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Interview:
Delay helped make Fitz & the Tantrums' new album better
 

By GARY GRAFF
@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

» See more SOUND CHECK

Fitz & the Tantrums' sophomore album is the embodiment of the adage that good things come to those who wait.

Or, in this case, are forced to wait.

The Los Angeles soul-pop group scored bit with its 2010 debut "Pickin' Up the Pieces." The set, which followed the buzz-creating 2009 EP "Songs For a Breakup, Vol. 1," hit No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart while the sextet was named a Band To Watch by Rolling Stone magazine and became a late-night TV favorite. Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates was a fan, too, and put the group on his "Live From Daryl's House" show.

But the maelstrom made the initial recording of the new "More Than Just a Dream" "a crazy journey," according to frontman and co-founder Michael "Fitz" Fitzpatrick. It was, he says, "originally a madhouse rushing to get the record done and out in the fall" of 2012. But when the group signed a new deal, moving from the independent Dangerbird Records to the major Elektra, its release was delayed six months, which gave the exhausted band some much-needed daylight that wound up benefiting what ultimately came out in early May.

"We made (the album) under a tight calendar with a lot of expectations," notes Fitzpatrick, 42. "We made the record so fast that we didn't have a chance, I felt, to sit and ponder it and give it space and just have a good thing about it.

"So with the extra time we were able to sit with it a little bit, and we actually went and tweaked a couple of little things and swing for the fences a couple more times and see if we can write some more song. Without that little extra time we wouldn't have been able to tighten the screws on the record as much as we wanted."

"Out of My League," the album's first single and a Top 20 hit on the Rock and Alternative charts, was one of the tracks improved by that second look, according to Fitzpatrick. And the band favorite "Fool's Gold" was written and recorded during the wait and added to the album before its release.

"Sitting with the record as a listener and listening to it as if it's not our band, I felt it was missing that one kind of really emotional moment on the record," Fitzpatrick says. "That's what 'Fool's Gold' became, and the whole thing felt more complete at that moment."

With "More than Just a Dream" out -- it debuted at No. 26 on the Billboard 200, 114 points higher than "Pickin' Up the Pieces" -- Fitzpatrick says he and his bandmates are "putting on our armor" for the campaign to promote it. Touring "Pickin' Up the Pieces," he says, was a rough experience for the group; "It was the hardest work any of us had every done," he notes. "We never stopped touring for three-plus years. You're in this weird bubble. It was almost an unhealthy level of commitment to get where we got, and it took its toll."

And though the group will be "hitting it hard for the next couple of years," Fitzpatrick hopes a little knowledge and temperance will make "the journey" a little easier this time out.

"We know how to do it a little bit healthier," he explains. "We're trying to start at a high-water mark rather than eating (bad) food every day. We're all trying to keep each other healthy. You have to maintain a spiritual and mental balance; we now have more experience with how to do that and encourage each other to stay fit and stay healthy.

"So, y'know, when we hit Philly, I won't be eating that cheesesteak. I love 'em; we all do. But then everybody in the band is rolling on the ground afterwards like a beached whale. That's the kind of stuff we're trying to avoid now."

Fitz & the Tantrums and Saints of Valory perform Thursday, June 20, at Saint Andrews Hall, 321 E. Congress St., Detroit. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22.50. Call 313-961-6358 or visit www.saintandrewshall.com.

Web Site: www.saintandrewsdetroit.com

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