On Saturday, February 21, the audience at the Avalon Ballroom at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls were treated to the energetic and anthemic Fitz and the Tantrums. Their opening track ‘Get Right Back’ from their 2016 self-titled album, set the tone for the evening as they went through a variety of songs from their catalog – including standout singles ‘Out of My League,’ ‘Hands Up’, ‘HandClap’ & ‘The Walker’ – while seamlessly intertwining songs from their latest record, 2019’s All the Feels.
We had the opportunity to talk with co-lead vocalist Noelle Scaggs prior to the show, about her fantastic career with Fitz and the Tantrums.
I have to ask: Everyone just assumes that a band of your stature just kind of gets to the stage you’re at overnight, but this band has been together for 11 years. What was it like for the band in the early days?
“It took a lot of work to get to where we are. We’ve been together for 11 years and a good chunk of the first three or four years were really difficult. We didn’t start off with a record deal. We were on the road for a year and a half paying out of our pocket. We were just trying to get gigs that would pay us enough money to cover our expenses. We really did grind. But we made connections. We weren’t afraid to put ourselves out there and meet people that could help us along the way. Even after our first record deal with Dangerbird Records (Pickin’ Up the Pieces, 2010), we still put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears. We just kept on going out on the road and not saying no. We did as much as we could to get our music as far and wide as possible. It created the calling card for our live show, which is what people get really excited about. I actually talk to a lot of bands that are younger than us that don’t understand the importance of actually going and doing radio interviews. That there’s an importance of shaking the Program Director’s hands and being part of the process of supporting the people who support you. I think it’s really important to know that the more work that you do, the more likely you’re going to get to where you want to be. It doesn’t change either. The more successfully you become, the more work it takes to stay there, so you have to be very dedicated to what you’re trying to accomplish.”
Prior to Fitz in the Tantrums you had already begun your career in music. Why has writing and performing music been a life long activity for you? What has kept you in it?
“I honestly think it’s the pay off. It’s the part of getting the record out and recognizing that it’s touching or inspiring people in a way that you didn’t think that it would. I think that we write songs for ourselves and we hope that they will translate, but it isn’t until you actually put it out into the world that you realize that it has an effect on people. When we get on stage and we’re in a city that we’ve never been to and we see people singing our songs, and we don’t know how far they might have traveled to be there, and they’re super excited to see us, that’s what keeps us going. This lifestyle that we live as artists can be very lonely. You’re constantly away from your family, you’re traveling and you’re putting all of your energy out there and it’s rare that you ever get it back. For me, once I get a new record out, it pushes me forward to keep creating and keep telling my story. It keeps pushing me to touch somebody in the world that I hadn’t thought about.”
And now that you’re record All the Feels has been out for just over half a year, how does it feel to look back on it? When you were creating the record, did you notice anything different within you and the band?
“I think the stories have widened a bit more, as far as what we’re willing to discuss. Now we’re talking about mental health and struggles in your personal lives. It may seem easy to talk about these subjects, but it’s not. Having to bring that kind of vulnerability to your live show everyday is something that gets tough. I think I’ve grown even further as an artist because of this record. It’s nice being able to go back and listen to the songs in a different way now that I can step away from it. It’s done, there’s no more tweaks and no more fixing that can be done. People are super excited about it, and I think now is the time to enjoy it. We’ve put it out into the atmosphere and are having people receive it well. I feel like a happier human being knowing that we took a risk to tell the stories that we’re telling on this record.”