Fitz and The Tantrums: Yes, Occasionally A Sax Player Can Hit It Lucky And Find Steady Work

When I first heard this band, I thought I was listening to a digitally remastered classic. It wasn’t until I saw the band on a talk show and they performed their hit MoneyGrabber, that I realized that they were current.

Fitz and The Tantrums is an LA-based soul band, which has recreated that huge sound we are familiar with from the 1960s. However, when it came time to record their first EP, Songs for a Breakup, Vol. 1, rather than use a huge studio to do so, Fitz decided on a more humble space: his living room.

The band describes it like this on their website:

A huge sound takes a huge studio–Motown had Studio A in Detroit, Philadelphia International had Sigma Studios, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound was created in Hollywood’s legendary Gold Star Studios– but when it came time to capture the feeling and the soul of soul, Fitz knew of the perfect studio: his home…

The sound is familiar, but distinct. That’s what grabbed the attention of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. Levine was getting a tattoo in New York when the tattoo artist told him he had to hear this new band he had discovered. After that one encounter, Levine personally invited Fitz and the Tantrums to join their tour.

Source: Fitz and The Tantrums

One of the things that makes Fitz and The Tantrums’ sound unique, is that they don’t use guitars. Instead, they have opted for a saxophone and an organ.

Fitz used a vintage organ to compose some music that resonated with him. He then shared it with his friend and sax player, James King. King found that the music resonated with him as well.

While the electric guitar drives rock, the saxophone takes center stage in soul, and that’s the way Fitz likes it. “We wanted to find a new vocabulary for the genre, I wanted to make a record without any guitars. Could we make a huge sound with out any guitars?”

Source: Fitz and The Tantrums

Clearly the answer is yes, since the band has done just that, and in the process created a unique space for themselves, in an industry that tends to be very formula driven.

James King is the man behind the sax in Fitz and The Tantrums. Although he plays baritone a lot, in this live version of Breakin’ The Chains Of Love, he not only does a bari solo, he plays tenor for most of the song, and solos out on it.

Fitz and The Tantrums is currently on a West Coast tour. They are playing the Commodore in Vancouver tomorrow night.

Unfortunately, we here in the southern part of British Columbia are currently experiencing a rare week or 2 of real Canadian winter. With blizzards, a windchill of -25 C, and tomorrow’s forecast of freezing rain, it is highly unlikely that we’re going to make the normally 45 minute trek into the city to see them.

After tomorrow, the band moves onto Seattle—another place really getting hammered by unseasonably cold and snowy weather right now—before heading onto Portland, Oregon. According to a blog post by Noelle, the female singer of the band, once the tour is over in February, the band is heading into the studio to record its next album.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

© 2012, Helen. All rights reserved.


Helen Kahlke is a professional horn player and sax teacher who lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She plays soprano, alto, C melody, tenor, baritone, and bass saxophones.


  1. Ooh, thank you for finding and sharing this Helen. I’m on my third listening already. :O)

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