Success has not come easy for fun. which is now basking in it, thanks to its debut album, writes Nur Aqidah Azizi
NATE Ruess, Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost, from the American indie rock band fun., hit the jackpot with their debut single, We Are Young from the album, Some Nights.
This not only shot the band to mainstream stardom (it had been performing on the indie scene for years), but also worldwide success, conquering the No. 1 spot in several countries. “I didn’t expect the song to take off the way it did. It’s totally surprising and overwhelming,” said Ruess, who composed and penned the tune, during a recent phone interview.
“When we were working on the album, I had this idea for a song. I really wanted to work with Jeff Bhasker, a talented hip hop producer. When I sang him the chorus part of We Are Young, he freaked out and the next day, we were in his studio and everything snowballed from there,” he said.
The song, which infuses ballad, alternative rock and indie pop, was released as a single in September last year, featuring Janelle Monae.
Sales of We Are Young surpassed 600,000 and won two MTV Video Music Award nominations. But the road to success had not been easy.
We Are Young entered the Billboard Hot 100 in December last year and hit No. 35 spot, but quickly fell off the charts. When Glee did a cover version of the song in one of its episodes, fans took notice and digital sales of the song jumped from 3,000 to 49,000 during the week.
“We were totally excited about it. They (Glee) gave us a huge break on mainstream. I didn’t get to watch it but I checked the chart on iTunes. Glee sent the song straight to the top of the charts. It was surreal. A year ago, it wasn’t even part of our plan,” said Ruess.
It was after the song was featured in a Chevy Sonic commercial for Super Bowl XLVI that it saw phenomenal success. With the song rocketing up, Ruess said he was grateful that it had helped to become a focal point for the band.
“At one point, I was tired of being asked the same questions about the song. But after a while, I realised that it was a positive thing,” he said.
And while the music sounds very upbeat, Ruess said he had intended the song to be a much darker.
“I felt a little sad when I was writing down the lyrics so I was surprised to see how people used it as a celebration,” he said.
“Seeing people treat the song in a positive way has changed its meaning, even for me,” he said, adding that he hoped the band wouldn’t fall victim to the one-hit wonder syndrome.
“Hopefully that’s not the case for the band. And with the release of our second single, Some Nights, we hope that fans will continue to enjoy our songs,” he said.
It looks like Some Nights will mark another milestone for fun. with the song also enjoying chart success, since its release in June.
Written by Bhasker, Ruess, Dost and Antonoff, Some Nights reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming its second top 10 single.
“The song is slightly dark, based on our sleepless nights when on tour. We also faced personal challenges which were translated into the song,” said Ruess, adding that the transition from independent music to mainstream has not affected the band.
“I don’t really see the band as an indie band. It’s a bit unfair for music to be pigeonholed like that. Our music is for everyone. It’s important for any band to just be themselves,” said Ruess adding that he enjoyed using things around him as a source of inspiration for his work.
“I love to write about love, tragedy and relationships — situations that impact me. And I can’t help but make it about myself because these are the things that happen around me.
“Perhaps one day, I’ll write something about the guy next door, but right now, I feel better when I write about myself and things that are close to me.”