On their newest hit song, Fitz & the Tantrums wants to make your hands clap. And your feet move. And, most importantly, your heart beat.
The appropriately titled “HandClap” is more than just the lead-off single for the neo-soul/new-wave band’s new self-titled album, due out June 10. It’s an 808-fueled, four-on-the-floor frenzy that serves as something of a testament to the band’s onstage connection with their fans.
And, for fans looking to connect, the band’s June 26 show at Frederik Meijer Gardens has already sold out. Though, fret not, the band also performs June 11 at the Keloorah Festival at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.
“We always say the audience is the seventh member of the band,” said bassist Joe Karnes. “All of us come from many different musical backgrounds, but I know for myself, before I joined this band I always wanted to be in a band that creates a celebration.”
Before Los Angeles’ Fitz & the Tantrums formed in 2008, Karnes had played in numerous bands for years. Centering around frontman Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick, the six-piece ensemble of longtime music vets played their first show in Hollywood less than a week after their first rehearsal.
|Fitz & the Tantrums shows
Michigan International Speedway, 12626 U.S. Hwy. 12, Brooklyn, Mich.
June 11, 8 p.m.
(517) 592-6666, mispeedway.com
Frederick Meijer Gardens - SOLD OUT
June 26, 7 p.m.
They released their debut LP Pickin’ Up The Pieces in 2010. Their retro sound quickly received widespread acclaim, and comparisons to the classic R&B sounds of Motown and Stax Records, while their high-energy club shows and festival slots built up their buzz across the country.
But it was their sophomore LP, 2013’s More Than Just a Dream, that took Fitz & the Tantrums from fan-favorite to household name. Its hit singles “Out of My League” and “The Walker” topped the alternative charts, and earned the band mainstream attention, gold-certification, and major TV appearances.
It also kept them on the road for two full years, playing gig after gig to their growing fan-base.
“When we came home, and had like two-and-a-half months with absolutely nothing, which is really wonderful, it forced us to take stock and really rethink what’s going on,” Karnes said.
Away from their homes and families for most of that period, it took them some time to reacquaint themselves with reality before finding inspiration to start the new record. Fitzpatrick also struggled with writer’s block for the first time, leaving the band uncertain of its future.
Ultimately, they embraced a “the sky’s the limit” theory. The band turned to a handful of outside co-songwriters, and incorporated more styles into their sound, including hip-hop, trap, reggae and world music.
“As much as we’re pushing forward I think there’s some elements that really take us back to our first record,” Karnes said. “When I really listen to it there’s a lot of music on here that really just screams us to me.”
Now eager to get back out on the road, Fitz & the Tantrums plans to play most of the new record live on their current summer tour, and Karnes said they’re most excited to see which songs will connect with fans the most.
“The subject matter of the tunes isn’t just party, party, party,” he said. “A lot of the songs are actually saying something very deep and very personal. It’s a cathartic experience for our audience. You can either just go there and have a great time, or say you just broke up with someone, and you need to shake that off and get yourself back together — our show is a place for you as well.”