Time for fun
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.’’