WHEN: June 27, 2019
WHERE: Stage AE – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
COST: $28.50-$40.00 Advance/$40.00 Day of Show/$75.00 Premium
ON SALE: February 22, 2019
The fourth album from Young the Giant, Mirror Master is a layered meditation on identity in modern life, an emotionally charged look at the dangers of illusion and possibilities of freedom. “Within one single day, we’re all so many different people,” says Gadhia, lead vocalist for the L.A.-based band. “Especially with the use of social media, we’re not just living in the now—we’re living on several different timelines simultaneously. At a time when everyone wants to put each other in a box—culturally, socially, musically—we wanted to show that there are a multitude of reflections inside everything. We don’t have to be a certain thing; we can contradict ourselves and show all these different sides of who we are.”
Mirror Master arrives as a continuation of Young the Giant’s Home of the Strange, a 2016 album that found the band members shedding light on their shared experience as immigrants or first-generation Americans. But in a departure from the externally focused Home of the Strange—an album written entirely before Donald Trump emerged as a presidential candidate—Mirror Master shifts perspective and joins in the post-election reckoning faced by so many Americans. With the influx of social media use and public attention to cultural issues in the country, people have been forced to see how their actions, both good and bad, are reflected. “This record takes a lot of the concepts we explored on the last album but plunges them inward,” notes Gadhia. “It’s about being okay with yourself, especially in light of what’s happened in the world in the last two years, and realizing that there’s something beyond that duality of right and left, black and white. The space in-between is infinite.”
In bringing Mirror Master to life, Young the Giant applied that sense of openness and imagination to every aspect of the creative process. Working with producers like John Hill (Santigold, Florence + the Machine), Alex Salibian (who worked on Home of the Strange), and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, the band purposely upended songwriting formula and took an intuitive approach to constructing each track, always emphasizing substance over style. “With production you can dress up a song however you want, so we made a point of not using that as a crutch,” says Gadhia. “Instead of thinking about the tonality so much, we just focused on what we wanted to say within the song.”
Although Mirror Master was partly informed by recent life events like the marriages of several band members—and the ensuing urge to look both inward and toward the future—the album’s introspective depth also stems from some very deliberate self-examination in their songwriting. “It’s easy to hide behind the platitudes that generations of rock & roll music have laid out for us,” says Gadhia. “Hip-hop has done a good job of separating from those platitudes and being more real, and that’s what we’re trying to do too: be true to ourselves, and know that there are people out there who want to see that honesty in our music.”
With the release of Mirror Master, Young the Giant hope to offer not only unfettered honesty, but the inspiration and encouragement to help listeners take charge of their own narratives. “Even though it may all be an illusion, there’s solace in that illusion,” Gadhia says. “Because if you have control of anything at all, it’s your own reflection, how you treat people and how you walk through this life. Don’t let people feed you what they want you to think. Do what makes you happy, and realize and that all is good and all is horrible and everything else in between.”
Since forming in 2008, Fitz and the Tantrums have always been a band hell-bent on evolving. Having made a splash with the soulful R&B-revival sound of their debut album, 2010’s Pickin’ Up The Pieces (released on Dangerbird Records), the band offered up a New Wave-influenced dance-pop sound with its Elektra Records debut, 2013’s Heatseekers No. 1 More Than Just A Dream, which featured the gold-certified and #1 Alternative Radio singles “The Walker” and “Out of My League.” The album’s success sent Fitz and the Tantrums on a two-year touring odyssey, which enabled the Los Angeles-based sextet — known for its explosive, no-holds barred live shows — to cement themselves as one of the country’s hottest live acts.
“We felt incredibly validated by the reception to More Than Just A Dream,” says the band’s co-vocalist Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick. “We knew we could pull from many different styles and create a truly hybrid form of music, and do it in a way that felt authentic. At that point, we felt even more empowered to do whatever we wanted creatively.” But when it came time to write the songs for Fitz and the Tantrums’ third album, it became clear to Fitz and his co-vocalist Noelle Scaggs that they were suffering from a classic case of writer’s block.
It was January 2015 and the band, which also includes James King (saxophone, flute), Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboards), Joseph Karnes (bass), and John Wicks (drums, percussion), had barely been home since the release of More Than Just A Dream two years prior. Cooped up with each other in an insular environment on tour had taken its toll. “The last album was made super fast and in something of a bubble,” Fitz says. “This time there was a lot of massive change happening for all of us personally, so once we put our roots back in the ground at home, I needed someone to hold up a mirror and say, ‘Where are you right now, as a human being? What do you care about? What do you want to say to the world?’”
The result is Fitz and the Tantrums’ most emotionally connected record yet and one that centers on the theme of desire. “I wanted to explore this idea of desire in all of its forms,” Fitz says, “from primal, sexual desire on a song like ‘HandClap’ to the desire or need to belong on a song like ‘A Place for Us.’ Desire is one of those emotions that really forces you to turn your brain off and just feel. That's just the nature of it. And that lends itself really well to us making a record that provides a soundtrack for people to access that emotion no matter where they are. If you’re getting ready for work in the morning and you’re thinking, ‘Ugh, I hate my boss,’ you have access to this music anytime that just changes the molecular structure in the room. It changes the energy.”
That transformative experience — further bolstered by the album’s diverse palette of musical influences including hip-hop, trap music, reggae, and world music rhythms played on 808s — is something Fitz and the Tantrums have always strived to deliver. “To me, the songs on this album offer a release from whatever is going on,” Scaggs says. “They help the listener shift their mood in that moment. Our goal was to make a record that makes anyone listening feel something from the heart and feel like they are a part of this community we’ve created.”
“From the first second, we just connected,” Fitz says of Scaggs. “Our voices naturally blended together. And then, because so much of what we write about is the dynamic between a man and a woman, we started to sing toward each other onstage. And that energy just grew. Then we’d sing out to the audience and encourage them to not just be passive listeners, but to be participants, an actual rhythmical part of the music. And that became a huge part of our identity. Our live show became our calling card everywhere we went.” And with their third full-length release, Fitz and the Tantrums have made an album that captures that jubilant, enraptured spirit. “We wanted to give people permission to lose control,” Fitz says. “We want the album to be a call to arms and for people to come to the church of the song.”
Come out and see Young the Giant and Fitz and the Tantrums outdoors at Stage AE on June 27th!