All Work and No Playlist: Fitz & the Tantrums drummer John Wicks’ favorite songs of the moment

Q: What do you call a guy who hangs around with musicians?
A: A drummer.

One of our college advisers told us that joke. He was a tool. He’s also dead wrong.

All great bands have great drummers (yes, that includes Ringo), and we suspect that John Wicks (far left), drummer for Motown revivalists Fitz & the Tantrums, would agree, if we could get him to stop shaking his ass. In the middle of a summer tour where they are headlining shows as well as supporting Dave Matthews Band, Blues Traveler and Ben Harper – with a Tony Hoffer-produced sophomore album set to drop in October – Wicks took a few minutes out of his super-busy schedule to accept our invitation to list the 10 songs he wishes he had written. Knowing that this is the sort of thing that can descend into hipster elitism in a heartbeat, Wicks decides to turn the question on its head, and gives us 10 songs from right now. Well played, sir.

So whenever I get asked to do any sort of top 10 favorite records or top tunes, everyone expects me to come up with these hidden deep cuts from my record crates. I usually do just that. But truth be told, I am a pop fanatic. I LOVE great, modern day cheesy, sugary, infectious, danceable pop music! So here are the top 10 tunes I wish I wrote within the last couple of years, and they are the songs I will be secretly listening to in my tour bus bunk starting tonight. Hope to see you all out at a FATT show near you!

“Big Mouth,” Santigold

Santigold’s Coachella time slot was right before us. She played a lot of her previous record in her set, which I love, but when she premiered this song, it just knocked me out. Her new album was not due out for a week or two, and the wait was just killing me. The whole record is great, and she has the best smile in the biz.

“Moves Like Jagger,” Maroon 5

My twin 3-year-old daughters absolutely freak over this song, and admittedly so do I. I’m obsessed with anything Benny Blanco, Dr. Luke, and/or Max Martin produce. This song and “The Voice” brought Maroon 5 back into the limelight. They gave Fitz & the Tantrums a huge break, taking us out on tour with them in ’09. Awesome guys, and drummer Matt Flynn has become a dear friend.


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All Work and No Playlist: Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin

(*Spoken as Jimmy Fallon doing wacky FM DJ*) And we’re back! Actually, we were planning on being back a few weeks ago, but Andrew McMahon, lead singer and songwriter of Jack’s Mannequin, is a tough guy to pin down. Turn your back on him for a second, and he’s peeled off in his tour bus to do another four months of dates. We caught his final show with Guster last month, and it was a blast, especially when the two teamed up for a cover of Peter Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks.”

The Mannequin’s third album, People and Things, was released last week, and when McMahon finally decided to sit down and rest for a second, we were quick to strike: Tell us the 10 songs rocking your world at the moment, or your piano bites it. Surprisingly, there is little piano to be found here, but there are lots of happy techno beats. Rave on, rave on.

“Safe and Sound,” Capital Cities

A great tune in the indie/techno vein.

“Our Hearts Are Wrong,” Jessica Lea Mayfield

“The only time I miss you is every single day.” That says it all.


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All Work and No Playlist: Taking Back Sunday drummer Mark O’Connell’s favorite songs

Welcome to another installment of All Work and No Playlist. This week’s victim (we really do feel bad stealing all these iPods) is Taking Back Sunday drummer Mark O’Connell (far left, kneeling, in photo below), whose band has reformed with the lineup from their Tell All Your Friends days and will release a new self-titled album June 28. Says Mark: “We couldn’t be more excited about it.” Perhaps these 10 songs will provide some insight into the sound of the new record. Or perhaps not. He did put a Billy Joel song on here, after all, and we don’t see the band making the next “Tell Her About It” anytime soon.

“Battery,” Metallica

I remember the first time I heard this song, I couldn’t believe what was happening. I had no idea music like that existed. They are the pioneers of thrash metal.

“The Downeaster – Alexa,” Billy Joel

I am from Long Island — Billy Joel is from Long Island. He has Long Island pride — I also have long island pride. I want to meet that guy so badly, it hurts.


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All Work and No Playlist: Hey Champ singer Saam Hagshenas’s favorite songs

Welcome to a new piece here at the Bullz-Eye blog, where we ask musicians to tell us which songs get their mojo risin’, as it were. Our inaugural subject is Saam Hagshenas, lead singer and guitarist of Chicago synth-rock trio Hey Champ, whose 2010 album Star is still in heavy rotation at BE headquarters and whose new EP Anything at All hit digital shelves earlier this month. It might not surprise you to hear that some Chicago house made the cut, but so did Led Zeppelin. Dude’s got diverse tastes, to be sure.

“Inspiration Information,” Shuggie Otis

Not only does it illustrate Shuggie’s amazing knack for songwriting, but it also seamlessly blends funk, soul, and psychedelic. Not to mention the guy went and pulled a Stevie Wonder, recording basically all the instruments himself while still a teenager.

“Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” Led Zeppelin

This track is just so damn raw. If anyone ever disagrees with the absolute fact that this band is the Godfather of heavy metal and hard rock, make ‘em check this one out. Bonham’s thunderous drumming, the precision in Page’s and Jones’ musicianship, and Plant’s ridiculous range and blues-rock crooning make this a definite favorite.


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