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Indie Rock

Interview: fun.

Nate Ruess, vocalist of fun., took some time to talk with Lost in the Sound. fun. is currently on the Vices and Virtues tour with Panic! at the Disco and Funeral Party. Two years after releasing critically acclaimed album,Aim and Ignite, the band is finally working on a sophomore album. Nate talked about the current tour, the new album, and more. Check out the interview below.

LitS: Nate, right now you’re in the middle of the Vices & Virtues tour. How has that been?

Nate: It’s been really fun. People are super nice and there’s been nothing to complain about. A very stock answer, but true.

LitS: You always describe fun.’s live shows as a “whirling dervish” of music. Has anything changed from these live shows over the years?

Nate: No. It still feels kind of the same. There’s still a kind of raw energy to the shows where we’re always smiling.

LitS: Are there any differences between your live shows with fun. and The Format?)

Nate: Yeah, of course. There’s been different songs and a whole different bunch of things. Aside from me, everything is totally different.

LitS: How or when do you know you have played a good live show?

Nate: Oh, man. Well I’m a rough one. I walk off stage angry more than not for no good reason. I’m just hyperaware of the situation and everything happening, but I’m too hard on myself.

LitS: After playing in many different types of venues over the past few years, do you prefer a smaller crowd or a larger one?

Nate: Smaller crowd, larger stage. I like having room to move. I actually love how theaters sound. It’s nice for everybody to have a little bit of room and hope that the air conditioning is on at the venue.

LitS: How were the crowd reactions when fun. played new songs such as “Carry On”?

Nate: I think it’s been really good. It’s always hard to play the songs before the albums come out, but we’ve started to notice people singing along and that’s just awesome.

LitS: How do you feel about The Format songs that are played in your shows with fun.? Does it feel different or weird to not play them with the old band, or are they played just like any other song written by fun.?

Nate: Well, we don’t play them anymore. At the time, it was kind of weird at first. Then I got used to it and now its something that we don’t even need to do because we have a plethora of songs.

LitS: How far along is the band with the new album?

Nate: We were working on it a couple of days ago, finishing making it because we had a day off in Los Angeles.

LitS: Will Steven McDonald, who worked with you on Dog Problems and Aim and Ignite, be producing on this album again?

Nate: No, he will not.

LitS: Who did you step into the studio to help with this new album?

Nate: A producer named Jeff Bhasker. He had done a couple of the last Kanye West albums and some work with Alicia Keys. Mostly a lot of hip-hop and that kind of stuff.

LitS: Was it any different this producer to work on an album with such a different genre?

Nate: Yeah, it was a challenge for both of us. It was really amazing to do something like that between both sides. I guess he really was set with the music in order to even want to work on it in the first place. It was probably really, really challenging for him and the same for us, but I think we were both walking away in love with the decision that we decided to do this together.

LitS: Aim and Ignite was a very monumental album. Being a Kanye fan, what did you think about My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy? Did it in any way influence the sound on the new album?

Nate: Yeah, I think so. It was very influential, I love it. I think it really helped inspire me.

LitS: In the debut album, there were also some influences including Queen and The Beach Boys. Was the band influenced by any other music during the recording of this album?

Nate: I think there was a lot of hip-hop influence. I think that there was a conscious effort to tone down the circus vibe just slightly. The circus vibe kind of just took a backseat for songwriting in general. I tried to make songs to be able to fit in the tempo and not jump all over the place and not have the drums following me but instead allowing a rhythm to happen and for the songs and melodies to be able to work within that. We all loveAim and Ignite, but we wanted to kind of take a minimalist approach in those areas. I mean, some things are still there such as orchestration and all that type of stuff, but it’s not like 19 different parts that become inaudible because there all crossing themselves out. And if you want to record something you want to make it count.

LitS: Do you think the band has progressed much from being together for almost three years?

Nate: Yeah, definitely. I mean I was just thinking because Andrew is getting married in a few days so he has to jump off the tour and he was teaching his replacement the songs and it’s just interesting to think how many times that we kind of raid each other minds on stage and that goes for songwriting, too. When you start singing the song, they start playing the chords behind it and they always play what I want to hear. There’s not a lot of deep conversation and mind-reading about it.

LitS: I know that the writing process for Aim and Ignite and everything before has been quite interesting. Was it similar for the new album?

Nate: Yeah, I think so.

LitS: How so?

Nate: Well, I usually come up with the song formulated in my head. Then I sing them to the guys and they start to make it where we would be able to play it just the three of us where it would just be us on all vocals or guitar and vocals. Then I might have an idea on what the song is supposed to be and then eventually we’ll all get in line and once everybody makes it their own and it’s not something that just comes from my head then it finally becomes a song that we want to be working on.

LitS: Does each member of the band collaborate equally in terms of sound?

Nate: I think so. I think it differs from song to song depending on the things that they specialize.

Lits: When can we expect the album to be released?

Nate: Hopefully mid-December or October.

LitS: Before you announced that The Format was ending, the band was in the middle of writing a follow-up to Dog Problems. What happened to these songs?

Nate: I took a couple of them to Aim and Ignite, but that’s pretty much all there was. We were behind on writing.

LitS: With Jack and Andrew coming from different successful bands, how did you convince the two to start a completely new band? Was it difficult for the two or did they jump onto the idea immediately?

Nate: No, actually, it was instantaneous. I think I called both of them right off the bat. They were the two guys that I wanted to work with and there wasn’t even a lot of conversation about it. It was just “alright, let’s do this” and next thing you know we have ourselves recording demos.

LitS: When you first announced fun., there were some angry Format fans about the change and skeptical on the new band. When Aim and Ignite first released, did you expect such a positive reaction?)

Nate: No, I was definitely surprised. Just because it’s hard to get the second lights in this business. I was just lucky to have what The Format had had, which is just great commercial success, but then it started going on the downward. I mean we’re still making new fans on fun. on a daily basis and it’s surprising how many times there are still people who are like “oh, I had no idea The Format even broke up.”

LitS: After releasing Aim and Ignite, an album with such critical acclaim, do you feel any pressure on releasing a sophomore album?

Nate: No, not really. I’m so excited about it and if I was called insecure, then definitely, but I wouldn’t trade anything that I’ve done in the last five months for anything.

LitS: Where do you see the band in 5 years?

Nate: Hopefully just still doing it, but on a much larger scale.

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