Aside from jamming out, singing their socks off, and making the rest of us plebeians look super uncool, musicians have unquestionably become the silent authority when it comes to all things food. Given their grueling tour schedules and limited cooking resources, our favorite bands have not only found ways to get super creative on tour buses, but also willingly (and bravely) explored restaurants in cities, both small and large, all over the country. Fitz and the Tantrums, who recently performed at Napa’s BottleRock festival, are no exception to this exciting, albeit unpredictable lifestyle.
We sat down with the group to chat about life on the road, including some special food finds and the meals they miss most from home. From hot chicken buns to damn good coffee, check out the interview for even more stops to add to your American restaurant bucket list. (Sandwich shops not included.)
Chowhound: What are some of your go-to foods on the bus when you’re touring?
Noelle Scaggs (NS): We have a Vitamix, so we ask for tons of produce, kale, celery, beets, bananas, and peanut butter. Anything we can throw into the pot we have, because it’s often we’ll end up in a city that doesn’t have a lot of healthy food around the venue.
Joseph Karnes (JK): …so we buy a bunch of healthy food and then we just end up eating cookies…Pepperidge Farm and Tate’s!
NS: When we’re in other cities, we’ll venture and find other restaurants. If we’re in New York, we often visit my friend Jamie Bissonnette’s restaurant called Toro. We kind of eat well when we’re on tour. A big part of it is finding out locations and the mom and pop places and putting them in your bookmarks so that the next time you’re in that city, that’s where you’ll go.
Chowhound: What food do you miss the most when you’re touring?
Jeremy Ruzumna (JR): Oh, that’s easy. Anything my wife cooks. My wife’s a chef, she’s in restaurants. I eat like a king when I’m at home.
JK: I actually miss a restaurant that his wife used to manage called Home State. It’s actually Austin-style breakfast tacos in LA and it’s even better breakfast tacos than in Austin. It was started by a woman who came from Austin.
JR: “More Austin than Austin” is the motto.
NS: I actually miss my friend’s hot chicken buns at her restaurant in Nashville. It’s called Otaku Ramen. It’s a Japanese ramen spot in the gulch in Nashville and the hot chicken buns are insane, so I often miss them when I’m on the road.
JR: My wife makes that dish, I definitely miss my wife’s hot chicken buns when we’re on the road too.
Chowhound: What is your pre-show food and drink ritual?
JR: Oh, pre-show, I eat nothing. Post show, I eat everything.
JK: I try to keep it [without food] at least two to three hours, which is hard to do. If you go on stage a little hungry, it’s much better than going on with a full belly. It’s not good.
NS: Morning ritual is definitely a lot of coffee for these guys.
JR: Oh yeah, yeah. Morning ritual is we spend about three hours a day at a coffee shop.
NS: Exactly. Our drummer, John Wicks, has his own coffee shop in Missoula, Montana called Drum Coffee. He’s always the one picking out the best spots in each city, so they usually go where John tells us to go. And we spend a lot of caffeine hours getting really amped up.
JR: It’s the Wicks Bulletin. Every day we wake up to an email and he’s got like three or four perfect coffee places.
JK: We’ve toured around now so much, though, that there are certain cities we all know where to go unless there’s some crazy new spot that he’s found.
Chowhound: What has been your top dining experience in the past year?
NS: Little Donkey Cambridge is insane. It’s another Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer restaurant. They’ve basically taken street foods from around the world and upgraded them. You’ll find anything from poke bowls to the American classic cheeseburger on the menu.
Another really amazing place is Summer House Santa Monica in Chicago by my friend Jeff Mahin. It has very fresh food, [from] sushi to fried chicken. Everything you could possibly get in California–because he grew up in Santa Monica–you can get there as well.
Chowhound: So which city on tour has had the best food? Can you choose one or no?
NS: It’s kind of hard to beat Chicago. New York definitely.
JK: We have some “hook-up friends” there in the restaurant industry. Multiple people in both places…and Boston. Those are the places where we really get “come over here and try this out.”
NS: And of course, Nashville. Music and food…that’s what you do there.
Chowhound: Is it true you should avoid dairy before singing?
NS: Yes, you should try to avoid dairy at most costs. You should really try to do it. Most people are lactose intolerant. It’s hard to stay away from cheese. Really good cheese is hard.
Chowhound: Which foods are SO LA right now?
NS: You mean beyond avocado toast? Breakfast burritos.
JR: Yeah, but that’s always been there. That’s kind of a mainstay. Avocado toast for sure. Oh, and I love brussels sprouts, but everything is brussels sprouts right now. And what about uni? All things that I love, so I’m not mad about it.
Chowhound: Is there a food that you’re sick of eating on tour?
JK: Potato chips!
JR: Packaged protein bars.
JK: Oh, so many things. It’s the cookies.
NS: It’s the cookies! Snack food and sandwiches. Like, I’m done with sandwiches.