Fun. bask in the success of We Are Young
Six months ago, Fun. were a little-known New York-based indie pop trio whose 2009 debut album, Aim and Ignite, had been a modest success at best. But there’s nothing modest about the way they have taken off in early 2012 thanks to We Are Young, an irresistibly anthemic song featuring Janelle Monáe that just spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
"It was a huge surprise," says guitarist Jack Antonoff. "When we recorded We Are Young, we were trying to make this huge alternative-rock song with Kanye West beats and fuzzy guitars and this big ruffle… We weren’t thinking of a wide audience liking it, we were just doing it for ourselves."
It didn’t hurt that the song was performed on Glee, in addition to being used in a Super Bowl ad. "I didn’t understand what was happening because we were on tour, and when you’re on tour you’ve very isolated," remembers Antonoff. "I don’t think I realized how big the song had gotten until a few days ago when I flew back to New York and everywhere I went, every time I’d get into a cab or walk by a store, it would be playing."
While they appreciate having a hit single, Antonoff and his bandmates, lead singer Nate Ruess and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost, were mostly interested in making a great album overall when they recorded their second LP, Some Nights. "The only thing that we think about in the studio is making a wonderful album. An album that’s theatrical, that takes you on a whole range of emotion and that makes sense as an entire piece of work."
Some Nights was produced by Jeff Bhasker, whom Fun. were dying to collaborate with after hearing his work on various hip-hop and R&B albums, including Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. "When we looked at albums that were inspiring us, one name kept coming up: Jeff Bhasker," Antonoff sums it up.
Fun. are playing at Cabaret du Mile End this week, and they’ll be back in Montreal this summer for a set at Osheaga. Whatever the context, they aim to make it feel both epic and intimate. "When we’re in a club, we want to make it feel like a festival. And when we’re in a huge festival, we want to make it feel like a small club," explains Jack. "When you play to 10,000 people you want each person to feel like you’re playing for them, and when you’re playing to 100 people, you want each person in the room to feel like they’re part of something huge."
w/ Miniature Tigers
At Cabaret du Mile End
April 30 (sold out)