With a hot new single on the airwaves and a tour under way, Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick – the frontman of pop band Fitz & the Tantrums – is flying high.
“I make music to have people hear it,” Fitzpatrick tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I want it to reach as many people and then we go out on tour, and every night I’m like ‘Is anybody actually gonna show up?’ Then I look out and there’s 5,000 people out there to see us, and I come out on stage and they all know the songs.”
He says, “It’s the dream – that’s everything.”
Here’s everything you need to know about Fitzpatrick and his band as they hit the road to perform hits like “HandClap” and “The Walker.”
1. The band’s new single is meant to be a “cautionary tale”
“What I love about this song is it’s a clear story,” Fitzpatrick tells PEOPLE of “Fool.” “It’s sort of a cautionary tale.”
The chorus of the infectious pop hit – which Fitzpatrick hopes will be in the running for the coveted song of the summer – includes the declaration, “Momma didn’t raise no fool.”
“It’s a guy who is like, ‘I can see what you’re doing. Are you running around town, flirting with other guys? Are you after my money? What is it?’ ” he shares.
Fitzpatrick likes that “Fool” has a “little bit of soul and old-school Motown vibes” but then is mixed with hip-hop and “modern production.”
“That’s really the been the trademark of Fitz & the Tantrums,” he explains.
2. One of his “all-time favorite pop songs” is by his tour mates
Though it will be Fitzpatrick’s first time touring with OneRepublic on the 2017 Honda Civic Tour, he’s already a big fan.
” ‘Counting Stars’ might be one of my all-time favorite pop songs,” he tells PEOPLE, adding, “I think that those guys are the masters of creating a great pop song. I’m a huge Ryan Tedder fan, I love all the other work he does.”
Fitzpatrick adds that he and his bandmates – Noelle Scaggs, John Wicks, Jeremy Ruzumna, Joseph Karnes and James King – pride themselves on “being humble and gracious with our fans,” and has heard the same about the OneRepublic musicians.
3. He struggled for years in the music industry before hitting it big with Fitz & the Tantrums
“It’s a hard business,” admits Fitzpatrick of the music industry, revealing that he spent “many years” trying to even get a “single phone call back.”
He adds, “Then with Fitz & the Tantrums, there was this cosmic shift where it felt like before Fitz & the Tantrums, trying to make a career in music was like trying to put a square peg through a round hole. Then with Fitz & the Tantrums, the stars aligned and things just flowed.”
4. He trusts the opinion of non-musicians more than anyone else
With a few hits under his belt, Fitzpatrick says he’s become more confident in when the band’s new tunes are certain to resonate.
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“I can look at people’s reaction around me and know,” he says of a good song. Yet, he notes, “My favorite thing is the opinion of somebody that’s not in the music business. Just my regular friends, people that are just regular, straight-up music lovers.”
Adds Fitzpatrick, “I feel like it’s coming from such an honest place. I can always tell by their opinion.”
5. Gossip Girl fans might recognize his wife
Fitzpatrick’s tour mate for life is none other than Gossip Girl‘s conniving cousin imposter. The musician is married to actress Kaylee DeFer, who portrayed Ivy Dickens on the teen drama.
The couple shares two children: Theodore and Sebastian.
“I have two boys now and my oldest son is almost 4 and he’s a road dog,” shares Fitzpatrick. “He’s come out on tour three or four times.”
Having DeFer and their sons on tour with him “means everything,” he says.
“It’s not always easy to be apart from them, but it definitely gives things a bigger picture and a bigger sense of purpose,” he says. “They’re gonna come out again on the road for like a week during this tour and they’ll get to rock out on stage with us.”