If you were a band boasting the most jovial moniker in all the land whose song was recently featured on a popular television program whose title was similarly positive, where would you want to ring in the New Year? Well, if you were MTV Music Meter-topping band Fun. (in case those clues left you clueless), you’d be fiending after the Olive Garden.
Fun. has had a pretty, well, fun year leading up to the 2012 release of their sophomore album, Some Nights. Their single “We Are Young” (feat. Janelle Monáe) was recently covered by the cast of Glee in the episode “Hold On to 16,” giving the band a bump in sales and even more exposure for their debut disc, Aim and Ignite, an anthemic, brassy album that merges camp and angst in such a way that recalls Queen songs of yore
Frontman Nate Ruess chatted with the O Music Blog the other day on the way to check out his new Upper West Side apartment. Check out the interview below for more on the band’s new disc, living in New York City and what he hopes the new year will bring. Here’s hoping for endless salad and breaksticks.
So I saw you guys play a couple of weeks ago at the Spotify press conference in New York. How did you guys get involved in that?
Well, I had been a huge fan of Spotify since I found out about it. I guess they had attended one of our recent shows and thought that we would work out well to play acoustic in that situation.
I’m interested to hear from you — since you played their event — what you think of Spotify? You know, in light of a lot of other bands opting not to put their music on there because they don’t think the payoff is great enough. Do you think bands should allow their music to stream on Spotify?
I think they should. I think it’s tough to deny the future. I think that that in a lot of cases can lead to narrowmindness and I don’t think that that’s what we’re about as a band. We’re happy to let anyone hear our music and I think that we believe in it so much that if [Spotify is] going to lead to people purchasing the album or attending the shows, then that’s awesome. And we’re confident that [Spotify] will do those types of things. And in the meantime, it allows people to have access to music, which is the thing that I probably care about the most.
Were you disappointed when some of these bigger bands decided not to include their music on there?
Yeah, they’re only shooting themselves in the foot. In my opinion, they’re not doing a favor for their fans. They should be confident in what they have and hope that it leads their listeners down other alleys that might benefit them.
Speaking of exposure from interesting places, I saw that your song ‘We Are Young’ was on Glee the other week.
It was interesting because from what I understand it’s generally not a show that has random songs from some random band on it, and I think that that was the first time that that happened. But I think it paid off and I think it’s good idea for the show. And it’s obviously a great thing for us, and we think that Glee on the whole is such a positive show and we’re more than happy to be a part of something like that.
Do you guys watch the show?
I actually haven’t been a regular Glee watcher, but I intend to be. I was unfortunately in the studio [the night the episode premiered]; I know Andrew and Jack got to see it together. They were sending me updates the whole entire time. The next day I wasn’t sure if I was going to watch it, just because I was so nervous to see it. And Jack’s mom forced me to watch it. And I remember afterwards she said ‘congratulations’ and I felt like starting to cry, which is weird because I’m not a crier. I told her I had to leave the room for a minute, so I left the room and gave my self a few seconds of patting myself on the back — with some tears.
So why were you crying?
I think it’s been an exciting year for us. It’s been a really exciting year and I think that we’re so happy with the new album. There’s just so many things to be excited about, and that was just one thing that kind of just made me smile slash cry — that our hard work and the dedication that we put into our music, people are starting to take notice.
I heard that the Glee version of that song was number one on iTunes after the show? Were you angry that the original song didn’t score that spot?
We made it to number 11. I think that people know who they are and they did the song a lot of justice. If it wins now, fantastic. Maybe later, hopefully, we’ll beat them.
So I’m interested to hear about your new album Some Nights, and how it differs from Aim and Ignite, which is all about moving to New York. How long have you been here now?
Five years. I’m almost a New Yorker. I read in Timeout magazine or something that you have to live here for five years before you can actually be a New Yorker. So I think sometime in March or April, I’ll officially be a New Yorker.
What makes you officially a New Yorker?
I can drive in the city, which I know not a lot of people do, but somehow I can do it. And I can do it without being honked at. In fact, I can be a honker. I would say that, I learned how to be a little more — No, no, I there’s still a lot of Arizona or Iowa in me that I’m still polite when I’m in line for a bagel or something. I haven’t become confrontational yet. I’m hoping that happens some time in year six.
You live in Brooklyn, right?
I’m actually in the process of being an Upper West Sider. Very impressive. I’m excited. I think it’s going to be cool.
So now that you’re a New Yorker — almost — tell me about this new album. Is it as much about living in a new city as the first?
From a lyrical standpoint, it takes over from there. It takes over from being in a new city and being out every night, or those nights I just want to stay in and keep to myself. And I think the whole album kind of revolves around the capability of being someone different depending on the night — whatever night that is. So I do feel that it still has very much of a city-type vibe to it, but this time, I’ve gotten used to it a little more. And now it’s just trying to find out where I fit among it all — within relationships and friendships and things like that.
It’s interesting to hear you say you can be someone different every night. What do you mean by that?
To me, it’s about being out at a bar, drinking — whether one night I’m a sad drunk, or one night I’m having a great time with my friends. And then kind of — one night, being out with people I don’t know that well, and therefore maybe an anxious side of me comes out. And then there’s those times at home, and I feel like those times are much more reflective and much more anxiety-driven as well. It’s never too specific. I think it’s always a general feeling for me.
Do you think there’s a main difference between the you who lives in Brooklyn and the you who lives on the Upper West Side?
That’s a really good question, and I guess I’ll have to find out. I think that the conclusion that I’m starting to come to is that it’s always going to be like this, no matter where I’m at. And I’m always going to be this person that I am. And it does change constantly, on a nightly basis. But during the day I’m usually the same person.
I know you did a bunch of Facebook marketing on your first album — letting fans unlock songs, etc — why did you guys choose that avenue?
I remember when we first started the band we talked to the people at our label and management company. They just understand social media. They’re a different breed of people. You can see the enjoyment that they get out of social media. I remember we thought it would be great to start getting specific about Facebook, because I think at the time it wasn’t much of a music [location]. So we put a lot of emphasis on Facebook, and I think it worked out very well.
So what do you think of the fact that Facebook seems be becoming the place for bands to promote their music?
I think it’s helpful, because now I know that it works with Spotify. I personally don’t have a Facebook page, I’d like to note, but I know that it works with Spotify and it just seems like it’s a step up from Myspace. It seems like a natural progression, and I feel as though Facebook has handled it well — the way that they display content.
So do you have big New Year plans? Or are you working?
No, the last couple of years we’ve gone to New Jersey and we’ve kept it very low-profile. But one time I just want to go to Olive Garden in Times Square on New Year’s. But I hear you have to book that, like, a year in advance.
Why Olive Garden?
Because when you’re there you’re family? I hear. You couldn’t ask for a better way to ring in the new year than feeling completely bloated and disgusting.
By Brenna Ehrlich