Fitz and The Tantrums to play sold-out show in Chicago
By ERIC SCHELKOPF - firstname.lastname@example.org
Los Angeles neo soul, indie pop band Fitz and The Tantrums hit it big with its 2010 debut album, “Pickin’ Up The Pieces,” which featured such hits as “MoneyGrabber” and “Don’t Gotta Work It Out.”
But in making its latest album, “More Than Just A Dream,” the band tried to put the pressure to live up to that album’s success on the back burner. “More Than Just A Dream” will be released on May 7.
Fitz and The Tantrums is bound to play songs from the new album when it performs a sold-out show April 23 at the Double Door in Chicago.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to bassist Joseph Karnes about the new album.
Eric Schelkopf: Are you guys looking forward to coming back to Chicago?
Joseph Karnes: We always love coming back to Chicago. It’s a super important hub for us.
The love we get there is huge. Any chance we have to come back is a good one.
ES: It seems like there is a real soul movement across the nation these days. Why do you think that is?
JK: Usually soul has a lot to do with love songs, and everyone can relate to good love songs.
It’s just really classic, timeless songwriting, that’s kind of what soul is to me. It’s really nice songwriting, with a terrific groove, of course.
ES: Talking about classic songwriting, who are your biggest musical inspirations?
JK: For me personally, I can give you a list of bass players I love. As a band, we are kind of all over the place.
For me, I love bass players like James Jamerson, who did all the Motown stuff, all the way to Tony Levin, who was Peter Gabriel’s bass player.
If you are talking about the band, we really are all over the map as people and fans of music. On this new record, that comes to the foreground a little more, the diversity of our musical palette.
ES: In sitting down to make “More Than Just A Dream,” what were the band’s goals?
JK: The goals really were to have no limits in our songwriting. We could have tried to write “Pickin’ Up The Pieces Volume II,” but I think we had already done that.
While we are very proud of that album, there’s a lot of other textures and sounds that we were starting to hear. As these songs were starting to come out, we really wanted to honor the songs themselves, and give them whatever they needed.
We definitely wanted to push ourselves. Although we come from a soul and neo-soul revival kind of thing, we’re still trying to make new music.
We’re trying to say something new. In creating this record, we also kept in mind our live show. We wanted to continue that vibe.
ES: Your last album, “Pickin’ Up The Pieces,” really connected with people. Did you think it would be such a hit and did you feel pressure to follow up that album?
JK: You hope that people are going to like it, but everyone has been very surprised and humbled by the fact that people loved that record.
We are always eternally grateful to our fans. It sounds like a cheesy thing to say, but it really is heartfelt.
Without the fans, we are nothing. It’s never something that you can take for granted.
It was definitely nice to see how much people responded to it. The sophomore record is always a tricky thing to get into. You’ve got a long time to make your first record, and not as long of a time to write and make your next record.
But in order to make people happy, we really have to make ourselves happy first. If we’re enjoying what we’re doing, it’s going to translate.
We kind of had to put the pressure on the backburner, and just make music, and have fun doing it.
ES: So you have to be true to yourself first?
JK: It’s a little bit of both, but I think ultimately you have to be true to yourself. You want your fans to come along no matter what you do. If you’re going to go far away from a sound, you want to leave a trail of bread crumbs so people can follow you over there.
Hopefully with this new record we haven’t done that. I think there are elements of songs in the style of “Pickin’ Up The Pieces,” but then we’re also really trying to push it forward.
We just hope everybody comes along for the ride.
ES: You’ve worked with a lot of great musicians, including Van Dyke Parks, known for his work with The Beach Boys. Working with someone like him, what did you get out of the experience?
JK: You get so much. His musical mind is just out of this world. He’s full of anecdotes, and has been everywhere and done everything.