The No. 1 song in America right now is "We are Young" by Fun, a pop-rock trio based in New York.
Despite the weird name about friends getting high in bathrooms, NYC trio Fun. The group is now America’s new indie sweetheart. The third week in a row, Fun.’s single “We Are Young (Feat Janelle Monae),” is the Billboard 100 No. 1 single, making Fun. The first rock band to top the Billboard charts Fun.’s popularity, on the heels of America’s insanely intense love affair with indie crossover group Foster The People, seems to signal a return to the era.
BWTV :How are you handling the mass exposure?
Nate Ruess: I think it’s something that we’re still trying to get used to. On one hand, our days are becoming more and more hectic. But we don’t get to hear “We Are Young” on the radio, and we don’t get to watch TV, because we’re on tour. I felt, like when I was dropped from a major label when I was 21 years old, that I would never have a “hit” song. For all of this to be happening now, it’s interesting to think that you thought you knew everything, and now don’t know anything.
BWTV: Does your family or friends call, saying that they just heard you in the grocery store?
NR: They don’t fill me in. I’m not sure how much the song is actually going off in Phoenix, Arizona, because they don’t really call me for anything, except to tell me that I never call them. They’re amazing people and massively supportive, and I’m so thankful that I’ve had parents like them to stand behind me when times were tough, but I’m wondering if they’re too cool for school now.
BWTV: How are you dealing with being in the spotlight:
NR: I don’t have a Twitter or a Facebook, or anything like that. I think any branding for me is band-related. It’s really weird to get used to the exposure, because I am a naturally introverted person, and I’m not exactly social. Occasionally I can get comfortable enough to talk, but I spend a lot of my days not talking, especially when I’m at home and not on tour. I don’t ever talk on the phone or anything like that. It’s interesting to feel the pressure of having to be outgoing, because I think in general, as a human being, I’m pessimistic and introverted. It’s cool, because it’s a whole different side of me, and I impress myself. , I’m not an asshole. I don’t ever want to be seen as a asshole. I'm approachable.
BWTV: There was a three-year gap between a few songs? What did you during those in between breaks? Did you take that time to find your new muse, combining a new sound to your music.
NR: It took me a long time, two years, to figure out what the album was going to be. I think, with any album that I’ve ever done, I’m always thinking, “How’s it going to progress? It can’t sound like the old album. It can’t sound like a Rage Against The Machine album, that sounds like a collection of songs from the same year.” It was really tough, because I’d only written a couple of songs in those two years, and they weren’t so great. When I discovered the whole hip-hop thing and became inspired by that, finding a way to write music and infuse that type of style into it, it was really cool to see those two songs that had nothing to do with it become infused with this new style that was developing.
BWTV: Bhasker (who produces for Beyoncé and Drake) doesn’t seem like an obvious choice for producer, but the results make sense. Did you know that Some Nights would benefit from a slick, hip-hop sound?
NR: I think so. That was my driving force. We have this really retro vibe and style of songwriting and, personally, I wasn’t embracing the current state of music until I fell in love with hip-hop. It felt good to suddenly embrace where music was headed, and I think hip-hop is the best at that, because it feels so progressive and everybody wants to be the best. I think that with art, you should love it and want to do it, so it just felt like it was time to embrace what was happening and tap into the future, as far as our music was concerned. We’re super audio nerds, and there’s nothing I love more than a Fleetwood Mac snare sound, and that’s what’s cool about hip-hop. A lot of times they’re sampling and trying to reproduce certain sounds, but it’s always on more of a hyped level. We love a good, hyped sound, but when it starts to sound insincere, that’s when I lose interest. I hope that our music, even if it sounds polished, doesn’t sound insincere.
BWTV: Was Bhasker receptive to the idea of working together, or did you have to wine and dine him a bit?
NR: I looked at all the album liners of the stuff that I was listening to, and he was in so many of them, so my thought was, “I don’t care what it takes. That’s the guy.” He blew me off twice, and then one night he and I got together. He finally had a little bit of time for me; he was doing the Beyoncé record, and we sat down at a bar. I was basically thinking, “This is gonna go absolutely nowhere.” I had a little bit to drink, and I started to loosen up, and eventually I went upstairs with him and he started playing me this Beyonce demo he was working on. I was really liquored up, and I started singing him “We Are Young,” and his jaw just dropped to the floor, and he said, “We’ve got to go into the studio tomorrow.” We went in the next day and recorded an early version of “We Are Young.” He really enjoyed the style that I did things, and I think he was just excited to work with a band. We thought it was just going to be one song, but he totally rearranged his schedule so that he could do the album.
BWTV: What band is your group similar to?
NR: For me, it’s probably Pearl Jam. They took commercial success and worked it to the point where they’re not at all singles-driven, but still one of the biggest bands in the world. That would be amazing for us. We wanted to end up as a giant live band before any commercial success, so if this can be something that we can continue to hold on to, and when it eventually dies down, as I feel it always does, to still have wonderful lives, that’s about perfect for me.