Fronted and assembled by indie power pop icon and mastermind, Nate Ruess, the history behind fun. may sound more or less like the makings of any other offshoot-outlet rather than a supergroup side project. And maybe that’s all they expected in thebeginning. After the sudden split of Nate’s band in 2008, The Format, he approached friends Jack Antonoff of Steel Train and Andrew Dost of Anathallo for creative collaboration. The subsequent rapid rise to fame sprung forth from an undisputedly acclaimed debut record, Aim and Ignite, leading to international tours with bands like Paramore and Panic! At the Disco, a spot in an Expedia commercial and another in the Coachella lineup, not necessarily in that order.
I thought the record was a masterpiece. With a voice so powerful, expressive, and versatile, it’s not entirely a surprise Nate Ruess’ sound is often compared to that of Freddy Mercury. His range spans from unreachable moments of vivid theatricality to the most raw intensities. Pair that with brilliant songwriting, lavish instrumentation, elaborate arrangements and this is what pop music could and should be. And it is even better live. I went to the show last October at The Music Box, and obviously didn’t write about it. I couldn’t. It was, like, fucking holy. I don’t even want to talk about it now.
I don’t know what was harder about writing this article, refraining from overusing the word “epic” or the virtual nightmare of using the band “fun.” on a word processor (props to it being Google searchable, though). So yeah, I give you Nate Ruess, who is, like,this phenomena but I could also tell just from talking to him on the phone that he’s a genuinely nice guy, a nice guy with an amazing voice, who also probably smells really good.
You, Jack and Andrew are from all different backgrounds at least geographically.How do you make that work as far as the creative processes go?
We spend a lot of money on plane tickets. That’s basically it… I live in New York, and Jack lives there, too, so it’s really easy for us, obviously, to get together. Poor Andrew has to fly all the time, but we actually talked about going to Michigan where he’s from, and staying with him this Summer to work on stuff.
What kind of stuff?
Just extra writing. We just finished recording the new album, so it will be just any other additional writing that we want to do.
When does the new album come out?
Hopefully it will be out in the Fall.
How does it compare to your debut release, Aim and Ignite?
I think it’s rather different. I mean, it’s my voice and my songs, obviously, but I don’t think my voice has changed very much. I definitely didn’t, like, “deepen up” (laughs). But you know, we tried a lot of different things and tried to mature as songwriters, which is something we are always trying to do.
So you’re the primary songwriter? And you don’t play an instrument. How does that work?
I usually write a lot of the lyrics and melody and get a general idea of the song in my head and will bring it to them.
What’s it like touring with Panic! At the Disco?
It’s really… nice. They’re such sweet, sweet dudes. It’s really easy, everyone gets along,and we have a lot of fun whenever we get together.
Favorite song to perform?
Right now it’s probably a new song we are playing called “We Are Young”. It’s always fun to play new songs because you’re not sure how they’re gonna react to something they haven’t heard. But a lot of people here at these Panic! shows don’t know who we are so I guess they wouldn’t be able to tell a new fun song from a hole in the ground.
Do you guys have any stage rituals or pre-show traditions?
We like to get together and come with a topic. Usually something very… crude and we get in a circle and do the usual one-two-three-say-something. I don’t know. Last night it was something weird.
I saw Fun last October and was blown away. How do you pack such anexhilarating energy and powerful performance with just a six piece stage band? And were there any challenges encountered translating the orchestration andarrangements from the record to the live performance?
I think we have this energy that makes up for the fact that there aren’t all those elaborate instruments. I feel like we do a pretty good job picking and choosing what should be heard and what the six of us can accomplish onstage. It allows us to have a certain energy that the songs might not have on the album. I don’t want to say it apologizes for the lack of strings or insane backup vocals, but it definitely adds a different element to the songs which I really do enjoy, especially in a live setting. I’d much prefer not to worry about, like, forty different strings, and who’s playing them and whatnot and just be able to have fun within the boundaries that we set for the songs.
Do yourself a favor and get out to a fun. show, I promise it will change your life.