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fun. having a good time with success

For Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013

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Andrew Dost vividly remembers he and his bandmates in fun. "losing our minds" as they sat in the grandstand during the Grammy Nominations Concert Live! on Dec. 5 in Los Angeles.

"That was just an indescribable feeling," the Royal Oak-based multi-instrumentalist and songwriter says of fun. receiving a field-leading six nominations -- including all four of the major categories. "That's one of those things you don't even really dare to dream about. When you're younger you think those things just happen when you're in a band, and once you reach 24 or 25 you realize they don't just happen to anybody.

"So approaching 30, it was a dream come true. There's really no other way to describe it."

fun. has, in fact, been enjoying a musical dream since the release of its sophomore album, "Some Nights," nearly a year ago.

The soon-to-be-platinum set has spawned two Top 5 hits -- the chart-topping "We Are Young" with Janelle Monae and the album's title track, which reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- with a third, "Carry On," making its climb now. "We Are Young" also made some chart history as the first song to sell more than 300,000 downloads for seven consecutive weeks.

fun. appeared on "Saturday Night Live" and scored a pair of Teen Choice Awards in 2012, while its music has appeared in a slew of TV shows and movies -- including a new song, "Sight of the Sun," for the soundtrack of HBO's "Girls." "Some Nights" itself was also featured in the University of Alabama football team's National Championship video.

All of this has left the fun. boys a little overwhelmed by their good fortune.

"It's weird. It's crazy and as equally stressful as it is enjoyable," frontman Nate Ruess says. It was Ruess, 30, who put fun. together in 2008 shortly after the end of his previous band, The Format, recruiting Dost from Anathallo and guitarist Jack Antonoff from Steel Train.

"(fun.) had been expanding at a nice rate since we started it," Ruess continues, "but then this whole ('Some Nights') thing happened and everything just changed drastically. I mean, we never thought we'd get nominated for a Grammy. I think playing 'Saturday Night Live' felt like an attainable, ultimate goal. But having a No. 1 hit song or whatever else has come with it, none of that stuff ever felt attainable as a group of people who wanted to make music and do it in a realistic manner."

Dost, 29, concurs that fun.'s success has been "absolutely unexpected. We've been at this a long time in different bands, and even in fun. We were happy. We were very content. We were kind of growing a wonderful fan base slowly but surely, and we were doing OK. All of this has been amazing but definitely not anything we were really ready for or had dared to dream about.

"But it's been very nice."

What clicked with "Some Nights," Dost says, was simply a case of fun. getting better -- and of the three members learning how to work better with each other, too, since their 2009 debut "Aim and Ignite."

"On a lot of the first album we were kind of feeling each other out and finding the chemistry between the three of us," Dost recalls. "I love our first album and I'm still very proud of it, but I think on ('Some Nights') we were finally learning to write the songs we're sort of built to write."

Ruess says that between albums Dost and Antonoff also learned how to handle what he calls his "scatterbrained" method of creativity.

"When we made the first album we were just some friends who admired what one another did," Ruess explains. "There was a lot of us trying to impress one another, but it didn't feel cohesive, necessarily. After that, there was a level of trust that happened on both sides. We completely fell in line with the process, and it became a lot more natural."

There were factors in "Some Night's" success, including the contributions of primary producer Jeff Bhasker, a Grammy nominee who'd made his name primarily in the pop, R&B and hip-hop worlds with Kanye West, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Alicia Keys and others and who helped fun. achieve a different kind of pop grandeur this time around. "We were able to do what we wanted and (Bhasker) had so many ideas to make it better," Ruess notes.

fun. expects to be on the road for the bulk of 2013, though Ruess says he's already come up with a song that could be the starting point for the next fun. album. But nobody is putting a concrete timeline on that yet. "I think it would be a little unfair to think about what's next," Antonoff says. "Our job right now is to do a great service to the people who have gotten behind this album, and to play it with the same passion that we had when we made it.

Meanwhile, the Grammys -- where fun. will perform on Feb. 10 -- loom, and the trio plans to have, well, fun whether or not it brings home any trophies.

"I'm not even viewing it as any sort of competition," says Dost. "I think it's such a thrill to just be nominated, really, and I feel we're in such good company. Between Jack White and Frank Ocean and Mumford & Sons and the Black Keys, there's so many amazing artists that even to be mentioned and nominated alongside them is such a crazy victory to us (that) I wouldn't mind if we didn't win any."

fun. and Andrew McMahon perform Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are sold out. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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