James King of Fitz & the Tantrums speaks with us about the band’s new album, playing live, and the pursuit of musical growth.
This past Friday, 11/4, WRBB was lucky enough to speak with James King, the saxophone player for Fitz and the Tantrums. The CA band came out with their self-titled album in June of this year and have been taking their new pop soul sounds across the country since. Catch James and the rest of the band in Boston next week, on Tuesday, November 15th, at the House of Blues with Barns Courtney.
Just listening to the new self-titled album you can really hear how comfortable you guys have become with navigating the fusion of the sonic elements of funk, soul, and pop in a way that many bands struggle to accomplish while remaining authentic. What are the defining elements of Fitz & the Tantrums to you?
Well we just like to get organic and play louder and louder. We’ve got some slick production going on the album and it’s definitely a radio oriented album, but live it’s just a whole other deal so we like to let loose and show off the collective years of experience that we have of being live musicians and connecting with people in that way.
You commented that the recording process on More Than Just a Dream was a more collaborative effort than your previous album. Did you guys take the same approach this time around?
Yeah, it was kind of a piece meal approach, we threw a lot of things at the wall until they stuck and everyone’s voice was heard. We all had a say in it.
What’s been your personal favorite recording experience so far?
Oh man, that’s tough…it’s a really dense history…in our entire carreer?
Let’s say off of Fitz & the Tantrums!
Doing “Handclap” was really fun just because we kind of knew what was going to happen. We knew that song was going to do well and went into the studio with that attitude and we got something great out of it.
There’s a lot more that you guys have experimented with on this album – you’ve been able to utilize sonic space and instrumentation in a really interesting, cohesive way in the context of a pop/soul album. Was that as a consistent choice for this time around or what naturally came out of your writing?
It just kind of naturally came out! We had all of these tools at our disposal and wanted to see what we could use. It turned out to be a pretty good experience.
I was lucky enough to catch you guys at Firefly and the audience was just as hyped on the newer tracks as the old. You guys have always been candid about how your sound evolves from album to album and it has paid off for you. How do you gauge what is going to resonate with your audience?
Actually it’s really hard to gauge! You have to be prepare for every kind of reaction. Some people are going to go with you on the journey and some aren’t, and you just kind of have to accept that. We hope that it resonates with a bigger audience from album to album and so far, that has seemed to be the case. We just kind of trust our gut and go forward with it.
How has it been translating recorded material to the stage and how has that gone over with your audience?
It’s been going great! I can speak for my experience being the sax player in the band – [live] you’re hearing saxophone on songs sometimes where you can’t hear it on the record [because] it’s tucked into the mix or whatever so I [am able] to throw it out there in a way that makes more sense live. People seem to dig it so I keep doing it.
The last track off of Fitz & the Tantrums is “A Place for Us” – have Fitz & the Tantrums found their place?
Man, yeah! Our place is all over the stage and all over every town. We’re having fun storming right now up the East Coast and really looking forward to getting up there and playing to our New England posse. Every time we get to Boston it’s been so great – some of our greatest show memories have happened there. I haves so many friends out there that I can’t wait to see. Truly though, even though we’re going to miss the sunshine that we’re experiencing now in Florida, we’re really, really excited to come up there.
Amazing, we’re very excited to have you!
We’d like to give a big thank you to James King for taking the time to do this interview and to Shannon over at BB Gun Press for co-ordinating.
Be sure to catch Fitz & the Tantrums on the rest of their Come Get Your Love Fall Tour. Their Boston show will take place on November 15th, tickets are still available at the link below.
Nov 07 | The Tabernacle | Atlanta, GA
Nov 09 | The Fillmore | Charlotte, NC
Nov 11 | The Dome at Oakdale Theatre | Wallingford, CT
Nov 12 | The Fillmore | Philadelphia, PA
Nov 13 | Sands Bethlehem Event Center | Bethlehem, PA
Nov 16 | The Paramount | Huntington, NY
Nov 18 | Rapids Theatre | Niagara Falls, NY
Nov 19 | The Fillmore | Detroit, MI
Nov 20 | Madison Theater| Covington, KY
Nov 22 | State Theatre | Minneapolis, MN
Mar 18 | Pot of Gold Music Festival | Chandler, AZ