Detroit-Based Q&A With fun. Lead Singer
By MESFIN FEKADU, AP Music Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Fun. is learning to have fun — with less alcohol and more sleep.
Lead singer Nate Ruess says the band’s successful year has taught him “that I need to take better care of myself.”
“Really, that’s been the big thing,” Ruess said in a phone interview from Detroit last week. “(The year) really put us through the ringer as far as everything is concerned, and we didn’t get a lot of sleep, so it was pretty rough. But what was cool is that I quit smoking and I cut back on drinking and I just made sleep a priority — and I think that’s what all of us did.”
The trio, which includes guitarist Jack Antonoff and keyboardist Andrew Dost, has been on a wild ride since its dark pop-rock sophomore album, “Some Nights,” was released last February. Dost, a Michigan native, still calls Royal Oak home. The band plays Saturday at the Fillmore Detroit.
They performed at an inaugural ball for President Barack Obama, and had one of last year’s biggest anthems with the six-time platinum No. 1 hit, “We Are Young.” The group’s second single and title track is a multiplatinum radio smash, and their album is near platinum status with 958,675 units sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. (One million units sold means platinum status.)
Fun. is nominated for six awards, including best album, song and record of the year, and best new artist, at this year’s Grammys, to air live on CBS from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 10.
Ruess, 30, talks about the multiple nominations, collaborating with other pop stars and the band’s current tour, which wraps up Feb. 16 in Nashville, Tenn.
AP: The band is back on the road after a month off. How does it feel?
Ruess: Everybody got in and everybody looked healthy and everybody just looked happy and so excited to be with each other, and I think that’s because we learned to take care of ourselves.
AP: Have you been working on new music?
Ruess: I had just written (a song), and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. And (“Some Nights” producer Jeff Bhasker) was like, “That absolutely has to be on the next fun. album.” So, that was really cool. And then we were with some friends and he like made me play it because he was like so proud of the song.
AP: How does it feel to be nominated in all of the top categories at the Grammys?
Ruess: It was just crazy. Someone from the Grammys right before they announced the first award was like, “Buckle your seatbelt.”
AP: How did you celebrate?
Ruess: I’m not a celebratory kind of guy, but I will say that I started drinking champagne. It’s my alcoholic beverage of choice, but perhaps then that makes every moment a celebration.
AP: You’re one of five songwriters listed on Ke$ha’s current hit single, “Die Young.” How did the collaboration come about?
Ruess: I just wrote the hook and I wrote it for something else, and then a couple of producers got a hold of it and worked on the rest with her. I was not involved in anything other than the (hook). Somewhere around the world there’s me singing that chorus.
AP: Do you want to do more of that?
Ruess: I don’t do it that often. Jeff and I did the Pink song (“Just Give Me a Reason”) and I think we have a couple other things on the horizon, but it’s not something that I, I don’t know. It takes definitely a certain artist for me to want to do it. I don’t write songs that often and for “Some Nights,” I wrote them songs like a month before we went into the studio, and a lot of them were fueled by meeting Jeff and getting really inspired. And for me, I don’t write that often, and when I do, I like to keep it for fun.
AP: How’s the tour going?
Ruess: I write the set list every night before we go onstage. I like to change it as much as possible. I spent my month off figuring out what new songs we’re going to play. We’re going to be adding a cover, adding songs off of “Some Nights” that we never really played before and expanding the set list. I’ve been studying Coldplay and U2, and how those bands do their set lists and how they choose songs and their light shows and everything like that. I got really heavy into all of that stuff.
AP: Yeah, Coldplay’s shows are full of beaming lights.
Ruess: It’s totally crazy and unique. And that’s my favorite thing about success in general — you can play bigger venues and you get to have more production, and we got Coldplay’s lighting director to do our light show. … (Last year) was so booked solid that we didn’t get a chance at all to like, we’d add stuff on to the tour, but we never got a chance to rehearse, or like get into a room, all of us together. We had to do everything on the fly. Now, we’re getting to spend like four or five days getting it good.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)