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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 27 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 26
Fitz and the Tantrums are Seattle-bound this Pride weekend
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Fitz and the Tantrums are Seattle-bound this Pride weekend

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Cher isn't the only one coming to Pride weekend in Seattle. Make room for Fitz and the Tantrums, who perform June 27 at The Showbox SoDo, where they played to a capacity crowd a year ago. The LA-based pop act has been touring non-stop since the release of 2013's More Than Just a Dream, which produced two hit singles, 'Out of My League' and 'The Walker.' You might recall group member Noelle Scaggs speaking with Seattle Gay News about this time last year, and recently I caught up with bandmate/drummer John Wicks, who has a special connection with the Emerald City. Remaining tickets for the show, priced at $35, will be available at the door. While on a break in Burlington, Vermont, here's what John Wicks of Fitz and Tantrums had to say to SGN.

Albert Rodriguez: What do you remember from your trips to Seattle?

John Wicks: Well, I'm from Seattle. So, every time I get to come home and play is sort of an affirming moment, because I busted my ass in Seattle for so many years. And, to be able to come back and play shows that are well attended and where people love the music, it just feels good. It's nice to come home.

Rodriguez: Do you still have family here?

Wicks: I do. I was actually raised over on Bainbridge Island, and then I lived on Capitol Hill, and then Queen Anne, and finally I decided to make a move to Los Angeles so I could do studio session work. It was a scary move for me, but thankfully it paid off. I hadn't planned on being in a band, and then I met Fitz (Michael Fitzpatrick) and suddenly the band just blew up so quickly that before I knew it I was on the road more than I was at home. Now, I live in Missoula, Montana. I uprooted my family (we were sick of Los Angeles) and we all moved to the mountains in Missoula, so it's been a crazy eight years or so, but I'm so loving the way it ended up.

Rodriguez: You guys will actually be here during Pride weekend, so it'll be a little crazy.

Wicks: Oh man, I love it. That's great! I've always loved Pride in Seattle! I used to live on 14th and Harrison and would walk down to Broadway to see it. I used to work at a store on Broadway called The Pink Zone; it was like sex toys, a piercing salon and a hair salon. I worked for a woman named Leslie Lippi and her partner, named Carla Wilcox, a boxing trainer on Capitol Hill, and they used to own this great store called The Pink Zone. When Pride weekend came around, it would just be insane.

Rodriguez: Cher will here Pride weekend. Her tour coincidentally lands in Seattle during Pride, so she plays the night after you guys do.

Wicks: Oh my gosh, that's gonna be insane! That's so cool.

Rodriguez: As a former local, do you have any Seattle haunts?

Wicks: Vivace is the first place I go. On Broadway, the original Vivace, the stand. They've had the same staff there for 20 years and I love them. So, I always go to Vivace and get my fix there. I'm ashamed to say that I always have to go to Dick's for a cheeseburger. I know it's awful, but I can't go without it. I also walk around and see how it's changed there, and a lot has changed, and what's stayed the same like Linda's Tavern. I heard that Bauhaus Coffee closed, which is a bummer.

Rodriguez: It re-opened a block away.

Wicks: It did? Oh good! I went on my first date with my wife there. I worked as a barista in Seattle for 15 years, and it helped pay the bills and I became a coffee addict.

Rodriguez: Has the band started working on a new album yet?

Wicks: No, not at all. We're still working so hard on this record. We have another single coming out, probably within a month, called 'Fool's Gold.' But right now, this record still has so much wind in its sail. We're still servicing it so much that we haven't even talked about doing another record yet.

Rodriguez: Are there any new songs that you might be roadtesting on this tour?

Wicks: Not a bit. Everything that we're playing right now is from the first two records. You bring up a really good point, in that that's been how we've decided what the singles are. For the first record, when we went out on the road we had a couple of really [fortuitous] events happen where we were asked to go open for Maroon 5; these things kind of fell on our lap. So we were able to roadtest the songs before the record was released, and we realized that 'MoneyGrabber' was definitely the single, because the crowds would just flip out every time we played it, and the same with 'The Walker' on this record and 'Out of My League.' It was kind of a no-brainer deciding what the singles were gonna be, just based on the roadtesting. I hope we get to see that again with this next record. It sure helps us make decisions because you never know unless you start getting audience feedback.

Rodriguez: Have you changed the versions to any of the songs, like 'Out of My League,' to keep them fresh, or are they similar to what we heard in concert last year?

Wicks: There's an extended section where we're able to feature our saxophonist James King and he's able to stretch out and improvise. We extend them because they're such dance-oriented songs, that keeping them the record length at 2 minutes and 30 seconds, or whatever it is, is a drag because you're kind of getting into dancing and you wanna keep going and you want the party to keep going. We've extended songs just to have some more fun. They're such danceable songs, and that's our goal, to make people dance, party and have a great time.

Rodriguez: Has there been any discussion as to when a new album could be released from Fitz and the Tantrums, like a year from now possibly?

Wicks: I don't think it'll be a year. What I'm starting to realize is that radio is still alive and well, and the way our schedule and our timeline unfold is kind of based on the success of radio. It depends on how well the next single does, I would think. If this next song goes to #1, like the first two songs did, we're going to be out on the road again for a long time. But if it doesn't do quite as well, we'll probably call it quits on servicing this record and start writing sooner than later. I would say a year sounds a little bit long; it's more like six months, or something like that, before we start really writing again.

Rodriguez: Well, it's been great talking with you. Safe travels to Seattle, and please let the band know it's Pride. Tell them to dress appropriately.

Wicks: (laughs) I will. There will be a lot of rainbows!

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