Time for fun

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music -

WHEN Nate Ruess, front­man of US band fun. ( yes, lower case, full stop, that’s how they do it, gram­mar pedants) fin­ished a dis­tinc­tive song called We Are Young, he started to panic.

His pro­ducer Jeff Bhasker, best known for work­ing with ur­ban acts Kanye West and Bey­once, didn’t share his con­cerns and stressed to Ruess they had just made a hit.

He called a pair of fresh ears into the stu­dio. Those ears be­longed to Bhasker’s mate Ali­cia Keys, who was work­ing down the cor­ri­dor.

‘‘ Jeff was say­ing We Are Young was a mas­sive hit; I couldn’t hear it,’’ Ruess re­calls.

‘‘ So he plays it for Ali­cia Keys, and she loved it. But I was still in the corner think­ing, ‘ My ca­reer is over and Ali­cia Keys is the first per­son to ac­knowl­edge that’.’’

Ruess has never been hap­pier to be proven in­cred­i­bly wrong.

We Are Young has seen fun. move from in­die band ( with what is po­litely called a ‘‘ crit­i­cally ac­claimed’’ de­but al­bum) to main­stream se­duc­ers with a song soar­ing from nowhere to No. 1 on the US and Aus­tralian charts.

Their sec­ond al­bum Some Nights quickly fol­lowed in the sin­gle’s foot­steps.

The propul­sion was helped by We Are Young be­ing in­cluded in an episode of Glee be­fore it hit the ra­dio.

‘‘ That was a line in the sand,’’ gui­tarist Jack Antonoff says.

‘‘ Ev­ery­one al­ways tells you your al­bum is go­ing to be a huge hit. It was nice to have the mo­ment that was real.

‘‘ It’s not an ex­pe­ri­ence a lot of bands get to have . . . it was sur­real but ex­cit­ing.’’

Ruess was equally im­pressed: ‘‘ You’re al­ways squea­mish when other peo­ple do your songs, but Glee did it jus­tice. They used it as part of a sto­ry­line.’’

The band is smart enough to know that such a huge, in­stant hit can be a po­ten­tial death knell. So they’re pre­par­ing for life af­ter The Hit. ‘‘ At our own shows, the songs from the old al­bum go down bet­ter, which makes us happy; it’s very hard to have a big song and not let it de­fine you.’’

Yet Ruess is now truly in love with the song. ‘‘ If it were to de­fine us, I’m sure I could look back and be happy with that.

‘‘ It’s bet­ter than find­ing some­one, rip­ping them off and get­ting big off it,’’ he says.

The suc­cess has also meant they can stick to their guns as Ruess says, ‘‘ it’s amaz­ing We Are Young hap­pened un­der our cir­cum­stances, now we can con­tinue to do ev­ery­thing un­der our cir­cum­stances’’ and bol­ster their live show ac­cord­ingly.

‘‘ We fi­nally get to have lights and put on the type of show we saw as kids, like Pearl Jam and Smash­ing Pump­kins and Count­ing Crows,’’ Ruess says.

‘‘ It takes a weight off our shoul­ders. Watch­ing live shows can get bor­ing, just watch­ing some­one play.

‘‘ I’m get­ting old, I’d rather peo­ple start watch­ing lights and vi­su­als and we can be less force­ful.’’

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