MusicOctober 13, 2011 at 5:45 am

Interview: Nate Ruess of fun

Street: Thank you for speaking with us, we’re really looking forward to the show on Friday. When was the last time you visited Philadelphia?
Nate Reuss: Philadelphia is one of those can’t miss cities, I think from a historic angle. I’ve been touring now for ten years, and most tours I go on tend to go through Philadelphia. I think the last time I was there actually wasn’t too long ago. It was a few months ago we played a show with Weezer.

Street: And where was that?
NR: It was on the pier or something like that, somewhere near water.

Street: Festival Pier?
NR: Yeah, that was it.

Street: You said that it was difficult for you to find the inspiration for the upcoming album. Can you talk about the writing process?
Nate Ruess: I think it’s always hard to figure out what your next move is going to be. For this, I remember I had sublet some apartment in Chinatown, under the assumption that one summer I was going to try and write the whole entire album, and I just didn’t know, from a musical standpoint, what I was looking to do.
I think I came out of those three months with just a couple of ideas that ended up making it onto the album, and one song that was really important, but I didn’t have a full on concept, or at least an idea for what would inspire me to make whole albums of music. And I think, over time, I stopped being super conscious of that, and kind of just got back to what it is I love about music.
And somewhere along that line I re–fell in love with hip–hop, and I think that it somehow plays a really big role in the way we approached this album.

Street: The song “Take Your Time,” from Aim and Ignite, is really all about The Format break–up. Is there any other sort of deep, emotional context on the new album?
NR: I think so. No matter how much I try and avoid an autobiography from a lyrical standpoint, it’s totally inevitable. I’m not a very outward or outgoing type of person, even dealing with people who are dearest to me, and it’s a way for them to find out how I’m feeling.

It’s sort of a way I’ve learned to express myself. I was brought up into this, I got into it in such an early age that my emotions ended up coming out not in my everyday life, but within the songs. So this album I’ve tried to build in so many different ways, but sometimes it’s just so hard to not dwell on the things that I’m thinking about every day.

Street: And we understand you guys primarily wrote each of your parts seperately. How did this process compare to recording the first album?
NR: I think it’s all pretty similar. You know, it’s just generally me writing a melody, or coming up with something that is potentially a song, and kind of singing to that and bringing it to them asking how they feel about it.

I don’t feel like that changed too much. If anything this time there were a lot of times where we would be in the studio and I would wake up one day on the way there and be like, ‘Okay check it out, this is going to be the song we’re going to work on today.’ It might have been their first time hearing it, and it doesn’t always give us a lot of time to go on, but just lets us get in the moment and work on it from there. On the last album we spent so much time making demos and there was a lot of overanalyzing.

Street: And with this one you were more clear-cut with what you wanted to accomplish?
NR: It would just sort of, we didn’t put as much of a burden on ourselves to make sure there were so many different instruments and all this other stuff. I think that all this stuff revolved around the song and what we wrote for the song, and I think that all this stuff was very apparent from the get–go, from when the song was conceptualized.

Street: The first album was definitely concept–heavy — there were a lot of elements of Broadway and all these other operatic elements. Is that something that’s carrying over to the new album as well?
NR: Yeah, I think in some regards it is, and in some ways it’s cautious and in some ways it’s natural, but in that same breath, things like that theatrical type of thing, those have become inevitabilities within the way that we work. It’s never a conscious thing to make it as musical as it is, I think it’s much more inherent in the people that we are and our upbringing.

Street: It seems like you three are pretty close friends. With your last band, the Format, part of the reason you broke up was because you had to move on and work with different people. Do you ever fear that history could repeat itself with Fun?
NR: That’s a really good question. I think we know what Fun is and we all respect each other, and they’re different musical outlets, so we just try and avoid a monotony to what we do together.

Street: And does that keep you guys more fulfilled in a way?
NR: Yeah I think it does. I think that it lets us maintain a pretty nice awe of each other. It’s interesting cause this is a band with seriously my best friends, and it started out as something that should have been a lot more musical, a lot more business–as–usual, and admiration for each other, but really when it’s all kind of shifted down, we’re still the closest of friends. I don’t know very many other people that have such similar personalities that the three of us have. And as long as we always let that be the driving force behind the band, then those problems won’t come up, maybe not the way they did in the Format.

Street: We especially feel that your friendship carries over into Fun’s live performances, which are usually pretty heavy on band banter and crowd participation. Do you all feel the same kind of energy when you’re playing live?
NR: I think that it’s a really amazing thing when we all step out and look at it like that. It approaches in such a similar way, in that it’s the only way that we could imagine doing it.

Street: So is there a release date set for the new album yet?
NR: No, we’re still trying to figure it out. I would assume with the best guess that it would be towards the start of the new year.

Street: You guys already have two sold out shows, at the Bowery in NYC and the Troubadour in LA. I’m from New York, and the Bowery is such a great venue, legendary even.
NR: Yeah, and then we thought that the shows would be a nice transition. We view them as a nice transition from old to new, the next start to ushering in the new era of ourselves and our music.

Street: You’re also currently part of the Campus Consciousness tour. Is environmentalism something that’s important to you guys?
NR: I think from a very basic standpoint, as much as it should be to anybody. We’re still learning things the same way that anybody else should. I certainly couldn’t be put on any type of pedestal, but I’d say there’s an eagerness in what we’re learning on the tour, and it’s only been a few days, but I know tomorrow is another show and we plan on sitting with everybody that runs all the booths and getting a better idea of what it’s all about. You can’t argue environmentalism and kind of what you can do, and I think we’re still trying to learn and practice while we’re going out there, which is a gigantic part of the tour, and right now we’re taking small steps, and we hope that we can continue to make steps. For example, we have these refillable filter water bottles, and now I can’t go anywhere without it. I’m used to either opening a bottle and tossing it out, or spending my morning when I wake up drinking from the faucet for several minutes. Now it’s a nice resolution between both of those things. I think that the rest of the tour kind of also follows that, it’s a way of making things easier, and easier on the environment as well. And I know we’re all pretty excited about it, about learning more about it as well.

Street: I heard that you’re also a pretty big video game fanatic. Have you had time to play recently?
NR: I’ve only played one video game. I’m an enthusiast, but not an addict, and it’s more like a habit. I play NBA 2K, and I’ve been playing 2K12, which just came out last week, and I’ve been playing my ass off, I’m not going to lie. That’s precisely what  I’ll be doing towards the end of the night.

Street: So when are the three of you actually having the most fun?
NR: Honestly I think it’s a mix between being on stage, cause the studio is very serious, and probably the time where we would be most volatile. But we all have pretty crazy work ethics, and we like to also have time honing in on the art and finding out what the album is going to be, about the art, but just from a music perspective it’s being on stage. We do have a good time, and Jack is always so light about the shows, and he really knows how to have a good time. I think Andrew and I can be a lot more negative and walk off stage with a scowl, and make life definitely too hard on ourselves, but for the most part, when we’re on stage it is such a blast, especially when all cylinders are firing. I really think the most fun we have together is when we’re all in town at the same time and we’re just going out to dinner.

Street: Well we’re psyched to have you guys here on Friday. And we would recommend heading down to Jim’s Cheesesteaks post–show.
NR: Thank you Jake, and Jim’s is our jam. Our personal favorite. You better believe we’re going to hit it up, We hit it up every time.

One Person has left comments on this post

By Sylvia Cartagena on October 13, 2011 at 5:45 am

I Love Nate Ruess!

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