Article by Jenia S
The very first time I was introduced to the music of Fun. was back in 2008 when they were opening for Jack’s Mannequin at a packed Le National in Montreal. I was front row for the show and when they stepped out on the stage my first thought was “Oh no.” Lead singer Nate Ruess was wearing a trench coat with combat boots and giant black glasses. Any doubts I had were instantly pushed aside the second they started playing. His voice was unlike anything I had ever heard before and I instantly vowed to purchase their album after the show. Almost five years later, it does not surprise me in the least to see these three musicians sitting atop multiple music charts.
It was in 2008 that singer Nate Ruess, ex-singer for The Format, came together with guitarist Jack Antonoff and pianist Andrew Dost to create Fun. Since then the band has released two full length studio albums, including their latest one “Some Nights” which features their hit single “We Are Young”.
I was thrilled to learn that the band would be in town this past April to play at Cabaret Du Mile-End for the first time since the release of their brand new record. As I approached the venue for my interview I noted the large tour bus parked right in front and the line-up of dedicated fans that waited anxiously for the doors to open. I met with the band in a small staircase towards the back of the venue and was fortunate to get to speak to all three of them together. You know a band has strong chemistry when they’re finishing each other’s sentences and nodding in agreement almost the entire time.
We started off the interview by discussing their current tour, one that has lasted over a period of three months. While the band has played several shows in Montreal, it was the first time that it had sold out and that fans were scouring the web for people selling extra tickets. This ended up being the case for the majority of the shows on this Some Nights tour.
“We come from a place where we were always so worried about concert ticket sales and now shows have sold out in such a quick manner.” Nate explained. “It’s nice to take that worry away of how many people are going to show up and now concentrate on the fact that the shows are sold out so you just go crazy.”
Jack went on to add that they were used to continuously asking what the ticket count would be and if the venues were located in a manner that random passer-bys could just walk in and attend the show.
With these packed venues comes the thrill of seeing thousands of fans singing lyrics back at you. I wanted to know what it felt like to witness this every time they stepped out onto the stage. Nate explained that they have been extremely lucky. “That was kind of the case when we first started Fun. and so it’s something you get used to and you kind of expect them to do it all the time. When they don’t you get more mad then happy that they are doing it. I love it though. It’s amazing.”
It is not only the fan base that has grown but the band as well who explained to me the biggest differences between their first record “Aim and Ignite” and their most recent one “Some Nights”. Having come from three different bands it took the guys a little time to master working with each other.
“Aim and Ignite was us all feeling each other out and trying to impress each other with how much we knew and what we were capable of doing. This was us settling in to who we are and being really inspired with who we were working with on top of that. “Nate said. “It felt like we were one amazing, cohesive unit and everybody was speaking to each other telepathically.”
Jack went on to explain that the process for making the first record was not nearly as smooth as it is now. He mentioned that it has become second nature for them to take a song from Nates mind and build it into a song. Nate added that “To hear a song in my head and then to hear where it ends up is just so exciting. It’s not something I ever really had as much in the past.”
Whatever their in studio tactics are, they appear to be working wonders for the band. Their hit single “We Are Young” as blown up across North America and has even been featured on hit shows like Glee, Chuck and Grey’s Anatomy.
“It’s a really wonderful feeling, especially to see it on a show like Glee where it’s different people singing it and they’ve learned it and different people have reproduced it and they’re filming it. There are just so many different people involved” Andrew explained. “It’s a wonderful feeling to know that people care so much about the song that they’re willing to devote their time and their art to it too. It’s a neat feeling.
Even with all this success, these three musicians refuse to let it get to their head.
“We don’t pat ourselves on the back very often but when we see our music used somewhere I think our first thought is “Is this working in the scene? Is this making sense?” Jack said. “They just used the song in Grey’s Anatomy and I was thinking “This is kind of working with the mood of the show.” It wasn’t like “I’m on television!” Nothing like that.”
Hearing their songs played on television as well as on the radio is nothing new for them now. At some point though, hearing their music played anywhere was a rare occurrence and the guys explained to me that the very first time they heard themselves on the radio was a planned event for them. All three band members set their alarm clocks and woke up to listen to their first single played over the radio airwaves.
“Yeah it was amazing. What really made it crazier was later on that day we heard it, free of planning on it.” Nate said with a smile.
With so many incredible songs on both of their records, which one does the band suggest a new fan listen to for the very first time?
Not even a moment’s hesitation and all three members had answered in unison. Usually I get a lot of mixed responses to this question and people second guessing their answer. So why were they so confident with this answer?
“We Are Young is a song but Some Nights is a statement that I think people can internalize for themselves. I think we’re all over the moon that this song will be the next single. It is a mission statement for who we are.” Nate explained.
With their second single already receiving airplay, sold out shows and a loving fan base, I wanted to know where the guys hope to see themselves ten years down the road.
“Doing the 10 Years “Some Nights” Anniversary Tour.” Jack explains with a laugh. “That’s a joke! That’s where we hope to not see ourselves. Hopefully that gives you an idea of where we want to see ourselves. Just making records but making records that are worth making”
“Still keeping that level of inspiration”. Nate added.
As we wrapped up the interview to allow the guys time to prepare for the show later that evening, I asked the guys how they would sum up their career in one word.
“Odd” Jack said with a laugh. “Odd +” from Andrew.
“Fortuitist?” Nate added.
I thanked the guys for keeping the mood of the interview light and fun and wished them a great show. I stuck around that night to check out a band that I had judged wrongly over five years ago. The venue filled up. The crowd chanted for their band and the guys of Fun. burst out onto the stage and “performed their album like it was on crack” as they described their live shows. The place was a constant haven of singing and cheers and when the band finally stepped off the stage they were brought back on with encore applause so loud that all of St-Laurent street could hear it.
If you missed the show than be sure to check out Fun. at Osheaga this summer on Friday August 3rd.
To learn more about Fun. click on the links below: