fun. interview


Broadway musicals do well because of their elaborate showcases of visuals backed by musical storylines. It tweaks at the mind in the same sense as music videos strike not only audible, but visual chords.

fun. attended a few Broadway shows while demoing their first album in New York. Aim and Ignite, due out August 25, is a collaboration of the now defunct The Format vocalist and songwriter Nate Ruess, songwriter and ex-Anathallo member Andrew Dost, and Steel Train’s Jack Antanoff.

If songs like the band’s first single “At Least I’m Not as Sad (As I Used to Be),” and live showcases “All the Pretty Girls” and “Walking the Dog” are indications of the “fun” to be had on their debut record, then the influences are just as outgoing.

Besides Broadway, Ruess’ love, and borderline obsession, for bands like XTC and Jellyfish leak into the ten tracks that make up the band’s debut.

“I was listening to XTC the other day, which I’ve always been a huge fan of,” Ruess takes a drag of his cigarette, “[It’s a] Jellyfish or XTC type thing mixed with Weezer, which we were obsessed with at the time. It’s kind of like a mix of our favorite, what we consider, pop music.”

Dost says while each member came from a separate sounding project, the elements came together on the surface. Both say each song was looked at separately and then arranged on the album.

“There was never really a conscious effort to really combine what we did in our previous bands, but more so to try and start something new, and be more specific to the songs as each person can do as individuals,” Ruess says.

Dost says the band would let each song “dictate where it goes, what each instrumentation is, how it sounds like,” rather than sticking to any specific formula or preconception. “We just wanted to have a good time. We just wanted to write songs we were really happy with.”

By association, “fun” and “theatrics” would seem to go hand and hand. Sedated on a heavy dose of Electric Light Orchestra (ask your parents) and Queen, the band also combined what Ruess deemed a natural theatrical element found in both his and Dost’s previous bands. “We’re all pretty down with musicals,” Dost adds.

Not only does the live vision play a role for the band, but the album’s artwork was just as important. Dost told the artist who created the album’s artwork about a specific visual when coming up with the cover. The idea, of all places, was a scene from Superman Returns.

“There was a moment in [the movie] where you see the Kent family mailbox and the sunlight crest over it and it glares out the lens,” Dost says. “There’s this very serene moment of majesty on the screen. I guess that was what the cover was meant to represent. This moment of serenity before something happens, even though nothing was directly happening.”

But visual things don’t have to be a direct representation, Dost says. “Big music, chamber pop with strings and horns and stuff doesn’t necessarily need very elaborate visuals.”

There’s something simple in color and shape with Aim and Ignite’s cover that even Ruess was content with upon first seeing. “There’s something so powerful about it,” he says. “I don’t think it’s all over the place. We wanted the visual perspective to be colorful, especially when you’re talking about a band named ‘fun.’ We wanted it to be simple. Our best selling shirt, all our merch, we just wanted it to say ‘fun.’

“I think the artist, when he heard [the record], that’s what was implied. Green, yellow, and red. That’s as basic as you can get. Yet, he used them so elegantly, or at least so effectively. When I saw it, I thought of the Paul McCartney Ram record.”

Upbeat sounds and visuals aside, the album is a lyrical self-discovery for Ruess. Not so much a concept record like his former band’s last opus Dog Problems, Aim and Ignite is a look at Ruess’ life, and his interaction with people close to him in the past few years.

“I felt like there was a loud time in my life,” he says. “The Format breaking up sort of coincided with the calming of myself as an individual living in Arizona, just kind of wondering…As far as friendships were concerned, things just seemed a little too out of my comfort zone. Maybe I was forcing things a bit too much.”

If there’s any central theme to the album and it’s first single, Ruess says this, “I’m growing up, and I’m moving on. Everybody who I may have been with at the time, try not to be offended by the fact that I’m trying to make peace with myself. Three or four songs are right out, ‘things aren’t going to be this way anymore,’ and to my friends, ‘that was then, and this is now.’”

Ruess doesn’t want to specifically point anyone out either. “It’s more about myself and what’s wrong. ‘What am I doing wrong? How am I alienating people?’ Sometimes you just have to move on.”

Dost also penned a number that comes after what Ruess calls “three pretty intense songs.” “Light a Roman Candle With Me” is about Dost trying to convince somebody to see in themselves what he sees in them as well.

“When I first heard the song, I said, ‘We need this song,’” Ruess says. “It just felt like sort of a breath of fresh air.”

What fun. is showcasing live is a spectacle they hope captures a cult following equal to their pop influences, underneath the simple colors, and through the matured theme of Aim and Ignite.


One Response to “fun. interview”

  1. hostlancer Says:

    This is great information. I’m starting to get story ideas zooming in my head.

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