fun. With Nate Ruess
How did you hook up with [producer] Jeff [Bhasker], a big time player in the hip-hop and pop world, how did you get him interested in working with a smaller indie rock band?
It was weird, our label or management got in contact with his people and kind of forced it down their throat. They thought it could be a good idea, but Jeff was so busy doing things like Beyoncé and whatever else it is that he does, so he blew me off the first few times when I asked if we could meet. And then eventually someone forced him to spend at least 15-minutes sitting down and talking with me and I kind of laid it all on the line for him and sang him the chorus for “We Are Young,” which I hadn’t even shown to anybody yet, and his jaw just dropped to the floor and we went into the studio a day or two later and started recording the song.
Beyond taking the chance with you guys, what was the greatest thing or things Jeff did for the band?
He had so much confidence in the song and the album; he saw all this before anything. And looking back and knowing Jeff now, that’s not exactly who he is. That was a dumb luck moment. The whole time we were in the studio he was trying to pump us up. I don’t know how you go from three indie rockish kind of dudes who are self-deprecating and don’t have any type of swagger [to a number one pop song], and he would stand up and pound his chest in the studio, and turn the music up as loud as possible. At first we were giggling about it but eventually he made us own the music that we were making.
What can you tell me about when you first met Jack, there’s been a lot made about how you guys didn’t get along, how did it come back around and what made you guys friends?
We were forced to spend time together on tour. My old band The Format wanted to take his band Steel Train out on tour, I think we owed them a favor or something, and I was like, “Ok, I guess I just gotta get used to this guy.” The first couple of weeks it was kind of rough, we were friendly with each other, but at one point he was tripping completely on drugs, and I don’t do drugs so I was like, “Alright guy.” He was like, “I don’t even know where I am right now.” Super cliché. But that was coincidentally the last time he did drugs, he actually had a terrible trip, and so eventually that was all stripped away and we spent a lot of time talking about similar relationship problems we were in and we just became friends. And now when I look at it it’s a no-brainer, we’re so much alike in so many different ways, and he’s my best friend. I think it would have been inevitable either way, but he had to kick that drug habit first.
What do you want your fans to get out of your music?
For me as a lyricist it’s about feeling like there’s somebody that can relate to you. That was my biggest thing with music as a kid. If I was just madly in love with someone but didn’t feel like they knew who I was I would listen to Weezer’s “El Scorcho” and not feel so all alone about it, and that’s what I want our music to hopefully do for people.
Why did you name the band fun.?
Because Jethro Tull was taken.
What is Some Nights about, is there something that ties it together and makes it more of an album than a collection of songs?
For me it feels like the album is optimistic moments in a pessimistic type of world and sort of always searching for an answer; whether it’s through relationships, or what to do with your life, or whether to continue going down whatever path it is you are going.
How hard has it been to transfer the songs from the studio to the stage?
Not that hard. It’s a massive help that Jack and Andrew are as good as they are at their instruments, as well as other instruments, so they can help show the band the rest of the stuff; there are three more of us onstage. We care as much about our live show as we do the albums that we make. I feel like there was only one song that was really, really challenging, and there were a few challenging moments, but things just started sounding good out of the gate. And we get to try a bunch of different stuff that we’ve never tried in all of our years of music before, so there’s something really exciting about that that makes for a quicker learning process.
Does your show change from night to night or is it a pretty similar set?
It’s a pretty similar set. We’re still learning that. I’m a huge setlist guy and I always want to play a different set. We still have to learn about three more songs that we just don’t feel ready to play, as soon as we can learn those three more songs and maybe like another cover song, I think it’s just gonna be a setlist trip.
So much has happened for fun. recently; what’s been the biggest “no fucking way” moment for you?
Once we went to number one on the overall thing [Billboard Hot 100 Chart], it didn’t hit me at first as much, but it hits me like once a day now. I think about how many of my favorite bands didn’t do that, and so for us to somehow do that; it’s like you sell a million copies, I thought that was pretty phenomenal, and stay six weeks on top of the Billboard chart and you’re wondering why your song might not be number one this week, and I think it’s a really funny process how you get there. Because I’m a competitive person and so now suddenly the song is number one, and it’s like, it better be the case all the fucking time.