Fitz & The Tantrums drummer talks shop

The band's caffeinated drummer John Wicks calls Missoula home

New & Notable

When Fitz and The Tantrums play at Big Sky Brewery in Missoula Aug. 28, drummer John Wicks gets to spend the night at home. Wicks and his wife, Jenna, settled in the Garden City four years ago and the former Seattle barista opened Drum Coffee on South Ave. this spring.

Wicks is part of the brassy Los Angeles-based sextet known for its explosive, no-holds barred live shows. He’s also an ultra-marathon runner, a coffee connoisseur, and the father of 7-year-old twin daughters.

He recently took a few moments from the band’s tour to chat (via email) with Lively Times:

LT: What do long-distance running and drumming have in common?

JW: Not only do drumming and distance running have a lot in common but I have found that they compliment, help, and fuel each other. I’m a relative newbie to long distance running but I have found commonalities which I think contributed to me being drawn to it in the first place.

First is patience and a joy in practice and the process, not the end result. Anyone training for a 50- or 100-mile run is probably very patient person who is comfortable being alone with just their thoughts for long periods of time. I had this skill already from countless hours in the practice room.

I think an awareness of time, tempo and being able to subdue your excitement and adrenaline is helpful in both arenas. If I get too excited during a show, my pulse races and so can the tempo of a song. In a race, I have to separate my competitiveness and adrenaline because if I get too excited early on, I will bonk or blow up. Slow and steady wins the race, so to speak.

Then there’s the obvious physical aspect of both activities. Drummers have been tested and scientists have found that we put out the same energy, sweat, and caloric burn as professional soccer players. I try to preach to all drummers to treat themselves as athletes. I don’t know too many professional jocks that are drinking several beers at 2 a.m. every night or eating fast food.

Running has helped my drumming performance immeasurably. I’m never out of breath no matter how intense or fast the music gets, which wasn’t always the case.

LT: In what ways are Fitz and the Tantrums and Missoula music fans a good match?

Fitz and The Tantrums -- that's drummer John Wicks in the red glasses.
Fitz and The Tantrums — that’s drummer John Wicks in the red glasses.Photo © Joseph Cultice

JW: Missoula likes to party hard and dance like they are anonymous and nobody is judging them. Fitz and the Tantrums puts out that level of energy every night and encourages, no, DEMANDS that of our audiences. We are also the friendliest band you’ll ever meet and I personally think Missoula is packed with the nicest people on earth. So we are a good match.

LT: Does owning a coffee shop help you keep up with twin daughters?

JW: No. You may think that because I’m constantly caffeinated that I can keep up with twin 7 year old girls but I assure you I cannot. Caffeine wears off; the girls never wear out.

LT: And what song do you have your heart set on performing at Big Sky Brewing and why?

JW: My two faves right now are “Complicated” and “Walking Target.” I love the crowd reaction to both songs. “Complicated” is a sexy tune with lyrics that always get a “Oh no you didn’t just say that!” reaction from the crowd. “Walking Target” is the most up-tempo tune we play and always gets folks dancing like Molly Ringwald in “Breakfast Club.”

“Captivatingly crazy”

Fitz and The Tantrums’ self-titled album came out June 10, and the first single, “HandClap,” was plunged to the Top 5 of Spotify’s U.S. viral chart and is already in a FIAT ad.

The Washington Post called the band’s live show “captivatingly crazy” and Rolling Stone praised the group for its “irrepressible energy: hopped-up rhythms, shout-it-out choruses and hooted background vocals.”

For tickets to the show, call 866-468-7624 or visit or head to