STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
If you haven’t heard Fitz and The Tantrums on the radio, you’ve heard their songs on TV.
For example, their single from this summer, “HandClap,” is the soundtrack of a Fiat commercial. “The Walker” made recent commercials for Supercuts and Walmart memorable, and was featured in the Melissa McCarthy/Jason Bateman comedy “Identity Thief.” Their 2010 song “Moneygrabber” was used to sell New Amsterdam vodka, and was featured in HBO’s 24/7 series on the 2012 NHL Winter Classic with the Flyers and the New York Rangers.
Keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumma said one of his cousins recently caught a Fitz and The Tantrums show and said: “Oh my god, I knew five songs, and we didn’t know it was you.”
Of the placement of the band’s songs on TV and in video games (The song “Roll Up” is in Madden ‘17), he said that the band is always told about it. But Ruzumma forgets and is surprised and amused when he encounters a Fitz and The Tantrums song, for example, at the movies. “It’s pretty funny. I look over at my wife and we go back to eating our popcorn,” he laughed.
Ruzumma’s role in the band is prominent because there are no guitars. Named for co-vocalist Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick, the Los Angeles-based sextet has a saxophonist/flutist, but nary a guitar. “It’s kind of an awesome responsibility. I’ve become a better player for it,” Ruzumma said.
The Tantrums also stand out with their co-ed lead singer dynamic of Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs. “They have a chemistry on stage. It definitely keeps it fresh and exciting. They induce the audience and make a person feel like they’re singing songs to them,” he said. “You have to play a song like you’re playing it for the first time, and keep that excitement every time.”
Check it out Nov. 12 at the Fillmore or Nov. 13 at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center.
Culled from friends and acquaintances in “different bands … pretty cool bands” in 2008, and brought to the attention of Adam Levine by his tattoo artist, Fitz and The Tantrums quickly found themselves on “The Tonight Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”, “Conan,” and most recently on “Dancing with the Stars.” “That was pretty surreal for a lot of reasons. We perform all the time, but never with a giant dance troupe and crazy lighting … Then we go home and take out the trash,” Ruzumma said of their September appearance on DWTS.
“I feel very, very, very lucky that we’ve had this great trajectory. I feel like we’re the luckiest band in the world; I know it sounds corny,” he added.
Those only familiar with this year’s “Fitz and The Tantrums” and 2013’s “More Than Just a Dream” might raise an eyebrow at the shades of vintage R&B on the songs from their first independent album “Pickin’ Up the Pieces.” “Everybody in the band comes from a soul background, in lots of different ways,” Ruzumma said, mentioning the work he and Tantrums saxophonist James King did with De La Soul.
In the band’s bio, Fitzpatrick says he formed the group driven by “a need to be creative and not lose my mind over a breakup.”