Fitz and the Tantrums alive for so long, as you’ve been in the music industry for over 10 years?

Fitz: We just love playing live. Without this contingent part of our thing, I’m not sure we would have ever made it because when Maroon 5 took us out on tour to open up with them, we didn’t have a record deal. We weren’t on the radio, we didn’t have anything all we had was this live show. And everybody in this band has spent their Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours of practice to become really good at what they do. I’m really fortunate to play with such badasses. From the outset, the kind of show we tried to put on was a church of music experience. You’re not coming to our show and standing like a wallflower. We want people to have fun and engage with us. That was sort of our calling card at the beginning. We kept saying, “Can we make this show tonight feel like the pressure cooker is just building and building? Can we keep trying to create an infinite loop between us and the audience?”

We built a whole live touring business for ourselves before we even had a first record deal, and that all came from that experience of playing live and creating this experience for people to come to you. The two hours in their week where they can hopefully forget about all the shit in their life, all the stress, all the worry and just have a cocktail, get sweaty with us, and leave with a smile on their face. And that’s what we’ve done for 15 years now.

Contact Julia Diorio at [email protected].