Over the past three years, L.A.-based soul-pop outfit Fitz and the Tantrums have toured relentlessly behind their breakthrough 2010 debut album, Pickin' Up the Pieces. But as frontman Michael "Fitz" Fitzpatrick told Rolling Stone backstage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where they'll play again this weekend, the band has spent the past two months cooking up a batch of new songs for their still-untitled sophomore album, which they hope to release this fall.
"We're gonna go into the studio with [producer] Tony Hoffer [Beck, M83] in May," said Fitzpatrick. "Fingers crossed, we'll have a new record out in September."
The six-piece band, Fitzpatrick said, has written 27 new songs and will bring 15 to the studio with them to record next month. One of them, "She’s Out of My League" an airy, daydream-inducing soul shiner, the band unveiled during their Coachella performance on Sunday. While the singer insisted the new album will retain the band's classic soul vibe, Fitzgerald said they aren't shying away from musical evolution. "I think the record will be a little less retro, a little more modern," he said.
"It's trying to still honor some of our soul roots and embrace a little more of our Eighties roots that have always been in the music," he added. "We are lovers of pop music, and pop in the best sense of the word – just great melodies and songwriting. We're definitely taking some chances. At the end of the day, we just have to make a record that we're psyched with and proud of. If we stay true to something that we are happy with, I think people will go on the ride with us." As for the title? Fitzpatrick said it "will appear in a mirage" once the band is "closer to the finish line."
With the band based only a few hours northwest of Coachella, in L.A., playing the desert fest is particularly satisfying. "It's a big deal for us," Fitzpatrick said. "We all grew up with this festival as this festival grew up. For us, just to be invited and then be given an amazing time slot on the main stage, it's a real marker of all the hard work that we've put in for the past three years."
More than anything, vocalist Noelle Scaggs said that, she’s simply grateful that Fitz and the Tantrums are still around. "We've watched a lot of bands that were coming out of our scene that were on that level of buzz that just kind of trickled off," she said. "You never know how it's going to turn out."