Fitz and the Tantrums borrow sounds from eras past for their new album, More Than Just a Dream.
Fitz and the Tantrums came to fame by putting a new spin on the Motown sound. But for their sophomore disc, More Than Just a Dream (Elektra, $14), they picked up the needle and dropped it smack-dab into the New Wave years.
“We challenged ourselves and reversed our influences,” says Michael Fitzpatrick, the L.A. band’s lanky frontman. “We brought the ’80s to the foreground and layered the ’60s behind it to give people a clear idea of what a hybrid our music is.”
The mishmash sounds like Simon Le Bon fronting The Supremes in Beck’s garage — which is only fitting: Fitzpatrick began his career as an engineer for Mickey Petralia, the genre-jumping producer behind Beck and Ladytron.
“Watching them record was inspiring, but it was also tortuous,” Fitzpatrick says. “I was dying to have that experience myself.”
He got his wish in 2010, when the Tantrums recorded their full-length debut, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, and landed on the radio with the Motor City soul-shaker “MoneyGrabber.”
But they earned even bigger raves for their bop-till-you-drop live shows, which center on the interplay between Fitzpatrick and co-lead-singer Noelle Scaggs.
“We’re not too cool for school,” Fitzpatrick says. “We push ourselves until we’re soaked with sweat and on the verge of fainting.”
Fitzpatrick is modest enough to know how lucky he is to be a new star at 40, an age when most pop acts are considered washed up.
Last July, he fulfilled one of his life’s ambitions by playing the Hollywood Bowl, the iconic amphitheater where he went to concerts growing up. He still gets choked up talking about it.
“It’s a strange thing when you get what you dreamed of, especially after you’ve finally accepted it isn’t in the cards for you,” he says. “I’m so humbled by it all, I don’t get to be jaded or sarcastic anymore. I no longer get to be a sourpuss.”