On this gray late afternoon in London, fun. have just broken with pop-star protocol by arriving 15 minutes early for their appointment with EW at ye olde British pub The Ship & Shovell. (The New York-based trio are in town for a U.K. festival, and will play an intimate club gig later this evening.) ”We do one groundbreaking thing a day,” deadpans guitarist Jack Antonoff, 28. ”But they’re all lame.”
Not lame? The success Antonoff, singer Nate Ruess, 30, and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost, 29, have enjoyed with ”We Are Young” — the lead single from the band’s Some Nights that spent six weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 this past spring. Appropriately enough, given this evening’s booze-oriented mission, that anthemic number concerns people getting somebody-carry-me-home intoxicated. ”I usually don’t drink this early before a show,” says Ruess. ”I try and save it for an hour before.” But…
Whiskey (Ruess, Antonoff, Dost), vodka and tonic (EW)
After you recorded ”We Are Young,” did you sit back and say, ”Ladies and gentlemen, now that is a hit single”?
Antonoff Not at all.
Dost That would be so cool.
Ruess Yeah, that would be amazing. I mean, after we recorded an early version, the producer [Jeff Bhasker, who’s worked with Beyoncé, Kanye West, and Alicia Keys] and I sent it to the head of the label and he called me back and was like, ”It’s amazing, I think we have something.” I don’t think we’ve ever heard that type of thing coming from someone who actually had the ability to make sure things happen. My first thought was ”Sweet. We don’t have to write any more singles.”
Antonoff We were excited that everyone else thought [it could be huge] because it ended up being our ticket to making the album we wanted to. No one f—ed with us. That song was a catalyst of trust.
As a big fan of punctuation…
Ruess What’s your favorite punctuation?
Dost Just shoot me!
As a big fan of punctuation, I have very mixed feelings about your name. The lower-case f disappoints me, but I like the rectitude of the period.
Dost The punctuation started out as a legal issue. There was another band called ”Fun” — they asked us to change our name slightly. More than that, I like the period because it sedates the word a little bit, rather than being an exclamation mark.
Antonoff It Jason Sedate-kis’s it.
Jack, I heard you nearly died while recording the album.
Antonoff Entirely. It was serious.
Antonoff No. [Laughs] Hardly. We were in New York working on a song called ”One Foot.” It was the last song we recorded on the album. I looked at Nate and Andrew and I was like, ”I have to go home, I’m going to f—ing die.” I’d never felt that sick in my entire life. You always read, like, ”Lindsay Lohan’s exhausted.” Well, what does that mean? And I thought, ”Oh my God, I’m experiencing something like that.” It didn’t turn out to be that. I had pneumonia. Something exploded in my lung. I was in the ICU and ended up on an IV for four weeks afterwards. It was crazy, but it was kind of wonderful to survive that and then be tied to the album in that way.