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Fitz and the Tantrums are playing at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Ace of Spades in Sacramento.

Fitz & the Tantrums' retro-urban dance sound returns to Sacramento

Published: Friday, Jul. 26, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4TICKET
Last Modified: Saturday, Jul. 27, 2013 - 6:52 pm

Part '60s soul, part '80s new wave, part contemporary indie pop.

Influences spread far and wide for Los Angeles-based Fitz and the Tantrums, the sextet behind the chart-topping 2010 album "Pickin' Up the Pieces." Their sophomore record, "More Than Just a Dream," came out in May and the band plays Ace of Spades on Tuesday.

"Definitely expect a hot, sweaty dance party," said frontman Michael Fitzpatrick, also known as Fitz.

Fitz founded the band in L.A. in 2008, when he was a sound engineer aspiring to do more, forming a group with Noelle Scaggs (vocals), James King (saxophone, flute), Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboards), Joseph Karnes (bass) and John Wicks (drums, percussion) – all friends or friends of friends.

It's been a quick rise to fame since then for the retro-urban act, led by a man whose soulful voice sounds strikingly similar to that of Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates.

As an unsigned band – their debut EP "Songs From a Breakup, Vol. 1" was self-produced in Fitz's home – they remarkably snagged an opening spot on tour with Maroon 5 (Adam Levine reportedly heard them on the radio and liked their sound.)

Their hit single "MoneyGrabber" – a super catchy, upbeat genre-bender – received national airplay and "Pickin' Up the Pieces" hit No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart.

They've performed on high-profile television shows including "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live," and at enormous music festivals, such as Lollapalooza in Chicago and SXSW in Austin.

They're signed to Elektra Records and "More Than Just a Dream" was produced by Tony Hoffer, known for his work with artists such as Beck, the Kooks and M83.

The Bee spoke to Fitzpatrick by phone while he was cruising the streets of Minneapolis, taking a break to buy an electric shaver while on tour with the band.

"More Than Just a Dream" has a notably different sound than your first record. How did that develop?

I always say our first album was '60s soul at the foreground, with the '80s as the layer right behind it. And on this record, we reversed those roles. Everyone in the band felt like, coming into our sophomore record, it would have been so easy for us to make "Pickin' Up the Pieces Part 2." But that would have felt like a cop-out for us … . On this record we wanted to leave no doubt that we were really pushing the envelope in combining all the styles of music that we love into a bolder, more brazen version of Fitz and the Tantrums.

You produced your first album. Why go with Tony Hoffer this time?

We were on such a crazy touring schedule, and I kind of wanted that outside voice to push us, to say "this song is good, but this part could be better." And Tony is just known for being able to seamlessly work with multiple genres and fuse different sounds together. He turned out to be the perfect guy.

You've been known to put on a pretty insane live show.

Our shows are a celebration. We don't stop dancing and moving the entire time. We always try to make the audience a seventh member of the band, try to get them to participate and dance. There's a lot of call and response. We've never tried to be the coolest band in the world. We just try to have fun and bring some joy to people in a concert setting … . By the end, everyone's losing their minds with us. Or the more they get crazy, the more we get crazy, and it just becomes this insane energy loop that feeds on itself and kind of goes ballistic.

This is your second time playing Ace of Spades. Do the crowds in Sacramento or Northern California have anything distinctive about them?

It's hard to pinpoint, but I'd definitely say every city has its own spirit. Some are more subdued, some are more raucous. I remember the first time we came to Sacramento, people came to party and have a good time. In some cities, you have to work harder … . I find that the smaller towns – like the Pittsburghs or Sacramentos, not the L.A.s or New Yorks – are where people kind of go crazy.

Favorite song on the new record?

It's hard. They're all your babies. You love them all, but you love some a little more than others. I love "The Walker" and "Out of My League." The last song on the record, "Merry Go Round" – that's a song I can barely listen to … . (It's) about that crazy juxtaposition where all your dreams are coming true and yet you're sitting there in a hotel room, in the middle of nowhere, with no transportation, no friends, no family, you haven't seen your loved ones in months, and you're just sort of disconnected from reality. It can be this weird, lonely experience, and that song tries to explain what that experience is like – of being on this crazy merry-go-round.


When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Ace of Spades, 1417 R St., Sacramento

Cost: $22.50

Information: aceofspadessac.com

Call The Bee's Janelle Bitker, (916) 321-1027. Follow her in Twitter @JanelleBitker.

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