The band exploded onto the music scene with “We Are Young,” their freewheeling single dedicated to the drunken blessings of youth.
The three core members–Ruess, guitarist Jack Antonoff, and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost– discussed their first concert experience, meeting Janelle Monae and bands that changed their lives in an intimate fan setting.
Along with their touring band, bass guitarist Nate Harold, vocalist and keyboardist Emily Moore, and drummer Will Noon, fun. also performed an infectious five-song set, which started with “Some Nights,” their favorite song to play.
After their performance, one fan in the audience asked the band about collaborating with Monae on their smash-hit “We Are Young.”
“We didn’t get to hang out with Janelle prior to her recording it,” Ruess said. “Andrew was always a super fan. He’d always play it in the van. As soon as we had that part in the song we knew that we wanted a female to sing it. Our producer (Jeff Bhasker) ran into Janelle and he played her that song and she freaked out about it and said that she would record it.”
The song reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the first rock/alternative song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart since Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” in 2008.
“We like to think that she had either recorded it on the moon or in the future because it’s Janelle Monae and she would have such wonderful future hindsight to be like, ‘This song is going to be a hit so I gotta do it,'” Ruess said.
He then explained the band’s first encounter with Monae.
“We went on tour with her and we got to meet her and she’s as in the future as you would possibly think,” Ruess said. “She loves art and that was always such an awesome thing to have her walk backstage before the show and talk to us and talk about how happy she was that we were making something that we believed in and how much she believed in art and everything like that.”
Noted for their theatrical artistry onstage (Ruess is a big fan of Queen), the band relayed their first childhood concert experience.
Ruess said his first concert was Bruce Springsteen in which he “dragged” his parents to and then “fell asleep a few songs in.” Antonoff saw Aerosmith with Collective Soul. It was “right at the moment for Collective Soul that you would want to see them,” he said and later admitted he walked away from the show more of a Collective Soul fan than an Aerosmith fan.
Dost’s story was grotesque, albeit entertaining.
“Mine was Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band,” Dost said. “The lady in front of us was standing up on her chair and she barfed and fell backwards and my Dad caught her and shoved her back up.”
fun.’s love of music spans from Pearl Jam to the Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer.
“We were children of the ’90s,” Ruess said before he confessed his love for Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.
“We talked about Smashing Pumpkins for like five hours yesterday straight,” Antonoff said. “Just about how they were probably the most important band. Things have changed with them now, but Mellon Collie when that came out [it] was a record that changed all of our lives.”
Ruess admitted that they are “kind of obsessed” with Weezer.
“Andrew and I were both big into Pinkerton,” said Ruess. “That was the first concert I ever attended in high school. They were like forty minutes late on stage and I thought that was so cool.”
– Nadia Nior, CBS Radio Los Angeles