Showing posts with label about. Show all posts
Showing posts with label about. Show all posts

August 26, 2012

Interview with Fitz & The Tantrums

Fitz & The Tantrums, a six-piece band based in Los Angeles, California, have come a long way since the release of their debut album Pickin' Up the Pieces about two years ago. This soul-influenced funk/indie band has garnered national media attention with their throwback tunes and have been traveling around the country playing shows and major music festivals, such as Outside Lands! The group played an energetic, hour-long set that had everyone at the main stage on their feet and dancing. No matter the venue, these guys really understand how to get the crowd moving, and every show they perform is truly a blast.


Two members of the band, drummer John Wicks (left), and sax/flute player James King (right), were kind enough to take some time and chat with me after their set! Read below to see what these two skilled musicians had to say, and listen to the band's soulful cover of "Sweet Dreams."

Fitz & The Tantrums - "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)"

ON TOURING

John: A lot of us, James in particular, have done touring prior to being in Fitz & The Tantrums. So I think really, to be honest with you, the only guy that was kind of new to it was Fitz himself, he had never been in a band that had toured. To his credit, he kind of hit the ground running and was really a road dog from the start, even when we were just in a van or in a car, and it was a little bit rough but he handled it really well. We’re kind of road dogs as it is. The thing that’s been really surprising has been the quick rate of growth that we’ve had, playing for these size crowds, just insane.

James: We definitely all have toured in different situations. For myself, I’ve been in that level of kind of the van to tour bus, but like John said, to come and play for 20-30,000 people at big festivals on main stages, we’ve done a lot of those in the last year and it’s always humbling. Coming here today is just no different. That never gets old.

ON FESTIVAL PLAYING

James: You perceive it a little differently [than playing smaller venues], but I think that the intent is always the same. It is to get everyone, from the front to the back of the crowd, into it. You have the same challenges with a small club to a big festival. Sometimes, you just have to put yourself in the right mindset. And it’s one of those things that if you really, really give all of yourself to the show, then people will respond.

John: From a drumming standpoint, it’s a different thing. Like James said, you still want to put the same energy, whether it’s 10 people or 10,000. But, when you’re playing in an outdoor venue like this, you actually have to taper down the amount of subtle things you do because they don’t really translate, ‘cause people can’t really hear that stuff. It’s kind of more of a meat-and-potatoes style of playing that translates to the back of the crowd. The other thing is, you get so freakin' amped up when you see that many people that you have to be careful that you don’t wear yourself out after the first song. Because if you go out there with guns blaring, sometimes, by the end of the first song, I’m just like, “Oh my god, I still have an hour to go.”

ON MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENTS

John: [laughs] It might’ve been today! Bless his heart, we had a guy that we totally fed to the lions today. Unfortunately, our keyboard player had some family issues that he had to attend to so we had a last minute sub. And this guy came in and he did such a great job, but at one point, he started the wrong song, and it was just like, “Woah,” and I was looking at him and it’s that moment where you’re trying to figure out, are we going to go with him and start this new song?

James: That’s when those years of touring come in handy.

John: That’s right!

James: ‘Cause we look at each other and we know what we’re going to do. When something like that happens you just have to run with it, and the less experienced musician might have responded, “Ah, I’m just going to start it myself and maybe everyone will follow me,” but you really have to be a psychic and all come in together.

John: Right. But as far as the most embarrassing thing that’s happened, Fitz saying the wrong city we were in. That’s happened once or twice.

James: Yeah, that “Hello Cleveland” thing is never good.

John: [laughs] Yeah, we were in Spokane or Seattle and he said something like that. So we got booed there for a minute and then you try to win ‘em back over, cause you don’t want it to seem impersonal. But I think that was a month into our tour, and you’re just delirious. It’d be like going to San Francisco and saying, “Hello L.A.”, it’s like the worst possible thing you can do.

ON THEIR UPCOMING ALBUM

James: I’d say [the new album] is a lot different. We touched a nerve with people when we first came out because we harken back to this classic sound. We came in around the time when a lot of other people were looking to that era of music, which is good, the timing was perfect. Of course, that’s a sound we’re all into. For the next record, those production techniques haven’t gone away, we’re still trying to get classic sounds, but it’s more kind of looking back to stuff that we came up listening to. So that would be classic 80s. It’s a different kind of retro thing, I guess. We have a lot of the same elements as the first record, but there’s this whole other palette of sounds that we have to work with in our heads, and we’re excited that we get to use those on the next record.

John: The common thread between the last record and this next record is the songwriting. Fitz, before we even started writing for this record, set the bar and said, “Look, no matter what, every song has to be able to stand up on its own and not lean on a single, and it’s got to be all killer, no filler.” And when you’ll be able to listen to this record soon, you’ll see, that it’s the same as the last one, it’s all great songs. And I don’t think there’s any ones that are there for filler.

James: That’s really a litmus test for all of us, we’re musicians that have worked in a lot of different genres. And, like right now [Beck is performing in the background], Beck is playing “Lost Cause” and it’s the test for a musician like that. Can you play one of his songs on the guitar by itself and will it sound good? Will it sound like a song? And of course, for him, the answer is yes. For us, I mean the challenge in that is not having any guitar players, but would these songs make sense, say, if a pianist was sitting at a keyboard and singing by himself? I think so. And you know if the song is there, if the picture’s there, then all we have to do is show up and play the best we can. That’s really a challenge and a blessing at the same time.

