Fitz & the Tantrums: Discipline of an evolving band

By Chris Jimenez
Keeping the soul alive while evolving over constantly moving asphalt.  Photo: Joseph Cultice

Keeping the soul alive while evolving over constantly moving asphalt.
Photo: Joseph Cultice

VANCOUVER — A band with a long enduring relationship, soon running into its eighth year on the stage, Fitz & the Tantrums is a neo-soul band packed with the need to constantly mirror the woes of today’s society through evolution of each song produced. The six-piece has spent much of their recent career touring and their brass instrument expert James King equates hobbies and the love of the fans to their tireless road gumption.

“It’s hard work keeping it going and keeping the energy up but it all boils down to the fans and making sure they’re getting a good show, results is really what keeps us going every night,” says King. “I enjoy reading, lately it’s a lot of New Yorker magazines and I’m now reading a book about Quebecois woodcutters in the 1600s. Our hobbies kind of cross over, for example John is a very avid runner, he does long distance races and over the course of his training for his next race I’ve been able to run with him a little bit each day and stay in shape that way.”

Initially reflecting their influences of early Stax Records, Fitz & the Tantrums continue to search through their culmination of musical experiences to come out with a new experimental sound each album. Their first album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, dropped them on the top of the charts having a fresh new sound with an added soul character to it. Their second album, More Than Just a Dream, again hit their charts but with more synth-dominant tracks. Their third self-titled album Fitz & the Tantrums recently hit the stores and includes both characteristics picked up from the previous two records but with tracks more centered on a dance music vibe. King goes into his personal musical influences and expresses the need for the band to be constantly evolving, along with the most recent album’s message to its listeners.

“I always end up going back to blue note jazz such as Eddie Harris. I also have a young son now and his morning routine is getting up and listening to early 50s Black Betty, ska and reggae like the Skattalites and Burning Spear and all of the people I’ve listened to for years and I’m now coming back to that through the eyes and the ears of my son. As a band we try to remain true to ourselves and people who’ve known us from our early records may not be down for the new concept but it’s really important to us that we keep changing and we make sure that we’re reacting to the world around us and try to keep people interested while keeping both mind and hearts fresh. The most recent album can be construed as a light hearted affair but overall the theme has been longing for a happier world.”

King and the band continue to test waters on new sounds keeping the listeners excited for each album to drop. Keeping a fresh vibe all the while reflecting on the world’s unfortunate events.

Fitz and the Tantrums play the Vogue (Vancouver) Aug. 24, Union Hall (Edmonton) Aug. 26, and MacEwan Hall (Calgary) Aug. 27.

, , , , , , ,