Fun.'s Andrew Dost on the Breakout Success of "We Are Young"

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Interview by Aidin Vaziri

The band's name is Fun. With a period. But after the year singer Nate Ruess, guitarist Jack Antonoff and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost have had, maybe an exclamation mark would be more appropriate. The New York group has scored a huge hit with the anthemic single, "We Are Young," which spent six weeks at the top of the charts with more than two-million downloads, and has made cameos on everything from "Glee" to the Super Bowl. Its follow-up "Some Nights," the title track from the trio's breakout second album, is on its way to repeating the trick.

After years of getting nowhere in the music industry — Fun.'s first album, Aim and Ignite, only sold 75,000 copies while Ruess' former band, the Format, broke up after they were dropped by their label — ­ the guys are reveling in every moment of their current success. Some of the credit can be attributed to the group's decision to work on their sophomore release, Some Nights, with producer Jeff Bhasker, who made a name for himself working with Kanye West and Beyonce. We caught up with Dost to find out if the band is experiencing any growing pains and hear what it feels like to go from nowhere to everywhere at once.

PureVolume: Are you sad or relieved to have a monster single out at the same time as an even more monstrous single, Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know?"
Andrew Dost: I think it's neat that two songs can be on the radio at the same time that aren't typical radio hits. Neither song has any four-on-the-floor beat. Our chorus slows down and our second verse has French horns. [Gotye's] got a xylophone, and sparse instrumentation, and it takes like, two minutes for him to get to the chorus. It's awesome, and it's really inspiring that hit songs can sound like these.
PV: Did you ever watch the Super Bowl before your song was in one of the commercials?
AD: Every year. I'm a big sports fan in general.
PV: Did you have a premonition that Kanye West's friend Jeff Bhasker — out of all the producers — would help you break through?
AD: We never really thought about breaking through. We wanted to work with Jeff purely for artistic reasons. He was involved in creating the sounds that inspired us, and we wanted to go directly to one of the sources to help bring our vision to life.
PV: What made you keep going after you were dropped from a major label? Most people would have thought they missed their opportunity.
AD: I think this is more a question for Nate, but I can answer this for him: We've been pretty aware through our whole careers that fans are the only true marker of success. A lot of things can go wrong, but if there are people to listen to your music, to come to shows, to sing along, then you haven't missed any opportunity. We've been lucky to have loyal fans in all our past projects, and they stuck by us immediately as Fun. Nate doesn't talk too much about getting dropped. He's usually only concerned with what's next — [he's] not one to dwell.
PV: You talk a lot about how the Wilco movie "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" provided some sort of comfort through it all. Do you still watch it regularly?
AD: I think we all watch that one at least once a year.
PV: How close have you come to throwing another member off the bus in the last six months?
AD: Fortunately we haven't had any issues like that. We're a pretty easygoing group — band and crew both. We've had a couple bus meetings about being less messy, but that's about it. Mostly people just have too many pairs of shoes lying around, but we handle that peacefully.
PV: What do you miss most about your old life?
AD: I miss making coffee in the morning. We have a coffeepot on the bus, but it's not really the same. I miss the routine of getting up, grinding the beans, filling the pot with water and then filling a bucket to water the flowers. I really miss any sort of routine like that. It's tough sometimes, being away for so long. But at the same time, I know how rare moments like this are for bands, so I'm trying to savor every day on the road as well.

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