With Linkin Park, Incubus, Silversun Pickups and more
Sunday, September 2 at 11:30 a.m.
Edmonton Northland Grounds (7515 118 Ave.)
Tickets $105.25 at ticketmaster.ca
The transformation seemed to take place almost overnight for the members of Fun. One minute they were just another underground alternative band, and the next, their single “We Are Young” was skyrocketing up the charts, shooting the group into instantaneous mainstream success.
For a group of musicians who’ve made their name off live performances, a sudden burst of popularity at the hands of a number one single has been an unexpected turn — to say the least. While their first album Aim and Ignite barely made it into the top 75 of the US Billboard 200 back in 2009, the band managed to cultivate a strong fanbase through dedicated touring and live performances that lead singer Nate Ruess describes as “a celebration.” But their second album Some Nights has been quite another story thanks to the popularity of hit singles “We Are Young” and “Some Nights.”
“I always just expected this band to continue to get bigger and bigger live,” explains Ruess. “I never had any aspirations — especially having been in the music industry as long as I have — of having any sort of hit song. I just always thought it would be a cult sort of thing and we’d just continue to get bigger and make better albums every single time. And then suddenly this stuff happened.”
With Some Nights climbing the charts worldwide and turning Fun. into one of the biggest names in the music industry, the transition into a mainstream powerhouses hasn’t been an easy one for the band. Now forced to spend valuable time doing television performances and publicity, they just want to get back to their live performances, where their true passion lies. While they’re grateful for the attention and new fans the album’s two singles brought them, it’s not something they ever expected — or even really hoped for.
“I’ve never been one to conform to anything, so I think it was just a really lucky case of people eventually coming to us,” Ruess says. “This isn’t a sound that we consciously made in order to have success like this by any stretch of the imagination. That’s just never been who I am. I’ve never felt the need to be desperate. This is something that I’m so thrilled to have right now, but it’s not something I spent every night dreaming about.”
The irony of the situation isn’t lost on Ruess, who spent several years as a member of the band The Format before forming Fun. From The Format’s band name to some of the songs they penned, Ruess rebelled against the demands of the label companies who only cared about producing cookie-cutter hit singles. Years later as a member of Fun., Ruess now finds himself in the role of the hit-maker, and he admits it hasn’t been without its consequences.
“I think that it’s taken a toll as far as I’m not exactly a people person, and we’ve been thrust into meeting a whole bunch new people and stuff like that. I wouldn’t say that I’m a jerk by any stretch of the imagination, but it can just be trying,” he says. “There’s a lot about this that can feel a little soul-crushing, and to know that we just played it by being ourselves makes it feel so much better. I would feel uneasy if I thought that there were any sort of shortcuts.”
While he admits that hearing Fun. associated with mainstream over alternative music makes him cringe a bit, Ruess has accepted that their music has begun to cross the borders of genre. He takes comfort in the fact that they made the album for themselves, and their songs are being played on pop radio stations because that’s what the stations choose to play, not because he’s begging them to play it.
“Hearing all the music that has been on the radio the last few years, I would’ve never thought any of our stuff stood a chance,” Ruess admits. “I love a pop song as much as anyone, but it seems like the bad songs — and some have been terrible pop songs — didn’t leave room for anything else. So it doesn’t seem as bleak as I once thought it was, which makes me excited to try and push that envelope a little more on the next album.”
Despite the fact that their claim to fame has come at them a different way than they were expecting, Ruess has chosen to revel in their achievement and what it will mean for the future of Fun. With Some Nights now claiming the distinction of being the first rock debut in ten years to go to number one in the United States, he’s hopeful this will mark the turning of the tide in the music industry.
“Like anything in the world, people are acknowledging that things are getting tiresome and that it’s time for a change,” Ruess says. “I think it’s been us and a few other bands that have been able to do it, and I’m thankful to be a part of that and maybe open up people’s minds to listening to a little more diverse type of stuff. I think diversity is good for everybody.”
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