Sometimes, it takes a single moment to realize that you’ve made it, that all of the long hours in the studio and on the road, time spent away from family and the comforts of home, have been worthwhile.
For keyboard player Jeremy Ruzumna, one of those moments occurred not too long ago.
“A few weeks ago, I had a funny experience,” he said. “I was in an Uber Cab, and I was going somewhere and the guy was making conversation with me. He asked me what I did, and I said I was in a band, and he asked what band.”
Ruzumna replied that he was a member of Fitz and the Tantrums.
“And the guy totally flipped out and said, ‘My girlfriend and I love you!’ and
started singing at the top of his lungs, one of our songs, a lesser-known one from our fist album, and he wanted to take a picture with me,” Ruzumna said. “And that was a surreal moment, and I thought, ‘Oh, wow; people know our stuff,’ so that was pretty cool.”
As a musician, you work all the time, sitting down to write that song or in the studio recording all of the parts and making it work, Ruzumna said. On a day-to-day basis, the band lives a routine life, with beds on a bus and only one another’s company, never really seeing how their music has pervaded the indie-pop airwaves.
“The crowds get bigger and bigger, and they are screaming all the lyrics, and then you see, wow, you get the phone calls and you see the song everywhere,” he said. “You hear that it’s doing really well, but you don’t get the feeling really immediately in your life. You’re sleeping on the bunk on the bus and trying to stay sane.
“Everybody dreams and hopes that this stuff will be heard by people and people will like it. Of course, you have to write stuff that you think sounds cool for yourself, first and foremost, and then you hope that people accept it. Whatever success we have means that the music is connecting with people and that’s all we can ever ask for.”
Breck and beyond
Fitz and the Tantrums have spent the better part of the past five years on the road, playing music best suited to a live audience but bottled equally well into two EPs and two full-length albums, “Pickin’ Up the Pieces,” which landed in 2010, and “More Than Just a Dream,” released in May. Ruzumna said the band doesn’t get to spend much time at home.
“We’re together 24/7 most days of the year, the last few years especially,” he said. “And yeah, it’s a total family vibe, and like any family, you want to strangle each other most the time, but we love each other. It’s great; it forces you to learn how to reach inside for inner peace because if you don’t, you’ll be in jail.”
Being on the road can be a hyper-intense atmosphere, Ruzumna said, but it can also be a lot of fun.
“We just came off a really nice six-week tour with Capital Cities, and we had a blast,” he said. “We wanted to tour with them and didn’t know if it was going to happen, and we all became really good friends. The highlight was being able to watch each other’s sets and hang out, and those guys know how to have fun.”
Fitz and the Tantrums played the KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas last weekend in Los Angeles and will have a few days off after their concert on Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge before doing “a bunch more radio stuff” and then heading to Europe in March, Ruzumna said.
“Europe is great; there’s a lot of places we love,” he said. “Paris is always a beautiful place to visit, London I love — I have some old friends there. We’re going to a couple of spots in Germany. … We’ll be on a bus, and last time we were in a crappy little van, and the luxury of a bus will make all the difference in the world.”
‘More Than Just a Dream’
As the band’s bus chugs through Europe, “More Than Just a Dream” is chugging along through the charts.
“The first single, ‘Out of My League,’ made it to No. 1 in alternative, and ‘The Walker,’ that’s getting really great reactions from radio and the audience, and it’s one of the highlights of the set, one of the most fun songs that’s happening right now,” Ruzumna said.
The energy of Fitz and the Tantrums’ music is a good fit for the Dew Tour, Razumna said. The band’s songs have been used in the action-sports context in the past, in skateboard videos and in promos for shows on ESPN.
“Our music is created from the ground up to be really high energy and hype people up,” he said. “The second record we did we consciously wanted to make an album that we would have fun playing live and audiences would have fun listening to — high energy, fun, catchy, sing-able, danceable. We had to make music that we’d enjoy playing every night, and that’s what we did.”
The band attempts to get every member of the audience off their feet, dancing, moving and sweating their faces off.
“We go out and connect with every audience member and it seems to work — I always recommend people bringing a change of underwear to the show,” Razumna said with a laugh. “It’s a fun live show — we put everything into it — and I think people recognize that and can’t help but get carried away with it, which is great because that’s what we want.”