Everything about Michael Fitzpatrick is befitting of a man who fronts a band called Fitz and the Tan-trums. In performance, he’s a dancing machine, and in conversation he’s quick with a quip and prone to emotional reactions.
“Nobody gives anybody in rock ’n’ roll s— for being in the 10 millionth rock band,” he says when the topic arises of other contemporary soul-influenced acts like Mayer Hawthorne, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and Eli “Paperboy” Reed. Fitzpatrick has only kind words for his peers, and he’s keen to point out that within the genre, “everyone’s doing their own thing.” As far as Fitz and the Tantrums are concerned, that’s certainly true.
“We don’t adhere to the form as rigidly as some of these other artists do, and I love their music. That’s just not what we wanted to do,” he says. “We wanted to do something that was more of a hybrid. We just weren’t afraid to let something that felt like it was outside of the character of soul music make its way onto the record.”
What’s immediately apparent from the band’s 2010 debut, “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” is its kinetic energy. Instruments interlock without intruding upon each other and Fitzpatrick and co-singer Noelle Scaggs, both constantly move in the center of it all. He dresses like Don Draper and sings like an angrier Daryl Hall, and she has the style and harmonic capabilities of all of the Supremes in one.
“From the very first show, we started moving around, because the music was making us dance,” says Fitzpatrick. “And very early on, Noelle and I started to push each other. And now it’s to the point where she and I just do not stand still for one heartbeat. And when you’re in a hot, sweaty little dance club, I soak my suit through every single night.”
Fitzpatrick recalls the magical first time the band played Boston, last winter at Brighton Music Hall.
“It was a city we had never played before and we didn’t have any radio stations playing us, and for us to come there and sell out a club, we were pretty blown away. And that night really stands out for all of us because we were on such a grueling tour in the dead of winter. We went rushing out of Boston right after to avoid snow-pocalypse. ... Noelle got a bad case of laryngitis, so when we got to Boston, she literally had no voice left. And for a singer, it’s super-emotional for us when your instrument doesn’t work the way you want. It’s inside your body and it’s a personal thing in a way that no other instrument can be. And she was just devastated because she didn’t know what she was going to do, and crying before the show. And we walked onstage in Brighton and told the audience that she had laryngitis and they were amazing. They sang all of her parts for her. It still gives me chills just telling it to you right now. It was just such a beautiful moment, and it was just so shocking to us that they all knew the whole record, every song!”