In the past few months, fun. has exploded onto the mainstream music scene. After the hugely popular Fox show Glee covered their single, “We Are Young” featuring Janelle Monáe, the song shot to the Number One spot on iTunes and the band started receiving major radio play. The trio’s multi-talented members, however, have been creating music for over a decade in bands prior to fun., and one of those members, Andrew Dost, previously of Michigan-based indie rock group Anathallo, spoke with LA Music Blog about the band’s new album, Some Nights, and the wide range of influences behind it.
These past few months have been huge for fun. You just finished a national tour with Janelle Monáe and “We Are Young” is everywhere. What has that been like for you all?
It happened suddenly. It’s been surreal and sudden, but at the same time we’ve been in bands for the last ten years, so it’s been a steady growth. There have been lots of little battles along the way. It’s nice to have something happen immediately, which is really cool. It’s nice to hear it on the radio and have people hear it. It’s all been pleasantly surprising.
I first saw you years ago on your first tour with Manchester Orchestra, and I always describe fun. as a band that manages to stay unique and unpredictable in a genre where bands seem to stay the same. What do you think you can attribute that to?
Thank you. I think we just have a broad range of influences. Between us we’re constantly drawing on different things, whether it’s punk bands Jack listened to in New Jersey, classical music I used to study, or Nate’s sixties pop and hip hop. On the new album, we were looking exclusively at hip-hop [for influences]. It’s not that we try to be surprising and unpredictable; we just try to do stuff we love.
Fun. incorporates genres from across the spectrum and more instruments than possibly any pop rock band ever. How do you decide what to mix and match and why do you think the sounds come together so well in your case?
I think, fortunately, that when we write it’s a very comfortable, safe environment to throw ideas into the pot. That safety and trust in each other brings a lot of freedom to create. We can say, “What if we tried this?” and we’re not afraid of people laughing and ignoring you cause we’re pretty open-minded.
When you’re writing songs, you’re influenced by everything you’ve ever heard in your life, and that’s all gonna come through. I look at it like we’re all these filters of all these different influences. It’s all filtered through us, and we combine them. What you’re really doing is your take on things. It’s all mixing, especially when you get guys [like Jack Antonoff and Nate Ruess] in the room.
I had a chance to listen to Some Nights and it’s similar to Aim and Ignite in that it has that unique, fun. brand of upbeat, catchy positivity and full orchestration, but everything feels bigger this time around. How do you feel this album is similar or different from your debut?
I think it’s got a bigger sound to it because we worked with Jeff Bhasker, who is incredibly and insanely talented and hugely influential on the new album. One of the biggest perks on Aim and Ignite was there was a tendency to overdo things thousands of times, these twist and turns and inversions and different instruments because we had them around and we were in the studio and figured “Why not?” With Some Nights, it was about what to do [to give] the songs what they really need.
Jeff was a proponent of sometimes the biggest sound was a single instrument. He said, “Let’s not over-cram songs with ideas, and everything that makes the song should be well-chosen. If you can’t hear it or don’t care about it, let’s cut it.” It resonated with us. It was important for us to realize what songs need and don’t need. On Aim and Ignite, it was about making songs full, and these songs breathe more. The orchestration is definitely still there. Nate is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, and we try to use his voice as an instrument as much as possible too.
What do you hope the reaction is from fans?
I hope they’re on board with how different it is from Aim and Ignite. If it’s not immediate, I hope they give it time to sink in. Maybe they will get on board right away, but my favorite albums weren’t immediate to me. I hope they give it a chance and listen to it intentionally. My hope is that they get a vinyl, listen to it with their friends, and listen to the whole album. I think these songs stand-alone, but there is something to be said for an album, and I think people should listen to the whole album all the way through.
fun. will embark on a national tour starting at the end of March. What about this tour excites you the most?
I’m excited for lots of things. I can’t wait to play these songs live. They mean so much to me, although we’re still very proud of Aim and Ignite, but this record is really special for us. It’s really something that we’re very close to and we put a lot of ourselves in it. I can’t wait to be on the road with my friends and see the country. There are a lot of places I really love. We’ve been around the country a lot, and I feel like we’re getting a nice group of friends everywhere. Cities that stand out are Salt Lake City, New York, Los Angeles, Rochester, Detroit. I just like touring. There’s always something to enjoy in every place.
Anything else to add?
Our new album Some Nights drops February 21st and hopefully we’ll see everybody soon.
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