ON THEIR MUSICAL BACKGROUNDS

James: John and I are both style hoppers, we listen to anything and everything. We’ve studied all different types of music. And they do seep in. Of course, you can’t go crazy and go and play thrash metal to our music. But yeah, you definitely can take pieces of yourself, that’s why we work as a band. It’s not just like, Keyboard Player A, Drummer B, we actually work together as musicians with like-minded taste.

John: James and I both came up playing jazz music mostly. It’s kind of a funny thing that happens with jazz musicians, there’s two camps; you hit a crossroads and it’s the point where you go, either that you enjoy the athleticism that’s involved with that style of music and the sheer technical facility that you’ve acquired from that music, that’s very very difficult. But some guys, I can’t speak for James but I know him well enough that he sort of shares this with me, that sort of lost its sparkle for me. I got tired of music feeling like an athletic event. I started to take more of an attraction, I don’t want to say simple music, but music that was less notes and more heartfelt. Sort of go that route. All of my favorite drummers are guys that didn’t play that many notes, and technically were not that great, but they were so heartfelt so we went that camp. I have the utmost respect for the other camp, which is to try and take it to the next level technically and play just amazing stuff, and I’m always blown away. A lot of those guys end up being true innovators. But, I couldn’t do that anymore.

James: I think where that line exists for me is, at a certain point, when you’re studying jazz and going further into it, there comes a point where you’re playing to an audience of musicians, or are you playing to an audience of your peers and people who you can actually change their perspective a little bit? If you’re playing to an audience where, like John was saying, you’re trying to take it to the next technical level, athletic level and intellectual level, that’s awesome. I have the utmost respect for that, like he said. But you’re playing to a room of saxophone players, drummers, bass players. There’s a time and place for that. But you couldn’t do that at a place like Outside Lands, you have to connect. That’s been the goal with this band from the beginning and with the next record, I think it’s really going to happen.

Noelle Scaggs of Fitz & The Tantrums performing at Outside Lands

Photos by Rachel and Olivia Fidler 
Click here to see all of Write To The Beat's photos from Outside Lands!

August 07, 2012

Guide To Outside Lands: Bands To Know

With some big name headliners this year at the Outside Lands Music Festival, it's easy to get forget about smaller bands at the bottom of the bill. Never fear, however! Write To The Beat is here to help remind you (and maybe introduce you) to some fabulous bands and artists that are lesser known, but still great!
If you like: The Drums, Portugal. The Man, Girls
PAPA's debut EP, A Good Woman Is Hard To Find, only came out less than a year ago, but this band has been making waves. PAPA has a rough yet lovely, easy-going, surf-rock vibe that brings the California coast to your headphones. I predict that their energized yet simple tunes will gather a fun crowd at the festival.

PAPA - "I Am the Lion King"
 
If you like: Cut Copy, Holy Ghost, POLIÇA
I have been a fan of Tanlines ever since I heard their dance jam, "Real Life." Since then, I can't help but groove to all the wonderfully energizing beats this Brooklyn duo has continued to produce. Their newest album, Brothers, came out earlier this year, and has given the band a lot of buzz. Jump over to their early afternoon set at the Panhandle Stage on Friday for some great dance time.

Tanlines - "Real Life"

If you like: Pretty Lights, Paper Diamond, MiMOSA
Big Gigantic is referred to as "instrumental livetronica" for a reason. The band combines electronic beats with live drums and saxophone instrumentation. This unique sound allows for stellar live performances, complete with awesome light shows and visuals. Big Gigantic's latest album, Nocturnal, which reached #2 on iTunes electronic charts, is available for free on the band's website here.

Big Gigantic - "The Uprising"

If you like: Said The Whale, Gold Motel, Foster the People
If you're looking for some summery, peppy, catchy music, you've found the right band. Jukebox the Ghost, a Brooklyn-based trio, released their third album Safe Travels earlier this year, and I must say, their music is infectiously happy. See their fun one-take video of "Somebody" here, shot on the Coney Island boardwalk.

Jukebox the Ghost - "Oh, Emily"


If you like: Ben Howard, Amos Lee, Otis Redding
Michael Kiwanuka, an expressive and eloquent singer-songwriter, has a voice that really gets into your soul. This incredibly talented Brit has gotten quite the spotlight after touring as Adele's opener, and truly deserves it. His debut album, Home Again, displays his immense musicality and deep emotion in his songwriting. If you'd like a preview of Kiwanuka live, check out this Take Away Show he did with La Blogotheque, and be ready to be blown away by his set this weekend. 

Michael Kiwanuka - "Home Again"
 

If you like: Blitzen Trapper, Dawes, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
With a little bit of blues, a tinge of folk, and a lot of rock, Cory Chisel and his band really reflect the age of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and the other legends. You can't help but get inspired by the spirit of these musicians, with some truly great classic rock-style anthems and tender, bluesy ballads. Even though they have an early set time (12PM on Saturday), make sure to get over to the Sutro Stage to see this talented band perform!


Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons - "Born Again"


If you like: Dispatch, G. Love, Jack Johnson
Sean Hayes brings about a romantic, passionate gesture toward music. This soulful singer-songwriter, a San Francisco-based artist, croons with a rough yet entirely soothing warmth that echoes another era. Check out the music video below for his new single, "Miss Her When I'm Gone." His full album, Before We Turn To Dust, is due out September of this year.


Sean Hayes - "Powerful Stuff"



Check out Part 2 of our Guide To Outside Lands here!

March 03, 2011

WELCOME

You are now inside Write To The Beat. How do you feel? We feel great! This site is dedicated to the exposure of wonderful music that brings us happiness and we hope will do the same for you. So come on in and grab an earful.

Explore and enjoy.

Ben and Jonah

Curious about our name?
Watch this.

Contact us at writetothebeat@gmail.com