Seeing Through Someone Else’s Shutter Shades

By Tamara Vallejos

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Posted March 22, 2012 in Music

Fun. takes its namesake and Kanye West inspirations to the top

The rag-tag kids on Fox’s Glee have covered some heavy hitters in the past three seasons: Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Queen and . . . Fun.? When the recent Dec. 6 episode of the show aired, featuring Fun.’s single “We Are Young” as the rousing final number, few people knew anything about this trio of guys with a knack for crafting a memorable pop-rock anthem. Fast forward to the Super Bowl, where “We Are Young” (which features an appearance by genre-mashing Janelle Monáe) was prominently highlighted by a Chevrolet commercial, and earned the New York-based band thousands of new fans.

And now? Oh, the guys are just sitting on the top of Billboard’s Hot 100—a No. 1 single, no big deal.

“It feels really surreal,” says Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff. “None of us really have that part of the brain where we think, ‘This will be a hit song!’ Our producer, Jeff Bhasker, said this song would mean a lot to a lot of people, but that’s not something we ever came up with ourselves.”

OK, so maybe Fun. still has a ways to go before attaining the legendary status of some of their peers covered on Glee, but hey, “We Are Young” isn’t a bad start.

The lead single off the band’s sophomore album, Some Nights, “We Are Young” is a fairly epic four minutes that touches all the right emotional bases: hopeful lyrics, stirring choral accompaniment, a steady and huge beat perfect for a dramatic clap-along and front man Nate Ruess’ soaring vocals (that guy has some seriously impressive pipes). How did Ruess, Antonoff and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost not see this whirlwind of glory coming?

“As a band, we have two sides. One part is overly humble, self-deprecating and keeps us working hard,” explains Antonoff. “The other half just has delusional confidence. It’s always those two forces constantly working together—or against one another. There’s always a part of us that thinks we can do things, and another part that thinks it just isn’t possible.”

For now, that dynamic is working. And while Fun.’s big single has given the guys a massive audience, it’s the entirety of Some Nights that has hooked those new fans. The band lives up to its name beginning with the album’s intro, a theatrical, ivory-tinkling, Queen-influenced lullaby. Even the more questionable moments—if you hate Auto-Tuning, consider this a warning—feels excusable. These guys are having such a good time messing around with what they love; it’s difficult not to get caught up in the pure pleasure of the ride.

Antonoff tips his hat to one influencer in particular, who motivated Fun. in its approach to Some Nights.

“Kanye West’s last album, and the way he took his genre and then brought in all these other styles, inspired a huge part of what we tried to do with this album. If he can do that with hip-hop, why can’t we do that with pop?”

For that reason, Fun. went as close to the source as possible. “Our producer and the entire team that we worked with for this album were Kanye’s people,” says Antanoff. The result was an album he says is much more confident than the band’s 2009 debut, Aim and Ignite.

“When you make a debut album, a big part of it is being bold with your choices and jumping up and saying, ‘Here we are!’ The second album is something more intellectual, because you don’t have to jam it down people’s throats.”

Fun. at The Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802; www.theglasshouse.us. Sat, March 24. 7pm. $17-$21.

 


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