Fitz and the Tantrums’ neverending, ‘very sexy’ summer of barbecue, handclaps and ‘funness’

Days off for Fitz and the Tantrums are a rare commodity.

And even a half day, such as this particular Monday, which is also billed as a travel day for the L.A. pop act, are welcome relief from a tour that has been ongoing almost ceaselessly since the release of their eponymous third album in July of last year.

So how are they enjoying it?

As keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna relates by phone, it’s being spent on the tourbus in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn Express in Thunder Bay.

“It’s very sexy,” he says.

Soon, though, they’ll be making their way out west, for the second local appearance since the release of that aforementioned album — one that has spent a great deal of time on the charts, thanks in large part to the smash single HandClap, and has also just been given an expanded, deluxe re-release — as part of the Honda Civic Tour with headliners OneRepublic.

Prior to the Saturday night Saddledome show, Ruzumna spoke with theYYSCENE — here are some excerpts from that conversation.

Q: How is your summer going?

A: The summer’s been great. I mean, this tour has been great so far — we’re just a little over halfway through. It’s the longest tour we’ve ever been on actually, this tour, for all of us. Most of us have been touring for 20-some-odd years and this is the longest tour that any of us have been on. But it’s been going great. OneRepublic is a great band, their show is amazing and we’ve been lucky to play before them every night, and it’s been going really well.

Q: I know it’s been brought up before, but you’re in a position where you don’t need to be in an opening spot, yet this one seemed like a good one to get, maybe reach out and find a bigger audience.

A: Yeah, that was the idea. Being an opening act isn’t necessarily our first choice, but we’re definitely meeting a lot of new fans, getting a lot of new fans and just trying to expand our audience. And they’ve been really good, you know? And everyone’s been really cool and hopefully we’re growing.

Q: And I read that (OneRepublic frontman) Ryan Tedder makes mean barbecue.

A: The best — I’m not joking — the best hamburger I’ve ever had in my life. And I’m not exaggerating, it’s not even a soundbite, truly Ryan Tedder makes the best hamburger I’ve ever had in my entire life. For real.

Q: What’s the secret?

A: I asked him what the secret was — and first of all they were using the (Big) Green Egg, the smoker — and he said the secret was like a really incredible meat, (and) he also crumbles a little bit of cheddar into the meat before he cooks it, but it’s also the brioche bun and the way he prepares it. He claims he gave me all of the info, but I don’t think he did, I think he held some information back because I’ve never had anything like it, it’s fantastic.

Q: This seems like a pretty great time for the band right now — you’ve exploded with some singles, and I know the album’s been out for over a year now, but you re-released it in a deluxe issue to get the new song (Fool) out there. It just seems like you’re riding a pretty big wave.

A: Yeah, I mean things have been going great. We were already happy with the way everything went with the album, but, yeah, doing the deluxe version is exciting because we were able to throw on some live tracks that were newly recorded versions of live songs that were on the album and the new single Fool — so far, so good. People are digging it and it’s been super fun every night. I’m the piano player so it’s really fun for me to play live every night, being piano-based.

Q: That said, it has been out for a year, are you at that point where it’s like, “Come on, let’s get back in the studio and start again”? Or are you — as you said, you’ve been at this a long time so you know when things are hot you have to take it as far as you can.

A: No, it’s funny that you’re saying it’s been out for a year, because to me, in my mind, it’s only been out for a few months. In fact, I didn’t even realize it had been out for a year, in my head it still feels like it’s only a few months old, because things kept climbing with HandClap so it all still feels kind of new. I always love being in the studio and recording new music, for sure, but at the same time we love this album and we’re happy to let it get to as big an audience as possible, because we really are proud of the music that’s on it.

Q: You just performed on the Today Show — was that a highlight for you?

A: Yeah, that was fun. It was kind of surreal because when you do the Today Show you basically get no sleep. We’d done a show the night before and then you get up at the crack of dawn, so usually when we do the Today Show I don’t remember doing it until I watch the broadcast later (laughs) on YouTube or something, and realize, “Oh, right, we did that this morning.”

Q: Are you happy to be touring Canada and not in the States right now …?

A: You mean with everything that’s going on?

Q: Yeah, with all of the ugliness that’s going on in your country right now.

A: Yeah. I mean, well, first of all we’re always happy to be in Canada, because it’s great in Canada. But, yeah, it’s weird. I’ve been following the news pretty closely and it’s ugly. We were in, I think, Quebec City, and a newspaper was open to a picture of Trump, and a bunch of people kept walking by, looking at the picture and pointing and laughing. It’s a crappy feeling because none of us have any love whatsoever for Trump and most of the country doesn’t, but it’s just a strange — hopefully it will wind up being just a blip on the radar, but it’s pretty shocking and embarrassing, and we are definitely not into it.

Q: Getting back to the show itself, even though it is an opening spot, people are still going to get a healthy dose of you, aren’t they?

A: Oh, yeah, we do all of the hits and we still put out a full show. Actually, it’s kind of funny because we’re forced to condense it into about an hour, so it just becomes an all-killer, no-filler type of situation, which is really fun because we just get to leap from funness to funness — if that’s a real word (laughs) — fun thing to fun thing in the set, so it breezes by really nicely and it’s really fun.

Fitz and the Tantrums perform Saturday night at the Saddledome as part of the Honda Civic Tour with OneRepublic and James Arthur. For tickets, please click here