Fitz and the Tantrums: Q&A with James King

The High Line park in the Meatpacking District.
The High Line park in the Meatpacking District. Photo Credit: Getty/Andrew Burton

It’s been just five years since Michael Fitzpatrick and James King started rounding up musician friends to put together a collective. In the time since, the band, Fitz and the Tantrums, has put out two albums, toured the world and seen songs such as “Out of My League” and “Money-Grabber” featured across media.

“When I look back on the last five years, it feels like 20,” King said. “Everything’s been moving so fast.”

amNewYork caught up with King — not an easy task these days — in advance of the band’s appearance tonight at Roseland Ballroom:

Your sound seems to have evolved a bit between albums, from soul to almost new wave. What do you attribute that to?

The new wave influence has always kind of been there for us. It was subtly there on the first album, but [“Pickin’ Up the Pieces”] was more of a 1960s Motown sound. This one, we had been on the road together so long and listening to each other’s iPods and talking about each other’s influences that it naturally came out when we were writing the second record. ? Ultimately, it sounds like us.

The band is one of the most energetic live acts touring today. How do you channel that feeling into recording?

I’ve always been a live musician. That’s what I’ve considered myself, and I think that’s the same for most of the band, too. We’re really comfortable onstage, and really comfortable interacting with each other. Some people may rely too heavily on reproducing the recording while onstage, but we’d rather interact with the audience.

Do you throw tantrums? If so, when was the last one you threw?

I think it was at the airport. I always have to have my battle armor on when I bring my saxophone to the airport. Me being a little guy doesn’t help either, because [the instrument] is about as big as I am. Security sees me walking up and thinks, “Does that guy think he’s going to get that thing on the airplane?”