Every artist hopes their latest song will be the perfect earworm that shoots their name into the spotlight. But Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick, frontman of the Los Angeles indie-pop outfit Fitz and the Tantrums, felt in his bones that 2016's “HandClap” was that hit.
“Five minutes into writing, I called my manager, and I said, ‘I got the song,’” he tells Houstonia ahead of the band’s stop at House of Blues Houston on June 28. “They're like, ‘We'll see. We'll see.’ And I was like, I know.”
He really did. Not only did the song become the band’s first to break into the Billboard Hot 100, but it also became something of an unofficial NFL hype song during the 2016 season and scored the group invites to Dancing with the Stars and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Now the group is riding that wave of greatness through its fourth studio album, All the Feels. Sure, a pandemic delayed the album tour—so much so that Fitzpatrick had enough time to write and release his first solo project, Head Up High—but the band’s finally back out there, where they belong.
Ahead of the Bayou City show, Fitzpatrick chatted about his insane amount of writing, the band’s upbeat sonic vibes, and the deep power of the dance-cry.
All the Feels dropped in 2019. What is it like finally touring for it almost two years later?
It was cool getting to do our first five shows a couple of weeks ago and getting to see how many people had gotten to experience that record. It’s hard to understand whether people had even heard of the album or not in the pandemic. To now play shows and be like, Oh, you guys know this record, to know that maybe our songs fueled some family dance parties? That maybe our record was your pandemic album? It’s maybe the greatest honor of making music.
You wrote 80 songs for the last Fitz and the Tantrums album, and you had more than 40 for your solo project. Is writing that much part of your typical creative process?
I tend to do that because I'm my harshest critic. I believe that you can write a song, but if you want to write a great song, you got to write a lot. And if you want to write an exceptional song, you've got to write a ton. And then, if you're looking for magic—lightning in a bottle—that moment rains on you once every blue moon. So, I've just always written a ton of music, trying to find that magic that only the musical gods will give to you once in a while.
Also, I believe that by writing a lot of songs, you're peeling back the layers of onions of your emotional landscape. You might think about the surface stuff, and then you have to keep digging and mining and exploring what you're feeling. It's sort of just a process to get to the truth.
Both Head Up High and All the Feels address the ups and downs of life with a sense of optimism. Why is it important to maintain that vibe?
A lot of times, I write those songs almost as a mantra or a pep talk to myself. I believe in a sad song any day of the week, but I think, for the most part, I'll let other people write those songs. I love putting positive messages out in the world. I really am doing it for myself, and if it transcends and can help somebody else, then I've done my job.
Since both projects have a similar upbeat, optimistic vibe, what makes a song a Fitz and the Tantrums song and what makes a song a solo Fitz song?
What makes it a solo Fitz song is that I was maybe singing in a different way than I'm always used to singing or exploring these themes that maybe weren't always upbeat on some of the songs. But really, I would say it was just born out of the isolation of the pandemic. But a Fitz and the Tantrums song—it's got to make you dance. That's the requirement. Even if it's a sad song about being heartbroken, you still got to be dancing while you're crying. There’s nothing better than a good dance cry.
June 28. From $32.50. House of Blues Houston, 1204 Caroline St. More info and tickets at houseofblues.com.